Even So It Is Well With My Soul

Sunday, March 18, 2018

This season of life has been unique. Kind of like the mornings of sidewalk counseling when the brisk, bone chilling temperatures threaten to turn you blue, when suddenly the sun peeks over the clinic for just a moment. Light exposing the shadows. Clouds moving. Darkness fleeing. Warmth growing.

If I could have written the story of my life, I would not have included the chapters of much of what 2016-2017 included. But I am not in control, and these have been, shall we say, different times of life.

"Growth of any kind demands difficulty."

My missions school teacher preached these words to my class this summer. It's a comfort in the regard. that it must imply that Jesus so desires for me to grow that when worst has come to worst, He is still my True Vine and is growing His branch. 

Between living in a broken family, my health having a hissy fit, encountering work problems, and trying to clarify plans for what's next, life has felt kind of odd. 

You know those people in your life who care but are harsh in the way they respond? (As in have to lecture you whenever they have an opinion about something you said?) We all have individuals in our lives like that; however, not every person will treat us in this manner. Yet whenever someone asks, "So how are you doing?" I am thinking about how I would prefer not to expound lest I be lectured on how I need to keep my chin up.

I'm not looking for optimism. I'm looking for Him here. In the dark. In the pain. In the brokenness. In everything that has not made sense, He is yet present. He is God and He has already overcome. This means that I have grace to push through, because He is always strong when I feel weak.

When I get to cancel my plans because my stomach is sick and tired of being a stomach. When family situations flare up and we have to sort through things. When my coworker is angry with me for being "too nice" to a resident, because she believes we should have a drill sergeant approach. When three timeouts have to be given within an hour to the same child while nannying. When a random guy yells at me outside the abortion clinic because He doesn't want to hear a single thing about Jesus.

In each of these moments and every one hereafter, He is God. He will never change. He is my Healer, my Peace, my Joy, my Discernment, and my Hope. 

When peace like a river attendeth my way
AND when sorrows like sea billows roll

At both seasons of life, He is faithful. Do I understand why some things in my life are falling apart without explanation? No. 

BUT whatever my lot
Thou has taught me to say 
"It is well with my soul."

No matter how much everything around me threatens to fall in, He will never be shaken. He is my Rock. Because of who He is and the grace He provides for me each day, each hour, and each second, I'm going to make it. Up one more mountain. Through a thousand storms. Beyond the valley.

This God of ours is able when we're just not able anymore. 

When the stress, sadness, and pressure are there under the surface, He sees. Even when no one else does. He is our only place of rest when this world has us exhausted beyond taking the next step; what good moments these are to show us how empty we are and how full and able He is. 

It's not as the world says. "You're stronger than you think!" No, I'm weaker than I think (in and of myself), but He is always strong, able, and faithful. The moment I think it's about me and anything I can do, I stop living out of heaven's resource and start living just how the enemy wants. Without abiding in the Vine. And my goodness does our strength ever run out quickly when we do not live by His grace. 

He is Here with us, and He will enable us, if we will look to Him.

An Egyptian servant woman found herself being used for the purpose of growing someone else's family. She discovered that she was expecting a baby, and the wife of her child's father treated her very harshly. Probably feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, she fled into the hot wilderness to get away. Pausing to rest at a spring of water, an angel came to her. The angel asked where she was going, to which she replied, "I am running away from my owner." 

Things were broken in her life. Pain, difficulty, and sadness were likely deeply rooted in her heart. How would this messenger from heaven respond? Tell her to get over it and move on?

No, the messenger told her to return to her owner, and gave her a promise. He shared some of God's plan for what was to come, and reminded her that the Lord had heard her affliction. He had noticed, and had not overlooked even the slave girl. She was important in His sight. She called upon the name of the Lord who was speaking to her and said, "Lord, you see me!" 

This is the only place in Scripture we see Jesus called El Roi: He sees me. (Genesis 16). 

How incredible is it that He revealed more of who He is to her at a place of brokenness in her life. What if she had never faced the troubles with Sarai and Abram? Would she ever have come to call upon Him and know Him?

As I walk through what feels like a wilderness, I want to remember Hagar, and where she was met by Jesus. 

Jesus is worthy of this. If what I'm experiencing now will cause me to need Him more desperately... If all the changes of plans work together so that He might be glorified.... If the pain, sorrow, and heartache cause me to remember that He alone is my Home, then it will be worth it all.

If He will be known better (and how He is worthy of being known and proclaimed), then I want to face whatever He has coming. When I awake to a hundred new challenges tomorrow, He will be there. He sees me; it's who He is, and He never changes. I will not be abandoned while I walk a path that seems dry and dusty. 

There is no pit so deep that His love is not deeper still // Corrie ten Boom

El Roi is with me; He dwells in me, and nothing in all creation can separate me from His love. Nothing at all. There is nothing I could face that He has not first seen; He doesn't ever abandon His children. We are always in His sight.

God wants to take our problems and turn them into building material for His miracles // Corrie ten Boom, Tramp For the Lord

He is working everything together, at this very moment, for good unto those of us who love Him. He will be glorified here, if I will obey and surrender. If I will listen and follow Him in what seems strange and unexpected from my perspective, He will accomplish His eternal purposes in and through this existence. 

