Solomon’s Birth Story

Solomon AugustineMorning Solomon
7:53 am
4 pounds 7 ounces
17 1/2 inches
7 weeks and 2 days premature

“Are you pregnant?” Austin smiled as he held up the positive home pregnancy test I had left sitting on the bathroom sink for him to find in the morning. I was already up and reading the Bible as I drank my coffee.

I nodded.

We were thrilled with anticipating another sweet child – and a little overwhelmed with uncertainty over what this pregnancy might hold. The last one ended, well, unexpectedly.

From that moment on we did everything we could to lower the risk of premature birth and breech presentation. My incredible doctor and her team developed a really good care plan to give this baby every chance to make it to full term so that we could have an uncomplicated, unmedicated VBAC.

Aside from the routine prenatal appointments, I went in once a week for a (very painful) shot of progesterone in my hip muscle that was supposed to prevent contractions from changing the cervix. I had extra ultrasounds to keep a close eye on the placenta, cervix, and baby’s position.

I was proactive in exercises, stretches, chiropractic care, and positioning to keep everything aligned and open so that baby would have room to flip head down with no obstacles.

And of course, most of all, we had a lot of prayer support for this whole pregnancy.

And for the most part, everything was smooth sailing. It all seemed to be working great.

We had a little hiccup around 22 weeks. I had over-exerted myself on a hot day and had a lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions. Too many. We drove to the hospital as I held back tears. But they put on the monitor to watch me for a few hours and checked my cervix and everything was perfectly fine. Bullet dodged!

I took it easy after that, being extra careful not to participate in any kind of activity that could trigger contractions.

32 weeks pregnant and optimistic.

32 weeks pregnant and optimistic.

We reached 31 weeks and I started to get nervous. I went into labor at 32 weeks last time, and even though I had every reason to be confident that the same thing would not happen this time, I still got a little anxious.

Then at 31 weeks and 3 days I got a really bad stomach bug. Let me be clear that I am not exaggerating when I say this is by far the worst stomach bug I have ever had in my life. I’ll spare you the details, but it hit hard, it hit fast, and it was bloody. I couldn’t keep down even a sip of water and got severely dehydrated in just a couple of hours. So we headed to the ER and I was wheelchaired back to the Labor & Delivery wing of the hospital so they could also keep an eye on baby as they treated me.

A few hours later, the bug relented and I started to feel better. I had a couple of bags of IV fluid in me, and the baby’s heartbeat and movements were good. But the nurse noticed just a couple of weird contractions. Normally, they would be easily ignored, but because of my history she just wanted to be safe and run a couple of tests. The fetal fibronectin test came back positive. It’s not conclusive, but a positive means that you are at a high risk of going into labor within two weeks. And my cervix was open – 2 cm and 80% effaced. Not good.

I was admitted and immediately put on Magnesium Sulfate. I won’t go into details about that drug. You can read more about it in my daughter’s birth story. But it wasn’t pleasant.

It did work, however. I was on Mag for 48 hours so that we had time to get two shots of a steroid called Betamethazone – a drug that triggers the production of surfactant so that the baby’s lungs mature more quickly. The Mag also can prevent brain injuries or defects in preterm babies.

I was back in the one place I had most feared for two years – fighting against premature labor on harsh drugs that wreak havoc on your body. And this time, it was four days earlier in the pregnancy than last time.

But they worked! Two days later I had no contractions and hadn’t progressed any further, so I was discharged and put on modified rest. We were so relieved. It was different than last time. Last time, labor never truly stalled and just a few days later our daughter was born by emergency C-section. This time, the labor never truly got going. We all posited that the dehydration just triggered something a little funny and that I would probably just hang out at 2 cm for a few weeks and be able to deliver a [more] full-term baby.

We settled into this optimism for a whole week. I just knew that this time was different and that we had every reason to expect that this was just a hiccup. We prayed hard that we could have just 27 more days. If we could make it just 27 more days, we’d get to 36 weeks and we could proactively turn baby head down with an ECV if needed. And he’d be much bigger and more mature, so we could probably avoid NICU this time.

I woke up Friday morning feeling…different. 32 weeks and 4 days. Deep down, somewhere in that motherly instinct section of my mind, I knew that this baby was coming soon. But I pushed that away and tried to remain optimistic. After all, I had no signs of labor. You’re just being paranoid, I told myself.

We had some wonderful friends bring us dinner. Shortly after they left, I began feeling contractions. Not one here, another there. One every 5 minutes. Suddenly.

We went to the hospital. Surely they’ll strap on the monitor, the contractions will calm down, they’ll give me a tocolytic shot, and we’ll go home. Yet, part of me despaired that we’d be doing this over and over for several weeks and I felt defeated and overwhelmed by that thought.

Sure enough, I was having regular contractions 5-10 minutes apart. But my cervix hadn’t changed! It was still only 2cm. So they gave me a shot of terbutaline and watched the monitor for a couple of hours. I kept contracting. They called the doctor. Around 3:00 in the morning, they gave me another shot. I continued contracting. They got stronger and stronger. I couldn’t get through them without some serious breathing and vocalizing. I knew. I just knew all night. I knew I was in labor and that it wouldn’t stop. I knew we were having a baby. And I could feel right where his head was – at the top of my belly just under my rib cage. I knew we were having a C-section.

The doctor came in as the sun came up and we called my doula, Shannon (God bless that woman! Seriously!) and the doctor confirmed what we already knew. I broke down. The one thing we prayed would not happen. The one thing we feared for months. And here we were at its threshold.

They began prepping me for surgery. There was no rush this time, like last time, though. I wasn’t in transition, so we could ease into it, so to speak. We prayed. My doula rubbed my back and helped me through contractions and spoke such encouraging words to me and Austin.

All prepped and just waiting with excitement for the doctor to make the incision!

All prepped and just waiting with excitement for the doctor to make the incision!

Finally, the time came. They wheeled me back into the OR and got me up on the table. The anesthesiologist put in the spinal and I lay down, numbing quickly as they put up the drapes and got the room all set up.

