What We Can Learn from the Duggar Family Today

Danger!

My wife and I used to enjoy sitting down each week to watch the Duggar Family on their TLC show, 19 Kids and Counting.  Being a Christian family, we were thrilled to see that a good, wholesome, decent family with good morals was finally being portrayed on television.  It was so refreshing.  We watched the kids grow up like many of you did on television.

I was heartbroken to find out about the molestation charges on Josh Duggar, the oldest of the children.  The family did, in fact, admit that they had gone through a tough time, and that Josh had indeed molested several children.  There were many opinions, many thoughts, and many disagreements had by many people about the situation.

His wife forgave him.  She knew about it going into the marriage.  The family stood firm on how they handled it.  Would I have done things differently if it were my son?  Honestly – I don’t know how I would handle it.  But I can’t put myself in their shoes.  What a horrible thing to go through.

The Duggar family lost their show over a mistake their son made.  Pressure mounted on TLC to drop the show completely, and they did.

Fast forward to today.

A few days ago, hackers claimed they had hacked the Ashley Madison website.  This is an online site for people looking to have affairs (atrocious as it may sound) in a private, discreet way.  The hackers didn’t get what they wanted from the site, so they released information that is bound to destroy many, many families.

Last night, I saw that Josh Duggar’s name had popped up in the list.  All I could think of was “My goodness, someone logged in under Josh’s name so that he might one day get in trouble and they could smear the Duggar name.”  Then, I saw that the name was attached to Josh’s credit card, and his addresses in a previous and current home.

Even today, as I saw an article about it – I didn’t want to believe it.

But then, he admitted this afternoon that he had indeed been unfaithful to his wife, and was addicted to pornography.  Molestation charges, and now this.

A great family, one that has strong core beliefs, taken down again because of the mistakes of this young man.

So what are my thoughts?  I have several on this tragedy that is unfolding before our eyes.  Here are just a few:

  1. The internet is a wonderful tool, but when used the wrong way can destroy lives.  Sadly, the Duggar family is now a victim of the misuse of the internet.  There are so many sites out there in cyberspace that want nothing more than to prey on you.  They want to lure you in – to hack your computer, to steal your information, to steal your bank account, to get you involved in an inappropriate relationship.  While it’s great to be able to shop online, it’s far too easy to shop for the wrong thing.

  2. The internet is not safe.  You MUST take precautions to keep your family safe from the web.  Many people think an antivirus program is all they need.  However, filters need to be used, as well as communicating with your family about what’s out there in the internet world.   I was showing my wife the other night a music video to a popular song by a popular artist in which there are two versions – a rated and unrated version.  Any child can type in the name of this song, click on the unrated version, and see two popular music artists ogling topless women parading around.  It’s just that easy.  If you trust your children, that’s not enough – because a lot of time innocent searching can lead to terrible things.

  3. Don’t be absorbed.  The internet, your laptops, your smartphones, your tablets – can suck you in and not let go.  Click on this, go here, search here, and before you know it you’ve spent 3-4 hours on Facebook.  You see a link to a place that links to this place or that place – and you wind up seeing an advertisement for love, for intimacy, for something you’re searching for.  Get off your phones, give your thumb a break from scrolling through Facebook, and have a relationship with your family and friends, not a piece of technology.  I know people who spend more time on Facebook than they do anything else during the day.  Perhaps it is time to take a Facebook/Internet sabbatical if it’s absorbing all of your time.

  4. Communicate.  Sites like Ashley Madison, along with many other sites – prey on those who are seeking something they are not getting in their own relationships.  It might be something simple like conversation, or it could involve sexual intimacy.  If you are not getting something you are wanting out of your marriage – COMMUNICATE!  If sex isn’t occurring as frequent as you’d like – COMMUNICATE!  If you’re uncomfortable with something in the bedroom – COMMUNICATE!  You can not over-communicate in your marriage. Many extra-marital affairs occur because a husband or a wife is not providing something in the relationship.  Instead of thinking you can only get that something somewhere else – COMMUNICATE!

  5. It’s easy to judge from afar – but don’t.  I have tried my best in this post to steer clear of judging the Duggar family, but instead tried to look at what caused the most recent problem in the first place.  Sin is real, the struggle of pornography is real, the desire to run around and have fun is real for so many people.  I would dare say that most of us would not want our dirty laundry popping up on what’s trending on Twitter.  Instead of judging them, or anyone else – pray for them.  Pray that your family will avoid these kinds of situations.  Pray that you can be a light in a dark world.  Pray that Satan’s dart won’t pierce us all.

