Engaging in Conversation with Peace-Loving Muslims

This is taken from the post-9/11 prayer letter of a Christian missionary who has been working in a Muslim country since 1983. The identity of the missionary and the country have been edited to protect the work. We thought his insight was so profound we wanted to share it with our readers.

What we saw on our TV screens on 11 September 2001 can be very easily supported from the holy book of the Muslims. (There are MANY verses in the Koran that say things like: “Wait in hiding for the infidel, catch him, cross his hands and feet, cut them off and kill him.” That is an actual verse from the Koran. And there are at least ten more verses in the Koran that make explicit reference to “using force” to “fight against the infidel.” Why do you think that all the terrorist groups we know are Muslim terrorist groups?!)

How, then, can so many Muslims be the truly peace-loving, kind people that they are? Many of them follow an “Islam” they have created in their head. They didn’t get their “brand” of Islam “from the book.” Many that we know in ______ know much less about their book than we do! In fact I have read some of these verses to several of my close friends (this is a delicate subject… you don’t just go up to any “Tom, Dick & Harry”—uh, over there I guess it should be “Tanju, Deniz & Hasan,” and discuss this with him) and say to them:

“I am confused. I know you well, and I know that you have NO intent on obeying these verses. If you were a “good” Muslim, you should be slitting my throat, ’cause I’m that infidel this verse refers to…you know I don’t believe this book came from God. Now I know you have no intent on doing that (and I’m sure glad that you don’t). But yet you say you believe in this book and are ordering your life by it. I don’t get it.”

In EVERY case where I have done this, they have NEVER seen these verses—and many other verses in there, for that matter—before. They are simply “following” a religion that their parents followed, without carefully examining what the “source book” says. So their response to me has ALWAYS been: “You’re misreading the verse.”… to which I turn the book toward them, hand it to them and tell them to read it and tell me what those words mean.

[Now, remember, these are very close friends I’m doing this with that I have spent months and years building a relationship with. I don’t recommend doing this with “casual” Muslim acquaintances you have … BECAUSE it will look like you are simply “attacking” their book. If you’ve got close Muslim friends, try it out … because if they are close friends, it means s/he—like our friends—is living out her/his Islam the way they WOULD LIKE IT TO BE, not how the book says it should be conducted.]

My friends have ALWAYS been stumped. The verses are blatantly clear as to their meaning. Then I say to them: “My dearest Ahmet” (and they know I mean that…I’ve shown them that they are dear to me) “the principles by which you live your life are not found in your book. They are found in another book.” Then I take them to where our Lord rebuked Peter for cutting off the ear of the High Priest’s servant, where He said that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who oppose us, etc. Those verses are not found in their book.

That is the “bottom line” of this letter. Pray that around the world these literal millions of Muslims that are like our friends would sovereignly be directed to these verses I’ve referred to above in their book and realize that these heinous acts—that we are being told repeatedly these days on the TV is not part of Islam—have solid “footing” in their book. I think it is probably fair to say that the majority of Muslims don’t want to obey these verses that call for “Jihad.” Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit would use this terrible event to open the eyes of millions of Muslims to see that they cannot “pick-and-choose” the verses they like from their book … and ignore the ones they don’t like; and that many, many would be stirred at this time to pick up a New Testament and have their eyes opened to these glaring contrasts to what the two books say on this issue. May God turn this tragedy into a catalyst for a serious turning of many Muslims to Himself and salvation.




God Questions From Little Kids

mom and little girlRecently I asked some of the mamas of littles in our church, “What God questions are your kids asking?” While not definitive, here are some answers I trust you’ll find helpful.

Who made God?

God has always existed. No one made God. Everything that has been made, has been made by someone or something else. Eventually, when we go back far enough, there has to be a Someone or a Something that is eternal-that was not created. Smart thinkers called philosophers call this an “uncaused cause.”

How do we know this? Because there are some things we can’t figure out on our own, so God tells us in His word. Especially where Jesus is talking to His Father:

“So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:5, 24).

How do we know the Bible is true?

The biggest way we can know is fulfilled prophecy. (Prophecies are a special kind of promise.) That means that God gave prophets information about the future that only He could know because He knows everything, and then the prophecies came true in even the smallest detail. This means that the Bible is a supernatural book because it is from God, who had human helpers to write down what He wanted written down.

We also have evidence supporting our belief that the Bible is a supernatural book:

Unity: The Bible’s books were written over 1500 years, by 40 different authors, on three different continents. But there is one consistent, big message from beginning to end: God loves us and has a big plan and purpose for His creation.

Bibliographical Evidence: The reason we have a Bible at all is that the original texts were copied many times over. There are 25,000+ handwritten copies of New Testament documents, with many variations. These variations allow us to see where errors and changes (such as spelling which does not change the meaning of a word) crept into the copying. There are no variations that question essential Christian beliefs.

Concerning the Old Testament: the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1949 and 1956-thousands of fragments from every book of the Old Testament except Esther, including a complete copy of Isaiah. These fragments had been stored since 300-100 B.C. The book of Isaiah had not been changed in that entire time except for a few spelling changes. The scribes were exceedingly careful in copying God’s word.

Archeological Evidence: Archeology, which is the study of old buried stuff, also supports details in the Bible. Not everything in the Bible has archeological support, but no archaeological findings have ever contradicted biblical details.

The evidence for both the Old and New Testaments shows that what we hold in our hands today is the same as what was written by the original authors.

How can Jesus be God but also God’s Son? (In other words, how does this Trinity thing work?)

First of all, it’s a hard idea that nobody fully understands because our minds are just too puny and small. It’s okay not to get it. This truth is called a mystery, and nobody will understand it until heaven.