And Lord, haste the day
When my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound
And the Lord shall descend 
Even so
It is well with my soul

Because He is God, tomorrow is possible. Pain may be included. Sorrows may produce silent aching. Troubles may create a strain. But if He is with me, then it is possible. He sees me, and He is here, so I may push on. He is worthy, and He alone makes it well with my soul.

Agents of Change: How Every Person Impacts the World

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

We live in a world today with celebrities, talk show hosts, well known news anchors, sports professionals, and touring artists; people who get up on stages and say things that others think are oh-so-profound because of their status: famous in the eyes of the world. They sell millions of books, have adoring fans that would rush up to them in the grocery store; they're deemed a voice of our generation. If Carrie Underwood buys that brand of pants, you better have them too!

All this in our culture seems to leave a sort of residue; a type of thinking that leads us to believe that only certain people change this world. If you're famous. If you're admired by many and have a million followers on Instagram. If you have loads of money. If you get a trillion views on your website.

We think these are the people who change things.

Even as Christians, I've heard it in many conversations. We think only the Christians who have the stage, the followers, the blog everyone wants to contribute to, the trendy books, and the must-hear podcasts...

"They're making a difference."

And they are, but what we often don't see is the fact that every single person who has ever lived has changed the world.

What do you mean by that, Cassidy?

James, who was aborted, changed this world. He never spoke to anyone with his voice, and his parents didn't even bother to name him, but his life touched other lives. His mom physically held him in her womb, and she chose to use her story of choosing abortion as an example for Planned Parenthood on how great abortion is. But this little boy's voice could not be silenced by the instruments of death.

James changed this world.

People have been challenged by his story. Every life is made in the image of God and is worth protecting. He didn't ever stand on a stage and have a profound speech recorded by all the news sources, but his twenty-one short weeks of existence impacted others. My life is not the same because of this sweet boy.

Perpetua was born into a wealthy family. She was expected to do great things and be of exemplary influence, but at the end of her life, her family could only shake their heads. "Why would she waste her life?" they wondered. Perpetua died a martyr around the young age of 22. According to those who had previously known her, she had just thrown her life away. Obviously, she must not have been very influential if the Roman government would just throw her to the beasts like that. Who would choose the death of a martyr with faith in Jesus, instead of burning just a pinch of incense to the emperor and living a wealthy life?

Perpetua did. And she changed the world for Jesus more powerfully than all her critics.

A young factory employee living in a poor family didn't exactly live a life that would be the next cover story for Time Magazine, but she was surrendered to Jesus. Before she knew it, she was on a ship, with a one-way ticket to Calabar, Africa. Soon, she could be found living among a fierce group of tribal people. She would rush through the dangerous jungle after a group of men and one woman--they were about to burry newborn twins alive--because the animistic views of these tribal people led them to believe that one twin in every multiple pregnancy was raised by the devil.

Mary Slessor, with her short stature and vibrant red hair, didn't look very intimidating. But she was the only advocate for these children. She rescued countless babies and brought the Gospel to some out-in-the-bush Africans.

Mary changed the world.

His mother died while he was young. His life he described to be a struggle. He had strong giftings in leadership and communication, and was bold to the core. This man came to the conclusion that only some people should be able to live in the world: Aryans. Eventually, he was given a position of power and influence and used it to promote his horrible agenda. 

Hitler was responsible for the death of millions of people (six million of whom were Jews). In a horrifying way, Hitler changed the world. The lives of all the people who died were, obviously, affected, not to mention their families, friends, and the rest of the world.

Everyone changes the world--everyone influences and impacts the people around them--everyone makes a difference.

The question is not: "Will we change the world?" but "how will we change the world?"

Today, your life is changing the world. What is changed by your existence? Will I or will you be one more passive human being, just wavering through life, letting the world shape our hearts and minds and telling us how to live? Or will we be some of the few who pursue Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?

Will we be the ones who push the boundary of expectation?

(Today’s general expectation is that you will do nothing more than the average).

You and I may never make history books, but if you are in Christ, then your name is in the Lamb's Book of Life. How much more world altering it is to be one who refuses to compromised by the pressures of this world, and finds delight only in gazing into the face of Jesus. If we are pursuing His agenda, things will be changed for His glory.

Even if He has called you to something that seems small, or if you're in an "in-between" season of life, He can be glorified, magnified, and made known through your existence.

We will both change the world today--we'll impact others’ lives and leave a fragrance. Will the impact be for His Kingdom? Will it be the fragrance of Christ?

How will your life change the world today? Let's push forward, being ambassadors of Christ with every step we take; in the gas station, at church, on a walk, through the long hours at work. These normal places our daily lives take us are where world-altering so often happens. Right in the home, exposing the beauty of the Gospel in an up close and personal way.

Everywhere we go.

