Tag Archives: Sin

What We Deserve

We think we all deserve God’s love
All good gifts that come from above
A good God wouldn’t send folks to hell
And therefore the story we tell saves all with love

Except, of course, men like Hitler
Terrorists and Jeffrey Dahmer
They don’t deserve to see heaven
Don’t belong with the eleven we are so sure

But just where do we draw the line
What is your fate and what is mine
We all deserve God’s holy wrath
Because we’ve followed our own path and think we’re fine

We must be repentant sinners
When the truth of God’s mercy blurs
Vision of the Lamb who was slain
And how He took all mankind’s pain troubled heart stirs

Not one of us deserves God’s grace
Praise to Jesus who took our place
He saw our need and came to save
His life for us He freely gave, we must embrace

* * * * *

As is typical for me, when I learn a new poetry form I can’t write just one. The idea for this poem was originally going to be an essay, but this morning this Florette started forming in my mind, so I finished writing it while I ate my breakfast and decided to post it in time to share for Meeting at the Bar at dVerse Poets Pub.


Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

Why Are We Surprised?

When people do terrible things, such as yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Paris or the most recent school shooting in Oregon last month, people are surprised. And when you believe, as our culture seems to, that people are basically good, the surprise is understandable.

But my Christian brothers and sisters, why are you surprised? Scripture tells us that we are all born with a sinful nature. In Romans 3:23 Paul points out that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are all of us sinners—the difference is the degree to which we accept that fact and the measures we take to overcome our sinfulness. When others sin, we should not be surprised.

Nor should we be surprised as things seem to get worse in our world, as we hear stories of terrorism, of child abuse, of the acceptance of pornography as normal, of the staunch defense of the practice of abortion, greedy corporations and politicians putting their own bottom line first, and much more. The daily headlines can be depressing, especially if they take you totally by surprise.

Spend much time at all in scripture, however, and you’ll find that the current state of our world is not a surprise to God and shouldn’t be a surprise to us. We see a clear warning in Paul’s second letter to Timothy:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
2 Timothy 3:1-4 (NIV).

That verse pretty much sums up our culture and our news headlines, including the tabloid headlines about our favorite stars.

So if we aren’t to be surprised about what is going on around us, what as Christians should we do? Especially in the wake of a terrible tragedy like the multi-site terrorist attack in Paris yesterday? Well, again, let’s turn to scripture for our answer.

Love in Action

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Thinking of the people of Paris, the phrase that stands out to me in this passage is “mourn with those who mourn.” We certainly do today. And we encourage all to trust in Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who alone is able to change hearts and help us overcome our sinful nature.


Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life

Spiritual Coup

The past has no hold on me
it reveals my old self but I am new
Created in Christ Jesus
in an amazing spiritual coup

I’m not sure when it happened
though it happens day by day
I become more like my Savior
in the most marvelous way

And yet some days I stumble
drifting in the dark
I forget to seek the Spirit
who helps me hit the mark

But He is ever faithful
never forsaking me
He restores me to the way
His grace the golden key

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One of These Things Is Not Like the Others

When I was five, a brand new show called Sesame Street first aired on TV. I, and many kids in my generation, loved this show and grew up learning a lot while having fun. One of the segments on Sesame Street included a song with the lyrics: “One of these things is not like the others. One of these things is not the same.” (If you grew up in the 60s or 70s, you no doubt read those lyrics with the iconic tune in your head.) As the song played, there would be four items on the screen, such as three circles and a square. Or there might be four completely different shapes—a star, a square, a circle, and an oval—but three would be red and one would be green. The goal was to teach kids the concepts of same and different.

In our culture today, we seem to have forgotten this lesson in one important area of life. There is an activity that is very different from all other activities—it is, in fact, unique—but our culture has lumped it in with all other activities. If we were to play the game of “One of these things is not like the others” with the following list of activities for a third date, some would have a hard time deciding which one was not like the others:

  • Going to a movie
  • Having a picnic
  • Going for a hike
  • Having sex

One person might say the picnic is different, because it is the only one that involves food. Another person might say that the hike is different because it involves outdoor exercise. Still another might say that the movie is different because it costs a lot of money.