Here are three very important truths about God:

1. There is one God.
2. God is three distinct Persons.
3. Each Person is fully God.

The three equal Persons are the Father; the Son, Jesus; and the Holy Spirit. The Father is not the Son or the Spirit, the Son is not the Father or the Spirit, and the Spirit is not the Father or the Son. But all three Persons are still one God. Yes, it’s confusing! Here’s a hint: often when people refer to God they mean the Father. For example, when considering the question, “How can Jesus be God but also God’s Son,” we can say that Jesus is divine, meaning He is God, but He is the Father’s Son. He’s not the same as the Father.

So when we’re talking about God it is helpful to refer to either the Father, and Son or the Spirit.

We can see all three Persons of the Trinity at the baptism of Jesus. (Matthew 3:13-17)

Why can’t we see God?

We can’t see God the Father because He is spirit. That’s like invisible energy, like sunlight. Or wind. And the Holy Spirit is, well, spirit. Jesus became a human being just like us when He left heaven to live on earth, but we can’t see Him because He’s back in heaven now. God is still on earth because God is everywhere, but He’s invisible.

I know you’d like to see God, and you know what? So would I! Jesus knew we’d feel that way, which is why He said, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing Me.” (John 20:29). But if you trust in Jesus, one day you will see Him very plainly in heaven.

Where is heaven?

Heaven is a spirit place. It’s not like our house or our church or the park where we go, that you can find on a map or by walking there. I can tell you that when Jesus left the earth and went back to heaven, He went UP, and the Bible talks about Him coming back DOWN to earth. But it’s not in the sky like the moon. When astronauts went up into space they didn’t find heaven because heaven’s not a place we can touch or see.

Why can’t I hear God’s voice? When I say, “Hello, God,” why doesn’t He talk back?

God doesn’t speak to us the same way people do. That’s because He is spirit. But Jesus taught us, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) So hearing His voice is different from hearing Mommy or Daddy’s voice. You hear His voice with your heart. (Matthew 13)

We recognize God’s voice from reading and hearing His word in the Bible. Everything God says lines up with what He tells us in His word, so we can learn to tell the difference between His true voice and our imagination. We have to practice listening. It’s not easy, and we have to know what He says in His word in order to know what His voice sounds like.

If everything God makes is good, why did He make Satan?

Satan did not start out as an evil creature. God made him a beautiful, powerful, good angel. The good angel decided to become a bad angel by trying to become like God instead of being content with how God made him as a good angel.

Some people have asked why God made angels and people who could choose to disobey. That’s because God wanted angels to CHOOSE to obey Him, and He wanted people to CHOOSE to love Him. Without the ability to choose, it wouldn’t be real obedience or real love.

How will I know how to get to heaven when I die?

Getting to heaven from earth is like stepping from one room into a hallway or another room. Very simple, right? And you will probably have angels with you as well. Jesus will make sure to bring you to Himself, so you don’t need to worry about it.

Before I was in your tummy was I in heaven with God?

No, you didn’t exist before you were in my tummy. God knew you in His mind and in His heart, but He didn’t create you until just the right time to form you inside my body. The only person who was in heaven with God the Father before He became a tiny baby was Jesus.

This blog post originally appeared at
https://blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/god_questions_from_little_kids
on October 15, 2019.




Back Infections and Heart Infections

My husband Ray knew something was wrong as soon as he got out of bed.

Ray receiving his PICC lineHis lower back, where he’d had back surgery six weeks before, was wet. His t-shirt was wet. The sheet was wet. His fingers glistening with a strange wetness from reaching back to investigate, he asked me to check what was going on. I saw a rivulet of fluid pouring out of the top of his surgical incision. Something was really, really wrong.

As I gently pressed the skin around the incision, pus kept flowing out. He had a serious infection under the incision. It had been hidden, but it literally rose to the surface of his body and forced its way out. His problem wasn’t that pus was being discharged from the inside to the outside—that was just the symptom, the manifestation of the true problem: a deep and serious infection.

He’d had the infection before he was forced to be aware of it. There were indications: fever, and just not feeling right.

The Lord is quite adept at using the physical to show us truths about the spiritual and emotional. I started seeing parallels between the two worlds.

The undealt-with, unhealed spiritual and emotional hurts in our souls don’t just sit there under the surface—our awareness—forever. It’s like emotional pus. Eventually it starts leaking out sideways: addictions, anger, isolation, rebellion, self-destruction. These are the presenting problems that drive people to seek help through recovery programs such as Re:generation and Celebrate Recovery, or counseling.

Just as a rivulet of pus wasn’t Ray’s true problem but merely a symptom, our heart issues are the true problem that Jesus wants to point to and say, “Let Me heal them. You can’t do it on your own.”

Ray’s infection was so large that he needed “wash out” surgery. He needed a skilled surgeon, in the sterile, controlled environment of the operating room, to open up his incision and clean out the infection. Before he even got to the OR, the doctor ordered IV antibiotics to attack and disarm the destructive power of the multiplying bacteria. By the time the surgeon got to the washing-out stage, Ray’s infection had been disarmed, turned into “clean gunk.” No bacteria was left, just the debris of the now-dead bacteria.

In the spiritual realm, it’s truth that functions like powerful antibiotics. Truth attacks the destructive power of lies and decision. There is still leftover debris of lies—bad thinking habits and bad behavior habits—but when the lies are disarmed, it’s a lot easier to replace the old habits with new, healthy, godly habits.

This was a serious infection. The day after surgery, they put in a PICC line that threaded a tube from his upper arm into a vein, ending just above his heart. This is a very effective way to infuse health-building antibiotics into his body, medicine that can’t be taken orally—it has to be pumped directly into his bloodstream. He gets five antibiotic infusions a day, which we can do at home instead of needing to be hospitalized or having to go a doctor’s office (which would be hard to do at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.!).

