Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bloodsucking Sin

Summer just isn’t summer without a trip to my dad’s house in Tennessee. Nestled in the hills near beautiful Pickwick Lake, my sister and I meet there with our husbands and kids for a week of family fun. Much of the action centers around the nearby lake, where we sun, swim, and boat. This year, mechanical malfunctions beached us all but one day, so the cousins spent hours swimming in the lake, and this mom spent hours lounging in the sand reading.

“Mom, what’s that on your butt?” one daughter inquired as she joined me to tan on land. A few swipes of her towel yielded no answers, so we shrugged it off and leisurely laid on our tummies. Several hours later, we packed up chairs, cooler, snack bags, and towels and headed home for the day.

That evening in the shower, soaping my legs to shave, I felt something on my backside. “Hmmm,” I thought. “Something from the beach must be stuck to my skin.” I tried to pick it off with my finger nail. It didn’t budge. “That’s odd,” I mused. I tried pulling at it. All that did was stretch my skin with it.

And then it dawned on me, mostly because we had just talking about it that morning at breakfast. The topic freaked me out then, and now I was living my worst nightmare.


Ticknaphobia set in. Near tears at the thought that an insect was burrowed in my skin sucking my blood, I reached a place of near panic. I can handle most things – blood, lizards, frogs, even snakes. But creepy, crawly, insects? NO! Just talking about them gives me the heebie jeebies, and now there was one inside my skin, and I was alone at the house where us parents were staying for the week.

Determined to finish my shower, I prayed to the God of all creation, including ticks, to keep me from having a complete melt down and to send help! Breathing deep, I strategized. I still had another leg to shave.

Breathe, Shauna. Remember to breathe.

Finally done, I stepped out and immediately issued an SOS.

“Pamela, I have a TICK in my BUTT CHEECK and I AM FREAKING OUT! You have got to help me. Please come now, and come alone, AND GET THIS THING OUT OF ME!”

My sister’s response? Hysterical laughter! But she headed right over from my dad’s house, located the bloodsucking monster, pinched it out with her finger nails, and flushed it down the toilet and out of my life forever.

I couldn’t even look the little monster in the face. I didn’t want the image haunting me at night.

It took several hours for me to recover from the idea of what happened. In those hours, it occurred to me how much our sin is like a tick.

Buried deep.


Disease carrying.

Difficult to eradicate.

The longer it’s there, the more damage it causes.

The harder it is to get rid of.

And if you don’t get the head, you’re going to have recurring problems.

It’s serious, just like sin. Do I freak out at sin in my life like I freaked out about that tick? Am I panicked to get rid of it immediately?

Jesus explains how seriously we should take sin in Matthew 5:29-30: "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”

My sister rescued me from the tick.

Jesus rescues us from our sin.

Do I run to the Lord and cry out for His help to get it all out of my life?

Or do I ignore it, giving it the opportunity to become further embedded and cause serious problems in my life and relationships?

If you find a tick, tweeze it, drown it out with alcohol, burn it. Whatever you do, get rid of it! All of it!

If you find sin in your life, do the same thing! Do whatever it takes to get rid of it. All of it!

Perhaps it’s time for a full body search. Ticks like to hide in the strangest of places, hidden where they can’t be easily detected.

So does sin.

Father, send Your Holy Spirit to search out our entire body for sin. Expose it, even the deepest most embedded sin, and root it out at the head. Leave nothing behind as we become more wholly Yours today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Tricks of the Sex Trafficking Trade

She was seventeen, attended community college as a dual-credit high school student, and worked at the local small town café where a regular customer befriended her over the course of a few months. She thought their conversations were innocent, talking about her life and dreams. Unbeknownst to her, though, this older male was stalking her as part of a dangerous network seeking to sell her into slavery.  It wasn’t random; she was chosen.

Her “faithful patron” passed along details she shared to a few college football players conspiring to seduce her. When she turned eighteen, they became customers. She had no idea they were connected to the other man as they used information he supplied to say all the right things, enticing her with her own dreams. It all appeared perfectly harmless. She thought it was cool. An amazing coincidence.

Eventually, she willingly accepted their invitation to hang out a few hours away in Seattle. After all, it’s where she always wanted to live! She lied to her parents, drove to Seattle, and arrived at a beautiful home with fancy cars parked outside. It appeared to be the legitimate life of the rich and famous. It was all so perfect! She told more lies and stayed there several days, giving the men there ample opportunity to bid on her. She had no idea, nor was she suspicious that an ensuing invitation to go to Arizona during Christmas break was to complete her sale to a pimp.

This true story is nothing like the ambush abduction I imagined when confronted with the term sex trafficking. While a part of me wishes I’d never listened to Focus on the Family Daily’s radio broadcast on “Exposing the Dark World of Human Trafficking,” I’m glad I did.

I think you should as well.


