ADHD, children, illness, myths

How You Should Respond to Special Needs Families

I couldn’t decide what to call this post: “Stop Shaming and Blaming Special Needs Families”? “She Said Coddling Causes Special Needs; This Was My Reply”? “How Not to Respond to Special Needs Families”? I settled on “How You Should Respond to Special Needs Families” after quite a bit of deliberation. I feel very strongly about this topic. Regardless of what we call this post, the fact remains that parents are being blamed for their children’s medical conditions.

This needs to stop.

{{FYI: This article contains snark. Consider yourself warned.}}

Last week, I found a comment on my Facebook page that was something like this:

“Children wouldn’t have special needs if you didn’t coddle them, and treat them like babies, and if you made them toughen up.”

Oh, really? That’s how it works, huh?

Okay then, let’s define what “special needs child” means –because that comment leads me to believe that maybe she really doesn’t know what it is.

“In the United States, ‘special needs’ is a term used in clinical diagnostic and functional development to describe individuals who require assistance for disabilities that may be medical, mental, or psychological.” (from Wikipedia, italics are mine.)

According to the commenter, I guess that means that my friend’s daughter who has Type 1 Diabetes is only sick because she’s weak? The fact that she’s been poking herself to check her own blood sugar levels since she was three-and-a-half years old is not a sign of her strength and fortitude? I guess this child has a life-threatening autoimmune disease because she’s been hugged and held too often?

I guess that means my niece who has bipolar would automatically stop having manic and depressive episodes and suddenly start understanding the consequences of her actions if we were just harsh enough in our treatment of her? If we just forced her to be normal? Maybe if we pushed her around a bit? Or chased her with a baseball bat? Maybe if we locked her in a closet? That would cure it?

I guess that means that my friend’s son who is nonverbal with autism would suddenly start speaking if we stopped coddling him and treating him like a baby? He’s only struggling because we aren’t being hard enough on him? Maybe a little cruelty would cure him? Maybe we should scream at him and intimidate him into talking? You think that would work?

My son with ADHD, an anxiety disorder, and learning disabilities –maybe I could just beat the brain development problems, panic attacks, and handwriting struggles out of him, then? Pshaw. Why should we make sure children feel safe, secure, and loved by their families anyway? When he has pain in his hands from handwriting, maybe I should just tell him that if he doesn’t do his assignments I’ll really give him something to cry about? I’m sure that a good beating will solve his learning disabilities? And make his anxiety so much better too, right? You think so?

I guess my friend whose child has severe, life-threatening allergies would just keep breathing if we force fed her the thing she’s allergic to? After all, isn’t she just being weak? And we are just allowing the allergic reactions to happen by treating her like a baby? I’m sure she just made up the anaphylaxis –and that two-week hospitalization was the child manipulating the hospital staff? There’s no possibility that the medical doctors actually know what they’re talking about, right?

Here’s the reality:

Parents don’t willy-nilly decide their child is a little snowflake and label them “special needs” for the fun of it. No one does this for the kicks. Professionals —medical, mental health, or developmental professionals— they diagnose these conditions.

They diagnose these conditions because they’re REAL and because the child has an actual, factual, legitimate medical need that most other children don’t have.

We get a diagnosis to help our children. It is anything but fun and games. Don’t you think that if these conditions could be fixed with a little “tough love” we would have done that already?

Having a special needs child is hard, far harder than most parents could imagine. We try everything we can think of, often grasping at straws and faint hope, existing on a wing and prayer trying to find answers for our kids. No parent wants their child to be sick or to have an autoimmune disease or a mental health disorder or developmental disorder or a learning disability. Like every parent, we want healthy children, and often we mourn our children’s diagnosis and the struggles we know that they will face –not the least of which is cruel judgments from small-minded people.

We get the diagnoses because we are trying to help our struggling and hurting children.

Parents should never EVER be shamed for seeking medical treatment for their children’s legitimate medical conditions.

And, sorry, but no other person gets to decide what is a legitimate condition and what is not.

And, you know, reading an article online explaining some journalist’s opinion about a medical condition does not make you an expert in that condition.

We are experts in our children’s struggles because we live with it and study it every day as we try to help and care for them.

If you can’t be supportive, keep your mouth shut.

Our lives are stressful enough without the ongoing drama caused by people who have no idea what they’re even talking about.

These children are not being coddled or given crutches. We are treating children with legitimate medical conditions. We are guiding and loving them with dignity, kindness, and grace. The same way any human should be treated. We are choosing to believe them and to help them where they struggle –as any decent parent would, as any decent person would.

Shame on those who try to would belittle, shame, and bully parents into not getting the best medical care they possibly can for their child!

Shame on those who would try to make parents feel like failures because their children have medical conditions!

Shame on those who would disparage a parent for looking out for the best interest of their child!

A child with a broken leg needs a crutch. If he is denied a crutch when his leg is broken, that’s abuse. That’s traumatizing. That’s wrong.

The same is true of ANY child with ANY medical condition.

Unless you have a special needs child, you do not know the immense pain and struggle these families face. The parents learn to be hypervigilant –always watching for their child’s medical needs. Often, the parents develop PTSD from the ongoing stress of caring for these children. These kids fight harder every day to exist, and be, and function, and go on than you could imagine in your wildest dreams.

All the while, these parents are fighting against the cultural biases that their children’s medical needs are illegitimate.

They hear accusations that most people would never dream of saying to a parent of a child with leukemia, for example, because that’s generally thought of as a “real” diagnosis.

Frankly, the level of prejudice against special needs families in our culture never ceases to amaze me. It is getting better with time, but we have a long way to go toward cultural acceptance of children and families who do not fit nicely into a box.

Instead of criticizing, blaming, and belittling, you should be admiring these families.

Admire the child who doesn’t give up when faced with far harder circumstances than most adults will ever face.

Admire the mother who keeps on fighting for an accurate diagnosis and treatment for her struggling child and refuses to give up.

Admire the father who endures a manic episode or autistic meltdown with grace and calmness while keeping the child he loves more than his own life safe.

Admire the parents of a violent child with multiple mental health disorders who keep loving the child through the violence, through the struggles, who fight for that child’s health and mental health even if it means the hard decision of institutionalization.

Admire the siblings who sometimes get the short end of the stick because mom and dad put so much energy into their struggling sibling –but they keep loving their sibling anyway.

Admire the families who get up every day and fight the same battle they fought yesterday with the same tools that may well have not worked yesterday, but they still keep fighting.

Admire the adults with these diagnoses who lived through a generation that blamed these legitimate health conditions on the person suffering …and yet they came out the other side. They didn’t commit suicide when they felt abandoned by the world. They didn’t give up –or at least they didn’t give up forever. They turned around and decided that no other person should ever feel like they felt and made it their life’s goal that others shouldn’t suffer in silence as they did.