The PICC line allows us to keep a constant level of antibiotic in his blood. He needs this constant flow to attack the infection over a long period of time. We also need a constant infusion of truth into our souls, into our minds, to counteract the destructive power of lies and deceptions and schemes. In fact, one study revealed the it takes a minimum of four infusions of truth weekly through time in the Word for spiritual growth and healthiness.

I like thinking about the infusion of truth through God’s Word as I connect the tubing to Ray’s PICC line catheter. God is so good to give us physical lessons to show us spiritual truths!

Ray sure couldn’t heal himself on his own. He pointed out that he had to surrender control over this entire “adventure” (to use my dad’s word to describe his cancer journey). There was absolutely nothing he could do to fix the spinal stenosis that squeezed nerves, causing shooting pains down the backs of his legs, and he couldn’t heal the infection that came later. He had to place himself in the hands of the surgeon both times. He had to place himself in the hands of the anesthesiologists to put him to sleep and wake him up. He had to place himself in the hands of the nurses to administer his pain meds and the IV antibiotics. He had to surrender control to those who knew how to help him.

At any point, he could have shut down the process—not having the surgery, or walking out of the hospital, or refusing the home infusions of IV antibiotics. He could have refused to wear the back brace after the spine surgery; he could have refused to submit to the BLT restrictions (no bending, lifting or twisting).

But that would have also shut down the healing.

When we have soul sickness—a heart infection, if you will—we need to entrust ourselves into the hands of people more educated in the healing process than we are. We need to surrender our false sense of control and invite others to lead us from sickness into health. And we need to not shut down the process by thinking we know better, or thinking we’re fixed or even just “good enough.” We need to not push back against restrictions suggested by those who know better than we do what it will take to help us climb of our pits to get to the place of spiritual and emotional health.

God provides help for physical challenges like infections, and through the “one anothers” of scripture He provides help for spiritual and emotional challenges as well. And He lets us connect the dots to learn transferable concepts from each.

 

This blog post originally appeared at
https://blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/back_infections_and_heart_infections
on Sept. 4, 2019.




“Should I Divorce My Wife Since I’m Not Attracted to Her Anymore?”

Hi my name is _______ from Burundi. My question is about divorce. My wife told me about her past but I am still bothered by it whereby she slept with old men and foreigners, and aborted many times, so since I heard that I have lost even the appetite of being sexually attracted to her, so should I go for divorce?

I was born with a heart for preaching to people about the heaven and the hell, and I am still jealous to find out that Satan has many people I am determined to bring them to God and create a church similar to what apostles were doing whereby they were sharing everything together.

Churches of today especially in Africa, they get an Aid and share it among elders instead of helping some church members who are facing troubles, lucky enough I am rich blessed by God. But all the work of I am afraid that it would be compromised by the divorce I am thinking to go through.

Please your advices. God bless you.

I am so glad you wrote. Your desire to serve God is admirable, and you are correct in thinking your ministry would be compromised by divorce.

God’s best is always, ALWAYS forgiveness and reconciliation. That is how He is most glorified in our relationships, especially marriage. Please read the book of Hosea for an excellent example of God’s heart of forgiveness and reconciliation as He had his prophet Hosea marry and then continue to extend forgiveness to his wife Gomer as an illustration of God’s relationship with His unfaithful earthly wife, Israel.

This does not mean that your heart is not broken by your wife’s sin before your marriage. Her sin required the death of the Son of God—it’s serious! But brother, YOUR sin also required the death of the Son of God, and you had to go to God with humility and repentance, asking for His forgiveness, in order to become a believer in Jesus Christ and enter His family. He is asking you to extend to your wife the forgiveness that He so graciously gave you. Please read Matthew 18, the whole chapter, at least three times so that you can grasp God’s heart for the lost, and the importance of forgiving those who hurt us. Divorcing your wife out of a hard-hearted bitterness and unforgiveness will not only block the flow of God’s grace in your life, but it will keep you open to the “tormentors” (Matthew 18:34). Here is a link to a very good, biblically sound message and explanation of Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Off7whIExhk

I strongly believe that if you forgive your wife and seek to love and serve her as Christ loves and serves the church (Ephesians 5:25-30), your desire to be with her sexually will return as you allow God to soften your heart.

Please, brother, take seriously Jesus’ command that “What God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mark 10:9). His plan for marriage is lifelong commitment between husband and wife, with ongoing forgiveness between us.

Blessing you,
Sue Bohlin

Posted August 2019
© 2019 Probe Ministries




The Thought Police Are Here

Recently, in the same week, I watched two strikingly polar opposite events unfold on my Facebook feed. One was the long-awaited, long-prayed-for birth of a precious baby girl whose daddy had left homosexuality and repented of a gay identity as he pursued intimacy with Christ. After several years of sexual sobriety and spiritual growth, he was actually quite surprised to find himself starting to be attracted to girls. I remember him saying, “If you think puberty is rough the first time, you should try it at 28!” I was privileged to watch him weep with gratitude through his wedding to a beautiful lady, and pray for him as he became a pastor of an inner city church. And finally, after a failed pregnancy and several failed adoptions, God gave him and his wife the desires of their heart when their little one was born.

This happened the same week that Amazon banned a number of books offering hope for people struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions or gender confusion, people like my friend. A gay activist convinced Amazon that the books by a clinical psychologist who had successfully treated hundreds of men who did not want to be gay, and other books presenting a biblical view of sexuality, are dangerous. He said they cause LGBT people to hate themselves and inflict grave psychological damage. Because no one should be able to say there’s anything wrong with same-sex relationships and behavior.