And the most amazing thing happened.

God pulled back the cloud and let me see his grace, pouring joy into me until the moment was full of it.

Soon my husband was at my side stroking my hair and we smiled with excitement over the moment coming – when we would get to meet our son.

The doctor cut into me and with excitement in her voice (and at my request) explained to me moment by moment what she was doing. “I’m cutting into the skin,” “I’m pulling aside your bladder now,” “Ok! I’m cutting into your uterus!” (The nurses kept telling me I should consider being a nurse…) And then the beautiful moment of birth came. “Do you know what you’re having???? This baby’s coming out rear-first! It’s a boy!!!!”

Joy spilled from the corners of my eyes and I laughed with happiness. Austin – amazingly – had looked over the curtain and watched the whole surgery, but they lowered the curtain and held up our son all covered in the beautiful mess of birth and crying the most beautiful cries! He was perfect and amazing and a gift and a treasure in all of his 32 weeks and 5 days glory. And we announced his name to the room – Solomon Augustine, our mighty peace.

Sorry if you find this gross. Actually, not really sorry. Placentas are downright fascinating. Seriously fascinating.

Sorry if you find this gross. Actually, not really sorry. Placentas are downright fascinating. Seriously fascinating.

They took him over and cleaned him off and called Austin over to cut his cord. I asked to see the placenta (“You should really consider nursing, Megan”).  And then Austin brought our son over to me to see him clean and handsome all swaddled and content before he had to be taken back to the NICU as they stitched me up (and I fought waves of nausea…it happens when you get sliced in half).

I went to post-op recovery where Shannon met me and we celebrated and laughed as I told her the joy of Solomon’s birth while the nurse checked and checked my vitals and sensations as the spinal wore off.

A short time later, they wheeled my whole bed into the NICU and I held Solomon for the first time – for as long as I wanted – and just wondered at his face and toes and fingers and coos.

The first time I got to hold Solomon. I am so in love!

The first time I got to hold Solomon. I am so in love!

I never could have imagined that I would be thankful for a repeat C-section. In my wildest dreams, I never could have comprehended being so thankful for it that I was glad we had the surgery instead of a VBAC. But I am. I struggled before Solomon’s birth, wondering why God was asking us to walk through the one thing we asked him to spare us from. But he took our hands and gently led us through it to show us that even our worst fear could be redeemed. Solomon’s birth wasn’t just ok because hey, healthy mom healthy baby. His birth was fun and exciting and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way now. God made beauty from ashes; he gave us strength in our fears. In our desperate weakness he was so very incredibly lovingly overwhelmingly strong. (Sorry writer folks, but this moment really deserves all those adverbs.)

Family photo! Well, minus Joey. We'll get one with her after we're able to bring Solomon home in a few weeks.

Family photo! Well, minus Joey. We’ll get one with her after we’re able to bring Solomon home in a few weeks.

Solomon’s strong. He didn’t need oxygen at all (thank God for the steroid shots) and he’s been eating well and growing well. He’s feisty and a fighter, but he’s also so easily calm and content. He’s truly a miracle.


He’s doing so well, but he’s still so small. Officially, the expected discharge date is his due date (December 14), but it’s also reasonable to expect that he’ll be there another month or so. It’s all up to him. I have one small request. I know it’s exciting to dream of him coming home (oh believe me I know!), but please please please do not ask us when or if they’ve given us a time frame. They haven’t. They won’t. We probably won’t know until the very day the doctor says, “Do you want to take him home today?” Until then, it’s a painful question to ponder. Instead, we really appreciate encouraging words, prayers, and of course compliments on how beautiful and amazing he is!😉

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above all heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost


See You Soon, Kara

I wish I could say that Kara and I were the closest and best of bosom friends. In truth, we had a brief friendship – but any acquaintance with Kara felt close, intimate, genuine, and real. I am so thankful for the months God placed her in my life, and every memory I have of Kara is beautiful, joyful, sweet. I’d love to share a handful.

One of the earliest impressions I had of Kara is also one of my favorite memories of her. It was long before her cancer diagnosis, only days – maybe weeks at most – after we initially met. We often sat near the Tippets in church, and this particular Sunday my husband and I sat right behind Kara and her son. During the Lord’s Supper, her son looked up at her and whispered a question – he asked her what was happening, why we were eating a small piece of bread and taking a sip of wine. Kara didn’t shush him. She didn’t say, “I’ll tell you after the service.” She didn’t even take him by the hand and lead him out into the hall where they could “talk freely.” Instead, she wrapped her arm around her son, leaned in, and whispered into his ear. I sat there holding my little piece of bread and my little cup of wine as I listened to her whisper the gospel to her son right then and there, tell of her confidence in the grace of God through Jesus, explain that we were taking this meal to participate in the covenant made in his blood and that by doing this we proclaimed Jesus’ death until his return. That moment had an enormous impact on me – I saw the deep and confident hope in the Savior she loved meet the profound and enormous love she had for her own son in that moment. I long to be that kind of a parent to my own daughter.

Several months later, the west side of Colorado Springs trembled as the Waldo Canyon Fire spilled over the hills and destroyed homes. Many of us found ourselves displaced and traumatized by what looked like an apocalypse scene out of a doomsday movie. After the fire abated and our neighborhoods opened back up, Kara opened up her home to a few of us west side women as a safe place to “debrief” what we had been through. In a home they had barely moved into – where they had not even yet had the chance to hang pictures on the wall – she provided a meal and encouragement, love and comfort. We joyfully watched her kids play as we reminded each other of the goodness and faithfulness of God even in the storm.