 

Bottom line – there is now a very broken family, a young man who will pay for his mistakes, a wife who is very much so heartbroken and shell-shocked, 4 young children who will always know the mistake their father made, a mother and father who are now wondering where they went wrong – ALL because of this mistake.

Temptation is one of the strongest things in the world.  May God give us all the power to look it eye to eye and say no.

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The TRUE Meaning of Forgiveness – An Ultimate Example

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By now, you’ve probably heard of Mo’Ne Davis and her stunning rise to stardom as the pitcher for a little league team in the world series.  Recently, a young man who played baseball for Bloomsburg University, made a statement on Twitter that is too vulgar to repeat on a Christian blog, but needless to say, you would be picking your jaw of the floor after reading what he stated.

The university promptly kicked Joey Casselberry, the player in question, off the team.

Mo’Ne had every right to be upset.  What was said about her shouldn’t be said about anyone, much less a teenager.

But do you know what she did?  She wrote a letter to the university, and it says this:

Dear Dr. Soltz (the President of the university),

I am writing about the Tweet sent out by your baseball player, Joey Casselberry, and his dismissal from the team because of it. While I admit I was pretty hurt when I read his comments, I felt sad that he was dismissed from the team. As many people know, my dream is to play college basketball and maybe even professionally. I know how much hard work and dedication it will take to get there, and to have that dream taken away would be heartbreaking.  I am sure Joey Casselberry has worked very hard to get where he is and dreams of playing in the major leagues. For this reason, I’m asking you to please allow him back on the team so that he can continue to chase his dream. He made one dumb mistake. I’m sure he would go back and change it if he could. We all make mistakes and deserve to be forgiven. I hope you will give him a second chance and allow him to play.

Thanks.
Mo’Ne Davis

You know what, I’ve made dumb mistakes before.  We all have done things that we shouldn’t have done.  I find it refreshing to see someone who not only forgave the offender, but came to the defense of the defender.  What a lesson to learn from a 13 year old girl.

A lot of us may say we forgive someone, but we want their heads for what they did to us.  Forgiveness accompanied with actions such as that is not real forgiveness.  What if Jesus said “Father, please forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing,” but then followed that with “But in 3 days when I rise from the dead, I’m going to make sure each person that mocked me, beat me, spit on me, or drove a nail in my hands – is dealt with in a swift and proper way.”

We say things like “Well, in the business world, if this happened…” – but you know what?  I don’t think Jesus meant “Forgive others, but then treat them like the business world would treat them.”

Maybe we all need to learn a lesson from Mo’Ne.  If someone says their sorry, no matter how vile or tame their words may be – we forgive, and truly forgive, and move on.  No need to be like the Queen of Hearts with a “Off with their heads” mentality.

Mo’ne Davis

Forget About It

Forget About It

Do you remember your first girlfriend or boyfriend?  Perhaps it was in junior high.  You held hands.  You went to a  ball game together.  You talked to each other in the hall.  Maybe you let her wear your jacket.  Maybe you let him wear a ring of yours on a chain around his neck.

I remember my first “dating” experience.  I was innocent.  I was in love.  I was so awestruck that someone would want to go out with me.  I was in 7th grade, she was in 8th grade.  I asked her out at a church youth rally.  How’s that for romance, huh?  I wrote her a note while some guy was speaking, and she replied with a note in return.

After we had been “dating” a week or so, a group of friends were going to go to Opryland (yes, it was still a park then, and yes, it was awesome).  I remember on the “Skyride” cable cars that went across the top of the park, we finally held hands.

And then, the next day, she called me and dumped me because someone else had asked her out.  So goes a junior high romance.

I remember I could not eat for days.  I was heartbroken.  I went to bed thinking about it, and woke up the next day with it on my mind again.  I realized then and there – its hard to be in junior high.  But its also hard to forget about that things that hurt us.

Paul had a few things to say about forgetting.  In Philippians 3, he says “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”  

I honestly thought I’d never forget about her.  To a 14 year old boy, it was devastating.  I would never love again.  I’d live my life alone.  No one would ever want me.  Simply put, that was not true.  Yes, she tore my heart out when she did that, and yes, it hurt.  But, that was just a passing moment in my life, that helped me learn and grow.

Paul says we need to forget about the past, and move on.  In this situation, he’s talking about his past mistakes in persecuting Christians, how he at one time thought it was what God wanted him to do, but he realized the error of his ways.  I’m confident Paul would do anything to go back and change how he treated so many before he saw the light of Jesus shining down on him, but he couldn’t.  So, he did the next best thing – he forgot about it.