It’s really not any different than if a coalition of distilleries, vintners and brewing companies went after Alcoholics Anonymous to shut them down, proclaiming that it’s dangerous and even wrong to support people who want to stop drinking. And there’s something wrong with people not wanting alcohol to control or even destroy their lives, because drinkers are who they are and they need to embrace this reality.

Critics use the pejorative labels “gay cure” or “conversion therapy” to shut down the voices of those offering help to those who want it. No reputable therapist, counselor, or pastoral care person will attempt to force change on someone who doesn’t want it, but what about those who do want help? What about another friend of mine, who sought help when he was deep in the weeds of his gay life? When I asked what made him reach out for help over 20 years ago, he answered, “God-induced misery. If the Holy Spirit truly lives within, there is no peace, there is no stability, there is no hiding. As James says, The double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

But technology has allowed “the Thought Police” to shut down the voices they don’t like, like those of my friends. The stewards of high tech hold the power to decide what they want people to hear and see.

• John Stonestreet’s recent Breakpoint commentary{1} relates how Facebook deleted a pro-lifer’s post quoting Saint Augustine, about focusing on the sins of others to avoid examining our own. Facebook says St. Augustine’s comment violated community standards.

• YouTube has restricted a quarter of Dennis Prager’s conservative videos, including one on the Ten Commandments (because it mentions murder).

• Smarter Every Day’s resident engineer (and winsomely outspoken Christ-follower) Destin Sandlin created three powerful videos explaining how YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are being manipulated to control what we see.{2}

• A single pro-LGBT activist convinced Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google to remove the Living Hope Ministries app, grossly misrepresenting LHM’s mission and activity as dangerous and even “life-threatening.” The app was filled with expository teachings of various books of the Bible, weekly devotions, and personal testimonies of God’s transformational work. The app had happily resided on all platforms for more than three years.

This app was removed for supposedly being life-threatening to LGBTQ youth, yet the same hosts offer more than a dozen pro-gay apps that are designed to encourage sexual exploration and provide a means for individuals to hook-up for anonymous sex—an activity that has proven to be dangerous and even life-threatening.{3}

These are examples of the Thought Police in action.

This is why it is more important than ever before for our thinking to be more shaped, more informed by the truth of the Word of God than by the gatekeepers of Big Tech.

For example, we need to embrace the truth of 1 Corinthians 6, describing the first century church that had former homosexuals in it:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (vv. 9-11, emphasis mine)

I keep thinking about personal friends of mine, and their families, that the Thought Police don’t want the world to know about: men and women who have turned from a gay identity to finding their identity in Christ, who have reconciled their faith and sexuality to honor and glorify God in it. Some have developed an attraction to their now-spouse, and are happily living faithful lives of service in their churches and in the world. Some report that their same-sex attractions haven’t changed, but instead of a blaring, controlling force, they have retreated to white noise in the background of their lives. Their stories are real, and life-giving, and fulfilling.

But you won’t know about it if the Thought Police have their way.

Notes

1. www.breakpoint.org/2019/07/the-point-saintly-censorship/
2. www.smartereveryday.com/
3. www.livehope.org/2019/04/23/lightintodark/

 

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/the_thought_police_are_here on July 23, 2019.




“My Daughter Says She’s a Boy–What Do I Do?”

A real question from a real mom: “Sue, my daughter insists she’s a boy. She has rejected all things feminine since she was a toddler. Now as a 15-year-old she says there’s a mismatch between her brain and her body. She wants “top surgery” (a double mastectomy) and testosterone to bring her insides and outsides into alignment. She says God made her this way and He doesn’t make mistakes so she is embracing a transgender identity. What do I do?”

Oh sister. I am so sorry. I can only begin to imagine the pain, the chaos, and the conflict this is causing in your family.

Let’s start with, what do we know is true?

  1. God loves her. She is very dear to Him. He made her in His image and likeness. He sent His Son to give His life for her, proving once and for all how infinitely precious she is. And He may just be especially tender toward her, when we consider Isaiah 42:3—”A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;”
  2. The Creator God made her a girl. He has plans and purposes for her as a female.
  3. She’s only 15, and her pre-frontal cortex won’t finish developing for another 10 years. She’s not in a position to judge accurately the long-term effects of choices she makes today.
  4. You are an adult, and you can see the long-term effects. It’s essential that you not cave to pressure.
  5. This issue is so rife with conflict and political correctness that everything I’m about to say will make someone furious.

What do you do? Well, first, you love her well. You stay focused on the wonderful gifts and talents and personality that you appreciate about her, and you keep affirming her for these aspects of who she is. Her sense of self, her sexuality, is not WHO she is, it’s HOW she is. For right now.

Like any child or teenager (or adult, for that matter), she longs for her parents’ acceptance—but acceptance is not the same as approval. Acceptance means acknowledging their experience, and their perception of reality, without endorsing the conclusions they come to or the choices they make. (Consider that God accepts us, Romans 14:18 and 15:7, but He certainly doesn’t approve of everything we do!)

Loving her well means listening in order to communicate that you are seeking to understand her. It means showing compassion. Believing that one is transgender is hard. Those with internal conflicts about their gender are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, a sense of not belonging, and often have thoughts of suicide. She needs your tenderness.

What else do you do? Educate yourself about this issue, so you can speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) to your daughter and to friends and family as this comes into the light.

Gender Dysphoria is a thinking disorder, not a body disorder. If your daughter announced she were a cat, or a unicorn, how would you deal with that? Dr. Phil McGraw teaches that the first test that one’s thinking is rational is that it has to be grounded in objective fact{1}. Our sex—male or female—is an objective truth that becomes apparent at birth. God, who knits us together in our mother’s womb where we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14), is the one who chooses and then reveals His plan for our gender. That is objective fact. If someone thinks or feels that they are something other than what God has made them to be, it’s their thinking that is skewed, not their body. Unfortunately, our culture is very good at elevating feelings above objective truth, and that is at the core of the transgender issue.

