Saturday, July 29, 2017

Spiritual Warfare: Ten Things You Need To Know

 "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, 
but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds..."
2 Corinthians 10:4

In this post and this post, I mentioned that God has been teaching me about spiritual warfare.
The training exercises have been intense and unforgettable.
The hardest-learned lessons impart the deepest and most long-lasting learning.
Any wisdom we acquire in this Christian life is worth whatever we have to go through to glean
because it better equips us to overcome and conquer in future spiritual conflicts.
Just as it takes time and experience for a soldier to become seasoned and tempered for combat,
so it goes in the Christian's life.

I shared before that God led me to take on a very exhaustive ministerial endeavor.
What I didn't tell you is that it took me a little while to surrender to what He was asking me to do,
and, when I finally surrendered and said, "yes" to God, it didn't take satan long to launch what has been one of the most fierce, cruel, extreme seasons of spiritual warfare I have battled through yet.
I said "yes" to God's call on a Wednesday, and, I kid you not, the brutal attacks began on Thursday.

Not only do the hardest-learned lessons impart the deepest and most long-lasting learning,
this learning can come by no other means than a first-hand, personal walk-through of the experience.

So, for quite some time now, I have been engaged in what feels like hand-to-hand combat with satan himself.
Aren't we all?
This fight is not unique to me.
If you are a Christian, if you are sold out to God, determined to follow Him whole-heartedly and have made up your mind to live your every moment in alignment with His Word and will,
you are either IN a spiritual battle, or there is one looming on your horizon.
Not to be negative, just telling it like it is.
It is not a matter of if you will be called out to the battlefield, it is a matter of when.

Here are ten things I've learned about spiritual warfare that I hope you will find beneficial.

1.  Prepare for war in the time of peace.
The time to prepare is when times are calm...on those precious, ordinary days.
Oh, that we would all learn the true value and worth of an ordinary day!
It is too late to try to prepare when thrust suddenly onto the battlefield.
Use lulls in between battles and moments of reprieve as opportunities to reload, regroup, and to set in motion a game plan for the next attack.
The secret to victory lies in adopting a proven strategy ahead of time and strictly adhering to it, regardless.
"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
 Benjamin Franklin

2.  Study your opponent.

Who is he?

"And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."
2 Corinthians 11:14

"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
2 Corinthians 4:4

"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience..."
Ephesians 2:1,2

How does he operate?

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world."
I Peter 5:8,9

What have you learned from his past maneuvers?

"And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him."
Zechariah 3:1

When has he been most successful in discouraging you?

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
2 Corinthians 2:11

Where does he spend his time?

"And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."
Job 1:7

3.  Be always on guard.
You never know when the enemy will pounce,
where temptation will present itself,
or what channel he will decide to use.

"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."
I Corinthians 16:13

Watch and pray.
The disciples slept and later failed when it mattered most.
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Matthew 26:41

"Behold, He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."
Psalm 121:4
Unfortunately, our adversary never sleeps, either.
Don't think for one moment that he ever lets up or falls down on the job.

4.  Build a Massive Scriptural Arsenal.
(Read about this, and find 30 Scriptures here and 20 more Scriptures here.)
Learn from Jesus' example.
"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungered.
And when the tempter came to Him, he said, if Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
But He answered and said, 'It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'
Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple,
And saith unto Him, if Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Jesus said unto him, 'It is written again, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.'
Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
And saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.
Then saith Jesus unto him, 'Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.'
Then the devil leaveth Him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto Him."
Matthew 4:1-11
Jesus Christ, our Example, absolutely overcame satan and all of his temptations and tactics every, single time by quoting the written Word of God out loud.
This is how you and I will overcome, too.
Keep your Massive Scriptural Arsenal well-stocked, at all times.
Produce their power by SPEAKING them in the face of satan and his ploys.

"Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee..."
Job 22:28

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12

5.  Be sure to include many praise verses in your Massive Scriptural Arsenal.

The prophecy of Jesus in Isaiah 61:1-3 says,
"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me; because the LORD hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified."

Jesus came to give the garment of praise as an exchange for the spirit of heaviness.
The enemy will not stick around where praises to God are being uttered.

Here are ten praise verses to enhance your arsenal.

"I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies."
2 Samuel 22:4

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ..."
Ephesians 1:3

"The LORD is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation: He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt Him."
Exodus 15:2

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."
Revelation 5:12

"But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."
Psalm 22:3

"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..."
Ephesians 5:20

"Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people."
I Chronicles 16:8

"By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name."
Hebrews 13:15

"I thank Thee, and praise Thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of Thee..."
Daniel 2:23

"I will extol Thee, my God, O king; and I will bless Thy name for ever and ever.
Every day will I bless Thee; and I will praise Thy name for ever and ever.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable."
Psalm 145:1-3

6.  Memorize every verse in your Massive Scriptural Arsenal.
It sounds like a lofty goal.
It isn't that difficult.
If you are going to be prepared to fight and successfully overcome the enemy the way Jesus fought and conquered him, you are going to have to know the Word of God.
Write Scripture verses on index cards or post-it notes and tape them on your bathroom mirror,
on the dashboard of your car, in the corner of your computer screen, on the back of your phone, 
on your refrigerator or microwave door, or wherever you are most likely to see them.
Repeat them out loud throughout the day.
Let them permeate your personal space and surrounding atmosphere.