I’ve always hated it when people say “Forget about it.”  Or, they say things like “Man, you’ve just got to let it go.”  Its hard when someone wrongs you to just let it go.  But simply put, what’s in the past is in the past.  And the fact that Paul has repented and moved on to bigger and better things, helps us see that the best way to forget about the pain in our life is to move forward and move on.

I haven’t been a saint all my life either.  I’ve made my fair share of mistakes.  I’ve apologized, I’ve repented, I’ve changed my way – and sadly, even with all of that done people still want to hold those things against me.  We all know people who can’t forget about what things have been done against them.  So, in that case, I have to move on.  You have to move on.  You have to forget about the past and press ahead to the goal, because that’s what God has called us to do.  And while you’re at it, pray for those who can’t forget about it.

I don’t know how Paul was able to say this so confidently, but he did.  I want to know how you can “forget” about something, but mention it so many times like Paul does.  Had he truly forgotten about it?  I think he was so confident in his forgiveness and repentance, that he could mention it and it not phase him at all.  He knew he would not return to that lifestyle.

So, the question to ask is this – what’s lurking in your life that you need to forget about so you can move on?  Who has caused you pain?  Who has hurt you?  Who has done you wrong?

What have you done to hurt others?  Have you sought forgiveness?  Have you changed your path?

Remember this:  Satan loves to use our past to prevent us from a great future by keeping us miserable in the present.  He’ll stop at nothing to keep you from Heaven.  Its time to forget and move on.

To All Who Have Been Bullied (The One Where I Talk About How to Deal With Bullies)

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I grew up being picked on.

The first bully I ran into was in Kindergarten.  The very first day of school I ever had, he stepped on my hand while I was playing with blocks.  He continued to bully me all through elementary school and junior high.

As I got older, I got fat.  And then, I got acne…bad.  And then, I got glasses.  In fact, in sixth grade, I looked like a kid from “The Far Side” comic strip.  I was mocked and made fun of, daily.

I tried out for the basketball team in 7th grade, and didn’t make it.  I got made fun of.

I was still fat.  I was still covered in acne.  I had greasy hair.  Fortunately, I had gotten contacts.  That helped a bit.

Since I wasn’t the most athletic of folks, I ventured into the fine arts.  I was in the chorus and was in all the drama productions.  That ended up being a blessing.  I found an outlet where I could pour myself into, and found friends who cared about the same thing.

To be honest with you – from about 3rd grade till 9th grade, I was miserable.  I went to a private school, but only was able to go because my father worked there.  We didn’t have money like a lot of others did in my class, so I never had “designer” clothes, or the latest and greatest gadget.

The sad thing is – bullying is one of those things that never stops.  Even now, as a 37 year old, I get made fun of.  My weight, my bald head, they draw a lot of critiques.  Granted, the bullying is different these days, but it still is a shame that adults make fun of other adults.

I guess this hit a nerve with me the other day.  My sweet little girl honestly has one of the kindest, gentlest, sweetest spirits of any little girl I’ve ever known.  There are two young girls in her class that make fun of her.  They won’t play with her.  Its sad that even in the first grade, there’s already “popular” kids.  I hate that word – “popular.”

She has come home several times, saying these two girls made fun of her on the playground, at lunch, etc.  Of course, my wife and I try to tell her – “Just don’t pay any attention to them…”  But, I know better.  Its hard.  Its hard when you long to be accepted, and you’re not.  Its hard when you just want to be nice to everyone, but they don’t want to be nice back.

The thing that scares me is that this is only the beginning.  She is only 6.  If she’s only 6 and she’s already being put in this awkward position, I know we’re going to be holding her many times over the next 20 years, listening to her cry about how mean someone has been to her.

Some people say “that’s just how they are…”, or “their heart is in the right place…” but I’m don’t buy it.  A bully is a bully.  Whether its physically bullying someone, or verbally bullying someone, or just an attitude of overconfidence – its not fun to be around those people.  How a bully becomes the most popular person in their circle of friends is beyond me.

The bible tells me that I’m supposed to love my enemies.  Some of the hardest people in the world to love are bullies – the ones who hurt us.   I often don’t want to forgive them, much less love them.

But Matthew 5:38-41 (NLT) says “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.”