I think that when children and adolescents claim to be the opposite sex, it’s really about not fitting into gender stereotypes. You said your daughter “rejected all things feminine” since she was very small. That was about pink and purple sparkly princess dresses and bows in her hair, right? And she hated them? I respectfully suggest it wasn’t femininity she was rejecting, it was a certain KIND of femininity, the stereotype we as a culture (particularly a culture infected with Disney princess images) label feminine. God also delights to make sporty, athletic, very physical and competitive girls who don’t really care for frilly, girly-girl clothes. They can have a hard time playing house because nobody wins! These girls are still sensitive and compassionate, still emotional and verbal, but they’d rather be outside climbing trees and throwing perfect spirals to the neighborhood boys. These are not inferior girls, they’re not lesser-than girls, they’re just not in the majority. They are girls who love sports and are good at it, or girls who don’t care for dresses or nail polish, or girls who just don’t get the superficiality of many of their girl peers. They are the kind of girl God made them to be. When they are supported and celebrated for the kind of girl they are, their sense of disconnect with their femininity can decrease as their awareness of God’s good creation of femininity increases.

Please see my post The Gender Spectrum for more information.

Sometimes, the impact of various kinds of abuse can make a girl think that it is neither good nor safe to be a girl. They can convince themselves that if they were a boy, they could protect themselves and they wouldn’t be at risk because boys don’t get abused or molested. (Which, of course, is not true!) The solution is not to impersonate a boy and mutilate her body, but to get help processing the deep soul wounds of abuse and molestation.

Just as depressed people can often take comfort and refuge in the idea of ending their pain through suicide, those who experience a sense of misalignment with their birth sex can put their hopes in transitioning to the opposite sex through cross-hormone therapy and ultimately surgery. But very few are aware of the testimonies of those who regret doing this. Walt Heyer of sexchangeregret.com has recently released a book, Trans Life Survivors, comprised of letters and emails from people who are very sorry for what they did to their bodies: the ongoing medical problems and the deep sense of loss at mutilating their bodies.{2}

I know you are afraid of your daughter committing suicide because that is the drum that is constantly beaten by the pro-trans side: “If you don’t cooperate with your child’s plans to transition, there’s a high suicide rate when kids are not supported in their preferred gender identity.” That is a bone-chilling fear, one my husband and I personally know in our family. But you should know two things: first, it’s not necessarily true. See the article “The Suicide Myth” here: www.transgendertrend.com/the-suicide-myth/ Second, we do know that the suicide rate is 20 times higher in those who DO transition.

In a commentary titled “Sex Reassignment Doesn’t Work: Here’s the Evidence,” Ryan T. Anderson writes,

When ‘the tumult and shouting dies,’ it proves not easy nor wise to live in a counterfeit sexual garb. The most thorough follow-up of sex-reassigned people—extending over 30 years and conducted in Sweden, where the culture is strongly supportive of the transgendered—documents their lifelong mental unrest. Ten to 15 years after surgical reassignment, the suicide rate of those who had undergone sex-reassignment surgery rose to 20 times that of comparable peers.”{3} (Emphasis mine)

This means that the risk of suicide is far greater In those who transition, than those who don’t.

Be aware of the power of social media. One of my heroes is Collin Karchner, who is “on a crusade to save teens from social media’s potential destruction to their self-esteem and mental health, and empowering parents to reconnect with their kids.” (savethekids.us/) I am amazed at the number of young lives he is saving by showing them how destructive social media can be, and the good that happens when teens cut themselves off from the negativity online. The destructive forces of social media certainly manifest in the growing numbers of kids and teens thinking they are transgender.

Recently, my colleague Kerby Anderson had me on his Point of View radio program talking about Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, which is a part of social contagion. He posted this article on the ministry website: pointofview.net/articles/rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria/

Tumblr is a magnet for young girls, who are extremely vulnerable to the ideas and images on social media, and it is egregiously pro-trans. You should know about this social contagion phenomenon on that platform here: 4thwavenow.com/tag/tumblr-trans-contagion/

As I said above, educate yourself. But know that the pro-trans activists have been extremely successful at shutting down the voices of those concerned about the full-steam-ahead transgender agenda. You’ll have to do some digging.

Check out the work and the writings of psychologist Dr. Kenneth Zucker, who counseled over 560 children and teens with gender confusion at his clinic in Toronto over 35-40 years. He found that when kids were able to go through puberty naturally, Gender Identity Disorder (a phrase he coined) resolved in 98% of boys and 80% of girls. This is profound! Apparently, there is something about the rush of the correct hormones during puberty that resets things internally in the vast majority of adolescents. The best treatment for those who feel at odds in their body is to wait and watch.

You should also know about Dr. Paul McHugh, for many years the Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Johns Hopkins University, who shut down the sex change clinic when he found that post-surgically, the patients still had their neuroses. In the article “Surgical Sex,” he wrote,

“When I became psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins, I realized that by doing sex-change operations the hospital was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness. We would do better for these patients, I thought, by concentrating on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia.”{4}

Be very skeptical of anything from WPATH, World Professional Association for Transgender Health. They are completely uninterested in providing any balance to their reports or articles, and their poorly designed studies have no control groups. (For more information, watch this video from pediatric endocrinologist Dr, Quentin Van Meter, “The Terrible Fraud of ‘Transgender Medicine'” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mtQ1geeD_c )

My last suggestion is the most important. PRAY. This is a spiritual warfare battle. The enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), and he is coming after our kids like nothing we’ve ever seen before. I have seen numerous people snatched from the enemy’s claws as God does “spiritual cataract surgery,” allowing them to see what they were blind to before, because of the faithful prayers of faithful parents and family members. Pray that the Lord will strengthen and protect your daughter from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Pray for the eyes of her heart to be enlightened so she can see the truth about herself (Ephesians 1:18).