7.  Keep a song of praise in your heart at the ready.
When King Jehoshaphat was faced with a battle that he could not, humanly, ever hope to win,
he developed an unusual, but simple and perfectly successful, military strategy.
He prayed to God, and he sent singers of praise out BEFORE the army.

"And the Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of the Korhites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with a loud voice on high.  And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.  And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.  And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten."
2 Chronicles 20:19-22

As a result of the singers going before the army, God fought the battle FOR them,
and they did not have to lift a finger to fight!!

"I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being."
Psalm 104:33

"Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for He hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers."
Jeremiah 20:13

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him."
Psalm 28:7

"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O most High..."
Psalm 92:1

8. Study and learn from great warriors.
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us..."
Hebrews 12:1
Think Joshua, David, Jehoshaphat, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Inundate your Massive Scriptural Arsenal with their words and quote them out loud in battle.
Old Testament battles are types and shadows of our spiritual battles in the dispensation of grace.
Think Peter, Paul, John.
Study their battles and the New Testament books they, through Holy Spirit inspiration, penned.
Think a Godly mentor from your past, a hero of the faith you have read about and admire, 
or a current pastor or spiritual leader who lives a holy life.
Read about the saints of old and replicate the spiritual weapons they used and wrote about.
How did they run a successful Christian race?
I guarantee that two common threads you will inevitably find is that they live(d) a life of fervent prayer, and their Scriptural arsenal is (was) abundantly armed.
Emulate that.

9.  Set Ebenezer stones to mark places of victory.
"Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us."
I Samuel 7:12
Set your own Ebenezer stones in place.
Look back on them later for encouragement.
Start an Ebenezer stone journal.
Read it when faced with a new spiritual challenge.
The same God Who brought you through before will bring you through again.
You can trust Him.
He never changes.
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever."
Hebrews 13:8

10.  Keep your armor on.
Don't ever take it off.
"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints..."
Ephesians 6:11-18

God has provided for ample protection, if only we will pick up our armor, put it on, and never take it off.

2 Peter 1:10 says, 
"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall..."

May God bless each one of you and keep you ever faithful at your post of duty.
God has placed you where you are for a Divine purpose.
I don't know what your individual battle entails, but I do know that God is with you always.
Through Him, you are more than a conqueror.  (Romans 8:37)
Since God is for you, who can be against you?  (Romans 8:31)
Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.  (I John 4:4)
There are more with us than be with them.  (2 Kings 6:16)

Be courageous in your battle, and know that God is ever on your side!
As the song below says, "we must soldier on!"

If video doesn't load, click here.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Inner Views of Barronelle Stutzman

"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
2 Timothy 3:12

Some of us have heard and read the above Scripture most of our lives.
We have heard it, and we have shied away from it, because the very word "persecution" automatically strikes a dart of fear into the heart of a Christian and presents images of martyrs and past saints who have suffered immensely, many of them giving their very lives for their refusal to deny Christ.
We not only shy away from 2 Timothy 3:12, but we also have a tendency to pass it on to Christians who live in countries where they are not legally permitted to walk out their faith in an open arena.
We never think it could happen the land of the free.
After all, we live in a country in which the Word of God is its Constitutional core.

It is hard for me to imagine or wrap my mind around the fact that Christians are being targeted, not only in those distant, far-removed countries that are hostile to Christianity, but they are facing persecution right here, in the United States, on American soil, by the very government that was founded upon the tenets of God's Word.
How could this be?
How did we get here?
The thought is beyond alarming.
If our founding fathers were to have the opportunity to come back and see what is going on,
they would not recognize this as being the United States of America.

The dear lady I am interviewing today is one of the sweetest, most soft-spoken people you could ever meet.
She is genuine and sincere to the core, and she loves Jesus with all her heart.
Zach and I recently had the amazing privilege of being a part of an event sponsored by Concerned Women for America, during which we were so blessed to meet her face-to-face and hear her and her attorneys discuss the persecution she and her husband Darold are going through, simply because they are taking a firm stand to defend God's definition of marriage.
We left that encounter saddened and stirred in spirit, yet inspired, and determined to help pray them through this most difficult season of severe testing and trial.
Perhaps you are familiar with her story.
I am grateful and humbled that she so graciously consented to share an interview with us here, and
I know you will be blessed, deeply moved, and challenged as you read her heartfelt words.

Barronelle and her husband, Darold Stutzman

Barronelle Stutzman

Cheryl:  Please tell us about yourself.

Barronelle:  I was born in Springfield, Missouri, but soon after our family moved to California because my dad got a job working at Alcatraz. (My family actually lived on the island, even though I don’t remember much about it as I was just a toddler.) Later on, when I was still very young, we moved to Richland, Washington. Soon after our family arrived in Washington, there was a dust bowl, and I remember living with my mom, dad, sister, and our collie dog in an underground basement.