To the original poster: Why would you choose to turn a blind eye to the needs and suffering of those around you? If you choose to ignore, attack, and marginalize these amazing, strong, brave, resilient, noble, victorious, fighting special needs families all around you, maybe you’re the one who truly needs a doctor.

I suggest a psychiatrist.

Because mentally healthy and emotionally stable people don’t behave like that.

I pity you because you have missed the beauty that these special needs families bring to the world.

And, I’m sorry for whatever happened to you that makes you feel like it is okay to spread toxicity and hate when you could spread kindness and joy.

At the end of the day, let’s try to leave the world a little better than we found it. A little kindness could make a huge difference in our world.

A little kindness could make an already-horrible-day a little more bearable for a family struggling to keep their head above water in a world that doesn’t understand or appreciate their day-to-day battle.

To you who are wondering how best to respond to families of special needs children: listen to them, believe them, support and encourage them if you can.

And, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

To you who fight this battle every day for your children:

I see you.

I understand.

You are not alone.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

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faith, myths

Am I Violating the Bible for Speaking out Against Sinful Men?

I have been quiet on the blog for a number of months. There is more than one reason for this.

First of all, I’ve had some serious health complications over the last few months and took a break from blogging at the advice of my doctor.

And, second, I also have been thinking about the future of the blog, because I have been frustrated over one specific issue I’ve experienced.

I can talk about my chronic health problems, ADHD, homeschooling, or mental health, but as soon as I start talking about the most important thing to me, my faith, other Christians –particularly Christian women– start screaming that I am teaching men and in violation of scripture.

I even took a few of my posts off the blog until I could review scripture and reread the posts. I heard the objections, but I need clarity of mind to address this issue, clarity of mind that I did not have in the middle of my health complications. This post is my answer to those accusations. The short story is that I’ll be putting those previously-removed posts back up soon.

In this blog post, I am going to answer three primary questions: Does the Bible command women to always be silent? Does the Bible forbid women from speaking negatively about men? Do my posts on this blog qualify as teaching men and therefore they’re in violation of Bible commands?

Now, I actually agree with the objectors that women should not teach men. The scripture is very clear that within the context of the church women are not to be pastors and in authority positions. I am fine with that and have no plans to ever become a pastor. I have made that clear more than once and even put that in my bio …which seems to have disappeared after I updated the blog. I’m off to find my missing bio after I finish writing this.

“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” 1 Timothy 2:11-14

The entire book of Timothy was written from Paul to Timothy about how a church should be run. This passage is written specifically about how women within a church service should behave.

It doesn’t even make rational sense that this passage would apply to women everywhere and in every situation. If it applied to women in every situation, then a women would not even be able to teach her husband to fold a sheet, teach her teenage boys anything since biologically they’re men even if they’re not adults according to the laws of the local government, and even women who have male employees or hired services like a gardener or plumber would be wrong to tell them what to do.

That’s ridiculous.

I know people who believe that women should never have any authority over a man. I even know men who quit their jobs when a female got hired in a position over them. This is not what the Bible is talking about –and it is frankly misogynistic. The Lord has a specific reason for putting men in authority in the church and that reason goes back to Eve being deceived by Satan as referenced in the passage above. I know some women view it as an unfair punishment, but the fact is that the command is there and those of us who love Jesus choose to follow His commands.

But, nowhere does it say that women are not allowed to have opinions and not allowed to voice those opinions. It does not say we have to be silent everywhere. It only specifies where those opinions cannot be expressed: during the church service. The Bible doesn’t censor what women say –only where they say it.

I reject the notion that godly women are supposed to quiet, timid, silent little mice who have no opinions and no voice. I actually have opinions that differ from my husband. I’m very open with him about those opinions. He doesn’t have a problem with me having my own opinions and being my own person. As I’ve mentioned before, if we disagree on an issue, I defer to his judgment. This idea that women are supposed to be timid little mice comes from a misunderstanding of scripture which I will address at another time.

It is a foolish man who doesn’t at least consider his wife’s opinion and perspective. God gave the husband a built-in advisor in a wife.

“Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22

Why would you marry someone you couldn’t trust? And, if you have a trustworthy partner, why would you ignore their counsel?

“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:11-12

There’s no indication in scripture that women are to always be silent. Those who say such things are taking passages that are specifically talking about a church service and removing it from its context. The context is quite clearly within the church service. By removing it from the context, they strip away the mean, stealing the truth. Do they really think they know what God intended to say better than God himself? There is a reason that we interpret scripture literally and within its context –it helps us avoid abusing passages in the Bible or twisting them to mean whatever we want them to mean.

I know women who will not tell others about Jesus but instead leave the job of witnessing only to the men so that they don’t accidentally tell a man about Jesus and be guilty of teaching something to a man.

First of all, our lives and lifestyles speak far louder than our words ever will. I guarantee you can’t keep your life from teaching others even if your life is just a cautionary tale. Secondly, there’s no indication in the Bible that a woman giving an answer when asked why she has hope in Jesus would be a sin if she were speaking to a man.

“…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:15

Nothing in that passage in 1 Peter 3 says, “except not the women.”

I know of women in abusive situations who went to their local church and simply asked for prayer. These churches were not fringe churches or cult churches; they were mainstream, evangelical churches. These women were told that they were not even allowed to ask for prayer, because that would be disrespectful to their husbands and indicate that they were being unsubmissive by speaking negatively about men.

I have not only spoken negatively about men, I have called them out for sinful behavior.

And, I do not believe I’m wrong to do so.

Incidentally, neither does my husband.

It is not wrong for me to have opinions that align with scripture and voice those opinions. That is not exercising ecclesiastical authority over men or teaching men in a church service. It’s just me, having opinions and saying what I believe.

Let me explain what I mean. Let’s say that my husband and I have a couple over for dinner. After dinner, we are sitting in the living room discussing current events, and the visiting husband compares a recent news story to something in the book of Revelations. I mention that the parallel isn’t biblical because the current event does not match up with prophecy in Revelations, and I explain why. The husband thinks about it for a second and decides that what I said is right. Guess what? He just learned something. So technically, I just taught him something even though we’re just having a conversation in my living room.

Did I just break the command not to teach a man or have authority over him? No, because we are not in a church service. I’m not exercising ecclesiastical authority over him. I don’t have any authority over him at all. I’m just stating my understanding of the Bible.

The Bible actually instructs women to not ask questions during the church service but says that she should ask at home indicating that it is fine to have Biblical discussions at home. This command is specifically telling her not to interrupt the service. It doesn’t say that she cannot have opinions and voice those opinions. It only specifies where she cannot voice them and why. It also never says she’s only allowed to discuss the Bible with her husband. It only tells what to do if a woman is thinking about interrupting a church service to ask questions.

“As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” 1 Corinthians 14:33-35

In the above passage, Paul was addressing a problem of complete chaos in the Corinthian church service. Women interrupting the service was only one of many issues that were causing problems in the service which you can see if you go back and read all of Corinthians 14. The women were not the only ones causing problems in the services, either. Instead of interrupting, which apparently had become a significant issue in the service, Paul says that the women should discuss it with their husbands when they get home (i.e. outside of the service).