Are we the ones who are so consumed with Jesus Christ--so in love with the Lover of our souls--that the world just cannot stay as it is? Is your life radically surrendered to Him? If so, His very life dwells in you. Jesus is the one who changes this world and brings about His eternal purpose of life. Vessels unto honor, let us not forget the impact our lives are making--and the huge responsibility that comes with--we represent the King of kings.

I don't want to change the world passively. I want my life to be a song of ardent worship to Jesus; with eyes fixed on Him and His ability. This world will be changed all the more for Jesus Christ, if we are given up fully for Him.

Do You Love Abortion Clinic Workers?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

It was a cloudy November morning. As always, in a notoriously Michigan way, it was freezing outside. I drove into the parking lot of a sketchy Detroit diner, as I got ready to meet up with a friend of a friend at a local abortion clinic. I was planning on a regular day of sidewalk counseling: offering expecting women options other than abortion, post-abortive women help and hope, and hopefully reaching out to the clinic workers too.

I was new to sidewalk counseling. I had only been training for a month, and up to that point, I had only counseled at one clinic in Grand Rapids, once or twice weekly.

A sidewalk counseling friend had mentioned that there was a pro-choice activism meeting and/or protest happening the following weekend in Detroit. Knowing that the pro-choice counterpart can sometimes be a violent and harsh crowd, I asked for more details. Eventually I was given the name of a sidewalk counselor in Detroit. I looked her up on social media, expecting to ask if I could help at all with the weekend. It turned out that I had a commitment that weekend I couldn't avoid, so the lady invited me to join them the following week.

I got out of my car, thinking about all the stories and statistics my dad would tell me about Detroit since he used to work there. It can be a dangerous city, but I knew the Lord was with me. As I made the half mile walk to the clinic, I thought about what I might see in the day. I was not prepared for what was about to occur.

It seemed like a odd spot for a clinic. I turned the corner and saw at least 10 anti-abortion signs (some of which were copies of the same sign), and three people standing on a sidewalk. I approached and found the friend I had been writing to (who we'll call Anna). Anna seemed a bit stressed as she explained some facts about the clinic. It was before opening time, and some of the abortion employees were just arriving.

A nurse got out of her car, frowning in our direction. Anna called out to her in a frustrated tone of voice, trying to reprimand her for taking part in the death of a child. The woman made her way in the door, eventually returning with someone else. The employees were very on edge.

The three pro-lifers I met earlier that morning, including Anna, pelted the employees with pushy questions, apparently not noticing how their approach was only turning the two women away.

Eventually, at around ten o'clock in the morning, the abortion doctor arrived. He drove into the already quite-full parking lot in a fancy car, avoiding connection with any of us on the sidewalk.

Anna had brought a megaphone that she apparently used every time she counseled. I asked if I could talk to the doctor. Not realizing that he had not yet gotten out of his car (and probably could not hear me), I tried to tell him that I cared about him just as much as the women and the babies, and that we could help him get out of the industry.

Feeling like I said all I knew to say, I gave the megaphone back, at which point Anna began her lecture. "JAMES! You murderer! Why do you keep coming back here! You're killing babies!" She yelled, with an unfriendly, harsh expression on her face.

My jaw dropped. Did I really just hear that?! Abortion absolutely is the murder of a precious, unborn child, however, we close the door of escape from the industry when we treat these employees as if they have zero value and are stupid.

I rushed over and said, "Oh no, no, no." The doctor looked up, responding to Anna's harsh, love-less words with a straight faced, almost knowing expression. I had the impression that it was not the first time he had been screamed at by pro-lifers, particularly this group. (It’s no wonder that the police visit them so frequently).

I didn't want to be associated with that kind of behavior. "You matter to me!" I wanted to yell.

I explained to Anna how this kind of angry, you're-so-horrible approach can be so hurtful, and counterproductive. He's just going to walk right into the clinic and perform abortions, thinking that pro-lifers just hate people like him, and that we would probably be happy if he died on the spot.

 My mind went to my friend Melissa who had been training me; she was so grieved over abortion and wanted all women and babies protected, and at the same time she cared so much about the Grand Rapids clinic's employees. Urgently praying for them to be set free and to come to know Jesus, smiling at them, and sharing resources with them to help them get out of this type of work.

Upon hearing my rebuke of her anger, Anna became extremely unhappy with me. Being thirty or forty years older than me, she was not thrilled that I would suggest any kind of change. After all, what could a little trainee know? She had years of experience.

"It's not right to yell at them," I told her. Angrily, she proceeded to lecture me on a past clinic worker she treated the same dehumanizing way who apparently quit working there. It was victory in her eyes.

Had she thought about the fact that working somewhere where you get screamed at isn't very pleasant? Abortion is already a horrible industry. It's already the murder of a beautiful child; you don't have to kill others with your words in an attempt to get them to leave. I bet that clinic worker just started working at a different abortion clinic. That's not victory AT ALL. Now that individual probably has their heels digged down deeper, thinking that pro-lifers hate everyone.

She tried to rebuke me. "Cassidy, just listen to me! You need to let the Holy Spirit lead us!"

Apparently, she believed that the Holy Spirit leads us to treat people like pond scum.

When Pro-Life Outreach Isn't So Pro-Life Anymore

The little title of "pro-life" should say several big things.