I had really good experiences growing up; however having my parents divorce when I was 13 was difficult. I remember when my mom told me they would wait to get a divorce until all their bills were paid off, and I thought, “Well, that’s not going to happen—there are lots of bills.” But plans must have changed because they divorced anyway.

I have lived nearly my whole life in the Richland area. For several years, we lived in Connell, Washington, which is a small town of about 800 people outside of Richland. I loved Connell. Everyone knows each other as you are constantly seeing each other at the store, post office, or gas station. It’s a great place to raise kids, and often the best entertainment was found with community games and events. In fact, one of my favorite pastimes was playing softball, and if I weren’t so old, I would still be playing.

Cheryl:  We would love to hear about your Christian testimony.  How old were you when you became a follower of Jesus?  What life events led to that decision?  What are some of the most tangible ways becoming a Christian has transformed your life?

Barronelle:  I was raised in the church, and my mom sang in the choir. I misbehaved in Sunday School so much that I should have been kicked out. So for any Sunday School teachers reading this, please know that there is hope for even the most challenging kids!

My sister and I were supposed to sit in the front pew, with our little white gloves and patent leather shoes, and be quiet. We’d get the stern look if we got out of line.

Growing up, I always thought that being a good Christian meant going to church, praying, reading your Bible, and following the rules. But there is a big difference between being a “token Christian” and being a follower of Christ, which is the true definition of “Christian.” But I didn’t understand the difference for years, and I just lived and behaved like most everyone else.

You see, when we truly believe that God is our life, we change. Instead of living for ourselves, we want to be obedient and faithful to Christ. But because I am full of sin—I have nothing to offer Christ except my sin—I needed the grace of God to save me. I prayed that God would take away my ego, my pride, and give me a childlike faith, that I may do whatever He has set before me.

Cheryl:  Who, in particular, do you credit as being your strongest Christian mentor?  How has this person strengthened you in your walk with Christ?

Barronelle:  When we were dating, Darold, (now my husband), asked me about my relationship with Christ. I was insulted.  “Why would he ask me about my relationship with Christ—can’t he see I’m a lovely, angelic woman?” Eventually, I figured out that he had actually asked me a good question. Even though I was a “token Christian,” I didn’t have a relationship with Christ. I am so thankful that God put Darold into my life.

I used to be very naïve about Scripture, even though I had read the Bible. I was naïve about what it meant to be a child of God, to have spiritual responsibilities. I didn’t know what godliness was all about.

Cheryl:  How did the Lord lead you into the florist business?  What part of this line of work do you enjoy the most?

Barronelle:  My mom bought a shop, and she asked me if I would deliver flowers after I got off work. I didn’t like to deliver flowers. Still, I slowly branched out into many other parts of the business. I learned how to keep the books, and I even started learning to make arrangements. Over the years, I have received training from some excellent floral designers, and I have attended several classes.

What I most enjoy about my business is working with God’s beautiful creation and bringing joy to others through designing. It is such a blessing to create with flowers—it’s art at its best!

Cheryl:  Please share with us about the persecution you are currently facing.  How and when did it start?  Living in a country that proclaims religious liberty, how has what is happening most surprised you?  How has it affected your life?  What will your next step be?

Barronelle:  Washington State passed its same-sex marriage law in 2012. And we were told that this was a matter of “live and let live”—those who disagreed with the law would not be affected. A few months later, Rob, one of my favorite customers, came in to talk about his floral plans for his upcoming marriage with another man named Curt. For years, I knew that Rob was gay. He always came in and picked out unusual vases, described the theme he wanted, and told me to just “do your thing.” I loved the freedom Rob gave me to custom design floral creations for him. He loved my work, and I loved doing designs for him.

Before he could get too far into discussing the details of his wedding, I gently put my hand on his and said, “Rob, I’m sorry. I cannot do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.” He said he understood, and we talked for a few more minutes. We hugged each other, and he left. I thought all was fine, and we parted as friends who respected each other, but disagreed over a very important issue.

Within a week or so, without a complaint being filed by Rob, the attorney general sent me a letter explaining that I had to make custom floral arrangements for same-sex weddings. Otherwise, I would be sued. I turned down his ultimatum. Then, the ACLU also got in contact with Rob and Curt, and they also filed a lawsuit against us. Both the state and the ACLU are suing us personally and corporately.

We did nothing wrong. We just have a different view from the state and Rob on what marriage is. We believe it is a union between one man and one woman that signifies the relationship of Christ and his church. Evidently, in America, you can’t act on that belief in the public square.

We received death threats, and people threatened that they would contact all our wholesalers and put us out of business. We notified the police, installed a security system, and have even changed the route I take to work. Still, on the good side, we have had lots of support from all over the world—we have heard from people in 68 different countries.

We have presently lost at two courts, the latest one being the Washington Supreme Court. We are planning to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear our case.

Cheryl:  Your forgiving spirit is SO inspiring and moving to me and to so many others.  How have you found it in your heart to forgive when you know that you stand to lose everything...your business, your home, your life's savings, etc.?  How does one come to a place of such forgiveness, even compassion and love, for the very ones who are bringing about such severe persecution and hurt?