Only a few months after Kara’s diagnosis, God called my family to move out of state, and our friendship muted in the way relationships do over long distances. However, we had a wonderful opportunity a few months ago to drive back down to Colorado to go to a wedding. Kara was there with her bright blond hair, big sparkling eyes, and beautiful smile. She held our 7-month-old daughter on her lap through much of the wedding, cuddling her and tenderly loving on her. At the reception she danced with all she had with her husband and kids. Even after all she had been though I remember thinking, “She is so incredibly alive. She is so full of joy for today.” Little did we know she only had months left. Kara will forever be a picture to me of how to live in the abundance of God’s grace for today – to embrace the beautiful, joyful, wonderful, alive, loving moments we have.

Finally, the day Kara shared with me that she had cancer, she said something I will never forget for the rest of all of eternity. It is the one memory of her that has impacted me the deepest. After explaining to us that the lump they found was malignant, with a straight face and steady voice she said, “I get to have cancer for Jesus.” Get to. Not “have to.” Not, “I’m stuck with.” Not, “Well, I guess God has called me to this so I have to do the best I can with this.” No. Even in that moment of fear and uncertainty, with the darkness of anticipation looming out in front of us, she clung to the goodness of God’s calling and his promise for her good and His glory. She was always the first to quickly admit her fear, her sadness, her questioning and even anger. But every word, every action, every day was lived to God’s glory. She did not doubt him, but thanked him – even when she couldn’t understand what he was doing or why.

It is so easy to ask God “why?” How could this possibly be good? Why would he providentially take her through such suffering, take her from her husband and beautiful kids? I don’t know all the reasons, and I definitely don’t want to diminish the awful sadness of suffering and death. But I do know this: Kara’s cancer became an incredible stage for thousands of people to see and hear and know the goodness and glory of God through the gospel of His Son. Because of Kara’s life and death, thousands upon thousands of us grew in our confidence and faith in God.

It is so easy to say, “God took her too soon,” or “her life was cut short.” But please, beloved, let’s not cheapen this. It feels to us like we lost her too early and everything in our mortality wants and craves her presence longer. But this story, the day and moment of Kara’s death, was not a surprise to God. He didn’t lose control in her life and for a moment give victory to the devil in her cancer. No. Every day of Kara’s life – including the last one – were written in God’s book before even a single one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). And we know that the death of the saints is precious in the sight of the LORD (Psalm 116:15). Don’t get me wrong. Death is not a good thing. It is a horrific effect of the fall – our rebellion against God. But through the incredible sacrifice of Jesus – when he took the wrath of God on himself and died in our place, and then rose from the dead and conquered death for us – the sting and victory of death is gone (I Corinthians 15:55).

Eternity feels so far away to us mortals. The veil between heaven and earth seems so thick and impenetrable. But, while I hope by the grace of God to still live a long life, to be here for years and years and years, I know that in the scope of eternity I can say with confidence, “Dear Kara, see you soon.”

New Look!

Don’t worry, you’re in the right place.

Considering the change in focus of this blog over the past several months, it was time to update the look and title.

Thank you so much for reading and supporting!

As always, more to come soon!

Thought of As Foolish

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ -1 Corinthians 1:26-31, emphasis mine

Being well-read is not a godly virtue. Intellect is not a fruit of the spirit. High IQ is not a mark of sanctification.

Please don’t hear what I am not saying. I am not saying that Christians should aim for stupidity. I am not saying we should be ignorant about the wisdom and knowledge of the world. I am not saying we should shrug our shoulders, throw up our hands, and give up on trying to make any reasonable sense. I am not saying we should forsake good education and retreat into an isolated church bubble.

I am saying that these should not be our confidence, our hope, or our boast.

I’m saying this, because I desperately need to hear it.

This conviction has bombarded me like a sledge-hammer lately, and it strikes squarely in the middle of my pride. Many who know me would describe me as an intellectual, an intelligent woman, smart. For so much of my life I placed so much confidence and security, worth and personal value in my ability to reason out an argument, find chinks in an opposing point of view, write and speak with persuasive eloquence. I collect information like some people collect postage stamps – filing it away for a time I can show it off or auction to the highest bid for praise or admiration. All through school I sat front and middle, poised to raise my hand, smugly asserting that I was in possession of the elusive and all-powerful right answer.

The thought of being perceived as foolish terrified me. I strove to make sure that the world thought me wise, and I craved acknowledgement for my intelligence.

And I have come to the realization that in matters of eternal significance it does me absolutely no good.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. -1 Corinthians 1:18-25, emphasis mine

A few years ago I had utterly stagnated in my faith. I had reached a point where I thought I just knew what I knew and that was good enough. It was time to coast on that and pursue knowing other things – anything. I had read through the Bible several times, studied on my own, taken theology courses at Bible college, and even done a little teaching and writing.

And I was dry. So incredibly dry.

The problem is that I had amassed all the worldly wisdom – even concerning the Bible – that I could. I had studied, studied, studied and knew the information. I could rattle off Greek verb conjugations and discuss the current scholarly debates regarding the authorship of Isaiah. I was confident in my wisdom and knowledge.

What I couldn’t do was explain the gospel.

How could I possibly preach Christ crucified to others if I couldn’t even preach it to myself?

God had to humble me, draw me back into His Word, force me to work through the basics again. Despite all my knowledge, I didn’t understand justification. Despite my ability to decline the Greek word charis, I didn’t get what the Bible meant by the word “grace.” I found this period of my life devastating and humiliating.

If you had asked me back then why I thought I was going to heaven, I would have begun my answer with, “Because I….” Because I understand the Bible. Because I professed faith in Jesus. Because I repented and accepted. These things are important, and the Bible is clear that someone who is redeemed and being sanctified will have evidence of these things in their life. But these things, in and of themselves, do not save.

Now I understand what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:30: “Because of him….” Because Jesus lived a perfect life. Because Jesus died the death I earned. Because Jesus gave me his righteousness. Because Jesus is my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption.

Does this sound foolish to you? Do you think that when Christ returns (hopefully quickly!) you will go to heaven because you? Or has God made foolish your wisdom, taking away your right to boast in his presence, and chosen you because of Him?

Are you willing to be thought foolish? Is your confidence in Christ? Or are you terrified of the reproach of the world, clinging to confidence in yourself?

