Category Archives: Faith

Lose Your Cool

Lose Your Cool by Zach Hunter When I first picked up Zach Hunter’s book Be the Change, I had no clue how it would start me on a journey that hopefully will be life long. I had no clue that simply starting a LC2LC (Loose Change 2 Loosen Chains) campaign at my church could turn into one of the biggest parts of my life. I had no clue that it could turn into something that my father has entitled “Olivia’s little crusade” or has made my friends get used to hearing me ramble on and on about human trafficking that they either just smile in amusement or sort of shake their heads.

Zach Hunter is releasing his third book, Lose Your Cool, today which is on the topic of finding what you are passionate about, finding those things that change not only the world, but yourself as well. Most of you know what I am passionate about, those two things that grip me and I am utterly in love with, the gospel and fighting sexual trafficking. Some of you know how it’s my dream to work as a counselor for victims of trafficking and prostitution, working to help transform them with the power of the gospel. I am so very thankful that God has used Zach to introduce me to this passion and burden for ending modern day slavery and bringing justice to the oppressed.

Lose Your Cool can be found here as well as head over to invertbooks.com to get some cool free stuff. You can follow Zach on Twitter and tweeting about the book enters you to win some really sweet prizes. I can’t wait to get my hands on the book and see what Zach has to say, and… I hear that the story of Amy Carmichael is included in the book, so it must be good. ;)

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Filed under Books, Faith, heroes, Justice, Passion, Slavery

Hope For the Prostitute – Introduction

The American church is often plagued by a horrible disease. It’s a disease that effects how we look at others and how we minister to them. It’s a disease that causes our ministry and personal spiritual lives to suffer. It’s a disease that is deadly and it’s effects have already been seen. What’s this disease? It’s as simple as pride, which leads to self-righteousness and judgmental attitude toward others.
These have all plagued humanity since the fall, but I want to address how it’s present and effecting our current time and culture. In so many Christians, including myself, there is often a focus on how naughty “those people” are. “Those people” that are outside the church and doing “really bad things” that are not usually found inside the church. Those “huge” sins like drug addictions, homosexuality, murder, theft, sexual abuse, and prostitutes.
Now prostitution is never even mentioned in our churches. In almost fourteen years of growing up in a church I’ve never heard it mentioned once. It’s one of those “outside” things that is dirty and we don’t like to touch us. It’s something we may fight against in the form of not wanting strip clubs and such in our neighborhoods, but that’s just about it. We often see prostitution as something “out there” when it’s actually in our neighborhoods and communities, it’s even in the Bible belt! (I have an interesting story about that…)
So how does this go back to the things like pride and self-righteousness?  A prostitute’s sin is blatant and easy to see and recognize, for a self-righteous person, they don’t even think that anything is wrong. It’s so easy to forget that if it wasn’t for the grace of God we would be worse then they.
My main goal for this series is to focus on reaching those we term the lowest of the low with the gospel. But before we do that we need to lay down our pride, self-righteousness, and judgmental attitudes. Now the reason I’m focusing on prostitutes is because it’s something that has been laid so heavily on my heart. God has caused my heart to ache for the women enslaved to sexual sin and selling their bodies. It’s also an ignored subject in the church and as I’ve been studying it, I’ve found that it is often misunderstood, especially by the young people in the church.
The biggest goal for this series is ultimately that God is glorified and the gospel is preached. These men and women need the gospel so badly, just like we do! I was to encourage you to be the hands and feet of Jesus to everyone but especially in our sex driven culture with it’s perversion and sin. From the pregnant teen sitting in our pews to the prostitute on the streets of Las Vegas, it’s our job to proclaim the gospel to them and to love them. That’s why I believe that this is a topic worthy of my time and energy.

{Finally I’m posting the first part to my series entitled Hope For the Prostitute. Big thanks to my friend Josh for being my super duper editor man. Note: I hope to aproach this topic in a way that is clean, pure, and holy while not denying the ugliness, evilness, and sinfulness that surrounds it. In no way will I disguise the truth or try to paint it as a prettier picture but I will not be blunt for the sake of being blunt. Thank you all for your time and (maybe) attention.}

The American church is often plagued by a horrible disease. It’s a disease that effects how we look at others and how we minister to them. It’s a disease that causes our ministry and personal spiritual lives to suffer. It’s a disease that is deadly and it’s effects have already been seen. What’s this disease? It’s as simple as pride, which leads to self-righteousness and judgmental attitude toward others.