God is the Giver of life, not us. We love life. Every life matters. No one is an accident. Every person--baby, teen, adult, grandma, mom, dad, etc.--is created in the image of God, and exists by His will. Because God is the Creator of every life and sovereignly plans the existence of each person, who are we to question His timing of when they come into existence and when they die?

I know I'm stepping on toes here, and I'm ok with it. Dislike me if you will, but hear this out. You cannot call yourself pro-life and continually treat abortion workers like they're worthless. You just can't.

You cannot stand there on the sidewalk telling a woman that she matters to you and that you care about her baby if you don't care also about the workers inside who were also once little babies in the womb. Your God desires that all would come to repentance [1]. He wants to redeem even the liberal, confused employees.

Don't tell me you love life if you still hate these people. I'll never believe it.

If you profess to know Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you should have the greatest desire of all people in the world for these clinic workers to be set free.

Charles Spurgeon has once said: "If sinners be damned, at least let them leap into hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go unwarned and unprayed for."

Do you desire redemption that badly? Christians like Anna would be more likely to mockingly laugh while the lost clinic workers reach desperation. Would you stand in the gap for the abortion clinic employees too? For the sometimes pushy pro-choice protesters, will you pray? For those who are without hope and think the entirety of their existence is about them and what they think to be right and wrong, won't you show them Jesus? Who else do you expect to show love--Jesus' love--to these people than us?

Either be pro-every-life, or stop saying you're pro-life.

Would you be willing to lay down your life for these people? Jesus laid down His life for yours! Somehow we think that it wasn't as hard for our God to save us as it would be to save someone "like that."

Apart from Christ you're just like that. Your mind and heart are like that without Jesus. Your life had the same sinful potential to lead to being a worker of death; we cannot credit anything but the mercy of our God that we weren't also hands that shed innocent blood.

Jesus didn't spill one less drop of blood for you than He did for the abortion clinic workers. HE LOVES THEM, and if you don't, it might be time to search your heart to see if you really know Him, or if you really understand what it cost your Jesus to redeem you.

I want to be there with open arms the day the doctor of the Grand Rapids clinic says, "No more!" to abortion.

How expectant are we really if we don't pray for and expect these individuals to come to know Jesus. We underestimate our God's ability to redeem when we think they're too far gone. You seemed too far gone once too, and yet, if you believe in Jesus as your personal Savior, then because of Him you are secure before the Father.

You'll never deserve that.

No matter how nice, pro-life, and anti-abortion you are, you can never say you've earned your redemption. You need Jesus just as desperately as these people do; they are so valuable in His eyes that He died what is thought to be the most painful death humanly possibly. Some physicians speculate that Jesus' heart literally exploded when He died. He defeated sin, death, and hell with His very life.

Our God is always bringing about greater life as we obey Him, and I can only imagine how many people could be rescued out of the abortion industry if each of us prayed for ONE. Showed His love with one. Shared the Gospel with one. Discipled one.

He is able to redeem them; are we living like it as pro-lifers?

Jesus shed His life’s blood for them. He was forsaken for them. He suffered, bled, and died for them. Will we now lay our lives down and live out the beauty of the Gospel before these abortion clinic employees and pro-choicers?


*All names changed for anonymity (other than Melissa). 
1. 2 Peter 3:9, Isaiah 56:8, Ezekiel 33:11, 1 John 2:2, see this also 

The Fluffy Christmas Christians

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

God gives many gifts in life. At this time in the year, we seem to be even more apt to discussing what gifts we most enjoy. With Thanksgiving almost a month behind us, and Christmas getting closer and closer on the calendar, gifts seem to be on the mind.

What am I getting for my grandma? Do I have a note written for that friend? 

It wouldn't be unusual for someone to ask you, "So what did you get for Christmas?"

How might this play out in conversation?

"I got an awesome new iPhone! It's the 10s!"
"Your parents really go all out, don't they?!"

"My best friend was so sweet and picked out a perfect new necklace for me. She knows me so well!"
"That is sweet. It's so great to get practical gifts that we can use all year round!"

"Well, I don't mean to brag, but I got all new appliances! Our house has been getting so worn and old looking lately, and these new appliances just spruce everything up."
"What a worthwhile investment! Think of how much more you'll be able to entertain now."

"The kids have just been begging, so we decided to get out of our comfort zones and adopt a cute little kitten from the animal shelter!"
"Pets make such a great gift for kids; they love them to death, and have to learn some responsibility!"

"Well, this year we had an unexpected surprise. We just found out that we're expecting again!"
"WHAT. You literally already have four kids; you two really need to be responsible!"
"Haven't you heard of birth control?"
"You're getting way too old to have kids; have any more and it would just be cruel. They'll probably end up with Down's Syndrome because of your advanced maternal age!"
"You know, I have a great OBGYN... After this one is born, shoot me a text and I'll get you his number. He tied my tubes a few years back, and it's the best decision we've ever made."
"What?! Why?"
"Sweetie, your mom might not have ever had this conversation with you, but you don't have to keep having kids till every room in your house is full!"

