Change the World

Before Christ, “In all of history, only one culture had prohibited [abortion and infanticide]–that of the Jews” (42)

I remember my mother telling me where she was and what she was doing when she learned that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. She was sweeping the basement floor and listening to the radio. When the news came, she shut off the radio. Denial is our first response to unfathomable news.

Eventually the event becomes memory. But if we lose our awareness of the past, we neglect the help it offers. Few people alive today remember the horror of hearing that news.

We’ve reached the point in our nation when no school age students remember the events of September 11, 2001. They have only heard about the day 19 terrorists killed more than 3,000 Americans on US soil.

Since the fall of Roe v. Wade more than a year ago, however, we realize American’s have not come to terms with legal abortion. We still argue over it. A voice still proclaims the sanctity of human life. A voice still declares the holiness of the traditional family–the community designed to welcome and nurture new sacred lives.

Before Christ, aside from the Jews, every society practiced abortion, infancticide, pedophilia, and adultery without internal controversy. In their book Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again, Mike Aquilina and James L. Papandrea explain that human rights, equality, and compassion for the needy and weak have been nonexistent throughout history except for the influence of the Judeo-Christian God.

In the Roman Empire, charity was unheard of.  “A woman had no legal existence apart from the men who controlled her.” Roman fathers could execute their children, if they “judged them guilty of a crime, even into adulthood” (69). Abortion and infanticide, especially of girls, were common. Not rare, but common.

Aquilina and Papandrea cite census reports from Delphi that show that out of 600 families, “only six raised more than one daughter” (authors’ emphasis, 48).

Jewish communities treasured their children. But nobody else in the world thought twice about throwing away girls or disabled boys, any “inconvenient” child, like trash.

Until Christ.

Christ and His messengers changed the world so that human rights and equality became norms in Western Civilization. Most families in societies the Church influenced understood the nature of their holy trust to nurture sacred lives.

Today some of us are like my mother at the moment she learned of tragedy in the South Pacific. We have turned off the radio. Voices still argue. Some children and families survive; some thrive. Many are wounded or worse.

In the decadent world–before and beyond the Roman Empire, Christians spoke.

“To affirm the universal dignity of human life requires the strong to speak up for and defend the weak, those who can’t speak for themselves” (29).

Christians are the voice to renew regard for human life. We hold the revolutionary ideas that changed the world once.

And those ideas can change it again.


 
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
Psalm 139:16.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Same War, Different Uniforms

Faithful Christians of different traditions are soldiers in the same army, but our uniforms are different colors. It’s as if we somehow believe it is not a war we are fighting but a game we are playing. And the soldiers with different colored uniforms are players on a team we oppose—a team of bitter rivals—rather than our fellow soldiers who hold to the same creed and battle the same enemy.

Imagine two nations, each warring against the same evil foe. The world is in peril as the evil enemy conquers more and more countries, stealing more and more hearts. The enemy troops are captives. The soldiers who fight the enemy are duty bound volunteers whose mission is to call the enemy’s troops to freedom.

Further imagine the general of one nation trying to discuss battle strategy with a general from the other. The generals do not speak the same language, and no one is present to translate. Some individual soldiers continue to engage in battle—some effectively, some even in concert with allies in different uniforms. Their efforts are small and uncoordinated. 

Other soldiers don’t know what to do, so they do nothing but fret about the war to the soldiers of their own units.

Both nations have the same goals, but they use different strategies. Some work well; others waste time, resources, and energy fighting the same battle here, but sending no soldiers there. The needs are great, but the work is lonely and calls for reinforcement.

Because the nations’ customs and foods are different, they misunderstand each other. These misunderstandings distract both from the crucial battle against the enemy. They imagine their fellow soldiers as the enemy.  The two forces end up fighting each other. 

Many who have not joined either are confused. The enemy succeeds in drawing them outside the battle lines, outside the reality of the war they themselves need to win. The evil enemy takes even more ground, captures even more souls.

The army that fights the enemy has a long history. When its fight began, the army was a small corps of committed fighters; most gave their lives in battle. From the army’s very inception, from its beginning with only twelve generals, the enemy had infiltrated the ranks.

A betrayer was within the ranks of the army’s greatest leaders. For the first 500 years, division happened within the army.

The forces of good were the faithful who battled forces of evil, the corrupted betrayers. Infiltration continues to this day and sparks confusion among those who might otherwise become soldiers. Some people like wearing the uniform but would never actually engage in battle. They are not true soldiers.

Aside from infiltration, the enemy has two main battle strategies. The first is persecution. His intention is to kill as many soldiers as he can—the most typical war strategy. It not only eliminates opposition, but he supposes that it deters new enlistments. This strategy is often faulty. Our army grows in the face of persecution, and our cohesiveness is at its peak when our trials are plenty. The soldiers wearing different colored uniforms work together best during times of persecution.