Whether by sudden abduction or slow seduction, girls are becoming stolen goods at an alarming rate of up to several hundred thousand a year at schools, online, in neighborhoods, in the bleachers where our kids play sports, at the restaurants and stores where our daughters work and hang out right here in the great United States of America.

It happens over time, because these predators are patient. It happens by tag team, because these criminals are smart. It happens within families; dads, uncles, and brothers selling their daughters, nieces, and sisters. It’s perpetrated by peers, not just older men.

What’s expected of them daily is unfathomable.

The average age is twelve.  

One twelve-year-old girl featured in the broadcast was enticed by two teenage boys to come to a party when she turned thirteen, when she was “grown up.” She did, and a guy a little older befriended her. She was a bit grossed out by him, but he started showing up different places she frequented, like school and Starbucks, and he was so nice to her. He wooed her, earned her trust, and then got her to lie, a common tactic. A way to hold something over her. A way to manipulate and control her. He eventually convinced her to dance for him at a strip club, you know, to help him out because he needed money. He had her raped in a side room, took pictures, and threatened to expose her to her church friends and victimize her ten-year-old sister if she didn’t stay quiet and compliant. He then trafficked her out of her own home.

I don’t even want my daughters to know this kind of evil exists, but the danger lurks too close to home. Living just twenty miles from one of the top U.S. markets for sex slaves, my daughters need to be informed. Scared. Not with a spirit of fear, as God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), but in the spirit of being shrewd as snakes (Matthew 10:16).

The Bible warns, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8).  How can we recognize him if we aren’t aware of his schemes? How can our girls?

As it is age appropriate, young women need to know the dangers that lurk around them and how to recognize when someone is preying on them. Each one of us, with much prayer, has to decide how much to share with our daughters at what age, but no matter how old they are, we must be vigilant guards over them, knowing where they are and whom they’re with and doing everything we humanly can to make sure they are never victims of this tragic industry.

Our sons need to understand the dangers of pornography, not just in what it does now, but in who it victimizes on the other side of the image. The market it creates for selling little girls. The fire it fuels in them that might rage out of control one day to the point that they’re hiring a twelve-year-old who has been forced into prostitution. The fact that the girl they’re lusting after in the image or sex salon could be their little sister. The fact that the pleasure she portrays is many times fake. Unattainable. Perhaps the tenth or twelfth trick of her day because she has to meet her quota.

A little too much? Yes! You’re right! So what are we going to do about it?

Are we willing to sacrifice convenience, time, and money to give and serve alongside ministries putting themselves on the frontlines of this battle? To call our legislators and demand harsher penalties for child prostitution?

Willing to take just under an hour to listen to the two Focus on the Family Daily radio broadcasts listed below? A word of caution: While not graphic, they are detailed and the subject matter could be very upsetting to your kids. Each one is under 30 minutes.

Will you visit and find out how you can help prevent, restore, and bring justice?

Our ignorance and apathy is their grave danger. Our insistence that our child would know better than to be tricked like the girl from the small town café or the foolishness of thinking it only happens to girls already broken in some way could put them at risk.

As followers of Jesus empowered by the Holy Spirit to do good works to His glory, at whatever level we can, let us be His hands and feet to rescue and redeem trafficking victims. Jesus proclaimed, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).

As His ambassadors, this is our business. Jesus assures us in John 14:12 that “he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”

It’s our job. Will we go, or will we be stirred but not changed; moved emotionally but physically unresponsive?

Lord, I’m the queen of good intentions derailed by a self-seeking heart. Move us to action according to Your will! Use us as You desire as we become more wholly Yours today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, June 13, 2013

10 Tips to Soothe Suffering

“Why would anyone say that to me?” Eyes pleading, perplexed and full of pain, friends facing extremely difficult circumstances and/or loss have posed this question to me after a well-meaning person added insult to injury with words meant to comfort. I’m not sure they even expected me to answer as much as they just couldn’t believe someone would utter something so insensitive.

To try and answer this “Why?” would be as unproductive as trying to answer the “Why?” of whatever has them in a vulnerable, grieving place in the first place. So what do we say when someone is suffering? How do we avoid inappropriate incidents where we think we’re doing good, but we end up wounding someone who’s already hurting?

Job has something to say about this: “Oh that you would be silent and it would be your wisdom!” (Job 13:5).

Sometimes saying nothing is the wisest thing we can say! As we saw in Isaiah 55:8-9, we simply don’t and can’t know the ways and thoughts of God. Our attempts to say the right thing might be met with Job’s sentiments: “Miserable comforters are you all!” (Job 16:2).

So how can we soothe the suffering?