New iPhone: wow that's literally the coolest thing I've ever seen!
Expensive appliances: so worthwhile, and great to show off!

New baby: WHAT?

I know I'm not imagining these things. People think of the latest gadgets, and appliances, and even necklaces and pets as more worth one's money and time than a living human being, created in the image of God.

I'm not condemning iPhones, appliances, necklaces, or pets; I personally have most of those. However, you have to admit that there's something very off when we are knock-your-socks-off excited for things that have no eternal value, but then flustered at the idea of another human being coming into existence.

The Problem Under the Trendy Caution Tape

"Cassidy, you're not married, you don't have an kids, and you've never been pregnant; you have no reason what so ever to be pushing inappropriate conversations like this! It's none of your business."

It's kind of funny, in a not-so-giggly kind of way, how many people (most of whom are Christians) would like to avoid me or discredit me in some way because I value even a second-old embryo as much as I value anyone else.

The Bible does not list your iPhone as a gift; of course, we know it is. Phones give us lots of opportunities to communicate, and hopefully that communication is giving us more opportunities to share Jesus.

What's bazaar is the fact that something that the Word of God does call a blessing, many see as a total burden if they don't like His timing.

Speaking in the context of a home being built and protected by the Lord, the Psalmist says it clearly: “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3).

Oh Cassidy, not that verse again!

We live in a day and age where nearly every person sees children as a choice. In other words, if it's convenient for you and your spouse at this particular time in your life--financially, emotionally, physically, health-wise, based on what your doctor says, if your mother-in-law thinks it's a good idea--then you can, if you really want to, have kids. I challenge you: walk up to someone in the grocery store this week and ask them their thoughts on kids--are they a gift or a burden? You might be surprised how many people are convinced of the latter.

Even leading Christians have adopted this mentality. I am protestant, but have often admired my Catholic friend's unflinching stand against anything that could end the life of a child in the womb. Then the other day I saw a quote from one of the leading individuals in Catholicism who said the gist of:

"Yes, we should be fruitful and multiply, but we shouldn't be multiplying like rabbits!"


Protect life, see it as valuable, but don't go all out in this whole "be fruitful and multiply" thing. That's seriously old fashioned and extreme. The Bible's an old book; realize that we've got to reinterpret sometimes.

Most solid Christians I know with any kind of protestant background would never, ever, ever say that last phrase aloud.

However, are we saying it in our hearts?

Are we saying that the Word of God is wrong if it inconveniences us?

"Cassidy, you have to look at this from a more parent-minded perspective! Every child costs a ton of money. Hospital bills, toys, a crib, insurance, formula, clothes, and many other things. Not to mention the lack of sleep, physical labor, emotional drain, the way you can damage your body in pregnancy, and the overwhelming responsibility of taking care of a living, breathing child, and for eighteen plus years! You have no idea!!"

I'm not implying for a moment that pregnancy or parenthood are easy things. From what I've heard, they are hard, and are supposed to be. Think about your life; the things that are easiest often (but not always) sanctify us the least.

If kids were easy to raise, how much do you think you would realize your desperate need for Jesus? Probably not very much in your role as a parent.

Our world is full of billboards, magazine articles, and books on how to stop more kids from coming into the world. A majority of well-meaning Christian pastors make sure to mention during pre-marital counseling, "Don't forget to talk about birth control. It's really important that you're on the same page about when you're having kids."

Does that say something about Christians of today?

I think so. Somehow, even while fully agreeing it is God who has created every life (Psalm 100:3, 139:13-16), we quietly whisper: "Don't worry, He's sovereign, so we can use birth control as much as we'd like since His purpose will prevail anyway."

Yep, God is on the throne no matter how much we refuse to bow to the Word, but I really think we should be cautious about saying we really love Jesus if we're not willing to obey everything the Word says.

There have been over 58,000,000 abortions. Is He still God? Absolutely and entirely.

However, using His character as an excuse for our own lack thereof isn't very stable ground to stand on.

If you really believe God is sovereign, why do we need birth control?

If you actually believe God is the creator of every life and that He alone has the say of when a life begins and ends, why are we still using birth control in the church of today?

If you actually mean it that you love Jesus, do you love all His creations, regardless of the convenience or inconvenience to you?

If you truly believe that your God has purpose and meaning with the way He plans your love story, then how can you not believe that He also has plans and purposes in the way He builds your family?

Questions of this nature whirl around in my head often. What kind of Christians are we becoming if we believe it's irresponsible to allow God to give baby number eight, while we throw giant baby showers for a first time mom?

Feel free to disagree with me as a person (most do when it comes to this conversation). However, I challenge you. Stop saying you believe God plans and creates each life, if you don't welcome them with open arms.

Why do people see anti-birth control views as radical, ridiculous and unnecessary? This is why.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! Don't ask that question.

I'm saying it out in the open anyway.

If God is truly the Giver of life, who are we as human beings to stand in His way? Who am I as a human being to say in the face of my perfect God that He may not give me children unless it's in my timing and my quantity?

You probably clicked the link to this post thinking you'd read a cute article on Christmas with a few reflective thoughts. Sorry.

