Friday, March 27, 2009

Is God really in control?

I have a question for you... Do you believe that God is really in control? or do you believe in coincidences and chance? - that things just happen? Tonight I found myself facing that question. I was driving on a secondary windy road. I don't look forward to this trip because I have trouble seeing at night. I feel blinded by the on-coming traffic. It is stressful and sometimes triggers a migraine or headache. I typically listen only to cd's. No radio for me. I've got the CD's in my 10-disc changer, and all is good. For "some reason" I turn on the radio. I'm flipping stations trying to find something suitable. I "happen" upon a radio broadcast. I decide to leave the station there and listen to an interview with a prisoner. I joined in the middle of the program, so I had no idea who the interview was with. I was listening intently as the person was describing their first encounter with God -- which was in prison. I figure someone had given them a Bible, and they were saying that they were reading Psalms. The came upon a particular Psalm, and the verse that talked about God hearing our cry really stuck out to this man. He described that he suddenly had an urge to talk to God. Even though he had been angry with God since he was a child, he had this urge to talk to him. He knelt in his prison cell in the dark. He wasn't even sure that God would care anything about him. But that night, he poured out his heart just "talking to God" for about 20 minutes. My car was winding up a mountain, and the station turned to static. It's dark, and I'm not used to flipping channels, and I was using my remote. I kept flipping thru channels as I drove up the mountain. I was hoping that I'd soon start cycling back around to the station with that interview. I started using the scan back button, and I found it again. It was near the end of the interview at this point. But the prisoner was describing how he related to the Apostle Paul. Sometimes we forget that Paul was Saul of Tarsis who persecuted the followers of Christ. And here this prisoner was relating to Paul, because he too was a murderer. He completely admits his guilt, and acknowledges that he deserved to be in Hell. He freely describes the greatness of the mercy of God to save someone 'like him'. I must agree. How Great that Mercy is to us all who turn to Christ - regardless of what we've done, yet He forgives! After the interview was over, the broadcast switched back over to the host. I recognized his voice. Yes, it was Dr. James Dobson. This must be some branch of the Focus on the Family Ministry. Now, keep in mind - I "just happened" to pick up this radio program. I had no idea what program it was, or who was being interviewed. I soon learned that the interview was with a serial killer, David Berkowitz. You may be familiar with the name, but I wasn't. I didn't know who "Son of Sam" was. I had to come home and Google the name. I learned that he murdered several people in NY during 1976 & 1977. As Dr. Dobson is talking he highlighted the mercy of God, and described what he believed to be a sincere conversion of this man, of this murderer. He began talking about some of David's childhood experiences that may have contributed to why David became a serial killer. These are not excuses, but they are contributors. The first contributor he stated was that David felt abandoned by his birth mother. [I shook my head to clear the fog and asked myself, "Did I just hear that right?"] Then he listed another contributor was that the adoptive mom died while David was very young. [Yup. I guess I heard that right, he did say "birth mother."] So Dr. Dobson proceeds with asking, "what would have happened if David would have had a strong manly figure in his life when he was around 8 or 9 years old?" He went on to describe that David fought with depression from a very young age. And that's where I wish Dr. Dobson could have heard me as I yelled at the radio, "8 or 9 years old? Why not back up 8 or 9 years? What would have happened if David's Natural Mother would have had women in the church show the Real Love of Jesus Christ by helping her parent her son, instead of adoption? Then David would not have felt abandoned by his natural mother to begin with!" From the Google search, I learned David was born around 1955. This was still of the BSE (Baby Scoop Era) when unmarried women had their babies taken from them. Society did not see them as 'fit' to be mothers. Many times their own parents sent them away to homes where the women were treated horribly by the 'religious' people there. Dr's often would take the baby and the natural mother was not permitted to see the child - at times never knowing if it was a boy or girl. I have not researched to see if it was ever known who David's natural mother was, so I can't answer for her. But chances are pretty good that she did not "choose" adoption - instead adoption was forced upon her. My other question to you Dr. Dobson is this. When will the church start to realize that David feeing abandoned and rejected by his birth mother - he is by far not the only one? When the church pushes adoption they are willingly blind to the fact that adoptees feel abandoned. I'm talking about adoptees that grow up in "good" homes. I'm talking about adoptees where the love and family bond between them and their adoptive parents is very strong. These children grow up and when/if they listen, they hear a muffled voice deep inside that is asking "Why did my mother abandon me? Why didn't she keep me? What is wrong with me that makes me so unlovable?" I wish you could hear me, Dr. Dobson. When will you and Christians stop feeding the adoption industry frenzy and start to hear the voices of the victims. Those victims are the natural mothers who do