These have all plagued humanity since the fall, but I want to address how it’s present and effecting our current time and culture. In so many Christians, including myself, there is often a focus on how naughty “those people” are. “Those people” that are outside the church and doing “really bad things” that are not usually found inside the church. Those “huge” sins like drug addictions, homosexuality, murder, theft, sexual abuse, and prostitution.

Now prostitution is never even mentioned in our churches. In almost fourteen years of growing up in a church I’ve never heard it mentioned once. It’s one of those “outside” things that is dirty and we don’t like to touch us. It’s something we may fight against in the form of not wanting strip clubs and such in our neighborhoods, but that’s just about it. We often see prostitution as something “out there” when it’s actually in our neighborhoods and communities, it’s even in the Bible belt! (I have an interesting story about that…)

So how does this go back to the things like pride and self-righteousness?  A prostitute’s sin is blatant and easy to see and recognize, for a self-righteous person, they don’t even think that anything is wrong. It’s so easy to forget that if it wasn’t for the grace of God we would be worse then they.

My main goal for this series is to focus on reaching those we term the lowest of the low with the gospel. But before we do that we need to lay down our pride, self-righteousness, and judgmental attitudes. Now the reason I’m focusing on prostitutes is because it’s something that has been laid so heavily on my heart. God has caused my heart to ache for the women enslaved to sexual sin and selling their bodies. It’s also an ignored subject in the church and as I’ve been studying it, I’ve found that it is often misunderstood, especially by the young people in the church.

The biggest goal for this series is ultimately that God is glorified and the gospel is preached. These men and women need the gospel so badly, just like we do! I want to encourage you to be the hands and feet of Jesus to everyone but especially in our sex driven culture with it’s perversion and sin. From the pregnant teen sitting in our pews to the prostitute on the streets of Las Vegas, it’s our job to proclaim the gospel to them and to love them. That’s why I believe that this is a topic worthy of my time and energy.

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, Hope for the Prostitute, The Gospel

God is Good – Nathan Junker UPDATE

I just saw my dad’s status on Facebook and they found Nathan’s body.  Please pray for the family. Nathan is in Heaven, but his family is left here and I’m sure their hearts are broken. A friend of mine reminded me that the fact he is in Heaven is a miracle. Again, please pray.

“I write to you with a heavy heart. This afternoon, Pastor Nathan Junker and Al “Herm” Hermiston, a long-time youth leader at Faith Baptist Church, were with the Jr. High youth on Pokegama lake. The two of them and 5 of the youth were on a sand bar near Drumbeater Island and were swept out by the waves and wind, unknown to others who were on a beach nearby. They struggled to swim back. Several of the youth and Herm were wearing life vests, but Herm gave his to one of the kids who did not have one. All 5 of the youth made it safely back, but the two men did not. Herm was found face down in the water and taken to the hospital, where he died. At this time, Nathan has still not been found in spite of the search efforts of others in the party and law enforcement. Please pray for Herm’s family, especially his wife Nancy, and for Nathan’s family: wife Samantha (Sam), and children Lauren, Alexandra, Journey, and Lincoln. Nathan’s father Randy Junker is pastor of the Grand Rapids Alliance Church. His mother’s name is Debbie. And pray for the people of both churches and the community who have been affected by these men.” (http://www.hogshadows.com/2009/06/praying-for-nathan-family.html)

Last night we received the news that Nathan Junker was missing. His father pastors my grandma’s church. He is a casual friend of my dad and a fellow pastor from the area. This winter when our church hosted the yearly Missions conference in our area, he was involved in a skit with my dad, another associate pastor, and a missionary that we were sending out. I remember his kids. They were so little. He is only about 30 himself.

It’s so hard to look at these situations as see God’s goodness. I’m struggling today to do just that. Baring a miracle, Nathan is dead, his wife widowed, and children fatherless. To see God’s goodness in such a devastating situation is hard. But no matter what we think or feel, God is good. He is good and this is all in His perfect plan. Even when our heart screams against it, God is still good.