Yet I cannot really apologize. Lives are being ended every day. And no matter how many Christians (Christians!) tell me to shut up on this topic, I cannot. I cannot while even one more child dies at the use of a synthetic hormone, or device.

We aren't living like women of the Word if we see life as something that is for us to decide yay or nay on.

Why is it that I would speak up on something that "doesn't involve me?"

Because. I don't want to be a fluffy Christian, tossed about by whatever anyone says. "Oh they're a popular Christian with a well known ministry, and they say birth control is fine, so it must be." Might want to check your hermeneutics if you live off of that phraseology.

I have been made aware that lives are ended by birth control, thus I have a responsibility to respond and do something in light of what I know. So do you.

This Christmas, I hope you do get to unwrap some nice gifts you can use practically, but let's not forget that our God has called us to be advocates. He wants to give us His love for kids; He made sure His Word describes people as made in His image, and a gift from Him. Do I live that way?

Jesus came as a baby, vulnerable, and small. He is God; He did not have to come as a baby! He could have chosen to show up in all His splendor and glory, but instead, our Emmanuel came as an infant. God with us. God among us.

Our Prince of Peace came to us, little enough to fit into a manger. This Wonderful Counselor is also the Creator of the world, and the Giver of every life. Surely He who paints the skies and puts the wings to a thousand butterflies knows also when to give life and when not to. Do we trust and believe that?

When You Just Don't Feel Like One Of Those Set Apart Girls

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I sat in missions class, with my ankles crossed tightly. I was tense. With my journal out on my lap and a brightly colored pen in hand, I took extensive notes on reaching people of different backgrounds with the Gospel. As I sat in the beautiful chapel that warm summer day, one thought seemed to distract me again and again.

“You know you’re really not one of those set apart girls.”

I wanted to make some mental argument against the fact, but interactions with other ladies who seemed to be living poured-out lives made me wonder if there was something unspoken that disqualified me from being “one of them.” 

I was well aware that I had not by any means arrived to some perfected level in my walk with Jesus, but was there some expectation one had to meet, other than just being in Christ, to be considered a woman intentionally set apart for the King of kings? My experiences the previous few weeks made me wonder. I had somehow come to the conclusion that the term “set apart girl” must only apply to an elite group of Christian women who live astoundingly impressive lives. 

As days had gone by at school, I had taken note that there were certain ladies who avoided me. Something I was doing seemed to create discomfort among some people; just what it was had become a mystery to me. 

I’m too talkative. No, I need to try harder to start conversations they’ll enjoy. It’s probably my non-verbals. Don’t smile too much, but don’t frown. Stop being so energetic. Don’t speak encouragement too much, or it will be translated as flattery. Wear this. Get up at such-and-such a time each morning. Don’t be legalistic. Don’t lack discipline. You’re too pushy. Let them start the conversation. Be willing to help. Be confident. Not like that! Don’t hide, but don’t act like you have it all in the bag. 

I was trying to process everything; how do I best honor those around me? I felt extremely discouraged. It seemed like I hit a wall whenever I tried to live normally. “Maybe I just don’t fit the mold.” I would think to myself.

I’ve always been one to take too careful note of how people react. I often subconsciously study facial expressions and tones of voice. What did they truly mean by that?

According to my, probably flawed, observations, I was getting on a particular teacher’s nerves. Four ladies in leadership were made to feel less than comfortable, for whatever reason, around me. Some of my classmates looked down on me.

After a conversation with a friend I had looked up to, it had become apparent that I wasn’t quite reaching the bar. In an attempt to encourage this friend, I had caused discomfort and embarrassment. I was told that I was drawing attention to the individual instead of Jesus.

Oh, a set apart girl wouldn’t do that…. 

I looked out the chapel windows and thought, “Well, I’ll be out of their hair in just a few weeks.” It seemed like the only solution. Maybe I just needed another fresh start, since I had apparently blown this opportunity to live to the fullest.

The two months that followed were two of the darkest I have ever faced in my life. I thought through everything again and again. But it all seemed to say the same thing to my heart: you failed. 

My perspective was that I was too young, too loud, too strong in personality, too rough around the edges, too childish, and too broken for the title of “Set Apart Girl.” I had a past full of heartbreak, and it appeared that I wasn’t moving past it quickly enough. Each time I thought I was “sweeping up the broken pieces” I seemed to bump into someone else, someone more set-apart-girl-esque, and spill them all over again. 

Maybe set apart girls just don’t make these kinds of mistakes.

I felt much shame. Could I still call Amy Carmichael a hero of mine if I was so far off from her place in the endless pursuit of Jesus? Maybe I should stop saying Lillias Trotter is someone I aspire to being like since I am obviously failing at Titus 2 living. Perpetua was a much more impressive eighteen-year-old than I’ve ever been…

True Set-Apart Living

Even in the darkness of feeling unlovely and entirely wrong in nearly every facet, Jesus was present and at work in my heart. Where I had decided things were too broken in my life, after taking the nonverbal that I needed to get things together, I had given up at some level. I wouldn’t have been very likely to bring it up, but I was allowing my identity to be shaped by others’ perspective on my life. If someone I looked up to found issue with something I was doing, I immediately felt I was beyond grace. 