If you do not know what I mean by the term “the gospel,” I encourage you to read a quick post about it here. As always, I love to hear your thoughts and responses!

Gay Christian

gay-wedding-rings-1I’ve wrestled for weeks over whether or not I should write and publish this post. This is such an incredibly sensitive subject. I know a few people out there will appreciate what I write here, but I also know to expect that many, many people will feel offended and attacked and hated by what I write. I can’t emphasize enough that I am not writing from a place of hatred but from a place of love that is deeply concerned with the well-being of the people in my life who deal with this.

I feel it is time I speak out on what I believe about gay marriage within the church. I want to make very clear that this post has absolutely nothing to do with legislation, the legalization of same-sex marriage, or the cultural embrace of homosexuality at large. While I do believe God’s Word speaks very clearly on the issue, and God’s Word is always relevant to everyone because Truth is always true, I also know that I cannot reasonably expect those who do not profess faith in Christ to submit themselves to the authority and teaching of Scripture. Professing Christians, however, are another matter entirely. “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you’” (1 Corinthians 5:12-12).

I will not pretend to have all of (or even most of) the answers. I know that this is a real issue that affects real individual people. I know this isn’t just some political platitude. This is very personal. I know this isn’t just some nebulous issue for “those gay people out there.” This is vitally important for your brother, your daughter, your best friend, you. I get that. I really do. I know what it’s like to want desperately for them to be happy. I know you dread the idea that they may face bullying and depression. These things are profound.

For someone who professes faith in Christ, however, the ramifications of gay marriage are so much more profound than any of these sociological issues.

I’m not going to Bible thump. But I do have to briefly point out that the Bible does teach that homosexuality is sinful in Romans 1. (Yes, I understand that in today’s culture, this statement is on par with saying something like, “I believe white people are superior to black people.” The difference is that the Bible upholds the dignity of all nations, tribes, races, and tongues while it speaks clearly against the immorality of homosexuality.) This passage cannot be explained away as only relevant to the ancient culture, as it is a passage that describes not only specific sinful acts, but the deeper current of the sin nature and the fate of those who suppress the truth of God – even to the point of God giving them up to their sin in judgment. This is a passage that must either be believed or ignored. A choice must be made here. Either God’s Word is truly inerrant and relevant, or this passage is in error and the Bible as a whole cannot be trusted. It is either/or. You cannot have both.

“But,” you may respond, “God made me this way.” I’m very familiar with the “born this way” argument. While I have not yet seen any compelling genetic evidence that a person is born gay, I am willing to concede that this could theoretically be the case. This is irrelevant. The stark reality of the world we live in is the harsh reality of the curse of the Fall. It is a curse that has impacted every corner of creation, which is why the Bible describes all of creation groaning under its weight, awaiting the return of Christ when all things will be made new. In this fallen world, people are born with all kinds of unfortunate circumstances. Some of these are genetic diseases that wreak havoc within the body. Some of these are predispositions to mental illness and sociopathy. Some of these are genetic tendencies toward alcoholism and addiction. And some of these may be oriented to homosexuality even early in life. (Again, I approach this last point only hypothetically.)

I am not insensitive enough to brow-beat you with the word “choice.” I do understand that most LGBT people feel “different” from a very young age and must face a terrifying personal moment of “coming out” and admitting to it at some point, fearing hateful responses and judgmental slurs. I know that I cannot truly imagine what that is like for them.

I do, however, find it curious that we don’t treat alcoholics this way. We don’t laud them as courageous for declaring who they are as alcoholics unless they stand in front of an AA meeting with the purpose of ending their alcoholism and giving up the booze. We don’t march for their right to drink themselves silly. Why don’t we? They were, after all, born that way. It’s not like they chose to be addicts.

“Yes, but alcoholism and addiction are harmful,” you may be thinking. Yes, they are. But why are we so convinced that homosexuality is not? The LGBT community often points out the higher attempted suicide rates among LGBT youth. Moreover, 63% of all new HIV cases are reported by men having sex with men. This does not even include the rest of the LGBT community or the rates of all the other STDs within the LGBT community.

While I know that there is a struggle and a stigma, as well as the cultural pressure to embrace, I have to humbly admit that I do not understand how a person who professes Christ can align himself or herself with and defend something that God speaks clearly against and that statistically is harmful to a large percentage of those who participate in it.

Gay marriage takes this one step farther. Here, we need to back up and ask the question: What is Christian marriage? And I don’t mean the pat answer of “a life-long commitment between one man and one woman.” I think that is an important aspect of Christian marriage, but that’s not what marriage is.

Put simply, Christian marriage is a human relationship through which God visibly and tangibly displays the gospel to the world. Christian marriage is a picture of the relationship Jesus Christ has with His bride, the church. Ephesians 5 explains this very well. It is not a passage about how a man can be a dictator in the home and a poor woman should submit while he walks all over her. This is a gross misunderstanding. It is a beautiful description of how a husband is to be a picture of Christ to the world as he loves his wife and raises his children in sacrificial love. It is a tangible illustration through the wife of how the church respects and honors Christ and submits willingly and lovingly to His rightful and good lordship. Paul ties it all together in verse 32: “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”

Christian marriage, whatever else it may include, is at its core a picture of how God – who is altogether unlike us – is unified perfectly and intimately with us in the divine marriage of Jesus and the church for all eternity.

When someone who professes faith in Christ embraces homosexuality or makes vows in a same-sex marriage, they make a mockery of this gospel. They make unbiblical vows to commit themselves and their lives to something that grieves God. They are declaring to the world that God is all-together like us and that His primary concern is with our finite and foolish ideas about what we think will make us happy right now. Their entire life becomes a false gospel. I believe John is clear that this calls into question whether their profession of faith is credible, as one who keeps on sinning does not know Christ (1 John 3:6).