Pray and don’t give up.

Notes

1. drphilintheblanks.com, Living by Design Worksheets.
2. sexchangeregret.com/bookstore/
3. www.heritage.org/gender/commentary/sex-reassignment-doesnt-work-here-the-evidence
4. www.firstthings.com/article/2004/11/surgical-sex

 

This blog post originally appeared at
blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/my_daughter_says_shes_a_boy–what_do_i_do
on June 11, 2019.




What is Art, Anyway?

When my dear friend Laura Helms told me about integrating her biblical worldview with how she teaches high school art, I was fascinated and asked her to write about her approach.

Jackson Pollock artFor the last nine years I have had the privilege of teaching visual arts in the public school system here in Texas. Each year I start off with one question on the board: “What is art?” Students give a wide range of answers but they usually land somewhere near the phrase “art can be whatever you want it to be.”

This year I laid out an assortment of objects ranging from pottery to paintings to piles of trash that I pulled from the garbage can that morning. Through many giggles and lots of questions, many of the students still firmly asserted that all of these items could be considered “art.” While you may agree or disagree with the used candy wrapper being called “art,” art is a form of visual communication that encompasses the values and beliefs of the maker. Effective art communicates those beliefs clearly to the viewer. And I believe good art communicates truth to the viewer.

I don’t get upset when my students hold the candy wrapper up as “art.” I don’t get upset because I know why they think that way. Matthew 6:22-23 says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” My primary goal as an art teacher is to help students learn how to see clearly. The goal is to teach them to look for truth—objective truth rather than subjective truth.

Art history is a reflection of what cultures believe about truth. The shift in western art movements closely correlates to changes in public value systems. Nietsche famously wrote “God is dead” in the late 1800s. After two world wars, the rise of Nihilism in the West, and the elevation of reactionary self-determination supported by the growing popularity of psychology, artistic thought turned inward for answers to the human experience. Artists looked at a world going up in flames and thought to themselves, Maybe it is true. Maybe I am on my own and this is all there is to life. Artists created art in their own image, validating their own truths and personal beliefs. When our eyes do not work, we do not see clearly. It is not shocking, but it is heartbreaking. When we exchange the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25), we hope to find life in things that cannot give us life.

I want to briefly share with you the journey my students take each year. Together we first identify our beliefs. What do you think the definition of art really is? What is the purpose of art? How do you know if art is good art? We start by identifying what we believe about “art.”

Next, we look at how we came to hold those beliefs. Together we look at history, philosophy and the evolution of Western thought. We talk about wars and Darwin, about appropriation and human rights. We look at the change in technology and how it influenced human interaction. We talk about religion and worldviews. We pinpoint large ideological shifts that show up in history. Did you know that the phrase “art is about personal expression” would have been laughed at before 1900? And the phrase “art can be what I want it to be” didn’t show up in public thought until the 1960s. As a class, we look at these origins and take note of how they have shaped our own thoughts and beliefs about art.

Garbage: is it art?Once students can articulate what they believe about art and the origins of those beliefs, we take a second look. How do you know your beliefs are true? How has your understanding of art changed after your studies? Students think they are profound when they make grandiose statements like “art is whatever I want it to be.” The goal isn’t to change their beliefs. The goal is to teach them to see clearly.

I think we all need to go to art class. At our core, none of us want to be fools, trusting in false hopes. We all desire to see truth. It is my goal to help them learn how to seek it and find it. When was the last time you asked yourself, “How do I know this to be true?”

Now go make some good, weird art.

 

This blog post originally appeared at
blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/what_is_art_anyway
on April 30, 2019.




What Difference Does the Resurrection Make?

Sue Bohlin suggests four ways the resurrection of Jesus can make a difference in the lives of believers today.

What difference does the resurrection make—in our lives? It’s the most important event in all of human history. Where’s the “so what” for today?

I meditated on this question for weeks, eventually creating a list too long for this blog post. So let me share my favorites.

All pain and suffering will be redeemed and resolved.

I’ve lived in a body with a disability since I got polio at eight months old and was paralyzed from the waist down. I got some use of my left leg and hip back, but I had to wear a steel and leather brace for the first several years of my life. Every step I’ve taken, I have limped. I had several orthopedic surgeries and 14 years of physical therapy.

We used to sing a song in church that made me cry Every. Single. Time.

You Hold Me Now {1}
For eternity
All my heart will give
All the glory to Your Name

No weeping, no hurt or pain
No suffering
You hold me now
You hold me now

No darkness, no sick or lame
No hiding, You hold me now
You hold me now

The first time I walk without a limp will be in my resurrected body, in heaven where there will be no polio, no weakness, no limping. There will be no scooters in heaven. No wheelchairs. No walkers.

No insulin pumps.
No percussion vests for cystic fibrosis.
No cochlear implants for the deaf.
No braille books or signs for the blind.
No dentures or dental implants.
No prosthetics.

All the technology and tools we have developed to help people deal with life in a fallen, broken world will be obsolete and never needed again. The fallen, broken world will be resurrected too! Full of glory and beauty and strength and perfection.

What difference does the resurrection make? It affects how I live through times of pain and suffering. I know I can bear it if there is a purpose and God is going to make everything right.

The resurrection means all pain and suffering is temporary, and there is meaning to it.

The resurrection means God sustains me through the difficult times because He is doing a beautiful thing in me that I will only be able to see and appreciate in my resurrection body.