I’m totally onboard with that. Imagine that I’m in church service, and the pastor is preaching along. I stand up and interrupt his sermon to ask him to clarify one of his points –or, worse yet, argue with him. That would be incredibly rude and disrespectful. This is the kind of thing that was happening in Corinth. If my husband is sitting beside me in church then I can easily ask him to clarify when we get home. If I was not married or if my husband wasn’t at the service, I could ask the pastor or a friend after the service as long as I’m not interrupting the service which is what this passage is specifically about. To say it is broader than that it to take it out of its context and to abuse the passage.

It also doesn’t make sense that women cannot ever ask questions except to her husband. What if she’s not married? What if her husband is an unbeliever? If she is not allowed to ask questions, then she is stunted in her understanding of scripture with no one to ask? That also doesn’t make sense. It makes sense when you understand that this passage is talking specifically about asking questions in a church service.

Now, imagine that I have a brother who is abusing his wife. (To clarify, my brother is a very sweet guy who doesn’t abuse his wife, so this is just an example.) I find out about the abuse, and I know that my brother professes to be a Christian. I decide to write my brother a letter explaining why he is in sin for how he treats his wife and calling him to repent.

Am I in sin for doing this? No.

That letter to my brother would not be teaching. It is not ecclesiastical authority or church service preaching. It is a rebuke. Rebuke is completely different from teaching. Galatians 6:1 instructions all members of the church –brothers and sisters, male and female Christians– to work to restore those who have fallen away. You can see the Strong’s definitions and uses of the words, particularly how the word for “brothers” can be used to mean all believers in Galatians 6:1 at this link. This command was not given only to men in the church –it applies to all believers. I did a fair amount of searching on Google and couldn’t find any Christian groups claiming that women were excluded from this command.

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1

According to Merriam-Webster, to rebuke is “to reprove, implies an often kindly intent to correct a fault, gently reproved.”

While in-the-church-service teaching was given to men, nowhere in scripture does it say that rebuke is only given to men. Nowhere are women forbidden from rebuking. I know some people will probably disagree with me, but it cannot be backed up with scripture. You only come to that conclusion if you jump through hoops and try to make the Bible say what it doesn’t.

The key to the passage in Galatians is not male or female but maturity. Those who are mature are to do the rebuking because rebuking needs to be done in gentleness, and those rebuking need to be founded firmly in Jesus so they aren’t tempted by the rebukee’s sin.

Now, in the culture that was prevalent in New Testament times, a woman probably couldn’t have gotten away with rebuking a man. But, the Bible is not dependent upon the culture. It transcends the culture. We can look at the culture’s history to better understand the Bible and what’s happening in a passage, but we are not bound by that history or culture. Culture is created by sinful man, and we are in error if we idolize it. We are not commanded to imitate it. We’re even more in error if we try to say that a certain culture (that of first-century Israel, for example) is Biblical truth.

We do not live today in a culture where women are expected to not have opinions, and scripture certainly doesn’t say we cannot have opinions or voice them.

The same commands are given to women as are given to men regarding opinions and voicing rebuke. In Ephesians 4, Paul lists spiritual gifts (which, again, are not limited to just men) and instructs Christians to “Speak the truth in love.” I would be in sin if my above-mentioned theoretical letter to my brother was not written in a loving way. But, just because it is a woman rebuking a man doesn’t make it a sin.

“He gave the apostles… the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ….” Ephesians 4:11-15

I know a lot of people who believe that any woman speaking negatively to or about men is in sin, but it simply cannot be backed by scripture. Just because something is repeated over and over doesn’t make it true. Unfortunately, when it is repeated over and over people start believing it –even if it is false teaching.

By holding to the idea that all negativity about men is a sin, Christians perpetuate abuse. I have watched women who hold this view ignore the cries of their fellow sisters for too long. I have even spoken out against women who perpetrate abuse.

This blog is not a church. A lot of people read my blog –people from all backgrounds and beliefs. The church is specifically a gathering of Christians in one location, and a Biblical church according to scripture always has a leader, a male leader to be specific.

I’ve always compared my blog to a journal. Basically, I write about things I care about and let others read it. It is kind of like you coming and sitting in my living room while I discuss whatever is on my mind over a cup of tea.

Honestly, in some ways, blogging is more like standing on your front porch yelling about whatever you’re fired up about… but, I digress.

What perplexes me so much is that many of the same women who would have no problem discussing these issues with me in my own home will freak out as soon as I write it down. That doesn’t even make sense. As long as I’m writing about things that are temporal, these women don’t care. But as soon as I write about eternal things, the things I really care deeply about, I’m accused of being a false teacher because somehow by posting online I’m suddenly “teaching men.”

If I’m going to spend the little time and energy I have on this earth before I succumb to these diseases in my body doing something, I would like to spend it making an eternal difference in other people’s lives.

And, Christian women trying to silence other Christian women just infuriates me.

It is so wrong –on so many levels.

I’m all for living our lives according to the Bible. What astounds me is women who perpetuate abuse –especially spiritual abuse– by trying to silence women who are crying out for help or by trying to silence those who are coming to the aid of those crying out for help.

The command to help others doesn’t go away just because the woman who is hurting happens to be married. Woe to us when we ignore the cries of the hurting because it is inconvenient to realign our beliefs with scripture and defend those who needed help.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

Too many Christians are quick to try to help unbelievers in need but notoriously ignore the hurting in their own churches –or worse yet refuse to even allow the hurting in their midst while embracing the abuser instead. I wish I could say that never happens, but it does. Way too much.

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10

Do they really think we are supposed to help each other and bear each other’s burdens except for when it is a married woman asking for help against her abuser? Then, we can ignore it because we cannot speak out against any men?

How can we call ourselves Christians while ignoring our hurting brothers and sisters? I challenge those who believe such things to reread their Bibles, particularly the epistles of the New Testament.

Heaven forbid that we abandon those who come to us for help and defend their abusers!

I will not stop speaking the truth.

I will not stop defending the hurting people in our churches –and wherever I see them.

And, above all, I will not be silenced.

Blessings,
Sarah Forbes

faith, myths

The Bible Doesn’t Call Us to Host Dinner Parties | A Discussion About the True Meaning of Hospitality

More than once recently, a young mom with a bunch of little kids in tow has lamented to me that she’s falling behind on her job as a Christian…

…Because she’s not hosting dinner parties.

Well-known Christian authors have published books about the importance of having dinner at a table and inviting many people to that table –often with scripture that supposedly backs this up.

I have some shocking news: not only does scripture not tell us to host dinner parties, it doesn’t even command us to have dinner at a table.

Ok, now, catch your breath.

I know I just contradicted hundreds of years of Christian traditions.

But, Christian traditions do not equal Bible commands.