But it wasn’t true.

In the following months, Jesus was gently uncovering my issues and healing them. I had come to the conclusion in my heart and mind that if those in the “Set Apart Girl” ministry did not approve of me, then there was no way I was actually being shaped into a Christ-centered woman. (By the way, the ladies on the SAgirl team were kind to me!)

Jesus was exposing, however, that the only way to live a life that’s pleasing to Him was to get my eyes off of what everyone around me thought, and place my eyes on Him, and believe what He says about me. Am I living for the approval and applause of others, or do I only look to Jesus for security? 

As one writer has said, 

“I live before an audience of One. Before others I have nothing to gain, nothing to prove, and nothing to lose” (Henry Martyn). 

To truly live in a set-apart way means to live fully given to Jesus. It’s to be so taken with your heavenly Prince that all else loses its luster in comparison. I wouldn’t have had to feel insecure for even a moment if I had only seen my situation out of the lens of His Word. 

They don’t approve of me? When it comes down to it, in view of eternity, that doesn’t matter very much. The psalmist in Psalm 119 had this priority: “Thou art my portion, O Lord” (vs. 57). It’s not other Christians’ opinions of us that secure us before the Father; it’s only Jesus (Romans 5:1, 6-11, Ephesians 2:1-10). We’re not saved by someone we look up to telling us that we’re doing great or vice versa. My strength and security today comes only from the One who rescued my soul. He is the one who will keep me and sanctify me, therefore I have nothing to fear. He will not forsake me; He has begun a work within me, and our Jesus never forsakes or forgets the work of his hands.

I’m making someone feel uncomfortable? What if instead of panicking that I’ve ruined my relationship with that friend, I took the position of a servant, and sought out how I could better care for them? In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul exhorted the church at Philippi to serve others the way Jesus did:

 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:5-8).

Instead of hopelessly assuming the friendship is over, what if I was willing to pour out for this individual? Would I be willing to give them space if they need it, or help them out if they ask? 

Being a set apart woman is not about having it all together. It’s not about doing every single thing perfectly, never making a mistake, not having a personality, having every book of the Bible memorized, using fancier words, cooking like Martha Stewart, always being out of your bed by three o’clock in the morning, or being a carbon copy of an impressive Christian you know. 

It’s legalism to assume that we are somehow earning greater favor in Jesus’ eyes by having all our i’s dotted and t’s crossed. Jesus would not have had to die if we could gain acceptance on our own before God. I am safe and unshaken in my daily life, not because Cassidy is just looking oh-so-spiritual this morning, but because Jesus has taken my place. He is unchanging. No matter what happens to me, and no matter how many areas of my life still need greater sanctification, I will never ever, ever be abandoned. 

My identity is not in my mistakes and mishaps.

My identity is in Christ alone.

Since I am in Christ, I know that He has set me apart for Himself (Psalm 4:3). I did not receive this title of set apart by saving up my behavioral allowance; it is a gift to me from Jesus. He lived the set-apart life, and because my position is in Him, I am robed in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). I have grace, the power to live out the life He has called me to, only through Him. It’s not in my own pockets. 

If you, as a woman, believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are a set-apart girl. All because of Jesus (and not because of you). 

“Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” (Psalm 116:7-9).

Streamside Lessons

Monday, October 30, 2017

It was a beautiful fall evening. All four miles around the lake, vibrant shades of coral, red, pink, green, and brown caught my eye. It was all so breathtaking; the ground was covered with a layer of fallen leaves, each one declaring the majesty of their Maker. As I walked, I took notice of a stream. As first glance, between the strong movement of the large amount of water in a small space, it would have seemed as though someone was not keeping up their landscaping, but then I realized something.

I want my life to look just like that stream.

Such an abundance of life that it doesn’t fit in a small space. It can’t help but touch beyond the boundary of expectation, because it’s just so full. And floweth fuller every day… The dry ground, though it appears the same, a touch reveals it has been affected. The hard summer-scorched earth is muddy, and is being revived with every flow of the body of water. The narrow bridge will also be taken under too, if the stream flows over any more.

Can I say in truth that I am satisfied to overflowing in Jesus?

I want my life to be one that is so full of His living water that I can’t help but splash it on my neighbor. What if even the passer-by had to notice His fragrance from the words I had spoken, even if it was just about the happenings of the day? When needy people try to push buttons, imagine the impact one overflowing with the King of kings; Jesus is sufficient for even the most rude, insulting people.

He has the right words for the woman at the nursing home with the frustrated remarks, whom I was assigned to many a morning. He has the the word in season for the weary soul. Our Jesus gifts the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness. For the liberal woman, deemed by some as unreachable, as she advocates for abortion outside the Downtown clinic; He wants to speak words of hope and healing even to this one.

Am I content to sit here, comfortably in Christ while a world around me dies and passes into an eternity separated from their only Hope? I hope not. Just as the stream continued to fill beyond the brim, so He wants my soul to be. Discontented to be complacent. Unwilling that the dry ground be unwatered only to wither up and die. Defiant against the human tendency to abide at-ease in my personal bubble.