His second strategy is more subtle and more insidious. He lavishes our established, well-entrenched forces with wealth, comfort, and divisiveness. The divisiveness is often thinly veiled self-righteousness. We make judgments about each other based on those who wear their uniforms lightly or even deceptively, or we accept someone’s misinterpretation of another’s worship language. For Satan, this second strategy has been his most effective throughout history.

The primary battlefield of this war is within people’s hearts. Here is the battlefield we have most neglected. Here is the front where we must win.


Photo Credit: Pixabay

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Way to Healing and Wholeness

To heal my wounds, I worshiped myself.
I found the wrong path to healing and only stumbled on my way.
Self-worship became wounds wrapped in chains.
Scars lingered.
Birthmarks for my children,
Who received their own wounds.

We seek our heading on life’s path,
To heal wounds,
To break chains.
Christ is that Way,
The Rock on which chains break,
To make us free.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Road to Somewhere

So much of life is,
Like a footprint in the sand.
We work so hard,
But our marks wash away to nothing
On a road that seems to lead to nowhere.

But One marks each step,
Notes its direction,
Its influence,
Its intention,
Its imprint.

If we let Him,
He will direct our steps,
And lead us to a way,
Of no sand, of no lost meaning,
A road of His purpose.

Over hills, through valleys and storms,
Dark nights and new days;
We stumble; He leads on,
He lights the path, the road to somewhere,
And guides us in the way everlasting.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Saving Light in the Darkness

“We came from Caladan–a paradise world for our form of life. There existed no need on Caladan to build a physical paradise or paradise of the mind–we could see the actuality all around us. And the price we paid was the price men have always paid for achieving a paradise in this life–we went soft, we lost our edge.” Frank Herbert, Dune~

Imagine spending your daylight hours–most of them in an eighteen-inch tunnel shoveling coal out of your space by hand. Your son stands ready to fill a large bin on wheels just outside the small tunnel. You both get paid for production–not time invested.

You also provide the fuel to warm the homes in your community and beyond.

Boys go to school until it’s time to go to the mines. They grow up and raise families. Sons in the mines, daughters in the kitchens–all working to make life better for the next ones coming. That is the story of the Arigna Coal Mine–now a tourist site–in Ireland.

I grew up in a railroad town near the heart of America’s coal country. I remember the strip mines dotting our rolling mountains. Now restored, the mountains appear never to have been mined.

Yet, mining still happens around us. As my husband and I drove across a bridge in town the other day, we saw a long line of rail cars all filled to the brim with coal.

Mining still happens, but it’s no longer a lone man picking and shoveling out a tiny tunnel.

When machines came to Arigna, they had the opposite effect of what we might expect. Today when we consider robotics and technology in the workplace, we calculate how many jobs will go by the wayside as machines replace workers.

When mining found technology, the industry needed more workers to haul the greater bounty out of the mountain. And since production increased, and since the workers earned through production, both jobs and earnings grew.

Yet in Arigna, one thing remained. And it resonates in my heart every time I ponder it.

When we entered the mine–now a large, reinforced tunnel to accommodate tourists rather than miners–there was a picture of Christ. The tour guide–at a government-funded site, mind you–explained that workers prayed as they began their shifts–prayed for safety–and God answered and blessed.

Our guide credited Christ as the “safety officer” of the mine that produced, first iron, then coal for more than 400 years. In 400 years of mining–with no safety agency overseeing operations until the 1980s–only one man died.*

I’ve pondered the faith and devotion of those miners since my visit to Arigna. And I’ve pondered the life of unimaginable (to me) work!

Like us, they were imperfect. They had conflicts with neighbors and petty jealousies.

They had unmet dreams. In the 1960s, they staged a strike that lasted several months.

Yet overall, they seemed to have a kind of satisfaction we lack today. Life was hard but good.

That’s an idea that seems so foreign to us. We do all we can to resist it. We work with the expectation that life will get better and better must mean easier and more prosperous. Easier and more prosperous came to the miners of Arigna through technology. But they never took the picture down of the One they believed kept them safe.

Life is hard. It’s easier and more prosperous for some. But there is meaning in difficulty. And the One who watched over the Arigna miners is faithful.

Photo Credit: RTE Archives, Arigna Mine

*One website asserts that “five or six died” over the years. Another says, “Accidents were few and far between.”

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Darkening America, Illuminating Light

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” Charles Dickens

When I was a radio news reporter, I wanted to do a special Christmas feature for the morning drive program.

I wrote a poem to record to music but wanted another voice along with my own on the piece. So I went to my kids’ elementary school and interviewed six first graders. I asked them, “What is Christmas?”

Three of them talked about Jesus. But the other three made no mention of Him. To them, Christmas was all about Santa and presents. Nothing more.

My sample was small and young. Hardly a statistical representation of first graders, let alone Americans in general.

But my results actually came close to how Americans view Christmas today. Pew has issued a study showing that only 55 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. That’s down from 59 percent as recently as 2013.

Many of us bemoan such news. It’s the War on Christmas!