In fact, what we really need to do is compare the traditions of men with scripture.

Did you know that the Bible commands us to not get caught up in the traditions of men —especially if those traditions are based on philosophies that are not according to Christ?

So what is the definition of hospitality?

“Friendly and welcoming to strangers or guests” according to Google.

One Bible commentary defines it as “willingness to help the weary and heavy-laden ones of the world.”

And what does the Bible have to say about hospitality?

How is the word hospitality used in the Bible?

What are these verses that are misapplied and used to make moms of little children feel like failures because all their energy is going into providing for and caring for little eternal souls instead of cooking fancy meals?

Aren’t little souls supposed to be a mama’s first responsibility?

And, who is daring to make a mama who is focusing on those little souls feel bad about her properly-placed priorities?

One rule of Bible interpretation is that you use the most detailed verses on a topic to help explain the less clear verses.

Another rule is that you take the historical context and passage context into consideration when applying scripture.

That means that we cannot pick a verse out and use it however we want to –we have to figure out what the verse was intended to mean.

The most detailed verses regarding hospitality are the following verses:

“Do not neglect hospitality, because through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 (MEV)

The KJV doesn’t even use the word “hospitality” in this verse but gets right to the point of focusing on strangers:

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2 (KJV)

Another verse on this topic lists the qualifications for a widow to be worthy of financial support from the church:

“Do not let a widow be counted unless she is over sixty years old, has been the wife of one man, is well attested in good works, if she has brought up children, has lodged strangers, has washed the saints’ feet, has relieved the afflicted, and has diligently followed every good work.” 1 Timothy 5:10

Other translations say she doesn’t qualify unless she is “known for showing hospitality.”

“Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without complaining.” 1 Peter 4:8-9

Here are some things we know based on the above verses: we are commanded to show hospitality to other Christians according to 1 Peter and to show hospitality to strangers according to Hebrews.

Now, let’s look at the historical context of these verses.

What was going on in the world at the time? The New Testament was written against the backdrop of the Roman Empire.

Christians were being persecuted and were fleeing for their lives.

We know this because many of the letters in the New Testament telling the believers how to handle persecution.

Do you think that with all that persecution going on that the writers of the New Testament were actually telling the Christians to host dinner parties?

No, that’s ridiculous!

They are saying something like this: “When strangers who are believers come to your town fleeing persecution, open up your home to them and help them.”

See the context there? How that fits into history and agrees with the passages?

Hospitality in the New Testament isn’t what we think of as hospitality today.

It isn’t making an elaborate meal and keeping a house clean for people to come have a party.

In the context of scripture, hospitality is opening your home to or helping those who are in need.

While the Bible doesn’t specifically say that you cannot open your home to unbelievers, there are specific commands to be hospitable to other believers.

So, mama with a bunch of little kids who feel like you are not being hospitable, let me ask you a question: if someone knocked on your door today and they were injured and needed help, would you help them?

That is being hospitable.

If you knew a mom who was being beaten by her husband and she came to you and said “My children and I need a safe place to stay,” would you help her?

That is being hospitable.

If there was a car accident outside your house and people were hurt would you go out and help?

That is being hospitable.

This is helping true needs –serving and ministering.

And, it has nothing to do with a clean house, fine china, and elaborately planned dinner menus.

If you think hospitality is about those things, you are missing the point.

Hospitality in the context of the Bible is meeting the needs of other people and helping them when they need help.

That idea is further backed up by Hebrews 12:13 which says:

“Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality.”

The command to be hospitable isn’t given to just women, either:

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach.” (1 Timothy 3:2)

As a person with chronic illness, I may not be able to many things –I certainly am not healthy enough to host dinner parties, and we rarely even eat at the table because the table is usually covered in school supplies and groceries I haven’t had the strength or energy to put away yet.

Shocking, I know!

But, if you have a need, I will be there for you if I at all can.

We know a Christian family who lives a ways away from us and kind of in the middle of nowhere.

We were traveling and needed a place to crash for a few hours so my boys who were little at the time could take a nap while my husband was working that day.

Unfortunately, circumstances around the job he was working had prohibited me from making solid plans earlier –I didn’t know I needed a place to stay until that day, and we didn’t know another soul in any direction for hours and hours except one family.

This family refused to let us come by their house even for a few hours.

I was desperate for somewhere to go because my husband needed the car to go to the job he was there for –he needed the car for the job, and the children and I were not allowed on the job site or else I could have just stayed in the car and had the children sleep there.

Every plan I came up to address our situation fell through.

I ended up paying for a room at a hotel so my children could take a nap: we paid hundreds of dollars that we couldn’t really afford to use a hotel room for a few hours when our friends were right down the road unwilling to help us.

Although I’m sure their reasons seemed sound to them, it seemed like when we were really in need, they refused to help –like they viewed us as an inconvenience rather than a Christian brother and sister in need or a ministry opportunity.

That’s the point of hospitality: helping those in need.

It isn’t about having a finely set dinner table –it is about helping others when they are in need.

I have always wondered how I would respond to someone’s need –and planning and writing this post has made me rethink how I address requests for help.

I mean, sometimes, I am just unable to help.

If you call me and say “I really need a ride,” and I am in too much pain to drive that day, I cannot help you –but, I would probably try to find someone else to help you.

A while back, a car broke down across the street from my house.

I live on the busiest street in my town: it is the main road between our little town and the next big city where most people work.

I joke that the whole down drives by my house every day.

The car had been sitting there for a while along the side of the road with traffic whizzing by it.

The inhabitants didn’t get out of the car, and I wasn’t sure at first that there was even anyone in there.

I was getting ready for a medical procedure, and we really had to leave by a certain time.

Then I noticed movement in the car.

I wasn’t sure what to do.

I was concerned about their car being in traffic.

I was concerned that maybe they didn’t have a phone or that they needed help.

So, I finished getting myself ready to go and walked carefully across the street.

They had broken down, they had a phone, and they were waiting for a relative to come help them –he was about an hour away.

I offered to get my boys to push their car out of traffic, but they didn’t want to.

Thankfully, it was not hot that day, and the mom seemed to be entertaining her munchkins to pass the time.

I offered use of our bathroom, but she said they were fine.

I didn’t know them and didn’t feel comfortable leaving them in my house while I was gone: I needed to leave for the doctor’s office in less than 10 minutes.

I did the only thing that I could think of: I went into the house, gathered up some bananas and bottled water and took it over to the car for them, and I told her they were welcome to run around in our yard and use our lawn chairs while they waited if they wanted to.

She had mentioned that they were headed to someone’s house for lunch before they broke down; I would have provided something more to eat, but that was about all I had because I really needed to go grocery shopping.

She thanked me profusely, and I just tried to be as kind and helpful as I could be under the circumstance.

I kinda felt like there was more I should have done, but I couldn’t figure out what.

By the time I got back from the doctor’s office, they were gone.

Do you see someone in need? Help them if you can!