A second difference the resurrection makes is that heaven is real, so we don’t have to fear death.

The resurrection means that if we are believers, if we have trusted in Christ, when we cross over from life on earth to life in heaven, we will be with Jesus and with all the people, starting with Adam and Eve, who put their trust in Him.

It means we can look forward to being reunited with our loved ones who have died.

I’m looking forward to seeing my daughter Becky again. She’s been with Jesus 42 years. I’m looking forward to being there when our sons Curt and Kevin meet their sister, who was born and died before they came along. I’m looking forward to seeing my mom and dad, my grandparents and other family members, including my wonderful cousin George who just moved to heaven last week.

We can look forward to meeting super distant family members and even people we heard about but never met, like the apostles and Saint Augustine and Corrie Ten Boom and Billy Graham.

And since heaven is real, it means we don’t have to fear death.

When we put our trust in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, death is merely a doorway into the next life. We leave our bodies and step across the threshold of heaven to be with Jesus.

There are so many stories of what a difference the resurrection makes in the life of a believer as they face death!

Recently I posted a question on Facebook asking friends to share dying stories of heaven-bound believers. I got so many delightful responses!

“My friend Charla was a hospice nurse for many years. She tells of one man, O.J., on his deathbed. His best friend, Floyd, had gone to heaven several years earlier. O.J. had been comatose for a day or so. Charla said he was peaceful and close to death as she sat with him, holding his hand and speaking soothing words to him. All of a sudden, with his eyes still closed, O.J. broke into a brilliant smile, lifted his other hand up into the air and said expectantly, ‘Floyd!’ and he went right to heaven! Charla said she’d held his hand on Earth as Floyd grasped his hand in heaven.”

“In the last moments of my father’s life, he was beaming with joy as he saw his friends on the other side waiting for him. He held up his hands, greeting them by name, ‘Brother Harold! Brother Bob!'”

3 weeks before my believing aunt passed, she saw her husband who had died several years before, in white robes reaching out his arms to her. Then while in the hospital, Aunt Rose walked by a statue of Jesus and paused as if talking to him. My cousin asked, “Mom, are you talking to Jesus?”

She said, “Yes, and He said, ‘Hang in there Rosie, you’ll be with Me shortly.'” A few days later, she told my cousins what she was seeing as the curtain between heaven and earth grew more and more transparent.

She exclaimed that heaven was so beautiful, so filled with warmth and kindness. Her daughter asked her if it was like Hawaii and she laughed and said, “No, it’s like a warm summer afternoon in Wisconsin.” The week she died, she started seeing Jesus in a white robe, and then the day before she died the robe turned gold. That night she told my cousin, “Go to bed. You’re keeping me from meeting Jesus.” She died several hours later.

What difference does the resurrection make? It means when loved ones die, it’s just a “see you later” rather than a forever goodbye.

It means that as you get rolled from pre-op to the operating room and get ready to undergo anesthesia, you can relax in peace knowing that if anything were to go wrong during surgery, you’d wake up in heaven.

It means being legitimately concerned about the dying process hurting, but not concerned about what happens one minute after death.

The resurrection means death has been robbed of its power and its sting.

Another difference the resurrection makes is that we become more aware of the unseen, eternal world.

Since Jesus said He had come from heaven, and that He would rise from the dead in 3 days—and then He did!—that validates everything He taught about the unseen and eternal dimension of life.

We can become more aware of the fact that we live in two worlds at the same time, the seen and physical world and the unseen spiritual world (2 Corinthians 4:18).

snorkeling in Grand CaymanI love to snorkel in the Caribbean. I love being able to look at the beautiful fish and corals of the underwater world while effortlessly breathing the air of the above-water world. I love functioning in two worlds at the same time.

What difference does the resurrection make? It means we can operate in two worlds simultaneously.

It means we can learn to focus on the unseen, eternal realm as more real than the temporal realm.

It means we can intentionally become so much more effective in our prayers because we start to see we truly do release God’s power into other people’s lives and situations when we pray.

Operating in two realms at the same time means we can sit in our living rooms and release the light of God’s truth and power into legal and political situations in our nation’s capital.

We can be walking or driving in our cars wherever we are and pour the grace of God’s power into the hearts of persecuted Christians on the other side of the world.

We can read or hear the news on the internet or the newspaper and lift up events and needs and problems to the throne of God no matter where they are.

The resurrection means we can wear “invisible snorkel gear” and operate in the earthly realm and the spirit realm at the same time.

A final difference the resurrection makes is that we will be married to Christ.

The church, the body of Christ, will be married to our heavenly bridegroom Jesus.

The greatest earthly marriages are still only a foretaste of the ultimate, perfect marriage between the Bride of Christ and the Lamb.

The best, healthiest earthly marriages are still between two broken, fallen sinners who hurt and irritate and annoy each other and are in constant need of forgiveness.

The very best marriages are not ultimately fulfilling and completing because only Jesus can fill and complete us. There are still times of loneliness and not being understood and wondering, “Is this as good as it gets?” Yes, because earthly marriages are not the ultimate purpose of your life.

If you are single, even if by God’s grace you are content in your singleness, there is still a longing for connection that eludes you on earth because you were made for a deep and perfect union and connection with Jesus.

What difference does the resurrection make? It means we will be bound up with the rest of the body of Christ to become His bride.

And these three differences that the resurrection make, I believe, are only the tip of the iceberg.

1. Hillsong Music, words and music by Joel Houston & Aodhan King

 

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/what_difference_does_the_resurrection_make
on April 16, 2019.




“How Can I Trust Christianity and the Bible Are True With So Many Changes and Translations?”