But really, the one of these things that is not like the others is having sex. It is the only unique activity that can result in the creation of another human being. It is the only activity that, once it has been done, changes a person’s status from being a virgin to being not a virgin. It is an activity that bonds two people together in a way that can never be completely broken even if they break up and never see each other again. (“The two shall become one flesh.” Mark 10:8).

But thanks to the sexual revolution, this beautiful, unique, creative, and intimate activity has been reduced to just another Friday night option. This wonderful gift of God has been reduced to “hooking up,” “bumping nasties,” “getting laid,” “getting lucky,” and numerous other terms that I won’t post here.

Last month we were watching Last Comic Standing—and I’ll admit I didn’t think any of them were funny—and one of the comics said, “I had sex in high school, like a normal person.” Our culture has reached the point where everywhere you turn you see casual sex and it’s expected that teenagers will have sex, or they aren’t normal. Even on the TV sitcom Big Bang Theory, Leonard the nerd—the last holdout of young men who didn’t have sex in high school like normal guys—had sex with several different women before he met and married Penny.

We hear that Planned Parenthood’s birth control services are essential because abstinence for teenagers or young adults just isn’t an option. But why isn’t abstinence an option? When and why did we as a culture decide that it was better for our young people to have sex whenever they want? When did we decide self-control just wasn’t something to teach our children?

Perhaps if our culture didn’t teach young men that they are normal only if they’ve had sex at 15 or 16, then the 16-year-old boy who raped me when I was 14 wouldn’t have thought it was okay. Maybe if our culture didn’t treat sex like just another activity that boys (and more often these days girls) can’t help but do starting at a young age, then we wouldn’t have so many pregnancies of girls in their teens and early 20s, often followed by abortions.

Maybe if we taught our sons and our daughters that their virginity is not something they should be itching to lose, like smelly bag of garbage, but rather is something to be kept and cherished like a bag of gold and gem stones until they find the right person to share it with. Because once you lose it, you can’t get it back.

We hear much in the news about the rape culture in our colleges and wonder what to do about it. Well, it’s not just in our colleges. It’s in our high schools, it’s in our television programming, it’s big money at the box office. I believe the rape culture stems from the inability of our culture as a whole to see that “one of these things is not like the others.” Casual sex and a focus on “getting laid” as opposed to finding true, lasting love have blurred the lines between what’s acceptable and what’s not for many in our culture. When we tell young, unmarried men they aren’t normal if they don’t have sex, is their obsession with it really a mystery?

But in God’s culture, the lines aren’t blurred. Sex is a unique and intimate activity that is to be reserved for a husband and wife. Before marriage, God calls us to have self-control when tempted and He gives us His Holy Spirit to help us with that self-control (and more). (See Galatians 5:22-23).


Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Women

Blessings of Boldness

Being bold and courageous is hard and sometimes risky, but it’s always worth the risk. Last week when I posted my 6th Anniversary post, I mentioned that I was going to share on Monday about the blessings of being bold. But one of the two things I planned to share didn’t go as I had planned and so I didn’t write that post. After God added another blessing to the mix, I’m now ready to share.

Several weeks ago I wrote a post about my personal experience with Planned Parenthood. I was terrified to post it, but I did, on a Wednesday evening thinking no one would see it. That one little post ended up getting more views and shares in three days than I’ve ever had for any post. Some of my posts have been viewed more over the long haul, but never in such a short period of time.

Then, about a week later, I got a comment from Randy Alcorn (okay, it was from his media relations specialist) asking if he could re-blog that post. Of course I said yes, because being re-blogged by an author with his credentials is a great blessing for a relatively unknown author like me. Plus, it meant my story now has the potential to touch even more lives and be a blessing to others. His post including my re-blogged post went live on Monday here.