not get over it (as the adoption industry boasts), and the children being separated from their natural families unnecessarily. When will you put the obvious pieces together? Puzzle Piece #1, David was adopted & felt rejected/abandoned by his natural mother. Puzzle Piece #2, David struggled with depression from a very young age. When you put these obvious Puzzle Pieces side by side, it shows that Adoption Harms Children. What if the natural mother of David Berkowitz was shown some compassion and love when she was pregnant? What if she was shown some love and compassion when her child was born and Christ followers helped her parent her child? Then David would not have started off his young life feeling abandoned. I flipped to another station. I could not listen to the rest of the program. I am disgusted by how the church pushes adoption and pays for babies, instead of helping support struggling families. I park my car and walk up to the house mulling over it all. I stand in my kitchen and ask God, "Why?" If He is really in control (which I believe) and if there really are no coincidences, then why did He have me hear that program?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fear Factor

Feb 21, 2009 - Pastor Don Key Scripture: Mark 4:34-41 Today our pastor did not give a sermon on the pre-planned topic. Instead he wanted to talk about fear. With the condition of the economy today, there is a lot of unrest and people are very concerned about their jobs, about their families, about their future. Here is a link to the .mp3 file for you to want to listen to the entire sermon, or at the very least listen to the opening story about George Frideric Handel. Fear Factor download Here are my notes from that sermon, which he titled "Fear Factor." Fear can be our undoing. Root Cause of fear is when we lose control. Often times; however, we don't really have control, we just like to feel as though we do. And then when the rug is pulled out from under us we realize just how little control we have at times. Here are some of the things fear causes: * fear can cause Panic. When in panic mode, this is NOT the best time to be making decisions. * fear can lead to being Paralyized. In Matthew 25: 14 - 30 , we read the story of the three servants and the talents/money. The servant who received only one bag of money in his own words was "afraid." This fear caused him to be completely paralyzed. He did not even try, because of that fear. * fear can lead to Procrastinating Indefinitely. * fear can cause us to lose Purpose. We need a Purpose that is Bigger than our self. So, what do we do with this fear? 1.) Operate on Facts, Not Fear / Feelings. Fear can make us miss critical facts. In the key scripture, Jesus was in the boat with them. We must not miss the critical fact that in our storm of life, even though it looks like our boat will sink, that God is in your boat. 2.) Don't Stop! Get up & Keep Moving! Just like the treadmill. It seems like useless activity. We work so hard step after step working up a sweat, and yet we get no where. Literally we end up exactly where we started. At least that is how it seems on the surface. But below the surface, where it isn't easily seen, is where the benefits and results are happening. So keep on moving even when it seems pointless. 3.) Keep eyes on Jesus. Jesus said "Don't be afraid." Jesus minimizes fear. 4.) Help someone else. ************ Here is where I'll discuss the points above and see if any of those principals can be applied to adoption. Adoption all starts with an expectant mom, and her baby; therefore, most of my thoughts are going to focus on her, the Expectant Mom (E-Mom). Any E-Mom is going to deal with some level of fear. A child brings with it a lot of responsibility. When that E-Mom is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, the level of fear is greatly heightened. If you talk to an E-Mom who is considering adoption, you will find a lot of commonly mentioned reasons. But if you listen, really listen to her, the primary reasons is FEAR. The entire time I listened to this sermon, I just thought how much I wish E-Moms could hear these words. I wish she would gain strength and courage by facing the fear. I'll just start from the top of my notes and work my way down... "Fear can be our undoing." But it does not HAVE TO BE SO! There are ways to deal with the fear and move past it or go on in spite of feeling afraid. "Root Cause of fear is when we lose control." We've all encountered a time where the rug was pulled out from under us. For a woman not intending to be pregnant, hearing that the test result is positive definitely is a rug ripping moment and it powerfully demonstrates she not in control, and fear is rampant. "* fear can cause Panic. When in panic mode, this is NOT the best time to be making decisions." Here is where I feel like people need to readjust their thinking about adoption. People in general, not just Christians. When it comes to adoption, people often tell an E-Mom, "do what you feel is best / right for you." Now, take a step back for just a moment. If an E-Mom is consumed with fear, and is in Panic Mode, do you really think you are supporting or helping her by saying that? If she is in Panic Mode, how do you expect her to sort through everything on her own? How can she really make the best decision with that underlying fear and panicky feeling that clouds one's judgment? If she is considering adoption, she needs someone to be her friend and help her look at ALL sides to adoption so she can make a decision based on all the facts. If she only hears about the "win/win" idea that is the most prevalent in society, she is not making an informed decision. If she is in Panic Mode, she may not even realize she is missing critical information. "* fear can lead to being