In all… we hold on to the future hope. While hope that Nathan is living wears away more every minute, we have a future hope. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”(Revelation 21:4) Nathan was a believer therefore, we do not grieve as those that have no hope. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep,that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”

Please keep the Junkers in your prayers, as well as Al Hermiston’s family. I still am praying for a miracle, but the fact that Nathan had no life jacket and it’s now been overnight… they are only expecting to find a body. But in all of this. God is good.

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Filed under Faith, heroes, Uncategorized

Random Musings About Praise and Radiance

Today has been a long, long day following a very busy week. Last week I was gone at camp then this weekend was full with a funeral, grad parties, and what seems like a million other things. On top of that this week is VBS at our church and I’m helping with music and at the last minute helped fill in for the skit. Add to that not having caught up on sleep from camp and not getting much sleep these last few nights, you have a very sleep deprived, crabby, worn out, and stressed girly.

Just a few minutes ago I went to update my twitter status and was about to complain about all my pitiful woes when I was struck with reminder that we need to praise God in both good and bad. So as I looked up a Bible verse as my twitter update instead of my complaining, I was reminded about a verse from Psalms 34 which I have been trying to memorize and meditate on lately which served as a beautiful reminder. “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (v. 1)

Once again I am reminded that God tells us to stay strong when we are past our breaking point, that we are to praise Him when we are too tired to do so, that we are to find our strength in Him alone, and how He works through our inabilities.

Another verse from Psalms 34 that I really love is verse 5, “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” When thinking of that now in context, they are radiant because they are praising the Lord, boasting in Him, seeking Him, crying out to Him, taking refuge in Him.

I have never seen a person that is truly praising God in corporate worship that didn’t look radiant. I personally love to see people worship the Lord with extreme joy and to see it in their faces or just seeing their hands lifted to the heavens in praise. It is amazingly encouraging to me and it draws me to praising God even more. It’s contagious! That’s the way our lives should be all the time, contagious.

When we are blessing, glorifying, seeking, experiencing, loving, praising, boasting, and serving God we will be radiant. It will be contagious. My dad always says that “passion is caught, not taught” and I couldn’t agree more! So go out there! Be contagious!

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Filed under Everyday Life, Faith, Passion, Psalms

A Lesson From Prejean

*Raises Hand* Excuse me, I have a confession to make.  Sit back and relax while I have a little rant about another sin I see in the western church, maybe even get some tea or coffee while reading! Just allow me to speak my mind on an issue that has bugged me for awhile. Now what is this issue you ask? Ahh, allow me to tell you with a story. 

 Carrie Prejean. Miss California. You all know her. For the past weeks she has filled the TV screens and the news headlines. She has also crept into the hearts of Christians across America and most conservatives for her strong views on same-sex marriage. She boldly proclaimed that she believed in traditional marriage and then later stated that she was a Christian and was soon after jumped on by the conservative/Christian world faster then a brownie in the midst of teenage girls. They loved her and praised her and though her answer might of made her lose the title of Miss America she won the approval of Evangelicals. 

 Then it happened. For me it wasn’t much of a surprise. Somehow some horribly racy pictures of her got out on the Internet. The liberal world jumped on that like teenage girls with brownies as well. And I don’t blame them. It’s sickening the hypocrisy that comes from many Christians in America that “homosexuals are the worst sinners in the world but I can be proud, immodest, and hateful and it doesn’t matter”. Now I am not saying that homosexuality is right, it’s obviously against what the Bible says. But so is pride and immodesty and judgemental attitudes. Yes, certain sins have worse consequences but they are all high treason against a holy God and all are deserving death. 

 What really frustrates me about the Miss California situation is how Christians dealt with it. It’s nothing new though. When someone who is popular, beautiful, successful in the world’s eyes, and has a huge hunk of change to their name and can still manage to tack on the name Christian and some good morals the church pounces. I’ve seen this in so many realms of the church. We often do not pick the poor, unattractive, and unpopular person who has a fire for God and the gospel to emulate and admire but the person who has it all in the worlds eyes. 

 In Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s article on Miss California she states it this way:

“Sadly, Carrie is the product of a Christian sub-culture that has lost a sense of what it means to be citizens of the kingdom of God and has embraced the values and thinking of this world.

By and large, young adults who have grown up in our evangelical homes, churches, and schools, are buying into a message that they have seen modeled by those around them who call themselves Christians—namely, that Christianity can be divorced from Christ-likeness, and that practical holiness in everyday life is out-dated, irrelevant, or optional.”