Barronelle:  I sin all the time, and yet Christ continually forgives me. So, it is my responsibility to forgive others, including everyone who has filed and pursued this lawsuit against us. Also, even though we have received a lot of hate mail and calls, we do not harbor any spite or animosity toward any of the folks who have sent hate our way. Amidst all the difficulties that this lawsuit has brought into our lives, Darold and I have complete peace about our situation.

We may lose all we own: our business, our life savings, our retirement. We have spent years saving and working to leave our children and grandchildren something. But it is not ours. We must offer our lives to God—that He would use them for His glory. What do I have that is not from His hand? What do I own that is not already His? All I possess in this life is His, and I offer it all back to Him.

Cheryl:  Throughout this ordeal, how has your personal relationship with God been affected or changed?  Have you felt abandoned, or have you felt His presence more intimately as you live out what it truly means to suffer for His name's sake?

Barronelle:  My relationship with Christ has grown stronger and deeper, but I still have a long way to go. I have to rely on Him because this case has brought such a big mess into our lives! Even still, it is exciting to see what He is going to do through all this. We have seen miracle after miracle happen during this case. God is really in control!

God says to count it all joy if you are persecuted. In America, we have faced a softer persecution than people in other parts of the world face. But I am still facing threats to remove me from the public square because of my religious beliefs. Now, more than ever, it’s time to stand and bear witness to the truth.

Cheryl:  Has there been a particular moment that you have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit ministering to you in a very individual and powerful way?  How did He assure you that you were not walking alone?  

Barronelle:  I especially felt God’s presence when I learned that I had breast cancer a number of years ago. I really wanted to be an example of how to lean on Christ. After I found out, we got our prayer group together, and we bowed in prayer. The room was filled with God’s presence.

Many times, God sends us just the right people to encourage us. They tell us their stories, their trials, and they give us the tools to comfort, listen, and just hug. Hugs are the best part.

Cheryl:  It is one thing to talk the talk of a Christian and feel a sense of boldness in times of support and lack of resistance.  It is quite another to walk the walk and stand in firm defense of God's Word while staring straight into the face of opposition and hostility.  When faced with such a situation as yours, it would be so much easier to recant and conform to what is politically not make not put one's own interests in jeopardy.  Please share with us about any inward struggle you experienced when you were asked to do something that contradicts the Bible and your personal convictions.

Barronelle:  I struggle with God’s Word. There are things that God says that I don’t like—like watch your tongue! But he gives us the Scripture for our own good. And when we choose to ignore it, we get in trouble. We’d all save ourselves a lot of heartache if we’d just obey the Bible’s teachings.

Cheryl:  How is God turning your and your husband's test into a testimony and a ministry to strengthen and inspire His people?  What doors has He opened for you to be able to share with other Christians? 

Barronelle:  We have been privileged to share our story with so many and encourage people to stand for religious liberty. Some of my favorite moments have been getting to encourage those in the church to stand for God’s truth. And we have been so blessed with the people who have come alongside us to affirm and encourage us. I am still surprised, however, whenever people refer to us as “heroes” or “saints.” The truth is that we are just simple people. You might say that God picks the most unlikely men and women to serve Him and further His purposes, and I suppose that’s why He picked us.

Cheryl:  What would you identify as being the greatest threat to religious freedom in our current culture?

Barronelle:  Our greatest threat is when Christians don’t stand for the truth, out of fear of punishment. Too often, we fear losing revenue or our jobs. The fact is: none of this is going away any time soon. Don’t think that it can’t happen to you.

Cheryl:  We recently heard you speak, and my heart was stirred when you mentioned how much you appreciate the way so many have stood behind you, and you asked that we not only stand behind you, but that we stand WITH you  Please tell us how we can most effectively stand with you in the fiery trial you are walking through?  What are some of the things we can do to support and encourage you?

Barronelle:  People always tell us they are standing with us. We cannot fight this battle alone. The future of our Constitution and our freedoms are at stake—our freedom to live out our faith in the public square is at stake. So talk to your congressman, get involved with your school board, or run for city council. Whatever you do, don’t stay silent.

Cheryl:  In Luke 9:26 Jesus says, "For whosoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in His own glory, and in His Father's, and of the holy angels."  As Christians, we would all like to think that we possess the necessary courage to do the right thing, should we be faced with a situation like yours...that we would not be ashamed of Jesus and His holiness, regardless of personal cost.  In that crucial moment of decision, how does determined faith overcome fear?  Having walked and still walking the difficult path of being the one who stands to lose so much because of your stand for Christ, what advice would you offer to the Christian who may feel a desire to follow your example, but who feels paralyzed by the spirit of fear?

Barronelle:  We all experience fear. But God will not ask you to do something for which He has not prepared you, and you can always be sure that He’ll walk with you through it all. We never thought we would be where we are today.  But here we are, not smarter, or braver, or bolder—just normal people, with a mighty God.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you?  Are there specific petitions you would like us to help you lift to the Father?

Barronelle:  There are so many things for which we need prayer. Pray for Rob and Curt, the two men who are suing us. Also, pray for Alliance Defending Freedom and its legal team. What a godly organization that is representing us pro bono! 