And when I feel like getting revenge, I need to remember this, from Romans 12:19-20 (NLT) “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,‘ says the Lord.  Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”

Its one of those lessons that’s a lot easier to say than do.

Remember, you will always have bullies in your life.  Oftentimes, the bullies in your life don’t even realize they are bullies.  Continue living for God.  Continue to remember the golden rule – to treat others like you want to be treated.  If someone is mean to you, treat them with kindness.  And above all else, remember that according to Matthew 7:2, Jesus says “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”

The Forgiveness Conundrum

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I’m a big believer in forgiveness. If you look at some of the strongest leaders in the Bible – they are people who experienced great sin, AND great forgiveness. All of us have the opportunity to be forgiven by God, like those spiritual giants in the Bible. David, Peter, Paul, just to name a few – did things that most of us would say “Maybe I can forgive them, but they’ll have to move on elsewhere for what they’ve done.”

And that’s the rub isn’t it? We want to forgive people, with conditions attached. I’ll forgive you, but you have to do this, this, and this.

I’m in the middle of a great book by Dennis McCallum entitled “Satan and His Kingdom: What the Bible Says and How it Matters to You.” In a chapter of the book entitled “Battling Satan Inside Your Church” the author gives a quote that smacked me upside the head. It says this:

“‘Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others’ (Colossians 3:13). Anyone means ‘everybody minus nobody.’ This is explicit language ruling out all excuses. Paul qualifies it even further, saying that our forgiveness should be ‘just as the Lord forgave you’ ( NASB ). And we know the forgiveness we receive in the finished work of Christ is absolute and all- encompassing. Even when our attitude is poor, Jesus’ death provides for our complete forgiveness.”

Wow. Let’s break this down a bit.

Anyone means “everybody minus nobody” – Don’t we tend to be more forgiving towards some and less forgiving towards others? They’ve never messed up before, so maybe I’ll be more lenient toward them. They really insulted my ego, so I’m not going to be as forgiving toward them. That’s not how it goes. Anybody means everybody minus nobody.

Our forgiveness should be “Just as the Lord forgave you.” – Jesus doesn’t say “I forgive you, but I can’t work with you any longer.” Jesus doesn’t say “I forgive you, but when judgement day comes, I’m going to put you in a different part of heaven because of what you did.” Jesus doesn’t say “I forgive but will never forget.” Thank goodness Jesus doesn’t put such conditions on his forgiveness. Jesus simply forgives, and moves on.

The forgiveness we receive is absolute and all-encompassing. – We really tend to have a problem with this don’t we? The conditions we place on our forgiveness take away the “absolute and all-encompassing” part, doesn’t it? We are completely forgiven. Can you completely forgive others?

Even when our attitude is poor, Jesus’ death provides for our complete forgiveness. – This tells me, that even if the person who offended you may not ask, may not care, or goes out and does the same thing again the next day – we provide forgiveness. If you go to the verse in Colossians 3:13 where it says “Make allowance for each other’s faults” you go in knowing this…WE WILL ALL MESS UP. We should anticipate it. We should expect it.

Think about the people who have wronged you. Have you forgiven them? How have you forgiven them? Are there self-imposed conditions attached? Is there a “I forgive but won’t forget” clause attached? Free yourself of those things – forgive, forget, move on. Not only will you bless their life in immeasurable ways, you may just do the same for yourself.

Today I praise God for forgiving me without condition. He just forgives.

The Keys: BACKSPACE

TheKeys_WeekleySlide_backspace

Have you ever heard about someone who has worked hard every day, always on the job, always working.  To the point where they end up neglecting their family.  And then on their death bed, they say they would take it all back and work less and not worry so much about the money – all for the relationship to be restored as fully as could be.

There is no backspace key in life.  You can’t just hit a button and make things disappear and you’re able to start all over.  But there are steps you can take to do your best to have a clean slate with other people, and with God.

One thing we have to do is realize the problem.  Sometimes that comes with a self realization and a confession to the world – I need a change, I need to do something different.

We work and play so very hard, but we look back and see we have neglected our relationship with Christ and have put it on the back burner. This is one of the many relationships that we need to make sure, at the end of our life we don’t find ourselves  saying “How I wish I could have drawn closer to God, closer to Him.  How I wish we hadn’t neglected our relationship.

In fact, Sometimes we need to be shown the bad decisions we have made in our relationship with God.  And that’s what God is doing in Isaiah 43.

God shows all the things that He has done for Israel.  In the first 13 verses – God talks about how much He has done for them.  How he created them, formed them, redeemed them.  How he has protected them from enemies.  How he loves them.  How He is with them.  How he has rescued them.