No, He is too worthy.

Today. That woman who pulled out in front of me too abruptly on the road. She is loved by the Lord of lords; how much am I loving her? Because, oh Cassidy, if you are in Christ, then all the grace necessary to treat her with kindness is available to you. It’s available to those who recognize that they’re not enough, and depend fully on the only One who could ever be enough. When memories of mistreatment from the past surface in my mind, whom is this about? Is it all about me and how I felt, or is it all about a Savior who is entirely sufficient in my greatest moments of trial, heartbreak, and sorrow?

Don’t be a puddle! Be a stream, turning into a lake, that can’t help but outdo the ocean simply because Jesus is limitless. He hasn’t drawn the line in that relationship with the awkward older lady at the grocery store. Thus, if the vessel will surrender and obey, Living Water will be poured over her--she will be given an impression of who Jesus is, even as I set the produce on the checkout counter. Is Jesus impatient, snappy, not oh-so-present, and drifting off, thinking of other things? Or is He the one who serves, forgetting Himself and saving the sinner?

He wants to grow this Water in my heart; I haven’t exhausted His Word, nor His ability to reach those deemed impossible. It all starts with Him. And it all starts with today. Let His perspective infect and correct your tinted view of others.

How they are loved, desired, and wanted by Him.

Yet somehow I sometimes allow myself to get by with a quick little prayer of, “Well, if it’s your will for that person to come to know you as their personal Savior, then I ask that they would.”


My eyes do not capture His grand vision for redemption if I am willing to be tossed about as a wave of the sea. “It’s not good timing to share the Gospel. They’re busy”, “I am tired. Plus I am the wrong person to share Jesus with them; this patient doesn’t even like me and keeps complaining about everything I do!”, “This woman needs me to talk with her about her options as a teen mom, not about Him. If I don’t share the right resources with her, she could end up walking into the clinic and having an abortion.”

Do I live on my justifications or excuses, or am I so excited about Jesus that I can’t help but share Him with every person before me. If I’m as in love with Him as I keep saying, then there ought to be a different response to sharing Him. What if I couldn’t help it but show them Him--in the way I took care of the dog this morning, with handling well the rough situations that come in working in healthcare, in the circumstances of life that would translate despair to most people--am I showing the sufficiency of my Living Waters (Jesus)?

I don’t want to be a dead sea. Ever receiving His fullness, yet passively overlooking the opportunity to pour out.

Give up your raindrop of refreshment, and watch your Jesus turn it to a puddle as you give. See Him take your puddle and splash it all over those who have always bothered you, in the most refreshing rain they have experienced, as your small spot of Water takes up more ground, morphing into a stream. The lake isn’t far. His ocean of love knocks. Are you willing to give it up? Will I say goodbye to what I deem my comfort so that, in His worthiness, the Prince of peace might reign in more hearts?

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from His heart.’” (When He said “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him….) // John 7:37-39

The Truth About Our Father

Monday, October 9, 2017

“But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. Sing unto God, sing praises to His name: extol Him that rideth upon the heavens by His name JAH, and rejoice before Him. A Father to the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in His holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families: He bringeth out those which are bound with chains.”
Psalm 68:3-6b

A Father.

What comes to your mind when you hear that term?

Some of us smile immediately, thinking of the growing up years, sitting in dad’s lap, reading a book. While others of us would feel better if such a name did not apply to our God, as flashbacks and pain swell up within.  No matter what you have thought of fatherhood in the past, I fully guarantee that you have not plumbed the depths of this awe striking part of the nature of our God.

David had an insight on who our Heavenly Father is:
“Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: ‘Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all’” (1 Chronicles 29:10-11).

Look at all the things this passage tells us our Father has sway over: the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, the majesty, all things in heaven and on earth, and the Kingdom. We know that we are never neglected, forgotten, left, over-corrected, abused, or hammered over the head by our Father.

Not only did He skillfully create us for Himself, purposefully guiding and protecting our lives from the womb, but He also pursued us when spat in His face and lived in rebellion to Him. We were that prodigal child that brought the tears, the aches, and the pain to a Father who had always been just and loving--never once doing us wrong. Having broken every single law of our Father’s and falling altogether short of His glory, yet He pursued us. In our entirely ugly, miry-clay covered lives, He had a plan of redemption. A plan to restore us unto Himself.

He drew us out of many waters, and brought us near at the greatest possible price--the price of His very own Son. Dying what is thought to be the most brutal death possible, Jesus stayed at that barbaric cross until the work was entirely finished.

Let us not forget that our Father has never forsaken us, and today He bids us come and die. He is worthy--He has seen us unto the second birth, a birth in Christ--and He desires all to be His children.

“The Lord Jehovah does not delay His promises as people consider delay, but He is patient for your sakes, and because He is not willing that any person would perish, but that every person would come to conversion” (2 Peter 3:9 ABPE).

This devotional was written for Ellerslie Discipleship Training's Always Be Ready Night. It was also featured in the devotional book "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."