The next blessing came when I was bold and courageous to share my story in church this past Sunday. We are doing a sermon series on how God changes lives, and He has definitely changed mine. It was hard and risky to share my story, but it was well worth the risk. Afterwards I got lots of hugs, plus a few people who said they had been through something similar and that what I shared helped them. I also received some follow-up notes from some members of our church, including a handwritten note that came in the mail (those are my favorite kind).

I was all set to share the link to the audio of my testimony in my post on Monday, but it turned out that the recording got messed up and you couldn’t really hear it. There was a lot of static and my voice was so quiet that even when the static stopped for a second or two, you couldn’t hear me. I was so upset, because I knew there were people who had asked me to send them the link because they wanted to listen but weren’t able to come to our church that morning.

So, because I didn’t have the audio to share in this post, I had decided not to write it. Then I mentioned to my awesome husband that the audio had been messed up on my testimony and he replied, “I recorded it. It’s on my phone.” I was so happy and felt so blessed that he cared so much to have recorded it. I was able to upload it to SoundCloud and create the recording below.

And the triple blessing in all of this is that I discovered how easy it is to use SoundCloud and embed a SoundCloud clip into my blog, so now I can add audio readings of some of my poetry, too.

Anyway, the lesson for me this week is that God is good and often works to bless us even when we think He’s forgotten us or doesn’t care. That is the story of my life, but it’s also the story of the recording of my story. I was disappointed that He didn’t make sure the church recording of my testimony worked out, but He had a plan for me to see how much my husband loves me. And how much He loves me.

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Grace and Mercy

The deepness of my soul You know
But still You don’t get up and go

Ev’ry mean thought and evil deed
Only point to my deepest need

Although I can never undo
All my transgressions against You

There is grace and mercy divine
I, Lord, am Yours and You are mine

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Why I Did the Unthinkable

Stories of women doing the unthinkable—killing their own children—often make headlines. See this article for a list of 20 such women. There is a collective outrage and feeling of disbelief when women kill their children and we call for the most severe punishment. Often these women have reasons, ranging from mental illness to wanting to free themselves to be available for a boyfriend or spouse to cashing in on an insurance policy.

Well, I confess that I’ve done the unthinkable, too, as have thousands of women who never make headlines. The difference is our children—living children with their own DNA and blood type—were still in our wombs at the time.

And we all had our reasons. I know I had mine. I was young. I had my whole life, my college and career plans, ahead of me. I didn’t want to be connected in any way to the father, who was an older man with a wife and kids, and a rapist to boot. I didn’t want to end up like my friend who got pregnant at 15, had the baby, got married, and now lived with an abusive husband. I didn’t want my mother to be disappointed or angry with me.

The sad thing is none of these reasons justified killing my innocent child. She didn’t do anything wrong. As much as society told me it was okay—the U.S. Supreme Court had even said eight years earlier that I had a legal right to kill my pre-born baby—the knowledge deep in my heart that it was wrong haunted me. It haunts me still. And it compels me to now write about my experience in the hopes of saving even one young woman faced with the difficult circumstance of an unwanted pregnancy to understand that there is no justification that will fully satisfy a mother’s heart.

I held a deep belief that I was worthless. I wasn’t sure where this vision of myself as worthless came from, because by outward appearances I was a successful young woman. I was a college and law school graduate—because in college and law school I could immerse myself in my studies and bury the truth deeper in my heart. I was married to a wonderful man who knew about my past and loved me nonetheless. But I was fooling myself as much as I was the rest of the world.

After law school, the attempts at fooling myself and everyone else came unraveled. I spent seven years living with debilitating depression and social anxiety. I didn’t understand why—I just thought I was broken beyond repair. And I was broken. My spirit was grieving and broken over my own sin and I was mired in a sea of unforgiveness towards myself and others who had hurt me. I knew I was guilty and nothing I did or said, no reasons I had at the time, could justify what I had done.

But thankfully, God has made a way for this woman who was guilty of killing her own child to be justified—to be declared guiltless or innocent—and that is through the grace of Christ. Through His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus paid for my sin; He also paid for the sin of every other mother.