 Simply put, we like being comfortable with the world, to sit down and have some lemonade with it, but little do we know that the lemonade is seriously sour and wont quench our thirst. We look at those that are living a life abandoned to Christ as being a little over the top and freaky. We think that being Christians in name while still having our lemonade with the world wont hurt us. What many don’t know is that the sweetest lemonade, the one that can quench our thirst, is found in a relationship with Christ and laying down all that we are, picking up our crosses, and following Him. It might mean being hated and despised by this world, but it will satisfy. 

 While I don’t think that Prejean should be a role model, we can still learn from her. I know that she has taught me that I need to seek sweeter lemonade and to emulate those that are doing so themselves. 

 {Recommended reading: Nancy Leigh DeMoss on Prejean“Miss California, Meet Miss Beautiful Morals” by Hannah Farver, and “Women Who Fear the Lord” by Your’s truly. }

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Filed under Entertainment, Everyday Life, Faith, Passion

Death is Not Dying

Our life is fragile and easily blown away. But death is not dying.

Today I finally sat down to watch the video of Rachel Barkey speaking to a group of women about the terminal cancer that fills her body and the faith in God that fills her soul. It’s a beautiful address that everyone should hear. It’s just under an hour long but it’s well worth the time out of your day. She is a beautiful inspiration and I believe that through her upcoming death God will work wonders and be glorified. I can not wait to meet her in heaven some day and while it is so sad that she is only 37 and leaving behind a husband, two young children, and other family and friends, she will be in heaven and God will use her life and death for His good and glorious purposes. Now go and watch the video and let her words speak for themselves!

(Picture courtesy Keara Jaelyn.)

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Filed under Christianity, Everyday Life, Faith, heroes, Passion, The Gospel

The Battle Against Blog Views

 This summer will mark a year of blogging for me. May was the month that I first started writing blogpost like articles and started thinking about starting a blog. I’ve gone from having no clue what server to even use to giving opinions to my family members on the pros and cons of Blogger vs WordPress, blogging on both, and starting a blog for my own mother. I even learned how to make a picture link button widget thing! (Though don’t ask me to repeat that…) 

 Blogging, meanwhile, can be both good or bad for our pride (or good or bad for our humility). When you get a comment that says you did an excellent job or that there should be more people like you in the world, your ego rises a few hundred points. When someone shows you catosrophic errors in your reasoning, philosophy, or general writing, (or even no comments at all) it’s easy to get discouraged. It’s the same way with blog stats… oh those condemning or glorifying numbers! 

 Since I’ve started blogging, stats have been one of those things that it’s hard to get past. All along I’ve known in my head that I’m writing for an audience of one, that the number of people it reaches doesn’t mean the amount of impact, and that getting views is no reason to have a blog, but those opposing thoughts keep returning. I keep finding my mind wandering to how I can get more stats and trying to comment on blogs or find ways to get links to my site from other sites just for purposes of views. When I hear of those that have many more hits than I do, I must admit to a pang of jealousy that occurs in my heart. 

 So what is the point of telling you all this? Why should I admit to this struggle with my pride and coveting? Part of it is showing the fact that I am so very human! I know that a close friend of mine who I met through my blog reflected that it wasn’t until we met in person that he realized I was human. I like to show people my good sides, especially on my blog, and I don’t like to express my struggles in life. In reality, pride is my biggest battle everyday. I think that my lack of views may be only helping that battle. 

 When I have a day that the views are high, my pride is soaring as free as an eagle! On the other hand… when I have a day that my views are pathetically low, it’s a reminder that I need to focus on Jesus instead of the people that I’m writing to. It’s easy to think of ways that you can get more blog posts with interesting titles or topics, but that’s not what God has called me to do in my writing. God has called me to write from my heart, sharing my meditations, thoughts, and life in a way that will glorify Him and encourage and inform others. The issue is not popularity, the issue is faithfulness.

  So all you bloggers out there on blogosphere, can you relate? Has blogging become about stats and views rather than the message that you are trying to convey? Has the focused changed from being about glorifying our heavenly Father to getting a good rating from others? Is blogging a way to puff up your pride? I know that my answers to those questions are not what they should be so it’s time to search my heart and let God once again remove my pride and people pleasing.

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Filed under blog, Christianity, Everyday Life, Faith