Even a little help is better than no help.

When the scripture says you may be helping angels unaware, it doesn’t mean that one of the people from your church who come over for a dinner party is secretly an angel.

It is talking about helping strangers.

I have seen my parents live out this idea of helping people in need –they have done it before my very eyes, and I am honored to be able to see their faith in action.

I have seen them help people who have needs –like being stranded in one state trying to get to another– and my parents have dropped everything and driven those families to the place they were trying to get to even hours away, provided food for them, diapers and clothes for their children, and made sure they were in a safe place once they got to the new location.

I have no doubt in my mind that my parents’ hospitality to strangers left a lasting impression and a strong testimony to those to whom they have ministered.

I implore you, do not reduce the concept of hospitality down to a dinner party.

If you do, you miss the point.

You do not have to have a clean house to minister to other people’s needs.

My house was not clean when I was helping the family with the broken-down car, and I would have brought them in my messy house if they needed to use the bathroom.

If I hadn’t needed to go –and been unable to reschedule the appointment, I would have even brought them into my home until their help arrived.

Do you think that the lady trying to get away from domestic abuse cares when the last time your living room was vacuumed? Or your shower clean out?

So, mama out there with a house full of little people feeling like you can’t be hospitable: look for ways that God brings people into your life that you can minister to.

Our responsibility is to focus on the eternal things in our lives: the souls of your children matter more than the condition of your house; the souls of those around us who are in need matter more than the condition of your house.

You do not need a clean house to help other people.

And, you certainly don’t need to host a dinner party to do it.

Those who say hospitality is about a dinner party are missing the point of these verses and missing opportunities to minister to others.

Not only that, they are teaching –erroneously– that women who are unable to host dinner parties are somehow in sin for not doing so.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with hosting dinner parties, but that is not what the Bible is commanding us to do.

We need to read the Bible with the context of what it was written and what God was trying to communicate through the original authors instead of simply viewing the words through our modern, wealthy, American culture.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith, myths

 The Stumbling Block Modesty Myth

I have not been shy about my criticism of the modesty culture or of the movement’s misuse of scripture to back up its position.

I recently stumbled upon an excellent article that outlines the misuse of scripture and how those verses that they misuse should be applied to our lives.

Accurate Bible application to our lives is very very important!

Here are a few quotes from the blog post which I hope you will take the time to read. There are so many myths wrapped up on our American Christianity –things that are so commonly believed but not biblical.

This issue of modesty –or at least the way that scripture is applied to this topic– just another one of those myths.

Follow that argument logically, and what you have is this:

Some people, even if they love God with their heart, soul, mind, and strength, will cause people to sin simply because of who they are and how they were made.

Even if they do nothing, they are a stumbling block that may cause someone to sin.

Yet what does God say about stumbling blocks in this passage?

That it would be better for them to have a millstone tied around their neck and be thrown into the sea.

Is that what we really believe? That a woman, through no fault of her own other than simply existing, would be better off if she were thrown into the sea because of the effect she has on the men around her?…

These passages appear to be saying that it is wrong for women to deliberately dress in order to entice men to lust, both because that can weaken their faith and can cause him to sin. However, the passages also say that it is wrong to shame women about their bodies. In addition, Scripture clearly says that women are not to blame if a man actually does lust, and that if a man lusts just because of the way a woman looks, when she is not deliberately trying to get him to do anything, then that is entirely on him.

Saying definitively, then, that women bear the responsibility for men’s consciences because of the “do not cause a brother to stumble” just doesn’t hold up biblically.

I hope you will prayerfully consider what is presented and not just believe what is commonly believed among Christians.

The Bible is the final authority in our lives, not the opinions of mere men.

Here are a few other posts about this same topic:

Modesty Misunderstood 

The Modesty Myth

 

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith, myths

Christians, Stop Worrying About What the Culture Does!

Christians like to act like the current generation is the first to ever face a culture that is pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality.

As if no one has ever dealt with these types of problems before.  As if the world has fallen so far from the morality that once existed. As if extreme sins did not exist in past eras.

Those who say this have a very narrow view of both world history and Bible history.

Many Christians honestly think that no one before 1960 ever dealt with these issues.

They honestly believe that they need to get our country back to a “godly” or “moral” place by fighting against anything that doesn’t align with Christian values.

As if somehow we ever were godly.

As if somehow we’re owed a nation with Christian values.

Using Old Testament verses –which were not even promised to us New Testament Gentiles, but were promised to Old Testament Jews– they try to find verses that say that God will bless us if we come back to being His people.

The problem with that?

We never were “His people” –not like that.

The Israelites –the Jews– are and have always been His people.

Those promises in the Old Testament are not ours to claim.

God did not make those promises to us so we cannot claim them.

So, God does not promise to reward us as a country if we come back to Him. Those promises and the commands to fight injustice were given under the Law and in a Theocracy. We’re not a theocracy. He makes no guarantees in the New Testament that we will live in moral places.

Quite the opposite!

Anyone who studies church history knows that Christians have been persecuted, tortured, and martyred throughout history.

Anyone who studies the New Testament knows that this is all we’re guaranteed: persecution.

We are not guaranteed a safe, moral, religiously-friendly place to live.

So why do we go around fighting for that –for the right to have a moral culture?

Is that the pattern we see in scripture?

Two major issues that my generation of American Christians are fighting against are abortion and homosexuality.

Those issues existed within the Roman empire.

They absolutely did and don’t let anyone tell you that they didn’t.

Homosexuality was a big enough issue that Paul addressed it immediately in the first part of his book to the Romans.

Abortion has been around for forever. Before medical tools existed for that purpose, herbs existed that would cause an abortion.

So, if these issues existed why didn’t Paul command believers to get involved with politics?

To petition the government?

To start a rebellion and fight for morality?

If New Testament believers were going to die for their faith anyway why not go out preserving their countries with better morals for the future?

That’s American Christians’ argument: if we do nothing then our children will live in even a worse country with fewer morals than the generation before.

But does scripture ever command us to preserve our countries and cultures by trying to enforce moral laws on them?  

Do we see that pattern in the example of New Testament believers?

Did Paul try to fight against the government to change the unfair way that Christians were treated? Did he try to get the Roman empire to adopt moral laws that aligned with the Bible? Do we see him acting politically at all?

No.

We don’t see any political activism in any of the New Testament believers.

You can’t say that they failed to fight against immorality because they were afraid of the consequences. They weren’t trying to preserve their lives because the majority of those first-century believers who lived for Christ died horrible deaths!

We do see them helping individuals for the purpose of reaching them with the gospel but never in a political activist kind of way.

So why was that? Why did they not seek to influence government? What did they see as their mission?

They saw their mission to affect the hearts of men for eternity –not to create a safe place for life on this earth for Christians to live.

If you’re trying to create a safe place on this earth, you’ve missed the message of the New Testament.