But our complaining about the de-sacralization of the holiday hasn’t changed the minds of those enjoying a holiday they deem secular. All our griping has not turned a tide toward keeping the day holy.

The Pew study investigates not only what bothers us–or doesn’t– about the growing secularization of Christmas. It also investigates belief (or disbelief) in the assertions of the Christmas story: Jesus’ virgin birth, the shepherds, and angels.

Belief in those details, of course, reflects faith in who Christ is. To deny the details of the Christmas story is to deny the deity of Christ. Those details hold great meaning.
He is sinless because He had no human father. God as His Father means He is perfect God as well.

When Christ was born, God the Father sent angels to the socially lowest of people–the disregarded, the outcasts–the shepherds.

The presence of shepherds within walking distance of Bethlehem indicates that Christ was not born in December. Shepherds typically did not keep their flocks near villages because of the odor they caused. They would be nowhere near Bethlehem except during a 30 period before Passover–a period of preparation for the yearly sacrifice.

The shepherds outside Bethlehem were Levitical shepherds. Ironically, they were ritualistically unclean. They walked through feces. They touched dead things.
The angel told them to find a baby lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothsTo shepherds raising sheep for Levitical sacrifice, swaddling cloths would be vastly significant. For a lamb to qualify for sacrifice it had to be perfect, without blemish.

The shepherds swaddled lambs intended for sacrifice–they wrapped them in cloths to protect them. The angel saying that they would find the infant wrapped in swaddling cloths indicated that the baby would be a sacrifice. That baby was the Messiah they had long awaited.

Many would have expected a Jewish king to be born in Jerusalem–the city of the king–not Bethlehem. But Bethlehem was the City of David–a keeper of sheep.

God’s choice of a birthplace for his son wasn’t just a fulfillment of prophecy–which it was. It was also a symbol that Christ the King would be the fulfillment of sacrifice on our behalf.

Christ was the sinless Son of God, the perfect Lamb to be sacrificed for the shepherd’s sins–for our sins.

Most of the world isn’t interested in investigating the Christmas story. The trinkets, toys, and glitzy lights of Christmas are enough for them.

They try to fill the empty spaces of life with the clutter and noise of a secular Christmas. When we complain about society’s treatment of Christmas, we merely add to the noise. We can’t fill the empty places of their hearts. Only Christ can do that.

So aside from complaining, what else can we do? We can keep the true Christmas in our hearts. We can heed the angels’ message of “Fear not.”

“Don’t take this sobering news [of the study] as a reason to rend your garments and wail. Use it as reason to make your family’s celebration of Advent and Christmas more religious.” Rod Dreher.

As we do, we recognize that, on that first Christmas, God invited the unclean to see His Son. Those who reject Him today are yet among the invited.

People seek purpose and meaning today. But they cannot find it without Christ. One of those children I interviewed understood what so many fail to see today.

“What is Christmas?”

“It’s Jesuseseses’ birthday.”

He brings peace on earth–within our hearts. He is the perfect sacrifice for us.

When we celebrate Him, our silence can overwhelm the noise and darkness.
Embrace His peace. Celebrate Him. Shine the true light.

Revised from 2017

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Beyond a Path of Suffering

“God’s ways are at times like heavy wagon tracks that cut deep into our souls, yet all of them are merciful.” ― Charles Haddon SpurgeonGrace God’s Unmerited Favor*


Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. Something bad happens. And the landscape of our story changes completely. We have a new perspective, a new direction. A bad thing works for good that we did not foresee.


I have a friend who worked in an ice cream truck when he was 17 years old. That seems like a job that would have few challenges. But one day, he was robbed and beaten. The event changed the trajectory of his life.


He became a career prosecutor. He devotes his life’s work to pursuing justice for those who are robbed, beaten, cheated, or worse.


A neighbor’s grandchild was born with serious handicaps. He and his parents faced challenges most of us cannot imagine. But two of his aunts found inspiration and, because of him, became therapists.


A former student’s younger sibling was born with a genetic disorder. This student is in medical school studying to become a geneticist. She may change the life trajectory of others who suffer from similar conditions.
 
We Christians love to quote Romans 8:28–“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”


But we sometimes neglect the following verse: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” We are creations still in the shaping process–being conformed to the image of Christ.


Most of us can look back and clearly see our turning points. We can realize now that we found our path because life changed one day. Unexpected. Unpredictable. Even unpleasant and painful.


But never without purpose.


Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

For Us, For Him

Broken, unleavened bread,
Crushed grapes.
The bread and wine that He was,
Flesh and blood, a sacrifice of agony,
For us.

The prayer,
Asking His Father
To take away the cup.
Then His will set aside,
For us.

The arrest,
A voluntary prisoner whose “I am He”
Knocked them down.
Then He went with them,
For us.

It was cold.
They taunted and beat Him.
They drove nails into Him,
And He let them,
For us.

Today, we follow,
For Him,
A meager offering compared to His,
For us.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Previously posted: March 2016