Photo by Zachary Smith 
Barronelle with Matt Sharp, Senior Counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom

We pray that the U.S. Supreme Court would take our case. And pray for our pastors, that they would stand for biblical principles. And for Darold and me—that we would not fail in our task. Pray for all the persecuted Christians around the world (many of whom face things far worse than we do). Through their examples, God has taught us to be bold and shown us that there is a price to pay. Freedom is not free. Christ died for us; what are we willing to do for Him?

Very good question, Barronelle.
What are we willing to do for Him, dear friends?

The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Barronelle and Darold, legally.  

Just a few days ago, they asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case.

I am copying a quote from ADF here...

"When some of our Ministry Friends heard about Barronelle’s situation, they immediately responded with a $2 million matching grant to help with the huge expenses of taking her case to the U.S. Supreme Court. This means that any gift you make will be doubled, dollar for dollar, to go twice as far to defend Barronelle and others like her.

Her case could make a big difference to the religious freedom of all Americans."

If you feel led to contribute to this cause, please click HERE.

At the end of one of Barronelle's responses, she said this,
"Don’t think that it can’t happen to you."

Barronelle and Darold's story could be your story...or mine.

We can no longer afford the "luxury" of sitting on the sidelines, refusing to take a stand.
Religious liberty for ALL of us is at stake and more in peril than it has ever been in our country.

If you aren't already doing so, please remember Barronelle and Darold in your prayers,
praying specifically for the requests shared in this interview.

Thank you ever so much, Barronelle, for taking time to share your heart with us!
We are so thankful for you and Darold, and we stand united with you in this battle.

"If God be for us, who can be against us?"
Romans 8:31

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."
Romans 8:37

On a side note, Zach was asked to photograph the event where we met Barronelle.
 This one is my favorite.

Photo by Zachary Smith

Barronelle stood, hand-in-hand with another persecuted brother in Christ, Kelvin Cochran,
as many pastors gathered around and prayed over them.
Such a beautiful sight, and the presence of God was SO real in that room!
I will never forget it.
This picture speaks a thousand words!
Two precious children of God, standing in front of the flag that represents the freedom our ancestors bled and died to preserve!
A flag that represents "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for ALL."
Dear Lord, help us!
How have we drifted so far?

Photo by Zachary Smith
Barronelle & Darold Stutzman

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
I Corinthians 15:58

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Inner Views of Betty Draper

"For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."
I Corinthians 2:2
(Betty's life verse)

The words of the dear lady I am interviewing today brought me to tears.
I am moved by her devotion to our Lord, to her husband, and to the people she has served through the years.
I am touched by the way she and her husband have labored long together, hand in hand, to promote God's cause and to spread Jesus' love.
I am challenged by the sacrifices they have made and the selfless way they have laid down their lives.
When I think of the two of them, I think of these words in Luke 10:2, spoken from the heart of Jesus that yearned for dedicated followers who would be willing to spread His Gospel,
"Therefore said He unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest."

I think the part of her interview that touched me most was this...
"We both wish we had another life to give."
Oh, for consecrated workers such as the sweet couple in the picture below!

Ace and Betty Draper

With joy and gratitude, I present to you the
of Wife for 52 years, Mother of Two, and Grandmother of Six,
Betty Draper.

Cheryl: Please tell us about yourself.

Betty:  I did not grow up in a Christian home.  In fact I heard the name God a lot, but it had another word attached to it.  My Dad was a drunk, a mean drunk, whose favorite word for me and my brothers was, “pitiful”. My mother tried as best she could, but being abused, too, by my Dad was just a way of life for her.  It took her 25 years to finally leave him.  During those years, I formed some pretty strong opinions toward men, such as, if my husband, or any man for that matter, ever hits me in any way, he better make sure I do not get up, because I would use whatever I could to stop him from abusing me.  My survivor heart developed early in life.

Cheryl: We would love to hear about how you met your husband, your love story, and how you knew he was the man God wanted you to marry?

Betty:  Again, this part is not pretty.  We met when we were 15, married at 17.  I think we loved each other as best that any 17 year old could, but we both came from broken homes, both thought getting married was a way out.  We both were mature in making a living, but so immature emotionally, which showed up pretty soon after we got married.  He was a drinker, not an abusive man, thank God, but our first 12 years of marriage was a total disaster.  We separated three times, not knowing what else to do, and were not mature enough to seek help.  It was not a Christian story book love.

Cheryl: When did you become a Christian?

Betty:  My husband, Ace, got saved at 13 through a faithful Sunday school teacher who invited him to a revival at her church.  That night, he understood he was a sinner in need of a Savior, and Jesus was the only One who could save him.  For a little while he stayed in church, but the lure of a good job in the oil fields, working on an oil rig got in the way.  He quit school at 15 for this job which only drove him deeper into the pit, working with some pretty rough men.  We met about that time and got married at 17.  During those first 12 years of marriage, I had six miscarriages.  Life changed a lot in those 12 years, we moved three different times, each time to another state, and we ended up in Louisville, KY.  Our marriage was still a mess.  There, I had our first child, a girl.  Feeling her move inside of me made me wonder what happened to those six I had lost.  So I bought an NIV Bible to seek an answer.  It took 4 years of reading, another miscarriage, and a little boy before I found the answer.