I’ve heard homosexuals who profess Christ describe themselves as a “paradox.” This cannot be the case. A paradox is something that seems contradictory but is actually true. (The example in my dictionary is, “The paradox of war is that you have to kill people in order to stop people from killing people.”) Rather, an unrepentant homosexual cannot also credibly profess to actually biblically follow Christ, who commanded the sexually immoral woman to sin no more.

You might be thinking, “Wow, that’s harsh! Be a little more sensitive to people’s feelings!” Yes. This is an issue that demands the utmost compassion. But it is also an issue that requires the truth spoken in love. God declares that this is harmful and deeply inappropriate; that continuing unrepentant in a life of immorality brings His judgment, and that a person within the body who continues in this sin must be cut off from the body until they come to repentance (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). The loving and kind thing to do is to warn a person of coming harm. It would be hateful of me not to speak out.

Honestly, this is where I lack answers. I have no idea what it looks like to wisely counsel someone struggling with same-sex attraction within the church. I believe the church has not handled this well and has even made some tragically bad decisions about how to speak to this issue.

What I do know is that Scripture calls us all to repentance – not only homosexuals, but also heterosexuals who give approval to them (Romans 1:32), heterosexuals who are promiscuous and sexually immoral in other ways, anyone who has looked with lust upon someone who was not their spouse, anyone who is consumed by narcissistic pride, alcoholics and addicts, meddlers and gossips, liars and cheaters, thieves and murderers, those consumed with rage and selfish indignation, those who are impure in their speech, those who disrespect and defy God-given authority. In a word – fallen humanity, of which I am also included in the fullest sense.

Yes, I do want you to be happy. But, despite the American ideal, happiness is really beside the point. For those of us rescued by Christ, God is primarily concerned with our holiness in His Son. Happiness is merely a by-product, and happiness derived from something that grieves God is not truly happiness. It will not fulfill. It can only ultimately empty and destroy.

Repentance is marked by godly grief over our sin, not defensiveness. The sin in our lives should drive us to the cross of Jesus Christ, because the only solution for any of it is His sacrifice, His righteousness, His justification. It is by His stripes we are healed.

As always, I welcome thoughtful and considerate comments from all points of view. However, I do reserve the right to moderate antagonistic comments.

A Letter to Jehovah’s Witnesses

As I am sure many of you have, we had Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on our door recently. We had several discussions with them over a few weeks, developing a friendship but reaching an impasse in our conversation. I felt a burden to write them a letter, and also to share it here. I’ve removed any specific or personal information to protect their privacy.

If you are Christian, please pray for these people. If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, please read and carefully consider this, I beg you. All others, I also ask you to read and consider.

The letter:

Dear [Neighbors],

We want you to know that we greatly appreciate that you took the time to know us, to spend time with us, and care enough to share with us what you feel is of highest importance in this life. I hope you know that we love Yahweh and we love His Word. We have deep and profound respect for the Word of God and are bound by what God has told us in the Bible. We seek to study and know the Bible – not just to say we can quote it or throw pieces of it out during an argument, but because it is the very mind and heart of the God we serve revealed to us. We search and learn the scriptures so that we can know Him more intimately and worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

Having said that, we take very seriously challenges to our beliefs. When we are confronted with teaching from the Scriptures that differ from what we hold to be true, we are careful not to simply dismiss it out of hand, but to carefully and prayerfully measure it up against God’s Word, to “test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We are loyal first and foremost to God and His truth. We believe what we believe because we believe it is biblical, but we are not loyal to our beliefs simply because it is what our parents have taught us, or our church, or our denominational creeds. We are loyal to these things only insofar as they are true to the Scriptures. Moreover, we are bound so closely to the Word of God that if we can be shown from the Bible error in our personal belief, we will change our belief and submit to the true teaching of the Scriptures. We have both experienced this humbling correction in our lives before. God’s Word truly is useful for “correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

As we examine the Scriptures and measure teachings and doctrines against it, we are also careful to consider the whole counsel of God, and not to pick and choose verses and phrases out of context simply to make a point. How and where and when and why and by whom something is said is just as important as what is said. The classic out-of-context example of reading Scripture is “Judas… hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5), “Go, and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). We absolutely do not want to be guilty of this kind of mishandling of the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

So when you came to our door, though we had heard rumors of the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses before, we sought to give a fair investigation to the claims of your church. We hope you felt respected by us as you shared your hearts. The questions we asked and the challenges we raised were truly to seek better understanding, to ensure that we heard what you were actually saying rather than jumping to a conclusion or making an assumption. Rightly so, we approach any new teaching presented to us with a wise amount of biblically concerned caution, but it was a caution that aimed to give grace and the benefit of the doubt.

We have read through the tracts you left for us, as well as investigated your church’s website. We sought to consider what you said from your point of view, not just from the point of view of disgruntled ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses online. We reasoned that if the claims your church makes are true, then they will be able to stand up to all criticism. All truth is God’s truth, and the truth sets us free (John 8:32).

As we studied and researched, we grew uneasy. And that unease grew into full-blown concern and fear for you. It became increasingly evident to us that your church’s organization is characterized by half-truths and deliberate deceptions, manipulations of the Word of truth that lead to false hopes and empty promises.

We have utmost respect for you as sincere people and do not want to belabor the point. But with such a bold claim, we feel we must offer at least a couple of examples. Please, we beg of you, investigate these things for yourself. Please, we implore you, return the favor and do not dismiss us out of hand but give this a fair investigation. Your very eternal lives are at stake.

We did read and consider the tract you left, “Should You Believe in the Trinity?” This tract – more than anything else we have studied, read, or heard – made us incredibly fearful for you. We learned something incredibly important about the Watch Tower Society while reading this pamphlet: that the Watch Tower is accustomed to blatant misrepresentation of sources and intentionally deceptive misquotations. If we had read nothing else, knew nothing else, and had heard nothing else about Jehovah’s Witnesses, this tract alone would engender in us a deep and profound distrust toward your church.