The New Testament never tells us to try to create a culturally and religiously safe place for ourselves.

This is a lie that the American Christian Church has believed.

What does scripture say about the government?

1) We ought to obey it unless it is against God’s commands (even then, there’s no command to fight against the government, and we are commanded to obey the governing authority).

2) We ought to do our duty —to give what is owed– to the government. Our duty includes paying taxes, voting (when applicable), and even fighting in the military (if drafted). What’s considered your duty varies by country.

3. By Paul’s example, we know that we can ask that our legal rights be fulfilled.  Paul asked for what was legally allowed under Roman law when he asked to have his case viewed by the Emperor. Notice that he didn’t try to change the law to make it more fair. Also notice, that even with his legal rights fulfilled he was still martyred after his court case was heard. We should never expect a government made up of sinful men –which all governments are– to save us.

Jesus said to give unto Caesar what was Caesar’s, but He never said to try to change what Caesar expected or asked for.  

When He was asked about taxes, Jesus turned the conversation back around to the spiritual which is where our focus should be reminding us to give God what we owe Him.

If we’re believers, we owe God our lives.  We should not be trying to use politics to preserve our lives and our safety.

One of the true tests of faith is if you’re willing to take up your cross –meaning willing to die horribly for Jesus.

If you’re trying to use the government to preserve your safe place, that’s a pretty good litmus test for the insincerity of your faith –or at the very least an extreme misunderstanding of what the Christian faith is about.

Sometimes our motivation as Christians is good: to help people.

We are called to do good to all people, so there is nothing wrong with helping people (we can talk another time about the fact that we should be focused on helping those in the church before those outside the church).

But, we are not called to make social and political changes. That is part of a false teaching called the Social Gospel.

We’re supposed to be dying for Him, not trying to make a Christian nation.

We have believed the lie that we’re doing what God wants, that Americans are “God’s people” when the truth is that what many Christians strive for in the USA is contrary to scripture.

Christians pray for revival but what they usually mean is a cultural return to morality, not that people would truly be taking up their crosses and willing to die for Jesus.

The best thing that could happen to the church in America is persecution.

That’s what will bring true revival to the church here in the USA.

I’ve made people angry by saying that,  but it’s true.

I have actually begun praying for persecution here in the United States of America.

That’s what will grow the church. That’s how we will make an eternal difference in our world.

Persecution. It’s actually good for the church!

More people will come to Christ through watching our faith under persecution than ever come to Him through moral laws.

But most people who claim the name of Christ are so busy worrying about the temporal, earthly things like politics and cultural changes that they’ve lost sight of the eternal issues.

This is why I vote, but I’m not politically active –much to the frustration of many Christians around me.

I’ve been accused of turning my back on Christ because I won’t get politically involved to stop abortion. Or because I won’t picket against men in women’s bathrooms. Or any number of religiously-motivated political activisms.

But that’s never been the job of a Christian.

If it had been then we would have seen the church in the New Testament fighting against all the injustice in their time –like the Coliseum in Rome where countless slaves were murdered for entertainment and where many Christians breathed their last, mauled by wild animals.

What you never, ever hear in the New Testament is believers whining that it’s unfair.

They never cry out for the preservation of their rights or their lives or even for their children’s future.

It’s simply not what we’re called to do as believers.  

Why is a Christian not to try to make moral changes?

Because if we can help unbelievers see their spiritual need, their morality will change along with their changed life in Christ. Just changing their moral behavior doesn’t help their souls. It only makes sense to do that if you believe a false version of Christianity where you can earn your way to heaven by goodness which is what many Americans believe.

We should be concerned about the eternal, not about changing this earth for our own benefit.

Just changing the outward behavior is not helpful for their soul and causes the false sense of spiritual security that we see prevalent in the USA today.

Seventy percent of the US population claims some kind of Christianity (the number is only about forty-six percent if you remove cultic groups and various versions of Catholicism).  I am certain that most of these –even what we would think of as bible believing people– do not believe an accurate, biblical view of this topic. I would guess that most of them are not truly saved even if they claim to know Christ.

Most of American Christians have a twisted view of Scripture. If you doubt me, take a look at this article about Moral Therapeutic Deism, and see if you recognize today’s church in the description.

People don’t need moral reform; they need Jesus to make them alive spiritually.

That’s what we’re called to do.

We’re called to be a light in this world, even willing to die for Jesus.

Even by our deaths, we can point people to Jesus.

We’re called to witness, tell about the hope we have, show people Jesus, and then train them up in His way, in discipleship.

The fact that we’ve done so poorly in the discipleship of believers is part of the reason that the majority of the American Christian population believes that they’re here to change the political climate to better reflect the Bible’s moral rules. 

The church has fallen down on the job.

Join me in praying for persecution to come to the American church so that we can weed out false teaching, false believers, and have a good testimony again! 

Join me.

If you dare.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

PS I highly recommend reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (Affiliate link) for more information on dying for your faith and the brave believers who have gone before us.

faith, myths

Friday Crucifixion: Why It Matters 

I think people who want to take scripture at face value are drawn to the idea of a Wednesday crucifixion. I commend them for desiring to not simply accept whatever is tradition.

However,  the problem comes in the unanswered questions left if you assign a Wednesday crucifixion. It messes up prophecy and so many other things.

It’s easy for us Baptists to dismiss beliefs by saying, “Oh. That’s a Catholic belief.” But, in this case, a deeper look is necessary.

Is there a reason behind the Friday Crucifixion belief?

Yes, there is! It can be backed up by scripture, tradition, and even history.

We actually know now on which date Jesus was crucified based on calendars and Hebrew dates given in scripture.

This need not be a big mystery. 

This is important because it shows that the historical context of a passage can significantly impact its meaning. 

It shows us how important it is to study the scripture through the eyes of the Hebrew people. 

This is why the rules for bible interpretation include looking at the historical context. What did that phrase mean to the Hebrew people of that time (in this case “three days and three nights”)?

It’s interesting to note that –according to what I’ve read– this is only confused by Gentile believers who are unfamiliar with this idiom that is actually used over and over in the Bible (in the Old Testament,  too). The phrase “three days and three nights” is used multiple times in the Old Testament when is absolutely did not refer to a full 72 hours. It seems that even unbelieving Jews recognize that it was an idiom in the Old Testament.

If you don’t understand that there are figured of speech in scripture, you will grossly misinterpret passages.

Even the Talmud records the incident of Jesus death and says it was on Friday.

The idea that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday didn’t exist in church history until the 1800s when a creative layperson thought they knew more than the Bible scholars who had studied this topic for centuries.

Coming up with creative new theories about the Bible is never a good idea.
Click the link to view the entire article I’m sharing. This is slightly above my level to explain on my own,  but I thought it was important to share.


Did Jesus die on Good Friday? 