He then goes on to say How as Creator, the wild animals honor HIM, the jackals, the owls, because He provides for them. BUT then in verse 22 – He pulls out the hard words to read.

He says “You didn’t call on me…I was there for you, I helped you, I saved you, but you didn’t call.”  In fact, look close at verse 22 – He tells the Israelites – “YOU HAVE BEEN WEARY OF ME.”

Instead of seeing God as a deliverer…they have grown weary of Him.

Its as if they’re saying – “You’re wearing me out with this, God!! – stop being there for me – stop trying to help me.  We’re exhausted with all this.”

In verse 23 – He talks about the sacrifices, but the people don’t want to bring them.  They did not want to bring sacrifices to God, or honor Him.  They did not want to give their money, or their gifts to God.

Their worship was not centered on praising or honoring God.  Instead they thought it was rather tiring.  It was such a burden.  It made them weary.

And God has a legitimate question – have i really been that big of a burden?  The only true and living God, who has loved them through all sorts of messes,  says  “I’m the only true God…i’ll help you, i’ll protect you, I’ll carry you…

But they’re Not interested God.

SO God goes on in verse 24 and says if anyone is burdened, its not you…its ME!!

God had done so much for them, and He says “You burden me with all your sins..I’m the one carrying the load…”

Have you ever stopped and thought – “This whole God thing, its getting wearisome, its a burden, its hard, I just want to live my life, SURE i’ll go through those motions, I’ll bring a song to Him at worship, I’ll close my eyes during prayer, I’ll bring my 12 pack of soft drinks for the next event – but let me tell you what, if we go over time on Sunday morning, and if we don’t start singing the songs I like, and if they run out of food at the fellowship…”

But then you stop and hear this message from God: –

 “You think its weary to serve me? – its a burden for me to carry your sins…”

Why is this a beautiful message?  What does this have to do with the backspace key??  Well here’s what God says –

“Fine – I’ll leave you alone…that’s fine…I’m done with you…you don’t want to put a little more time into our relationship?  You don’t want to bring gifts to me cheerfully?  You don’t want to be wrapped up in my love?  I’ll just find someone who does.”

NO – he doesn’t say that.  In fact – He keeps doing, keeps trying.

Here’s why I like God, the one true God.  Other gods, you do for them, you do for them, you do for them…but GOD – the one true God – keeps trying to win us over.

God says in verse 25 “Even though you are the way you are…I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

He had just finished saying  “YOU HAVE BURDENED ME.”  But in verse 25 – he says i’ll deal with it..  I’ll take care of it.

WHY is he saying that?  Why is He dealing with it?  He didn’t make the mistake.  He didn’t mess up!!

HE says “for my own sake” – its not for us, its for HIM.  He’s doing it because of who He is.  He is goodness, He is loving, He is merciful. IN FACT we really have nothing to offer God that causes HIM to say “I’m going to do this for you”.  He just says “You are wicked, you are evil,  you are filled with sin, you keep messing up – but I love you – and I’m going to do this for you.”

He says I’m going to forgive you for my own sake and I’m not even going to remember them.  We serve a God who says “I won’t remember your sins”.  They’re gone.

Yes, there are consequences, called Babylonian captivity.  But if you look at 44:1, God says  “but listen up – i’ll help you.  YOU Deal with the consequences – BUT I’M STILL… going….to… help you. Don’t fear, don’t be afraid.”

And then in verse 3 – HE SAYS  “i’ll pour water out on the dry ground, I’ll pour my spirit on your offspring, and they will spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams.”  Now if you’re not understanding what Isaiah is saying here – HE’s saying A COMPLETE RENEWAL will occur.  When God says I’m going to send rain or water – its usually a sign for renewal.

He is going to cause a radical renewal.

And notice VERSE 5 – They’ll be saying “I am the Lord’s”  They’ll be a group that says they belong to God.  That they are proud to belong to God. Maybe that’s what we should pray today.  God will you change my heart to make me want to desire you more and more?

Ever wish there was a backspace key in your life?  Where you can just start over?  Clean slate?  Its already there.  Its called Jesus.  He can bring about this fresh start, this cleansing.

Are you weary of service to God?  Have you been through this charade too many times, and it means very little to you?  God can change your heart.  He can take you back to where you first fell in love with Him.  Start over today.

God, help us to know you forgive us, you love us, and want to pick up right where we left off.  Help us to forget our sins, because we know you do.  Amen.