A Spiritual Warfare Lullaby

Greater is He
Greater is he who is in me,
Than the one who’s in the world

There is no power in Heav’n or hell or earth
That can ever separate me
From the love of God our Father
From the love of God above

Like a Good Shepherd he leads me
Besides waters still and calm
In the presence of all of my enemies
Still the presence of God above

I will not fear the terror
Of the day or the night
For I know my Father is with me
In the dark he is my Light.

All the hosts of Heaven are shouting
At the victory he’s won
All of Hell continues to tremble
At the love of God above

The One Question We Must Ask {A Life Overseas}

by Jonathan

It’s a simple question, carrying with it the power to clarify purpose and extend longevity. It’s a question that buttresses against the nasty cousins of burnout and bitterness. It’s a question we need to ask more often.

It’s simply this: “What is it that I really need?”

We’ve got to start asking our cross-culturally-working-selves, “In an ideal world, what is it that I really need to make it? To thrive? To be ok? To survive where God’s called me? What is it that I really need?”

Before you crucify me for turning the Gospel inside out and hamstringing it with a message about me and my needs, hear me out.

I’m not at all advocating a life without obedient sacrifice; I am expressly advocating a life of eyes-open sacrifice. You might not get what you need. In fact, I’m pretty sure you won’t. There are a lot of things you need that a life of cross-cultural service just won’t be able to provide. I’m talking about the full spectrum here, from a Starbucks latte all the way to the absence of gunfire.

And that’s where this gets real.

When you realize that some legitimate needs won’t get met, when you realize that safety and functioning utilities and access to public libraries and date night just aren’t as much a thing where you live, you can do two things. You can seek to mitigate, or you can choose to sacrifice. In reality, I actually recommend both.

Mitigate it: Consider whether there are any creative workarounds that might meet the need, in whole or in part.

Sacrifice it: Obediently, with a full heart and open eyes, sacrifice the thing as a holy act of worship.

Continue reading over at A Life Overseas

I was sexually abused. Here’s what I want all parents to do if their child tells them that they were abused too.

by Jonathan

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I thought I had AIDS.

I thought I was going to die.

That’s why I told my dad about the abuse. That’s why I crawled out of bed late one evening, approached him as he was paying bills with a check-book in the kitchen, and spilled my guts.

I told him I had done terrible things. I told him I was a horrible sinner. I told him I wasn’t a virgin.

It was the late ’80s, and all I knew was that people who did bad things got AIDS. I had done bad things, therefore, I had AIDS and was going to die.

Perhaps that sounds ludicrous, but that’s how my kid-brain interpreted the data, and that’s why I told my dad.

What my dad did next is what he should have done. It’s what any parent should do when a child says they’ve been abused. It’s what any church leader should do when someone says they’ve been abused. But terribly, it’s not what many parents and leaders actually do.

He believed me.

That’s it. That’s the main thing: Believe your child.

 

Innocent until proven guilty
As an attorney, I’m tremendously thankful for our legal system. It’s got issues, for sure, but the general principal that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty is absolute bedrock. It’s vital to the just operation of a courtroom.

But we’re not talking about courtrooms.

We’re talking about living rooms and bedrooms and kitchens. And in those places, you should always, always, always start off believing your child. Or friend. Or parishioner.

Somehow we’ve got this false idea that false accusations are the norm. They are not. Allegations that turn out to be fabricated do happen, and we should be aware of the possibility, but our default should be to believe the person who’s talking about being abused.

Because sexual abuse is far more common than made-up stories about sexual abuse.

Now, believing the child in front of you does not mean you automatically believe the accused is guilty. I’m not saying you jump to conclusions and throw the accused under the bus. I’m just saying that you have to start off listening and hearing and giving space to the person in front of you. Start off believing.

 

Know that it’s often unbelievable
Sexual abuse often happens in the context of a known relationship. You and the child will likely know the abuser, and that is typical. For me, it was a neighbor, and the majority of the abuse happened in my house.

You will probably know the abuser. You might even be related to the abuser, and again, that’s what will make the allegation so unbelievable.

If your child tells you about being abused, it will certainly be something you don’t want to hear about, and the thing is, it will likely involve someone you don’t want to think about. But listen to me, please. Don’t rush to defend the accused. Rush to hear the child.

I’ve heard enough stories from teenagers and clients and patients to say, with all the fire in my bones: if your child tells you about being sexually abused by someone you don’t want to think could do it, BELIEVE YOUR CHILD.

My dad believed me. He told me I wasn’t going to die. He told me I hadn’t done anything wrong. He hugged me.

And honestly, I don’t remember what happened next. I don’t know if they talked to the neighbors. I know I didn’t see that neighbor anymore. I wish I could ask my parents what that was like. What did they think? What did they feel? Unfortunately, that conversation will never happen; both of my parents died many years ago.

I don’t remember many of the facts. But I do remember the feelings.

I felt loved.

I felt heard.

I felt protected.

I felt valued.

I did not feel silenced.

My dad was not incredulous or doubtful or skeptical. He started off believing me, and he kept on believing me.

He hugged me.

And that’s exactly what I needed.

Facebook Live at A Life Overseas

Hey all, just a quick note to let you know Jonathan and I were on Facebook Live for about an hour last week, talking with friends and readers all over the world. If you want to watch a replay of our conversation, Jonathan posted it here. We talked about many topics during that hour, so Jonathan included a cheat sheet of sorts in the replay. ~Elizabeth

Laughter as an Act of Rebellion {A Life Overseas}

Jonathan is at A Life Overseas today . . . 

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“There are times when the most effective way to teach a certain truth is by laughing very hard.”

G.K. Chesterton, as described in The Bookman (1912)

There are times when laughing very hard is brave defiance; a dare to the darkness impinging.

Satan, the lying burglar, loves to steal joy.

But Jesus, the rough-hewn Carpenter, loves to give it back.

There’s a difference between joy and happiness, between joy and laughter, I get that. But sometimes, we try to be so spiritual that we end up being too grown up for God.

Joy is richer and fuller than happiness. But joy does not exclude happiness. That’s like saying, “I love her, I just can’t stand her!” Really?

“I’m joyful, I just look bitter and angry and like I want to kill a bunny!” Really? Is that all we’ve got to offer a world that’s drowning in its own pessimism and rage?

Is some sort of hunkered down holiness God’s idea for the Church? Yeah, I don’t think so.

In such a world (which, it should be noted, is not too dissimilar from times past), laughter is a bright act of rebellion.

Seriousness is not holier than joviality. For many, though, it’s much easier.

Finish reading here.

Love with Faith (or Play Guitar with Both Hands)

Recorded at ICA in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 2017.

To listen to the message, Click Here or visit the trotters41 podcast on iTunes.

Paul concluded his message to the Ephesians with the idea of Love mixed with Faith(6:23), and I borrowed his thoughts for a bit. Here are some excerpts…

Love comes to seek and save the lost, while Faith believes they can be.

Faith empowers Jesus to prophetically imagine a new paradigm for the co-crucified: “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” While Love communicates the fantastical truth: “I want you with me in paradise.”

Faith innervates Jesus’ declaration to the Samaritan woman, “If you only knew the gift God has for you….”

But Love is what got Jesus talking with her in the first place.

“Love joined with faith.”

Faith helps me believe the Gospel. Love helps me share it.

Without Faith, Love lacks vision and imagination, leaving us without mooring and definition.

Without Love, Faith becomes cold and unapproachable, leaving us bitter and mean.

We need both.

Love mixed with Faith.