We could write pages and pages in response to this single tract, but instead we will offer just one example and strongly encourage you to follow up by looking up the various resources and “scholars” quoted within the tract. “Should You Believe in the Trinity?” uses as one of its main evidences a book by Arthur Weigall entitled The Paganism in Our Christianity to support the Watch Tower claim that the concept of the trinity is fundamentally a pagan concept that has corrupted true biblical teaching on the nature and essence of Yahweh.

Please do a google search of Mr. Weigall. If you can, get your hands on a copy of his book and peruse his argument for yourself.

In a matter of just a few minutes you will discover two things:

First, Arthur Weigall was not a biblical scholar, a theologian, learned in Biblical languages, or even Christian in his own personal philosophy. He was an Egyptologist by training and trade. He did not believe in any of the Bible as the Word of God and did not claim any sort of Christian faith for himself.

Second, his book claims that many other doctrines were also of pagan origin. He outright rejects the writings of Paul as canonical Scripture and claims foundational biblical teachings like the existence of angelic beings, the concept of the devil/Satan, the virgin birth, and many aspects of the life of Jesus are pagan in origin.

In the matter of the first point, Weigall cannot be quoted as an “authority” on the subject either academically or theologically. He cannot be quoted as accurate “representative” of either the Christian perspective or the Watch Tower perspective. His opinions on the subject are just that, subjective opinions that hold no credibility in the discussion of the origins of the concept of the trinity.

In the matter of the second point, it is irresponsible and inconsistent to use Weigall’s work to defend one single pet point and reject the rest of his work. If the Watch Tower agrees with Weigall’s assessment that the trinity is pagan, that is great. However, to be consistent and credible, they also must agree with his assessment that other beliefs of theirs are pagan as well. From what I know of the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, they do not. We cannot take seriously an argument made which loyally quotes part of a source and disagrees wholesale with the rest of it.

This is either irresponsible and misguided scholarship at best or direct and deliberate deception at worst. In the first case, we can give the benefit of the doubt to the Watch Tower Society as an organization that means well but we still refuse to trust it because it misses the mark. In the second case, we absolutely cannot trust the Watch Tower Society and must speak out actively against its lies. If the Watch Tower handles extra-biblical sources this way, can we remotely trust how it handles the Scriptures?

Unfortunately, as we’ve read more about the teaching and claims of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we have seen this tendency and pattern. Over and over we have seen deliberate or irresponsible misquotations and out-of-context references that have been manipulated to give support for what the original author never meant to support. While investigating the scholarly “support” for the New World Translation given on, it became clear that every single scholar given was grossly misquoted and misrepresented. We would strongly encourage you to begin researching the sources your Watch Tower uses and evaluate whether they are trustworthy. Please do not just take the quotations at face value. To do so insults not only the men and women who are misquoted, but insults Yahweh himself by refusing to evaluate the claims made about Him.

“By their fruit you will know them” (Matthew 7:16), as you emphasized repeatedly to us. You are correct. “Fruit” is not simply door-to-door evangelism. If that were the case, your church is not the only one bearing this fruit. The Mormons are well-known for their door-to-door mission work. We, as protestant Christians, have also been involved with door-to-door evangelism. The fruit we have seen of the Watch Tower Society and Jehovah’s Witnesses has been the fruit of deliberate deception and disregard for accurate and responsible handling of the Word of truth. This is especially alarming considering the context of the passage above, “Beware of false prophets,” Jesus says, explaining these false prophets will on the final day “say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:15-23).

What fruit should we look for then? The fruit of the Spirit – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:13). We wish we could say we have seen Jehovah’s Witnesses bearing this fruit. We have not.

This is of utmost importance for you. Scripture has some very strong warnings for false teachers and those who bring a false gospel. “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9).

What is the gospel we received?

Yahweh created by His Word a beautiful, perfect, good world (Genesis 1:10, 18, 25, 31; John 1:1-2). In this world, He placed His image-bearers, Adam and Eve, and breathed His very own Spirit into them to give them life (Genesis 1:27; 2:7).

They rebelled. They directly disobeyed God’s instruction and offended Him deeply, bringing upon themselves the curse of death (Genesis 3:16-19) and subjecting all of creation to the curse brought by their sin (Romans 8:20-21). In the sin of Adam, we all sinned (Romans 2:12; 3:23; especially 5:12-14), and because of Adam’s sin, we all – as sinners – are objects of God’s holy and good and righteous and just wrath (John 3:36; Romans 1:18; 5:9; 9:22; Ephesians 2:3; Revelation 14:19). Yes, wrath. The Scriptures speak not only of the “grave” (Sheol and Hades), but also of “hell” (Gehenna/The Valley of Hinnom and the “lake of fire” – cf. Revelation 20:14-15; Jeremiah 19:2-6; Luke 12:5). Those who refuse to repent not only die but also experience the “second death” (Revelation 20:14-15; 21:8) in which God rightly and justly punishes them for the depth and profundity of their crimes against Him. This is not cruel or unjust of God and in no way compromises His grace and love and mercy. This displays His holiness and righteousness and justice (Romans 3:5; 9:22-24) as well as demonstrating the seriousness of our sin against Him (Genesis 3:3; Numbers 18:22; 32:23; Ezekiel 3:19). We all deserve this (Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:12, 23; 6:23; Revelation 21:8), and God would be completely justified if He saved none of us from this.

This is the bad news of the gospel. God has displayed this truth through His creation, leaving all men “without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20).

The good news is that this is not the end of the gospel. God in His grace and love chose to deal with our sin. He could not just turn a blind eye and pardon it without compromising His holiness and purity and righteousness. In His love and grace, He decided to dole out the full measure of His wrath for our sin on Jesus, the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). So who is this Jesus? He is the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3); He is the Word of God, through whom all was created (John 1:1); He is the Son of God, exalted by the Father and given the Name that is above all Names (Matthew 14:33; 27:54; John 1:34; 10:36; 19:7); He is worthy to receive our worship (Matthew 14:33; 28:9-10; Luke 24:50-53; John 9:38; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:13-14); He is Yahweh God (John 1:1; 5:18; 8:58; 20:28; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; Revelation 1:17-18; cf. Isaiah 44:6). Being fully and equally God, He emptied Himself of His claim to heavenly rights and became fully human like us (Philippians 2:5-11), our perfect representative and the second Adam (Romans 5:15). He never once sinned but lived a life in perfect submission to the entire law of God – an accomplishment that we sinful humans could never hope to attain (Hebrews 4:14-15). And despite His blemish-free perfection, He submitted to death and the pouring out of God’s wrath against our sin, satisfying the demands of divine justice on our behalf and bearing the curse of the Fall (Deuteronomy 21:23; John 19:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13).