Paralyzed." The sad part of that story is seeing that how much this man lost by not even trying. If you meet an E-Mom who is afraid about parenting, help her realize that the best decision she can make is to first try parenting. There is a myth that an adopted baby should be placed immediately with the replacement parents to avoid damage to the child. This is a tactic used by agencies to try to get an E-Mom to commit to what is called "pre-birth matching." Basically that means she selects a couple to parent her child while she is still pregnant. The hidden motive of "pre-birth matching" is to make the E-Mom sympathetic toward the couple so she would feel guilty if she changes her mind. If an E-Mom is considering adoption, you can help her to not be paralyzed by the fear and try parenting first. If she tries first, and it just is not working out, she can always look into adoption later. But you are doing her and her baby a greater service to encourage her to try. I've been in the post-adoption circle long enough now to tell you about the many natural moms who are later tormented by the reality that they did not even try. "* fear can cause us to lose Purpose. We need a Purpose that is Bigger than our self." Right off the bat here, I am going to make a statement that you may need to just stop reading, walk away, and ponder it before you read any further. No where in the scripture does it indicate that God puts babies in the wrong bellies. It just is not in there. So when we are talking about "Purpose" and E-Moms dealing with an unintended prenancy we must avoid the falsehood that God causes one woman to become pregnant for the sole purpose of satisfying a different woman's desires. You can search the Bible from cover to cover and you will not find one instance where an infertile woman pleads with God for a child, and He answers her prayer by giving her someone else's baby. If God has allowed a woman to become pregnant, then we need to support her in taking on that purpose of becoming the best Mom possible. Titus 2 instructs older women of the church to "...train the younger women to love their husbands and their children." So it is the church's responsibility to help E-Moms and new moms in this way. I am going to wrap up with on this last note 1.) Operate on Facts, Not Fear / Feelings. Fear can make us miss critical facts. In the key scripture, Jesus was in the boat with them. We must not miss the critical fact that in our storm of life, even though it looks like our boat will sink, that God is in your boat. . . . "3.) Keep eyes on Jesus. Jesus said "Don't be afraid." Jesus minimizes fear. " We've already covered decision making. So what I want to stress here is that Jesus minimizes fear, whereas the enemy capitalizes on it. It is the enemy, not Jesus, who using Fear to it's advantage. It's the the enemy who Diverts our attention from the facts that could be missed or hidden, yet they are so utterly critical. In our spiritual walk, the enemy is Satan. In the case of an E-Mom who is struggling through an unplanned pregnancy, her enemy is the pro-adoption crowd. This can be either adoption professionals, or a school nurse, or even a friend of the family. I list them as an 'enemy' because they cause her to focus on her fears by planting seeds of doubt in her mind. The seeds of doubt are tiny, and subtle. They come in the form of questions or comments like these: "How will you be able to afford a baby?" and "Babies are expensive." "Do you want your baby to be deprived of college" or "You're too young to be a Mother." "You aren't ready to be tied down. You shouldn't let a baby hold you back from accomplishing your dreams and goals." or "Don't be selfish, a child deserves a better start in life." "Children deserve a stable 2 parent home." "You could provide a family to a loving couple who cannot have children of their own." These seeds of doubt are to make her afraid - to make her think that she can't parent. - to make her think that she is selfish if she tries to parent. - to make her think that she isn't good enough, her baby deserves better. - to make her to think that it is her responsibility to provide a child to another couple. Stirring up fear is not from God. All this fear is shifting her focus from God's promises of giving her strength and providing for her needs. The adoption professionals also steer an E-Mom away from operating on facts by hiding from her critical facts that shows the affects of adoption on both the natural mother and on the child. Adoption agencies in particular tell a woman that she will "feel sad for awhile, but she will get over it and go on with her life." They don't discus the risks such as PTSD, or that 40% will not be able to have another child. With the talk of how adoption has changed and she can have contact with her child, they don't reveal that 80% of the adoptions close without any explanation from aparents. They will tell her "babies are blank slates, it doesn't matter who parents them as long as they are loved." They tend to hush and hide the studies showing that adoptees often feel abandoned. Many question their own value and have very low self-esteem. There is a common problem with adoptees not being able to develop strong lasting relationships. There are many adoptees who just never felt as though they belong or fit in their family. I hope that anyone who knows of an E-Mom facing an unplanned pregnancy would share this sermon with her. Especially if she is considering adoption for her baby. If she is, here is a link to an excellent pamphlet for her to read as well. This pamphlet discusses facts she should be aware of, these are things adoption professionals would try to hide, because this knowledge would permit her to Operate on Facts, not be Manipulated by Fear.
break thru
fear factor