Here is when the true love story started.  God sent His people from a local church that had the boldness to ask me about my soul before they even invited me to church.  I had a hard heart, because to survive all the heartache you must build a wall around your heart.  But losing those babies gave me a reason to seek Him, and, of course, He was just waiting for me.  We attended that church, my husband rededicated his life to Christ, and I got saved the following Sunday. We had had a lot of changes in our life, but this change brought a journey we never expected.

Cheryl: Can you share with us about the moment you felt called to full-time Christian service? How did God make your calling evident to you? Please tell us about your missionary work.

Betty:  The church we attended was an independent Baptist, and our pastor had missionaries in all the time.  By this time, we had attended a Bible Institute that our church had, and we were full time in ministry at our church by then.  Unbelievable… Us…Ace and I from such dysfunctional homes working with youth.  God certainly has a way of showing the world how much He can change a life.  One Sunday, a widowed missionary lady, about 50, spoke at our church.  She was with New Tribes Mission and was teaching literacy in a village on an island in the Philippines.  My husband was sick that day, and as I watched her slides and heard her words, I felt like God had sat those people all around me, and said, "Betty, what are you going to do about them?"  It shook me to my core, and I asked her to come with me and show her slides to my husband.  It shook him, too.  We passed at least five Gospel-preaching churches on the way to our church, and to find out there were people tucked in remote places that had not heard the Gospel broke our hearts.  The first thing God asked me to do was to support this missionary, Nada Price, who, by the way, just passed away at 93.  I used to imagine us flying into her tribe in one of those single-engine planes and saying, "Here we are, Nada, what can we do to help you?"

When Ace told me he thought God wanted us to go into full time foreign mission work, God had my heart ready, and I just said, "Ok, let’s go."  We applied to New Tribes Missions, shocked that they took us.  During our training, people kept saying, "You guys would make great dorm parents", but we wanted to go to a tribe.  The last phase of training is Language School, where we found out we would not be good at learning an unwritten language.  So we were asked to go to Bolivia, South America to be dorm parents.  I loved the idea, but Ace was a little hesitant.  I mean, we really did not have the good upbringing to draw from.  What we learned was, God needed willing hearts, not good upbringing to do His job.  Our children were 10th grade and 7th grade when we arrived in Bolivia.  Long story short, we loved being dorm parents to high school guys, loved it.  We spent 7 years in Bolivia, returned home for a short furlough, since our son had graduated, and our pastor asked us to stay back and help him at the local church, as it was struggling.  Another long story short, we stepped out of New Tribes, and, for two years, helped in the huge Christian school they had.  God begin to work on our hearts to go back overseas with New Tribes and the door was open so we once again stepped through it.  We were asked to go to Papua, New Guinea and help in a new region. Ace would do administration; I would be hostess when the missionaries came out of the jungle for whatever reason.  I loved doing that.  Bolivia was a third world country, but PNG was a 5th world country.  So primitive, undeveloped, and so in need of hearing the Gospel because the ruggedness of it kept people away.  We loved what we did there, too, and spent 7 years helping in the Madang region, doing things so out of our comfort zone.  We returned to the states in 2012, knowing our overseas days were over, due to Ace's heart health.  Our mission asked us to become Member Care reps for six southwest states, which is exactly what we do now and love it.  All those years, two countries, tons of different experiences, lots of hard and good times is exactly what helps us when we sit down with a young couple just home from the field.  One young missionary wife put it into perspective for us when she said, "We did not have to explain anything to you.  You got everything we said."

I could go on and on, with story after story, but know this.  No matter how hard it got, we do not regret one minute spent over seas or here in the states serving Him.

Cheryl: Define one of the darkest periods of your life, thus far. How did you remain encouraged in your Christian walk during this time?

Betty:  One of darkest times was making the decision to not go back to Bolivia, staying home to help our home church, and coming home in 2012, not knowing what God had for us.  It’s good to have some years of walking in faith behind you because you can draw from a well that never runs dry.  We are thankful to have the written Word, good, Godly friends to help us, and each other.  Our marriage may have been a shambles way back, but God has enforced His wisdom, insight, and love into our lives.  Do we love each other more?  No…but we love each other differently.  With God’s love, it has stood the test of time.

Cheryl: Who has influenced you most in your walk with Jesus? What about that person did/do you most admire?

Betty:  My pastor's wife influenced me greatly in how to be a Godly woman, how to dress, how to speak, how to act in hard times, how to have fun the right way.  She gave me a good foundation that I built my faith on.  Through her, I learned that nothing could separate me from the love of God, in the present and in the future.  Also, I would have to say, every missionary I met influenced me and still does.  We know the sacrifice it takes to leave family and the comfort of a good country, so every young couple we sit down with, our hearts want to go help them.  It’s our aging bodies that can’t; but our hearts sure want to.

Cheryl:  If you could go back and relive any portion of your life, what would it be? Why?