1.       Pray first, and be led by the Holy Spirit in all we say and do. Ask the Holy Spirit to show us their needs and to give us comforting words that will relieve their grief.
2.       Sometimes, it’s best to say nothing at all; just be there. As a picture is worth a thousand words, our silent presence can be, too. 
3.       Listen. Let them talk, and don’t try to have the answers. 
4.       Don’t strive to say the right thing, simply tell them we love them and that we’re here if they need us. Proverbs 10:19 counsels, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”  
5.       As the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” Take food, look for ways to physically help and serve them. Clean their house, watch their kids, run their errands. Do whatever we can to ease other burdens so they have time and strength to grieve. 
6.       Pray for them. Ask permission to pray for them when we’re with them, and pray without ceasing when we’re not. We can even write our prayers to them in a card, email, or text. Pray scripture over them and their situation. Pray with understanding and with the spirit. 
7.       ALWAYS point them to the cross, to the comforter Himself. To the source of peace that passes understanding. To our eternal hope. 
8.       Share God’s words of comfort. Assure them that as they place their faith entirely in Jesus, staying their minds on Him, He will give them perfect peace. He will not leave or forsake them. He is all-present, all-knowing, all-powerful, and in control. Encourage them to trust in Him, even in the midst of their suffering, that He is faithful, good, trustworthy, and always the only answer. Faith doesn’t always change our circumstances or bring about our desired result, but faith always is the answer in our circumstances, trusting Him to carry us through. 
9.       Be extremely discerning and sensitive (see number one). The right words at the wrong time might have disastrous results, whereas those same words spoken at the right time can be exactly what a person needs to hear. Someone who just lost a parent, spouse, or child might not respond well to sincere encouragement that God will work even that to good. It is true, and I have turned to that promise more times than I can count, but in the freshness of a grave loss, those words may be met with bitterness rather than relief. 
10.   Some of what we say may depend on whether we’ve walked in their shoes. Words spoken by someone who has been through the exact same circumstances might be received differently than the same words spoken by someone who has no idea what they’re experiencing.
In the last chapter of Job, the Lord commands Job's friends to go to Job and offer up for themselves a burnt offering. He tells them Job will pray for them, explaining, "For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has (verse 8).

All the things they accused Job of, calling him a hypocrite and insisting he deserved his suffering, and now he has to pray for them that their offering will be acceptable to the Lord?!?! Don’t you know that required forgiveness?!?!

Yet, after Job was obedient in this, “the Lord restored Job’s losses…Indeed, the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before…the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (verses 10-12).

No matter what stupid, insensitive, or prideful things someone says to us in our suffering, we must forgive. We must not question our faith just because someone else does. We must pray for those people. And let us remain humble in Christ and guard against pride and stupidity in the things we say, always erring to the side of saying too little versus saying too much.

Lord, help us to know what to say and when to say it, surrendering our opinions and lips as we become more wholly Yours today.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Agony of Victory

Questioning naturally follows suffering. “Why?” almost always comes first. Sometimes God answers us specifically, sometimes we find comfort in the possible explanations scripture offers (see "What Could Possibly Explain...?"), and sometimes we’ll never know. So the question then becomes, “What?” Or even “How?”

What do we do? How do we go on when we feel like we’re living Job’s story? What did he do as he endured devastation after devastation?

Let it be said of us what is said of Job, “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong” (Job 1:22).

When his wife challenges him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9), Job responds, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). When we receive the free gift of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven; we’re made right before God and given new life here on earth and for eternity. We can’t just take the good, and then doubt and curse Him when tragedy strikes.

Let it be said of us, even in our suffering, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10).

It’s natural to question. It’s natural to falter in our faith in ourselves, in mankind, in this world, in a particular outcome, and in our ability to get through anything in life on our own. What must remain steady no matter what is our faith in Him.

Let it be said of us that we never wavered in our faith in the power of God (I Corinthians 2:5).

God is God. Nothing will ever change that. Job accepts this truth and knows He has a right to do whatever He wants as he rhetorically asks, “Who can say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’” (Job 9:12). “For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both” (9:32-33).

Let it be said of us that we have already settled in our hearts, even in our suffering, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).

In Job 19:25-27, Job reveals his hope, the reason he can respond as he does, and it’s our hope, too: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

Let it be said of us, as we see in Job, that our view of the earthly is heavenly. Like Moses, who by faith chose “to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).

Job, Moses, and other Hebrews 11 giants of faith all have an eternal perspective on their temporal circumstances. It’s all about God and not about us. Are we willing that He be God no matter what that means for us? Our answer will determine the attitude of our hearts and our response when we’re suffering.

Let it be said of us that we determined in our hearts what Job determined in his:

As God lives, who has taken away my justice, and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter, as long as my breath is in me, and the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit…till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go; my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live (Job 27:2-6).

As Hebrews 12:1-3 puts it, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”

Like Jesus, we can cry out to the Father in our gut-wrenching agony, but let us never lose our faith, for “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him,” even when we’re suffering. This is the agony of victory.

As my pastor succinctly summed it up Sunday: “By faith is hard. Not by faith is harder.”

Lord, increase our faith even in adversity and give us whatever we need to stand firm in You. Help us to overcome any unbelief and to believe that You are and You are a rewarder of those who diligently seek You.

Shauna Wallace
Holy His