I recently visited the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC. I was excited to go there, because I thought I would view a lot of evidence for the faith of Christianity. While that was true, I was disappointed to leave the museum more confused than when I had arrived. The history of the Bible section showed that there have been many changes, corrections and translations made of the Holy Bible. How do we know that the Christian faith is the one true thing, and how do we know that the Bible has been translated/passed down correctly (and without error) during all those times of translations?

The great news is that we have a crazy HUGE number of manuscript copies of the New Testament, that allows us to know with amazing accuracy which are the most accurate copies (because we can identify where the copy mistakes are). I just checked with the world experts at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (www.csntm.org); there are 5500 copies of the Greek New Testament, and 15,000 copies total of the various languages from before the printing press was invented.

I just used these numbers to update one of my favorite answers to email on our website: probe.org/the-bible-has-been-changed-and-corrupted-over-time/

And here is the link to one of our best articles on the Bible: probe.org/are-the-biblical-documents-reliable/

One other article that is, I believe, super powerful for building your confidence that Christianity is true: probe.org/how-i-know-christianity-is-true/

I hope this encourages you!

Cordially,

Sue Bohlin
Probe Ministries Webmistress

Posted March 2019
© 2019 Probe Ministries




Princess Warrior, First Responder

One of my favorite things to talk about is the Gender Spectrum, because I think it provides a very helpful understanding of people. Instead of a single spectrum with masculinity on one end and femininity on the other, I believe God has created a masculinity spectrum and a separate femininity spectrum.

The masculinity spectrum runs from the rough and tumble, athletic and physical kind of males on one end, to the sensitive, artistic, creative kind of males on the other—and everything in between. Although Western civilization tends to equate masculinity with the rough and tumble guys, I think that is a stereotype that gets in the way of appreciating the divinely created range of masculinity.

The femininity spectrum runs from the girly-girl on one end to the tomboy girl on the other. And just as with the masculinity spectrum, Western civilization tends to equate femininity with the stereotype of pink-loving, cosmetic-wearing girls who twirl in dresses to be admired. God delights to make plenty of females who are gifted athletically, are often natural leaders, and don’t really care for the stereotypical appearance-oriented manifestations.

My belief is that Jesus Christ is the whole masculinity spectrum all at once, and as boys and men grow in Christlikeness (which is the goal of spiritual maturity), they will take up more bandwidth on the spectrum. Rough and tumble guys grow in sensitivity and compassion, and sensitive/artistic/creative men grow in their physicality and willingness to initiate and lead.

It seemed to me that a similar growth into taking up more bandwidth should happen on the femininity spectrum as well, as spiritual and emotional growth would produce a fuller-orbed experience of God’s beautiful intention for His beloved female image-bearers.

I have certainly observed this happening in fully devoted followers of Christ. I have seen tomboy girls become more comfortable in their feminine skin, especially those who didn’t particularly like being female because of abuse or a lack of connection with other girls growing up. It’s been good to see women who protected themselves with a hardened, tough outer shell grow softer and more trusting of the Lord and other women. But I’ve wondered, what happens when girly-girls start taking up more bandwidth on the femininity spectrum? How do they grow and change?

One of the things I love about my tomboy girl friends is their fiercely protective willingness to fight—bullies, injustice, evil. Most of them are not in the least interested in protecting their non-existent manicures or messing up their fancy, fussy outfits (since they don’t own any). Some of them grew up with a burning desire to defend the defenseless, and they were frustrated at the unfair rule that girls weren’t supposed to fight. And some of them felt shamed for this supposedly unfeminine passion.

Instead, in our culture, girls are usually expected to fall in love with Disney princesses and see themselves as a princess. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being royalty. In fact, when I tell my story of trusting Christ and entering into His family, I share my childhood dream to grow up to be a princess. It was a major lightbulb moment of my life to realize that I am now a child of God, who is the King of Kings, and the female child of a King is a princess! Then I pull out my tiara and pop it on my head. I totally own the princess identity.

But one day I realized that the Bible’s call to engage in spiritual warfare is not gender-related in the least. Every believer is called to don the armor of God and do battle with demons with the Lord’s protection and in His strength (Ephesians 6:1-18). The person who does warfare is a warrior, right?

Voila—the opportunity to be a princess warrior! Or a warrior princess, either one works, satisfying both ends of the femininity spectrum. Justice-fueled protectors who want to go to war or even just fight the bully on the school bus have every biblical invitation—it’s actually a command!—to give themselves fully to the God-given desire to fight in a way that glorifies God. Girly-girls fulfill a larger vision for femininity when they move beyond a self-oriented focus on looking good, shopping, disdaining sports, and the domestic arts, and give themselves to standing firm against evil and serving others in intercessory prayer.

Recently, though, I had another lightbulb moment when the women’s director at my church, addressing a “Leaders of Leaders” equipping time, told us that we are first responders. Invoking the image of 9/11 when firefighters ran into the burning buildings of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, she pointed out that we are also first responders when we deliberately walk into spiritual burning buildings to rescue those trapped by faulty, unbiblical thinking. We’re first responders when we’re willing to have hard conversations with those struggling with where scripture teaches unpopular and uncomfortable standards. We are first responders when we’re willing to walk people in conflict through the steps of biblical conflict resolution (Matthew 7:3-5, 18:15-17). We are first responders when we are willing to reach out and love the unlovely and difficult. We are first responders when we are willing to walk a woman through spiritual warfare material to identify places she has given the enemy a foothold in her life and help her take back internal real estate that should belong to Jesus.

So, regardless of where a woman finds herself on the femininity spectrum, she can glorify God as she trusts Him to expand and grow her into a more well-rounded follower of Christ. Even (and especially) if that includes pink nail polish and spiritual firefighting gear.

 

This blog post originally appeared at
blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/princess_warrior_first_responder
on March 5, 2019.