Betty:  My teen years, I would relive, if I could.  I don’t dwell on the mistakes I made because God uses everything about us, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  But I had opportunities to get saved, I went to many churches, but I think my survival heart thought I could survive Hell.  I mean, living in my house was Hell in my mind, and I survived that.  In fact, when people would talk to me about Hell, I would say, "Let me tell you about Hell", and on I would go about what I grew up in.

Cheryl:  What is the best piece of marital advice you were ever given? How has it helped you in your own marriage? If you were sitting down with a young couple who are soon to be married, what is the first thing you would tell them?

Betty:  Best piece of marital advice ever given to me was to wait upon the Lord.  There have been times I so did not agree with my husband, but waiting on the Lord, I trusted Him to either change his mind or mine.  I just recently had a wife come to me and ask me how to handle her husband, who was putting off making a decision he needed to make.  I said, "Just wait on the Lord.  It’s His job, not yours, to work on your husband's heart."  She did, and he made a decision, a good one, too, that affected their life for good.  I love the fact that Scripture does not just say, “Wait on the Lord”.  It also says, "Wait upon."  To wait upon is to serve, and my ministry, as I was waiting on God in our marriage, was to wait upon my husband.

Cheryl:  Please share with us about New Tribes Mission. What is it? How long have you been a part of it?

Betty:  New Tribes Mission works among people groups who have had little or no access to the Bible, mostly in remote locations in Africa, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific Region.  While providing practical help, such as medical care, community development, and literacy education, missionaries share Bible lessons that allow the people to choose for themselves whether to believe on Jesus Christ and follow Him.  It’s an organization that helps local churches send out missionaries.  Their headquarters are located in Sanford, Florida.  We joined in 1989, so altogether, we have been a part of New Tribes Mission for 28 years, with those two years helping our church.

Cheryl: How much time have you spent overseas as a missionary?

Betty:  Actually, overseas was 14 years.  We were in our 40's when we joined New Tribes.  We both wish we had another life to give.

Cheryl:  Your comments after reading some of my posts concerning my family's and my minimizing journey have been encouraging and inspiring to me.  Will you please share your perspectives and experiences in minimizing in your own life?

Betty:  As for my minimizing journey, like all who own a home, we had filled it with things that one feels you must have in a country where there is a Walmart on every block.  Getting ready for the move to Bolivia, S.A., was easier on us than it was our two children.  We flew with 19 duffel bags for four people, full of everything it took to start life in South America.  What we needed once we got there was easy to come by since there were always missionaries going home and leaving stuff.  We were able to sell, or mostly give away, everything when we returned to the states to help our home church.  So, with state side living again, the stuff began to accumulate again, until it began to get in the way of what God wanted us to do.  Things you buy, you must take care of, and that takes time.  And “stuff” had lost some of it’s luster, after living in Bolivia.  When we re-entered New Tribes, we gave all that stuff away again and took a few tools, cooking utensils, and our clothes to Papua New Guinea.  Returning back to the states, we took a few clothes and left the rest of our “stuff” for others to use.  All the moving had given me a new perspective on “stuff”, and my husband will tell you that too much stuff around me makes me nervous.  I never want to have anything I cannot give up for Him.  There is no piece of clothes, furniture, or decoration that I cannot part with, even though I have my favorites. One of our duffel bags got stolen on its way to Bolivia.  It was the one that had all the special children's Christmas ornaments I had collected every year.  That broke me of collecting.  I can walk away from anything I own because it does not own me.  Now people are a different story.  I have never been depressed over losing things, but leaving family and friends is another story. To this day, when we get to be with family, I am depressed for three days when we leave them. Let me put it this way, I allow myself three days of laying around, watching sad movies, reading books, not doing much, as I mourn my loss.  Then I put my depression aside and get on with life.  I lost my mother a year ago this next April, and I have yet to visit her gravesite during the couple of trips we have made back to Ill.  I told my husband, "When there is grass on her grave, I will visit it."  She is walking the green, green grass of Heaven, and that is enough for me, for now.  I have seen missionaries come to their country of service and become depressed over “stuff” that in the light of eternity means nothing.  A lack of stuff caused a few to quit.  My husband says I have had to have a tough heart to survive all the moves and different changes of our life.  A tough heart is not a hard heart.  The devil's fiery darts cannot penetrate a tough heart.  The older I get in the Lord, the less I need, and the more I want to invest in people.  But,  let me be real honest.  We share a rented house with our son and family, so I do miss having my own place and my own patio where I can sit uninterrupted.  With three grandchildren around,  that’s almost impossible.  I have a dear friend who lives a few blocks from me, who has offered her patio to me anytime I want.  She works full time.  I believe the Lord has answered my need for some peace and quiet in which to write and read.  He always knows what I need when I need it.  Another thing,  missionaries returning to their home countries have to contend with the amount of choices of stuff there is.  It’s overwhelming for months to shop for anything.  When you have lived content with so little, too much brings discontentment.  Our flesh is never, ever satisfied with what we have.  He alone can bring true contentment. 

Cheryl: What do your current ministry/missionary endeavors involve? What are you most trying to achieve at this season of life?