And then Jesus was physically raised from the dead (Matthew 28:5-10; Mark 16:6; especially Luke 24:39-43; John 20:27-29; 21:13-14; Acts 1:3). His death was bodily (Matthew 27:50, 59; Mark 15:37, 45; Luke 23:46; John 19:32-37). If He did not rise in body, then He did not rise. If Christ was not raised, our faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15:17) and we are most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:17-19). In His physical resurrection, Jesus conquered death for us, removing its power and sting (1 Corinthians 15:54-57) and promised our own bodily resurrection when He returns (1 Corinthians 15:49; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).

He removed our sins from us, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12; Colossians 2:14), so there is no more wrath or judgment left for those who are in Christ (Romans 5:6-9; 8:1). But even more than this. We are not simply declared “sin free,” we are declared “justified” and “righteous.” The perfect righteousness of Christ was given to us (Romans 3:26; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31; Philippians 3:9). Christ’s blood covers us (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:11-14). This means God sees that our sin has been paid for in His blood and that we wear the perfect righteousness of Jesus (Hebrews 10:14). This is so much more than mere “unmerited kindness.” This is grace. We have been saved by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) – the completely and profoundly undeserved gift of love and favor from the God we deeply offended who chose to pour out His just punishment on His own perfectly innocent Son instead of on us. We cannot add anything at all to this, and if we try to add our own merit to the finished work of Christ (John 19:30), we nullify His sacrifice and bring ourselves back under the curse of the broken law (Galatians 2:20-21; 3:10; 5:2-4).

It is God who calls us to repentance (Revelation 2:5, 16). It is God who justifies us in Christ (Romans 3:26, 30; Galatians 3:8). It is the righteousness of Jesus that we place our hope in (Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 1:13). It is God who makes us alive (Ezekiel 36:26; Ephesians 2:5). Our good works add nothing to this, they are merely evidence of this (John 14:15; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14; James 2:26).

This is the reason for the hope we have (1 Peter 3:15). We look forward with confident hope for the return of Christ, at which every knee will bow and tongue proclaim Him as Lord to the glory of the Father (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10). We look forward to the day when all the saints in the New Heavens and the New Earth will worship the Lamb and proclaim His glory (Revelation 5:12-14; 7:10).

Dear friends, we long for the day you bow before Jesus with us. We pray for the salvation of your souls. With Jesus and John we urge you to repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand (Matthew 3:2; 4:17), a Kingdom that does not consist in talk but in power (1 Corinthians 4:20)!

If you accept this, it is life to you. If you refuse this, it is death to you (2 Corinthians 2:16-17). By the grace of God, we implore you, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).

The Brummers

As always, I welcome comments, responses, considerations, challenges, and questions. One again, however, I remind you that I reserve the right to delete and moderate distasteful remarks. Please season your responses with grace, truth, and love. If you believe I am in error, I welcome biblical correction with open arms.


Several people have asked if I had a blog from my time in West Africa. I don’t. But I thought it might be fun to occasionally post about some of my experiences here for anyone who is interested.

It has been almost six years since I found myself on a plane over the Atlantic. Time really flies. So much happens so quickly! And so much from that year, now becoming more and more distant past, is still so clear in my mind.

I thought I’d start with my experience traveling to West Africa. I lived and worked in a small country that is 99% Muslim, including a rapidly growing fundamentalist sect of Islam associated with the Taliban. Because of the nature of that part of the world, I will not explicitly name the country itself, any of the towns I worked in, or the names of any Africans or expats who live and work there for security reasons. Anything that can be more generally applied to the area of West Africa I will more freely name.

We had a fairly simple, although long, flight itinerary. Dallas to New York to Casablanca to our final destination in West Africa.

I remember when our flight from New York took off. It was already late at night, and as the plane lifted up off the end of the runway over the bay, I looked down and realized that my “safety net” of familiar culture and family and friends was falling away behind me and I was suddenly on my own with only God to trust as the One who could hold me up. I had travelled overseas before and done short-term mission work, but it had always been with a team and a leader. This time, even though I had a team for the first couple of months, I was essentially going on my own, and I remember feeling a strange mixture of fearful anticipation and peaceful trust.

I was traveling with one other girl, and she and I had not gotten along well during training. There was nothing particularly “wrong” with either her or me, but we had vastly different personality types and ways of approaching problem solving, so traveling internationally together proved to be… interesting. The rest of our team was flying through Belgium instead, so it was just her and me.

We had a 12-hour layover in Casablanca, Morocco. Our airline, Royal Air Maroc, provided us with hotel and food vouchers for the layover so that we could take a good nap and a shower and eat a good meal instead of just hanging out in the terminal for that long stretch of time. Our final flight was scheduled to leave at midnight.

Beautiful fountain in the hotel lobby.

Beautiful fountain in the hotel lobby.

So we took the airport shuttle to the airport hotel, about 5 minutes away and just outside the city of Casablanca, and took a very refreshing shower and nap and and enjoyed some amazing Moroccan food. The people were so friendly and just beautiful. Seriously, Moroccans as a people group are some of the most attractive people I’ve ever seen. (Aside from my own husband of course!)

Around 10:30, we boarded the shuttle back to the airport to check in for our flight.

It had been cancelled. Indefinitely.