By Tom Brown 

It’s not necessary to know the exact day Jesus died in order to be saved; you just need to believe that He died for your sins. Knowing the day of His death is interesting, but not essential. There have been a few people who have doubted the veracity of the Bible because they misunderstand the prophecy of Christ, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt 12:40). They say you cannot get 3 days and 3 night from a Friday crucifixion. However, the term, three days and three nights is a colloquial phrase meaning three days. It does not literally mean three full days and three full nights.
Otherwise we have a problem with another prophecy that says that Christ would rise “ON” the third day. Consider the many passages that affirm Him rising on the third day:
“They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” (Luke 18:32-33).
‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again'” (Luke 24:7).
“They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.” (Acts 10:39-40).
And to confirm that Jesus rose, not “after” the third day, but “on” the third day, Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and while they did not recognize Him as first, they told Him, “And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body” (Luke 24:21-23). Notice, that on Sunday, while the two disciples were talking to Jesus, they mentioned that today was “the third day” since all of this had taken place.
You don’t need a calculator to calculate three days. The only way to get three days to Sunday is to begin on Friday. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Three days!
Some assume that in order to count a day, you must have a full 24 hour day. That is ridiculous, nor does this even make sense in our modern vernacular. For example, if I told you that I spent the day with a friend, do you assume that I spent 24 hours or at least 12 hours of the full day, beginning when the sun came up to the time when the sun went down? No! You understand by my language that I only meant that I spent some part of my day with him.
The same is true of the term three days and three nights. It does not mean you must calculate 24 hours times 3 days, thus 72 hours. That would not even make sense, since Jesus died at three in the afternoon and rose in the morning on Sunday. You cannot get an exact 72 hours from those times.


See the full article here.

Understanding the existence of parts of speech in scripture is very important. If you deny the existence of parts of speech then you will not be able to grasp the concepts in scripture. The Bible doesn’t have changing meaning. It meant the same thing in 60AD and in 500AD that it means in 2017AD.

May we have the wisdom to be workmen and to study the bible. If we are workmen, that means that it will take some work to understand it.

But it is so very worth it!

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith, myths

Christians Hurting Christians

I had something planned to post today, but I never got it written.

I was so struck by something I read today that I could think of nothing else.

Since my mind is so engulfed in it, I thought I would write about it.

I had been following a woman’s blog. She writes women’s bible studies, and I thought did a fairly good job of using literal, historical, grammatical interpretation.

One of her posts was about false teaching in the church. In a comment under the post, a young lady explained how she had stopped going to church because of the false teaching in the churches around her, about her difficulty finding a good church, and how she had given up on the institution of the church and was attending in home bible studies instead.

We will give them names for easy of explanation: we’ll call the blogger Mary and the commenter June.

It was obvious that June had thought out her choices and was seeking to align them with scripture. She was still getting together with believers and fulfilling the command in the book of Hebrews to not forsake gathering with believers.

What followed was the most ungracious and unkind (not to mention unbiblical) rebuke of this young women.

According to blogger Mary unless June was doing all these things she was in sin:

1) She needed to be in church every Sunday.

2) She couldn’t substitute any fellowshipping or gathering for church because only a church building would suffice.

3) She could not attend a church that wasn’t part of a hierarchy like a denomination.

4) She needed to understand that the church was a building, not people.

5) Not even a home church or an independent church would suffice because it didn’t have the right kind of ecumenical leadership.

(Just to clarify, none if those 5 points are biblical.)

What Mary seemed to not see — even though it was quite clearly explained– was that this young woman was coming from a place of deep hurt by people in the church. When June tried to reach out to someone who she thought would understand (Mary), she was attacked.

June politely asked if Mary could back up her points with scripture because June thought she was obeying the command in Hebrews.

Mary retorted curtly saying why didn’t June back up her own position and that if June didn’t understand these things she wasn’t saved to begin with so it was a waste of Mary’s time to try to explain.  

Now, I think this struck me harder than it normally does because I had come to admire Mary for her ability to explain the truth of scripture in a way I could easily understand.

But, this incident is a prime example that head knowledge is not enough.

You can know a bunch of stuff about God, but if it doesn’t change who you are and how you act, what’s the point?

The book of James says you do well to believe in God because even the demons believe in God and tremble.

Satan knows the truth. So do the demons, but it doesn’t change them.

Our faith should change us.

It should make us different.

God’s will for us is that we mature in Christ and have better character.

This exchange between Mary and June was no different than countless unkind interactions between unbelievers that I’ve seen online.

Understandably, I unfollowed Mary’s blog.

More than her accusations being wrong, her attitude and manner of harsh communication were wrong.

This was not action befitting a daughter of the King.

As I’ve mentioned before scripture has very little to say about the manner in which we gather. It is our American Christian culture that teaches that you must meet in little white buildings with steeples.

The Bible has no such clear commands (except that we continue to get together). We can see what happened in the early church, but that’s not commands.

If we look at the early church, we would see them gathering in people’s homes.

I think many Christians are genuinely unaware of the damage that the organized church leaves in its wake.

I wished I could reach out to this young woman and tell her she’s not alone, but comments on Mary’s blog were moderated, and she stated clearly that she didn’t approve comments she disagreed with.  

If I could, I would reach through my computer screen and give June a big hug.

So, I guess this is my response.

The church is full-to-the-hilt of false teaching.

It is hard to find a good church.

If you find yourself in that position, you’re not in sin or unsaved to fellowship in a manner that’s socially unacceptable to American Christian culture.

The bible doesn’t say that.

Our salvation certainly is not dependent upon attending church.

What if you lived in an area with no churches?

Or you were converted and lived in a country with no churches?

What about pioneers who didn’t have churches available?  

None of those people are believers because they don’t go to church?

Do you think the underground church in China is worried about if they have the proper ecumenical leadership so that their members can not be in sin and be saved?

What about end times believers who will have no churches because the churches will be controlled by evil leaders?

Those assertions are frankly asinine.

They represent what’s wrong with our modern American Christian Church.

You cannot assume commands where God does not.

And even if you disagree with someone,  you should never, ever attack a person who is hurting and looking for help.

Remember our chart about who it’s okay to be harsh to?

Only false teachers.

June was not a false teacher. She was a hurting sister in Christ who was further damaged in the name of Jesus.

I’m the first one to admit that not everyone who says they’re a Christian is. But neither is it our place to go around saying that other people are not saved.

Scripture says examine yourself. Not go around trying to decide if everyone else was saved.

One thing you’ll never hear me say is if you don’t to X you’re not saved.

It’s not that hard to be polite.

It would be an understandable thing if June had been at all unkind to Mary. (It still would have been wrong for Mary to bite her head off, but it would have perhaps been understandable.)

But June was so polite and so obviously grieving and hurting.

Mary was just adding insult to injury.

I pray we’re wise in our interactions. I pray that we have the eyes to see hurting people and not hurt them even more.

Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted, and Christians go around hurting each other in His name.

I’ll never understand this.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith, myths

Fairweather Faith: the Myth of Prosperity Gospel

church-2071491_1920Part of me says that only in America would we be so arrogant as to think that those who are rich are the ones who are saved.