Betty:  We are currently Member Care Reps, covering five southwest states.  Our mission is to meet face to face with those missionaries who are from those states and are home on furlough. Our goal is to be an encouragement and assist them, as they transition back into stateside living.  We are able to counsel, coach, give information they might need, and get them in touch with the right people they need.  Mostly, we listen.  It’s our main ministry to listen and seek God's heart in what to say back to them, if needed, and care for them.

Cheryl:  What do you think God's most urgent message for His people is at this current time?

Betty:  Life is not about you; it’s about Me.

Cheryl: Describe the legacy you hope to leave behind for your children and grandchildren. What do you most want them to remember about you after God calls you home?

Betty:  I hope they always say about me, "All she talked about was Jesus."

Cheryl: Looking back over your life, what are some of the most amazing and outstanding things you have personally seen God do? Please tell us about some of the miracles you have witnessed and mountains you have seen Him move.

Betty:  When we graduated from Language School, we still owed a certain amount, so we, along with our two children, prayed for God to provide before we left for overseas.  We had been asked by a friend to stop at his church on our way back to our home church in KY and share with them our mission.  He did not know that there was another couple scheduled to speak that Sunday morning, but the pastor gave my husband 10 minutes to share.  They put us up in a hotel and gave us a check; it was exactly the amount of our bill at Language school.  It was a great start for our ministry, which would be living by faith.  God knows exactly what we need, when we need it.  What a great lesson for our children.  When were asked to go to Papua New Guinea, my husband was in congestive heart failure, and, of course the doctor would not ok him to go.  But he sent us to St. Louis to a specialist who told us that with the right meds, he could help Ace's heart, and we were ok to go.  We were so underfunded when we went to Bolivia, but not once did we do without food or clothes.  Our needs were met daily.  Our pastor preached all over the south and was always telling other pastors about us, and, because of him, our support raised while we were on the field.  The biggest miracles were our son and wife remarrying.  He left her and their two children and walked away like the prodigal son for two years.  We prayed, "God make him miserable.  Bring conviction on his soul daily."  We asked everyone we knew to pray exactly that way.  People all over the world prayed for him, and finally, he got tired of the pig pen and started his way back to the Father.  They remarried and now have another child.  Yep, that is the biggest miracle we have witnessed.  Just last night, a friend called wanting to give us a two day holiday, paid for.  Since we live with son and family, it can get stressful at times.  God is giving to us through His people.

Cheryl:  We are living in a world that is full of hopelessness and despair, and we are facing much opposition to our Christian faith as our culture continues to become more hostile to the message of the Gospel and the holy life Christ died to enable us to live. What is your personal message to His people today?

Betty:  When we meet with missionaries home for furlough, there are two things they struggle with the most.  Life is lived for pleasure and for stuff.  This is God’s people they are talking about.  It all distracts from God’s heart, the lost.  It’s hard to find a church that preaches truth and conviction.  The focus is not on Him, and they have a hard time finding people who even want to talk about the things of God.  Oh, they will talk about how many attended church that Sunday, the new programs, or the new church they are going to build, but talk about the heart of God, the lost living right around us, even next door.  Christian life is harder in the states or any developed country than it is in a third world country.  It literally takes three to four months to adjust back into US living.  And most cannot wait to get back to their ministry overseas, to living in remote villages, without all the stuff to distract them from their mission.  We have been home since 2012, and we know how easy it is to get caught up in it. It’s a battle for missionaries or any child of God who wants to live for Him.  We do not need faith when we can get what we need without praying for it.  Few people live in their needs, most live in their wants.  So, when I get the chance, I challenge them, mostly women I speak to, "Get out of your comfort zone, get over yourself, find someone to talk Jesus with."  One more piece of advice…take a short term mission trip, take your children, expand your world view.

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you? Are specific needs that are heavy upon your heart that we can help to lift to the Father on your behalf?

Betty:  I would ask prayer for contentment for where God has me now.  The heart issue has rendered me feeling like a child again; there is so much I still cannot do.  We decided to cancel a mission conference the end of March in Colorado, because the trip alone would undo me.  I am gaining ground slowly, but it’s very slow and that is where the discontentment comes in.  I am a
"Type A Martha", and there is nothing I love better than to share about missions.  My husband told me in the beginning we should not go, but I talked him into it.  Then last week at the Bible study, God was all over my heart, repeating, "This is not for you to go to."  My husband was in bed when I returned home, and I had to wake him up just to tell him.  Yep, contentment would be my prayer request.

Betty, I cannot tell you how much your words have challenged my heart.
I so appreciate you taking the time to share with us here!
May the dear Lord bless you abundantly, dear sister and friend!

Dear friends, please remember Betty and Ace in your prayers.
Betty is suffering from a heart condition, and as you can see, her heart is still very much in the work of the Lord.
How wonderful it would be to see God heal her and restore her health so she can continue to labor for Him!
There are no limits to what He can do, nor does He place age restrictions on healing.
"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us..."
Ephesians 3:20
If you have never visited Betty's blog, I hope you will stop by and pay her a visit by clicking here.
While you're there, why not leave her an encouraging comment?
Most of all, please add her to your prayers and prayer lists.

I leave you with one of Betty's favorite songs.

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God bless each one of you dear readers!
Thank you so much for your continued support and prayers.

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