Supposedly, there were riots happening in the city we were supposed to fly into, and the airline didn’t want to risk landing there during the violence. My traveling companion and I, however, had contact with the rest of our team already in country and they assured us there were no issues. Later we figured out that there was an issue with the airline itself – probably a bribe had not been paid by the destination airport to the airline or vice versa.

So we were stuck in Casablanca. Cue Bogart and Bergman. At least we’ll always have Paris.

The view from our room window.

The view from our room window.

But props to Royal Air Maroc, who agreed to extend our hotel and food vouchers for as long as we needed them. So, we boarded the airport shuttle around 1:00 in the morning to head back to the hotel to get a few more hours of sleep, hoping for a 6:00 am flight. On the shuttle were me, my traveling companion – also a young, white, American, Christian woman – and a whole lot of Arab men.

We started driving. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. 15 minutes. Still no hotel in sight. In fact, not a whole lot of anything in sight…. And I started to get nervous. Finally, around 1:30 in the morning, the bus stopped in the middle of nowhere and all of the Arab men on the bus stood up and started talking and yelling and causing all kinds of commotion. I looked out the window and realized through the darkness that we were in an unlit parking lot of sorts filled with cars from which many more Arab men were hurriedly coming toward our bus. My traveling companion thought this was a great time to practice our French. I explained to her that it was a great time to sit down, shut up, and try to be as invisible as possible!

Headlines were flashing through my brain: “Two Missionaries Kidnapped by Extremists in Morocco.” Oh man… my parents are gonna be so upset. Dear God, get us out of this!

This went on for several minutes.

Finally, everyone sat down, quieted down, and the bus started driving again. A few minutes later, we pulled up to the hotel and everyone got off and went to their rooms.

Most frightening hour of my life. I found out later that it was just the shift change for the hotel staff. That’s it. The day shift going home and the night shift coming in.

At the hotel, I requested a wake up call from the front desk. But since I didn’t speak French or Arabic, and the lady at the front desk spoke both of those but not English, I wasn’t really sure she understood. So I didn’t sleep much that night. I didn’t want to sleep late and miss our flight in the morning! So that night was spent reading Psalms and watching Al Jazeera – the only English TV channel I could find.

Well, the next morning… no flight. That afternoon: no flight. The next day: no flight. We spent four days stuck in Casablanca.

During that time several things happened.

One, we weren’t able to leave the hotel and go explore the city, partly because we had to be able to shuttle back to the airport for a flight at a moment’s notice and partly because our only opportunity to go into town was with two very nice Lebanese men who offered to share a taxi – and I had seen “Taken.” No way was I going anywhere with two men I didn’t know. No. Way.

Someday I’d love to go back and actually enjoy Casablanca without the stressful circumstances.

I didn’t cope well at all. In fact, it is not an exaggeration at all to say I was a complete basket case for about 2 days.

But the girl I was with had an amazing personality trait I just don’t have: the ability to pull back and see the forest for the trees. (I am detailed to a fault, and the details can easily overwhelm when they have no context.) She came up with a plan.

“Megan,” she sat me down one afternoon. “We could realistically be stuck here for weeks. Even up to 3 months before we need a visa. We need a plan. God isn’t wasting our time by keeping us here – what can we do with it?” She laid out goals: meet 4 new people every day and get to know something about them, learn 5 new French words every day and practice them by using them in conversation with someone, study a chapter of the Bible every day, take a walk around the hotel every day to get out of the room and be around people. Things like that.

Lesson one in humility: we need the body of Christ. I had written off this girl because she was so different. God showed me I needed her and that He is the one who had put us together.

The next morning, we took the shuttle to the airport again (lots of back and forth every day). This particular morning, many citizens of the West African country we were headed to were just fed up. They wanted to get home. They were forming a group to go to the airline in protest and wanted us to come with them. We headed the opposite direction! We didn’t want to get caught in the middle of a riot in an airport in Africa!!! Instead, we went to see if we could get access to our checked luggage (which had been just sitting in the airport for days). It took several hours, but the airport did release our bags to us, and we took the shuttle back to the hotel.

And the hotel refused our vouchers.

What now?

The two lebanese men spoke quite a bit of English, and they were able to explain to us that the hotel wouldn’t honor the vouchers any more because a flight was scheduled that afternoon.

Could we really believe there was a flight? Was it really going to happen?

We sat in the hotel lobby, our luggage all around us, waiting for hours to hear for certain.

Then suddenly the airport shuttle showed up, loaded us up, drove 5 minutes to the airport. Within 30 minutes, we were through security and sitting on the plane! Apparently that group of angry Africans had gotten something done!

We took off.

And then I experienced the strangest flight I have ever been on.

As soon as we took off, the Africans around us started shouting and singing and clapping in celebration. And never quieted down. As soon as the “buckle seatbelt” light was turned off, everyone – and I mean everyone on the plane got up and started walking around. In true African fashion, they were visiting their friends and relatives in other parts of the plane. The few Africans who had met us white girls made a big deal out of coming and talking to us and showing off to everyone that they knew the Americans. Everyone was in everyone else’s business for the whole flight. The poor flight attendants had a difficult time getting our meals and beverages to us because there were always several people up in the aisles.

But we finally landed in our destination country.

We fought our way through all the “helpful” people who wanted to show us how to fill out our customs forms and carry our luggage for a fee or a large tip and finally met the rest of our team.

We were never for a moment beyond God’s hand. There was not a minute of those days that surprised Him or caught Him off guard. In fact, it was all part of His perfect and gracious plan for this time in our lives, part of His goal of shaping and molding us to be more like Christ – to learn to trust Him instead of trusting our own strength. To trust Him for our basic needs instead of trusting our own cleverness. To learn to declare “You are my God” and with trembling to say with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “Even if….”

Welcome to West Africa! With one adventure under my belt, I had months more to look forward to!

Finally in beautiful Sub-Saharan West Africa!

Finally in beautiful Sub-Saharan West Africa!

Enjoying the back of the Land Cruiser... and apparently missing a shoe.

Enjoying the back of the Land Cruiser… and apparently missing a shoe.