But, the truth is that people have been equating God’s favor with material, temporal blessings since time immemorial.

Case in point: the oldest book in the Bible, the book of Job, is in a large part exactly about this topic.

Job’s friends assumed that his family had died and his possessions destroyed as a punishment from God.

Even back then approval from God was thought to equal wealth.

Now, in the Old Testament during the theocracy, there are certain verses,  especially those in Proverbs that,  if you don’t take them in the context of the rest of scripture and even the rest of the Old Testament, you could easily think that God rewards His all servants monetarily.

This is why context and comparing verses to other scripture is important.

While Proverbs says that those who serve God will have barns full of food, Psalms says that sometimes the wicked prosper.

That’s just the Old Testament. The New Testament has even more to say about this topic, but it follows –based on the sum of the passages– that wealth cannot be used as a gauge for one’s godliness.  

And,  yet, a large part of our American population believes that God wants to make us happy, healthy,  and wealthy.

We addressed wealthy already, so let’s look at happy.

Does God want us to be happy?

He says that He will discipline us like a father and that this discipline will be unpleasant.

Have you ever seen a child happy while they’re disciplined?

No.

Scripture doesn’t say that God does things for our happiness.

Happiness and joy differ.

We’re supposed to be joyful in tribulation.

It’s hard to be happy when you’re being persecuted,  but consider this: joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and is divine power to be happy when circumstances are not happy.

But that’s not what the proponents of this idea are talking about.

They’re not talking about godly contentment and divinely given joy.

They believe that God wants to give you earthly possessions to make you happy with temporal things.

Scripture says we should be willing to give up all these temporal things for the eternal.

That’s what the parable of the pearl of great price was about: heaven was compared to a pearl that was so valuable that the man sold all of his possessions to obtain it.

If Christ is not worth denying all that and more, then maybe you don’t really know Him yet.

The last category that they believe God will give you is health.

This idea of prosperity gospel first came up as a result of my illness.

I didn’t even know that such a belief existed until I was accused of being in sin because I could not heal myself from my illness.

The accuser was a childhood friend,  someone who I had known since grade school.

I was shocked when she tried to use the story of Job as evidence that I was either in sin or not saved.

According to her,  Job was lying throughout the book when he declared his innocence.  She believed he was guilty of sin and that God gave him a new house and new family when he repented.

The problem with that was I have read Job many times.  It has been a source of comfort over the last decade of illness.  

I knew she was wrong.

I knew that Job never repented of a sin like lack of faith.

When I challenged her position, she accused me of hiding in the darkness of my sin and said that I was just trying to get attention by staying sick. If I just believed, according to her, I would be healed instantly but that I liked being sick so I stayed in the darkness of my sin.

Unfortunately, that was basically the end of our relationship.

It saddens me and I still care about her,  but I choose not to spend time with people who verbally attack me and accuse me of “hiding in the darkness and wallowing in sin” (her words, not mine).

I haven’t really had the opportunity to spend time with her anyway because she apparently decided  I wasn’t really saved and cut off communication.

Because that’s absolutely how believers are supposed to treat unbelievers, right?  (if I actually were unsaved as she believed I was).

What does the Bible say about having disabilities or illnesses?

Moses had a stutter. While God helped him talk, there’s no indication in scripture that God healed him. God just used him anyway.

Paul had an ailment of some sort, some have speculated that perhaps his eyesight was poor. God didn’t take it away,  but He used Paul anyway.

Timothy had some sort of digestive problem. Paul told him to drink wine as a medicinal treatment.

This incident with my childhood friend was really my first exposure to prosperity gospel.

But does God want to prosper us?

Is that the pattern we see in the New Testament?

We absolutely see Jesus rich and living the high life, right?

No?

A poor carpenter’s son running around with some fishermen –that sounds high society to me, right?

And then what about the disciples after Jesus death, surely they were rewarded for their faithfulness by big houses and paychecks, many servants, and they died of old age in bed in their big homes, right?

No?

No.

Eleven of the twelve disciples died horrible deaths for Jesus.

The writer of Hebrews said:


“Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, [were] commended through their faith.” Hebrews 11:35-39


Please go tell the people who were stoned and sawn in two how God wanted to make them wealthy if they had just truly followed Him in faith.

But wait, that’s not what Hebrews says.

Hebrews says that these people were commended for their faith.

These were acts of faith.

It doesn’t take any faith to serve God when you’re happy, when you’re completely healthy, and when you’re financially secure.

That’s The least faith-requiring position available to man.

But when you’re sick?

When you’re depressed?

When you’re persecuted?  

When you’re homeless?

When you have nothing to eat?

Then that’s the moment of truth.

That’s the faith moment.

That’s the moment when you get to choose if you’ll still follow Him, like Job declared, “even if He kills me, I’ll still trust Him!”

In that moment when you find yourself completely weak, you can turn to Him for His strength.

Prosperity Gospel is all about the glorification of man, how wonderful we all are with our awesome things that we got from genie-god. 

The true gospel is about how wonderful God is and about how we are willing to give up everything — even our very lives– to serve Him.

Our focus should be on Him. Prosperity Gospel is so “me” focused that when God doesn’t fulfill what its followers think He should, they abandon Him or think that they have committed some horrible sin that they can’t figure out.  We should anticipate persecution and hard times and seek to be content in any situation like Paul did.

February Bible Reading List (20)

“If you want to follow Jesus because He’ll give you a better life, that’s idolatry. Follow Christ for the sake of Christ; He is worthy!” ~ Paul Washer

Until Jesus is all you have and everything else is stripped away it’s hard to know for sure that you will give all for Him.

But, if you’re truly His, then one day you’ll find yourself feeling completely abandoned.

In that moment,  will you turn to Him?

Will you view Him as more valuable than all the possessions you have?

Would you be willing to give it all up for Him?

I pray that you will.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

myths

The Laziness Myth

Ever looming above the women is the accusation of lazy.

No matter how hard we work –especially those of us who are mothers– we get the accusation thrown at us unless we can manage to keep our homes looking like the cover of Better Homes and Gardens.

But let’s be honest: few of us can.

Sometimes it is overt accusations, and sometimes it is just whispered reminders. Continue reading “The Laziness Myth”

myths

It’s Not a Sin to Be Untidy

I was so sick I couldn’t walk.  I was physically unable to clean.

My physical condition did not make me less godly simply because it prevented me from cleaning my house. 

My dirty house was in fact evidence of what God was doing in my life at that very moment.

We must be careful not to judge others based on our own experiences or based on things that are not specifically commanded in the Bible.

God sees the heart, not simply the condition of our homes.

I’m glad He’s the One who is in charge and not my fellow humans who have repeatedly misjudged my heart, my actions, and my motives –all things we are commanded not to judge. Continue reading “It’s Not a Sin to Be Untidy”