If you have had an abortion and been plagued by the regret and the guilt, take heart. God loves you still. Like the prodigal son who was welcomed back after squandering his inheritance on wild living, you will be welcomed back into relationship with God. Even as you are far off, He will run to you and celebrate your return.

You are not worthless. Your life is of great value to the King of kings and He desires to heal your wounds.


Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Women

Dying for Love

This poem was inspired by the July 31 poetry prompt in The Daily Poet: Day-by-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice by Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano. I have handy book on my Kindle and while I don’t look at it every day, every once in a while I decide to see what the prompt for the day is. Today’s prompt was titled “Gritty, Gutsy, and Groveling.” It called for writing in the style of Kim Addonizio, who I’ve never read, but is described as a poet who writes about “regrets and resignation, pleasure and pain.” The poem was to include at least 6 of the following 11 words: stilettos, hangover, whiskey, cigarette, dying, love, begging, naked, jail, dog, and hotel. I’ve italicized the ones I used in this biographical work written from the perspective of an old friend.

8/6/15 update: Shared for http://dversepoets.com/2015/08/06/openlinknight-153/. Head over and check out some other great poetry.

Dying for Love

She never wore stilettos—they weren’t her style
But I remember her red crop top and hip-hugger jeans

And that radiant smile that masked her tears
the pain and loneliness she never shared

All she wanted was love—but as cliché as it sounds
she looked for it in all the wrong places

Parties filled with cigarette smoke—a kegger up on Fuller Hill
At the bottom of a whiskey bottle shared with a mutual friend

If you could have seen her naked soul
You would have known she was dying, or at least not living

I caught up with her on Facebook the other day
Her profile pic still had that radiant smile

But the tears behind it were different now
Tears of peace and joy because she’d found

Forgiveness and real Love at last


Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

Not Just a Statistic

The prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write a poem in common meter, but to use some of the tricks that Emily Dickenson used to make common meter a little more interesting. I love an opportunity to sort of break the rules of form, but only a little.

The topic of this poem is one that I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I decided this challenge was the time to trot it out.

Not Just a Statistic

Statistics are eye-opening
But overwhelming—sad
Three thousand babies killed each day
Yet women’s rights can’t cede

Statistics belie tragedy
Each single data point
A mother—and a single child
Ever a mournful plaint

Behind each dreaded statistic
Individual lives
Each one suffering painfully
Waiting to know God loves

Let’s look beyond the statistics
Open our eye as well
To all the hurt souls who need us
Provide hope as they wail


Filed under Faith, Family, Jesus, Life, Poetry

The Gospel Misunderstood

Today is going to be Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub (I think). At any rate, I wrote this for Open Link Night. It was inspired by several conversations I’ve had lately—some in real life and some online. So often the Gospel is misunderstood by Christians and non-Christians, and that makes me quite sad, because it is the best news I have ever heard.

The Gospel Misunderstood

Humans have selfishly gone their own way
I know ‘cuz for so long I did the same
Living my life by my greedy desires
I refused my need to call on His name

The Gospel is the Good News of mercy
Undeserved but offered freely to all
There’s no longer any need for penance
Only our repentance after the fall

Fear of punishment turns many away
Knowing deep down that their heart’s filled with sin
They think God judgmental and nothing more
By His sacrifice He welcomes all in

There’s no condemnation for me in Christ
He paid the penalty that I once owed
Although I endured the consequences
Redemption and friendship to me He showed

If you have rejected a vengeful God
Look closer and you’ll find amazing grace
Daily relationship with Him, who’s love
Will never leave when you seek His sweet face

Please don’t misunderstand the Gospel news
Clinging to sin that will be your ruin
Believing judgment all that God offers
When truly His love and grace He’s proven

Turn from a life that’s empty and broken
Turn, as I have, toward our God of love
Seek the peace that comes only through Jesus
The way, the truth, and the life from above


Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry