Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Our Broken Justice System

When criminals are brought before judges for sentencing, judges should weigh factors including the severity of the crime, public safety, losses to the victim and a defendant’s efforts to change. But all too often judges hand down light sentences to repeat offenders who often go on to commit even more violent crimes. It has become even more common for judges to hand down probation to those convicted of child sexual abuse.

Our Broken Court System

In June of 2013 an 11 year old girl had been sexually abused by her then step-father. (A third degree Felony) He was later arrested and held on a $250,000.00 bond. Even though a great many pages of documents were submitted to Sarpy County Judge Zastera proving that this man had been physically and emotionally abusive to his children and wife for more than 10 years before he was arrested for child sexual abuse, the judge allowed him to plead guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor sexual assault, and only sentenced him to two years probation and required him to register as a sex offender! 

Although Judge Zastera required him to have no contact with his step-daughter, he did allow him to live with his three other biological children. Only ten days after he was released on probation, he was arrested again in Plattsmouth, Nebraska after throwing his then 8 year old daughter across a room and into a wall. The father was later transferred to the Sarpy County jail for violating his probation—after police discovered weapons, drugs, alcohol and pornography in his possession. But he was never charged for abusing his biological daughter! He was then sentenced to less than three months in the Sarpy County jail and then allowed to leave the state; where is allowed to abuse others there.

Judge Zastera has since retired from the bench, but now works as a defense attorney for other sex offenders.

Our Broken Welfare System

Many may ask, “Why didn’t the mother just take her kids and leave?” Many times women who live with an abusive partner don’t leave with the children out of fear of retribution from their partner. Some have even had their abusive partner threaten to kill them and their children if they ever left.

But rather than providing therapy and help for these children and their mother, who all suffer from years of abuse, the children are removed from the home and placed in foster care where they are refused contact with their mother and many times placed in separate foster homes.

In the meantime, the mother suffers even more mental anguish from being separated from her children and may begin to self medicate with drugs or alcohol. This causes CPS to flag the mother as potentially unfit and the children could be removed from her care several times. 

A typical CPS victim family is living below poverty level. Their main concerns have been to take care of their children and make enough money to pay bills each month. They don’t know what the US Constitution says and have never studied laws about child welfare, thus, they are no match for child welfare social workers whose work-life revolves around court cases and separation of children from their families. So long as families are kept confused and “in the dark” about what’s going on, the social workers have a great advantage over them when they go to court.

There has been a great outcry against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for separating young children from their mothers after crossing our borders illegally. Many are calling it inhumane and demanding the dismantling of ICE because of it.  But where is the outrage against Child Protective Services (CPS) and the hundreds of thousands (Yes, thousands) of children separated from their mothers and siblings? 

In 2016, over 687,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care. In June of 2017, the child welfare system in Nebraska had 4,123 children in foster care. And the numbers keep rising. But instead of being safely reunified with their families, many of these children will languish for years in foster homes or institutions. Nebraska historically has removed children at one of the highest rates in the nation. 

Recently the Omaha World Herald reported that state auditors are calling into question more than $26 million worth of Nebraska child welfare spending from last year. The audit also discovered that a state ward was placed in the home of a foster parent whose son was the ward’s boyfriend—even though the boyfriend was convicted of sexual assault in 2011!

HHS agreed that with the auditors that some matters needed correcting, but disputed key findings in the audit. Isn’t placing a child in the home of someone convicted of sexual assault a key finding? 

Foster Care And Minority Children

Racial and ethnic minority children are overrepresented in the number of children in foster care. African American children, Native American children, and children of two or more racial backgrounds are more likely to be in foster care. Even more striking, the time spent in foster care increases for minority children with two or more racial backgrounds. This is a troubling and complex situation.

The Foster Care Review Office data on DHHS wards indicate that minority children are also more likely to be separated from their siblings during their time in care. This is particularly true for African American children and Native American children. But once children are in the foster care system, there is little variation in well-being by race. Many children of all races struggle with a variety of issues related to being in foster care. 

National research shows that children who experience four or more changes in placement are likely to suffer permanent damage from the instability and trauma of broken attachments.

The American child welfare systems is badly broken—and the children are the ones who suffer serious harm as a result. Some will be separated from their siblings. Others will be bounced from one foster home to another, never knowing when their lives will be uprooted next. Too many will be further abused in systems that are supposed to protect them.

Caseworker turnover produces another source of instability. Among the Nebraska cases reviewed, 16.8 percent of children had five or more caseworkers while in their latest episode of foster care. An additional 36.8 percent had three or four caseworkers! 

So it’s no wonder so many children fall through the cracks! It was reported that at least 50 Nebraska children—some as young as 4 years old—have suffered from sexual abuse while in the state’s care. And that’s just in the first 4 months of this year! 

For-Profit Foster Care

For-profit foster care homes were originally created to replace government-funded foster homes. For-profit programs are generally revered because they can cut the corners and costs that public systems can’t. But those corners are generally very important and critical for the wellbeing of children. And when corners are cut, it generally means that those who are supposed to care and provide for children are under qualified, not background-checked, and occasionally criminal. In 2013, the LA Times reported that children living in private, for-profit foster care are 33 percent more likely to experience abuse—be it physical, sexual or emotional.

The Omaha World Herald reported that for five years Nebraska has tried privatized foster care; and it has been a terrible failure. A study compared results achieved by state child welfare workers and by the Nebraska Families Collaborative, the private agency that manages child welfare cases in the Omaha area. It found no cost savings and no significant difference—either positive or negative—in outcomes for children and families. “Privatization promised better outcomes at a lower cost, and that has not happened,” the authors wrote in their report. “It was, perhaps, a worthy experiment, but it has failed.” And yet the Nebraska State Legislature continues to be unable to reach a common sense solution for the child welfare problem in our state.

What does the Bible say about this?

The Bible does not specifically use the term child abuse. What the Bible does tell us is this: children have a special place in God’s heart and anyone who harms a child is inviting God’s wrath upon himself. When Jesus’ disciples tried to keep children from coming to Jesus, he rebuked them and welcomed the children to his side, saying, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mark 10:14) Then Jesus took the children in His arms and blessed them. (verse 16) The Bible promotes child blessing—not child abuse.

Children are abused and mistreated in several different ways, all of which are abhorrent to God. The Bible prohibits child abuse in its warnings against improper treatment. Though healthy forms of discipline are biblically acceptable, such discipline should never be administered as physical punishment. There is no place for uncontrolled anger when dealing with children.

The Bible also prohibits child sexual abuse in its condemnation of sexual sin. Sexual abuse or molestation is particularly devastating, and warnings against sexual sin abound in Scripture. To force sexual acts upon a child is a horrible, evil offense. 

In addition to committing a sexual sin, the perpetrator is also attacking the innocence of one of the world’s most vulnerable persons. Sexual abuse violates everything about a person from his or her understanding of self to physical boundaries to spiritual connection with God. In a child, these things are so barely established that they are often altered for life and without appropriate help, may not ever heal.

Another way the Bible prohibits child abuse is in its forbidding of psychological and emotional abuse. Ephesians 6:4 warns fathers not to “exasperate” or provoke their children but to bring them up in the “training and instruction of the Lord.” Harsh, unloving verbal discipline, emotional manipulation, or volatile environments alienate children’s minds from their parents and render their instruction and correction useless. 

It has been well documented that many foster parents provoke and exasperate their foster children by placing unreasonable requirements on them, belittling them, or constantly finding fault, thereby producing wounds that can be as bad as or worse than any physical beating can inflict. Colossians 3:21 tells us not to “embitter” our children so they will not become discouraged. Ephesians 4:15–19 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up, not allow destructive words to pour from our lips—especially toward the tender hearts and minds of children. Child abuse in any form is evil. 

We are told that if we witness injustice that we are to write to our senators and other lawmakers to make our voice heard. In the past I have written to over 20 state senators pleading with them to do something to protect our children from predators that they are forced to live with—either in their own homes or in foster care—by placing restrictions on those who have been convicted of child sexual abuse. Currently, Nebraska has no restrictions on sex offenders of any kind, so being required to register as a sex offender means nothing. The few who responded: Governor Pete Ricketts, Senators Patty Pansing Brooks, Brett Lindstrom, John McCollister, and Sara Howard, told me that there was nothing they could do.

Nothing they can do? According to the Nebraska Legislature website, a senator is called, among other things to: “…right injustices involving the public; establish state policy by introducing bills to create new programs, modify existing programs, and repeal laws which are no longer needed; study problems between sessions and determine whether legislative solutions are needed to correct them…”

 CPS, the court system, the broken foster care system and lawmakers who refuse to protect our children and allow them to receive justice are just as guilty as the one who abuse them. Jesus said, “…But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)

But it’s not just CPS, the court system, the broken foster care system and lawmakers that are to blame. Anyone who has witnessed, or know of a child being abused and does nothing are as guilty as those in the broken foster care system who refuse to protect our children. “If someone sins by failing to testify when he hears a public charge about something he has witnessed, whether he has seen it or learned of it, he shall bear the iniquity.” (Leviticus 5:1) 

God’s Justice

The Bible is very clear about refusing to report the crime of child abuse: “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4) “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this’, does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? (Proverbs 24:11-12)

Today, Jesus might well say, “I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not welcome me; afraid, abused and in foster care and you did not visit me. Truly, I say to you, when you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” 

The Bible reveals that all of mankind’s systems of government will one day be wiped away. This will happen at the return of Jesus the Messiah, which is detailed throughout God’s Word.  “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.” (Dan. 2:44) See also: Revelations 11:15; Obadiah 1:21; Zechariah 14:9

Unlike our current government system, the kingdom of God will not be “left to another people”.  It will not be based upon the ideas of man. This government—the kingdom of God—will be built upon God’s Law, which will be administered perfectly. This newly established kingdom will solve mankind’s most persistent problems, which stem from its flawed systems and governments. But until that day comes, we have an obligation to be a voice for those who are afraid to speak. 

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Many modern day Christians are taught to believe that the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel divorced themselves from Jerusalem and gave up their observance of the Sabbath and God’s Feast Days and that they became virtual pagans in belief. 

They also believe that the Christian Church became “spiritual Israel” after God rejected physical Israel for its sins against Him and that Jesus’ death and resurrection put an end to our observance of God’s Mosaic Laws. 

The simple truth is, the northern ten tribes of Israel were never actually lost. The New Testament itself shows that the location of the ten tribes of Israel were well known to Jesus and the apostles in the first century. 

Let’s start with the writings of James, the son of Joseph and Mary who was born after the birth of Jesus. James knew exactly where the members of all the twelve tribes of Israel were in the first century and he addressed his letter to them. He writes in James 1:1, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the TWELVE TRIBES SCATTERED ABROAD, greetings.” (Emphasis mine)

The apostle Peter also knew the location of the twelve tribes of Israel: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the elect, exiles of the Dispersion throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…” (1 Peter 1:1) 

The contents of James’ letter is directed at the “twelve tribes scattered abroad”, not just the tribe of Judah. (The Jews) James’ letters were most likely read in the synagogues where many of them attended on the seventh day Sabbath. In fact, in James 2:2 the word “assembly” in the King James Version is actually “synagogue,” the official meeting place that the Hebrews, Jews and non-Jews alike, attended throughout the world. The KJV should have translated it that way. 

James did not have to point out the importance of observing Sabbath, and celebrating God’s Feast Days because they were already observing them! They were familiar with all of the Psalms of the Old Testament (James 5:13); they knew what the technical Hebrew term “Lord of Sabbath” meant (James 5:4); and they were completely knowledgeable of all the teachings of the Old Testament prophets. (James 5:10) 

Indeed, so familiar were these twelve tribes with “the Scripture” (that is, the Old Testament) that James simply referred to the Holy Scripture as authority without once having to define it to those tribes who were scattered away from Jerusalem. (James 2:8) In fact, many of them had become “teachers” or”masters” in matters concerning the Scriptures. (James 3:1) Interestingly, many modern translations have changed James 5:13 to read sing “praises” instead of Psalms. And changed James 5:4 from “Lord of the Sabbath”, to “Lord of Hosts”. I wonder why?

In Peter’s letter he writes: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” Does this sound like he was writing to a group of pagans who gave up their observance of God’s commandments?

Many point to the apostle Paul and his writings as proof that God rejected Israel and replaced them with the Gentiles. First we need to realize that the word “gentile” is a misinterpretation of the word, “goyim” which simply means non-Jew. You see, all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews.

The primary reason that Paul chose to leave Jerusalem and go and preach to the Gentiles (non-Jews) is because the Jews, out of jealousy, rejected Paul’s teaching. (Acts 13:45-46)

Concerning the Church in Rome Paul writes, ”For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:3-4) Many Christians today misinterpret this verse to mean that Christ ended the law. But that is not what Paul wrote. He wrote that “Christ is THE END of the law” not that Christ ENDED the law.

As clear as Paul could make it, he stated that “Israel” (that is, representatives of all twelve tribes) were in the first century trying to establish their own righteousness by obedience to the Law of Moses. In no way does this describe Pagan sun-god worshippers. All of Romans chapters nine, ten and eleven concerns this very matter of Israel’s attachment to the Law of Moses for their salvation. Paul and all the apostles made extra effort to teach that salvation only comes by faith alone in Messiah.

The fact is, both the apostle Peter and James (heads of the Jerusalem Church) were well aware of exactly where the peoples of the northern ten tribes of Israel were then located. They were then living north and east of Jerusalem. We have the precise statements of Josephus (the Jewish priest and historian of the first century) that the Northern Ten Tribes were in no way lost. “There are two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while until now there have been ten tribes beyond the Euphrates who number into the countless myriads whose number cannot be ascertained.” (Antiquities XI. 133)

One of the primary prophetic teachings concerning the fate of the northern ten tribes of Israel is the fact that they would become “wanderers among the nations.” (Hosea 9:17) Amos said the same thing. “For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” (Amos 9:9)

There is also other prophecies concerning the tribes of Israel. God told Abraham that he would be a father of many nations. (Genesis 17:1-6) And Jacob was told that his descendants would be as numerous as the grains of dust on the earth and that they would expand to the west, east, north and south. (Genesis 28:14-15) These prophecies speak of multiple generations and seeds, not the single seed of Messiah. The tribe of Judah (the Jews) have never been more than one nation.

So where exactly did the ten tribes go? Egypt, Asia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Greece and most of Europe. So if your ancestors originate from any of those places I can almost guarantee that you are a descendant of one of the ten tribes of Israel. Proof of this can be found in Old Testament prophecies and historical documents. This should place a new perspective on God’s commandments and His Feast Days for you. 

In Jeremiah 1:10 God commissions Jeremiah to “…uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and plant.” Judah’s throne was overthrown and destroyed during the Babylonian captivity in 585 BC. Israel was planted and built up. But not in Babylon. Jeremiah was allowed to leave Babylon with King Zedekiah’s daughters. You see, in the Babylonian mind, women could not inherit the throne.

So where did Jeremiah and the king’s daughters travel to? North and west of Palestine. Which today would be the British Isles, Ireland and Scotland. The tribe of Dan always named cities they conquered after themselves. (Judges 18:11-12; Joshua 19:47) The annals of Irish history tells of a strong colony called Tautha de Danaans (Tribe of Dan) who arrived in ships around 700 BC and drove out others who settled there. 

Cities in Ireland: 

DANslaugh, DANsower,  DUNglow and DUNsmore. Dunn in Irish means judge—the same as Dan in Hebrew. Scotland also has cities beginning with Dun.

(For more information on Jeremiah and his trip to Ireland see https://www.cbcg.org/booklets/america-britain/chapter-twelve-the-prophet-jeremiah-s-mysterious-royal-commission.html)

Even before the Old Covenant was ratified and before he scaled Mount Sinai to receive the Law from God, Moses was instructed about Passover and the first Feast—The Feast of Unleavened Bread. God told Moses, “Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.“ (See Exodus 12:12-17) In Lev. 23:2 God leaves us with no doubt as to whom these observances belong. They are God’s Feasts—not Israel’s; and not the Jews’. 

Obeying God’s commandments and observing His Feast Days has nothing to do with salvation. We cannot make God love us more if we obey Him, and He will not love us any less if we don’t. But BECAUSE we love God we obey His commandments.

“By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:2-3)

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

“By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments.” (1 John 2:3)

When my children were small they obeyed my rules. Not because they thought I would love them more if they obeyed me, or feared that I would love them less if they disobeyed. But BECAUSE they loved me, they obeyed my rules.

Human tradition stops many of us from obeying God’s commandments and observing God’s feasts. We read in Isaiah 29:13-14: “These people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is but rules taught by men. Therefore I will again confound these people with wonder upon wonder. The wisdom of the wise will perish, and the intelligence of the intelligent will be hidden.” Sound familiar? Jesus quoted that same Scripture to the Pharisees in Matthew 15:8-9.

Many Christians today have been taught that we unable to keep God’s commandments. That is why Jesus had to die for us. No! Jesus had to die for us because we carried in us the condemnation of original sin. And Jesus was made to be the sacrifice for that sin. If we are unable to keep God’s commandments, why then did God say in Deuteronomy 30:11-14, “For this commandment which I command you today is not mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, `Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, `Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that YOU MAY DO IT.” (Emphasis mine) Why would God command us to do something that He knew we were incapable of doing? He wouldn’t.

 

Yes, many of us have fallen into temptation, but that is different from knowingly and purposely disobeying God’s commandments. The apostle Paul explains that the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good. God’s laws are not the problem; WE are the problem. And trusting in Jesus is our only solution.

“Once I was alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. So I discovered that the very commandment that was meant to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing its opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good…So this is the principle I have discovered: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s Law. But I see another law at work in my body, warring against the law of my mind and holding me captive to the law of sin that dwells within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:9-25)

Shavuot is a little known holiday among Christians today. It is ironic to me, since it commemorates the single most important event in Judeo-Christian history—the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. And in the 3,300 years since, the Torah’s ideals—monotheism, justice, responsibility—have become the moral basis for Western civilization.

Shavuot (Hebrew for “Weeks”) occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (late May or early June). Shavuot commemorates the early harvest in the land of Israel. (See Leviticus 23:9-16 and Deuteronomy 16:9-11) It is one of the three biblical pilgrimage festivals. It also commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai.

Since Shavuot occurs 50 days (7 weeks) after the first day of Passover, it is sometimes known in Christian circles as “Pentecost,” a Greek word meaning “50 days.” Shavuot, however, has no connection to the Christian Pentecost holiday.

Many people today are taught that after leaving Egypt on the day of the Passover, only Jews traveled into the Sinai desert. And there, God spoke to the entire Jewish nation and  instructed them to keep the Ten Commandments He inscribed on the stone tablets. (See Deuteronomy 4:1-14) So they mistakenly assume that all of the feasts mentioned in the Old Testament are meant only for Jews. But what most Christians fail to understand is that when the Hebrews left Egypt they were also joined by non-Hebrew people. We read in Exodus 12:38 that a “mixed multitude” went with them. Some perhaps, willing to leave their country after it was laid waste by plagues; others, out of curiosity; perhaps a few out of love for the Hebrews and their religion. And the same laws applied both to the native-born Hebrew and to the foreigner. (verse 49) Also, the Bible never refers to the feasts as Jewish feasts, but the “Feasts of the Lord”. (See Leviticus 23:2, 4, 37, 44; 2 Chronicles 2:4; Ezra 3:5)

How to Celebrate Shavuot

In biblical times, Shavuot was tied to the agricultural calendar. It originally celebrated the first fruits of the wheat harvest seven weeks after Passover (Leviticus 23:15-16). Counting the omer between the holidays added an element of anticipation of looking forward to Shavuot and a bountiful harvest. On this pilgrimage feast, Israelites traveled to Jerusalem to offer the first portion of their crops to the Lord in thanksgiving for His provision of food.

Celebrating the Spiritual Harvest

But Shavuot is more than the celebration of the first fruits of a physical harvest. Today, we observe it as the first fruits of a spiritual harvest. On the first Shavuot after Jesus’s death and resurrection, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit that enabled them to speak so that many people in attendance heard their words in their native tongue! Many who heard these messages in their own languages were amazed, though others thought the disciples were just drunk. (Acts 2:12)

Peter went on to explain that Jesus had been raised from the dead and God had poured out His Spirit in fulfillment of His promise through Joel 2:32-33. When the crowd asked what they should do, Peter urged them to turn their lives around and be baptized in the name of Jesus. Then they would be forgiven and would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37-39) About 3,000 people were added to the church that same day!

Just as Jesus promised, God sent His Spirit on that Shavuot to enable His people to be witnesses for Him: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Anticipating the Future Harvest

Thus, Shavuot is a reminder that we are living in anticipation of a harvest that is yet to come when people from every nation will be gathered into God’s Kingdom. Until that final harvest time, God expects us to be His witnesses to Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection to all peoples and nations. And He has empowered us for this task. How we celebrate Shavuot can impact the size of that future harvest as we obey God’s commandments and share the gospel to all peoples, nations and tongues.

Over the years I have written songs with lyricist Tom White, who is also my longtime friend and brother in Christ. Even though we are now miles apart we still collaborate on songs through the internet. He recently sent me lyrics to use in a song. I will be working on the music in the coming days, but the words are so intensely descriptive that I couldn’t wait to share them with you.

These Hands by Tom White

They reached down to pick her up, dry her tears then tenderly lifted her off the ground/They brushed off her clothes so gently and then lovingly placed her on the Merry go round/They offer her some ice cream or some candy, a vile threat presented as a special treat/ Warning her that if she shares this secret with anyone she’ll get hurt and end up alone on the street

And those hands—hands that are meant to protect are used to abuse, to injure, and neglect/And those hands—hands that are meant to defend/They rush to crush life to bring about its end/Who will protect the innocent? Who will raise their voice for the silent one? Who will, without fail, shine a light to expose the unspeakable things in shadows done?

Forty five minutes off the bus she finds the streets are cruel/She ran from the prison called home to find more of the same/Her body becomes a token used over and over again by men and women too many to name/She cries out to God for mercy, hoping against hope Where the thought of escape becomes a nightly dream/But each day she’s bought and sold like a piece of meat/And all she can do is silently scream

And those hands—hands that are meant to protect/Are used to abuse, to injure, and neglect/And those hands—hands that are meant to defend/They rush to crush life to bring about its end/Who will protect the innocent? Who will raise their voice for the silent one? Who will, without fail, shine a light to expose the unspeakable things in shadows done?

Your life goes on while children are defiled/The sex traffic lights are all blinking green/If you ignore it soon enough it should go away/Then the problem will be unheard, unknown and unseen/But Christ hears the cries of the least of these/And calls us to be his voice, his hands and feet/To live outside the stained glass windows/So that we, like him, can hear the cries from the street

So that hands—our hands, can truly protect/We can lift up and encourage and deflect/Yes those hands—your hands, can defend/ Like a shepherd, like a brother, like a friend/Protecting the innocent starts with you/Raise your voice and speak up for the silent one/Shine a light so bright that it will expose/The unspeakable things in shadows done

According to a 2012 CDC report, child abuse and neglect cost the United States over $124 billion a year! https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2012/p0201_child_abuse.html

1 out of 5 children are abused, molested or raped every day—Many in their own homes! The prevalence of child sexual abuse is difficult to determine because many times it is not reported. Experts agree that the incidence is far greater than what is reported to authorities. And even when it is reported and the perpetrators are charged, most judges only sentence them to probation and require them to register as a sex offender.

Although many people depend on the Sex Offender Registration law to keep children safe, this is a common misperception.The SOR law in many states does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restrict an offender from entering facilities—such as schools, playgrounds, children’s museums, or refrain from living with or socializing with children.The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

Knowing all of this, why is not more being done to prevent this heinous crime? Because in most cases, it does not personally affect people—Not the police officer who was just doing his job; not the attorneys who agreed to plea deals for the perpetrators; and not the judge who only sentence them to probation; and not many who are reading this right now.

At times it seems that people are more outraged about animal abuse than they are about child abuse! Unfortunately, when a child is sexually abused there is no one on TV pleading with the community to help these children. No commercials that tug at our heart strings, showing images of sad children who have been abused and pleading for us to send in a donation of $19.00 a month to fight child sexual abuse. Sexually abused children don’t have anyone to speak out for them. So we must be the ones who speak out for them—and the thousands of other young girls and boys who are victims of this horrific crime.

People at one time or another have spoken about following “the golden rule”. Many of those people do not even realize that the golden rule comes directly from the Bible: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 )

So what exactly do the Law and the Prophets teach?

“…Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:4)

“Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)

“If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible.” (Leviticus 5:1 NIV)

“Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:16 NIV)

“Do not place a stumbling block before the blind.” (Leviticus 19:14) This includes the obligation to warn someone from a danger that we are aware of. If you know of someone who is planning to kill people, you are obligated to warn authorities. If we are aware of a sexual predator, we must do everything possible to protect children from him.

Jesus also said, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

It is our obligation as parents, teachers, writers, legislators, or just plain adult citizens to protect innocent children from these criminal predators. Abuse, whether physical, psychological, emotional or sexual, is a violent crime. Sexually abusing a defenseless child is no different than beating them to cause bodily harm. And because of its terrible long-term effects, child sexual abuse could be much worse.

Child sexual abuse has reached epidemic proportions and must be addressed and brought to the attention of the public to make everyone aware of the dangers, the long-term consequences and the zero-tolerance policy that needs to be applied to every form of child abuse.

Many reading this may say, “But I’m just one person. What can I do?”

Talk to others

Start by having an honest conversation with friends, neighbors and family members about child sexual abuse. If you are certain that there has never been a child molester or a molested child among your friends or family, you’re probably wrong. In spite of the millions of victims in our families, many people stick to their mistaken belief that child molestation has nothing to do with them. To help prevent child molestation from happening to the children closest to you, begin by telling others the basic facts. The less people know, the more they want to pretend that today’s estimated three million sexually abused children don’t exist. By telling the people closest to you the facts, you can help those same people become strong adult protectors of the children closest to you.

Write to your legislators 

Although most legislators pay little or no attention to laws pertaining to sexual child abuse, if enough people would write to their senators and lawmakers, they would be forced to consider the issue.

If you see something, say something

If you suspect a child is being abused or see a situation in which a child is vulnerable, it is your responsibility to inform authorities—even if you are in front of others, or in a public setting. Many States have a toll-free number to call to report suspected child abuse or neglect. To find out where to call, consult the Information Gateway publication, State Child Abuse Reporting Numbers.

Talk to your children 

Have age appropriate, open conversations about our bodies, sex, and boundaries. Teach them that it is “against the rules” for adults to act in a sexual way with them, and use examples. Be sure to mention that the abuser might be an adult friend, family member, or older youth. If a child seems uncomfortable, or resistant to being with a particular adult, ask why. Starting these type of conversations early gives children a foundation for understanding and developing healthy relationships. It also teaches them that they have the right to say “no.”

If we do nothing to protect vulnerable children from sexual abuse, we are just as responsible as the perpetrators who commit these heinous acts.

For more resources visit:

http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.6035035/k.8258/Prevent_Child_Sexual_Abuse.htm#.WH-BSrGZPVo

https://www.childhelp.org

http://justiceforchildren.org

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

Scream! Kick! Run!

That’s what kids are taught to do when confronted with a stranger trying to harm them. But the advice to “scream, kick and run” doesn’t work with a step-parent or Good ol’ Uncle Joe. It is not the responsibility of children to defend themselves against adults. Adults need to step up and be protectors for children.

Ask nearly anyone and they will say that they would speak up if they thought a child was being sexually abused. Almost no one believes they would knowingly allow harmful sexual behavior to continue if they knew for sure that it was going on. And yet, millions of children continue to suffer from sexual abuse in their own homes. Many of them believe, correctly, that someone else knows, or should know, about their situation. But then little or nothing is done to protect them. Some children tell adults what’s going on; seeking protection and help, only to be met with disbelief, denial, blame, or even punishment.

Approximately 90% of children who are sexually victimized are abused by someone known to the child or the child’s family. Step-parents, family friends, relatives and persons in positions of authority over the child are more likely than strangers to commit  sexual assaults against the child. In fact, a child who lives with someone other than their biological parent is 33 times more likely to suffer from child sexual abuse than a child who lives with biological parents.

One in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.

These numbers may be even higher because many child sexual abuse victims never disclose their abuse to anyone. Less than 12% of child sexual abuse is ever reported to the police. The average age for first time sexual abuse is 9 years old!

Imagine for a moment that you’re the child who has been sexually abused by someone in the safety of your own home—In your own bedroom! You may feel doubly betrayed by someone’s failure to help. You were in danger, they could have protected you but they chose not to. And to make matters worse, when you speak up to the one person that you trusted to tell, they refuse to believe you or actually blame you! No excuses or rationalizations for their failure would seem acceptable.

Would you feel more anger toward a non-abusive adult who didn’t speak up or toward the person who actually abused you? You may have expected the worst from the abuser, who was clearly deeply disturbed and had little or no concern for you, but you expected better from someone who was supposed to be caring, loving and worthy of trust. And this anger may last for decades.

There are over 805,000 sex offenders living free in the united states today. Texas and California has the most with over 80,000 followed by Florida with nearly 70,000. You can check your own state HERE.

The crime of silence in the Church

The statistics of child sexual abuse are startling to say the least. But what makes this even more heartbreaking is that these statistics aren’t much different in the Church. The apostle Paul spoke against this type of sin to the Corinthian Church: “I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do.” (See 1 Corinthians 5:1-5) He went on to rebuke them for not doing anything about it.

Many in the Church today are guilty of the same thing. But what is even more repugnant is when child sexual abuse is discovered within a church member’s home and many decide to hide it within the walls of their church rather than report it to the police. This is not only ludicrous and unbiblical, it is against the law!

In Romans 13, the Apostle Paul teaches that believers are to be subject to the civil authorities. “For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong.” (Romans 13:1-4) Child sexual abuse has been deemed to be criminal by the civil authorities deserving just punishment. Child sexual abuse should be a matter of public alarm. Not only because of the long term psychological problems it causes for the child, but also because of the ripple effect it causes in countless of lives.

While the right to silence is a right we have in order to guard against self-incrimination, a witness of a crime who doesn’t stand up and testify on behalf of the victim of a crime is held as an accomplice in the crime. (Leviticus 5: 1)

Abuse flourishes when adults do not take responsibility for protecting children. Many Christians would rather avoid this difficult topic, and so they do not understand how abusers operate. Abusers almost always go out of their way to appear trustworthy. They are master manipulators. They disarm with a facade of generosity and kindness. With the Bible so readily available to us, we in the Church should be least likely to fall prey to this, but sadly we do.

So what do we do?

First, adults must own up to the problem of child sexual abuse and accept responsibility for protecting children in their care.

Secondly, we must report suspected child sexual abuse to the civil authorities. Child sexual abuse is a crime, and in many states an adult’s failure to report a reasonable suspicion of abuse is also a crime. Serious crimes should not be addressed with church discipline alone, and there are few crimes worse than child rape and molestation.

Sadly, even when perpetrators are arrested and charged with child sexual abuse, many times they are allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge and most judges only sentence them to probation and register as a sex offender.

Sadly, the Sex Offender Registration law in many states does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders.This is a common misperception.The SOR law also does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from entering schools, playgrounds, children’s museums, daycare centers or refrain from living with or socializing with children or other vulnerable persons.The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time. Period!

You can be a voice for victims of child sexual abuse by writing to your senators. Last year I wrote to the Governor of Nebraska and 18 senators, voicing my concern about sexual child abuse and the SOR law. All of them ignored me. So I wrote to two more senators. There are now a few senators that drafted a bill that will do more to protect children from sexual predators. They plan to bring it to the senate floor during the next session. It’s not all that I wanted, but it’s a small step toward it.

I am just one person. Imagine what would happen if hundreds of you wrote the same kind of letters to your senators. Information on how to contact your senator is at: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

We must be willing to openly confront child sexual abuse and give of ourselves so that those impacted by it can experience the healing and transformative power of Jesus.

For decades, adults have put the burden on children to come forward if they are being abused. This status quo has failed. Because abusers spin a web of manipulation and lies around a child, children cannot protect themselves and rarely tell about abuse without another adult’s help. While teaching our kids about their bodies and sexual boundaries are vital, these actions alone cannot keep kids safe. Adults must take that burden off children. The antidote to child sexual abuse is faithful adults working together to create a safe environment for children.

For more information on what you and your church can do to protect children from sexual predators visit: http://byfaithonline.com/key-questions-about-child-sexual-abuse-in-the-church/

 

Update:

I recently received letters from Nebraska senators Sara Howard and Brett Lindstrom who are working to bring bills to the legislature that will provide more protection for child sex abuse victims. Brett Lindstrom has introduced bill LB60 to address custody issues and convicted sex offenders living in the homes of children. It mandates that the non-custodial parent receive written notification when a sex offender is residing with the children or is allowed unsupervised contact with the children. It also clarifies the standard judges must use when declaring their opinions to what is in the best interest of the children and that there is no significant risk to the children in doing so.

Sara Howard has created the Office of Inspector General specifically to provide independent oversight of the child welfare system. The recent report by the Inspector General discovered that at least 36 children in foster care had been sexually abused over the last three years. Sara Howard is on the Health and Human Services committee and will be working with the Inspector General on how to improve the system.

This is not everything I had hoped for, but it’s a good start. Just imagine what would happen if hundreds of people wrote to their senators.

Sin has just about wrecked this world of ours—And the Church is not immune to its effects. Just as Israel of old, we too, have forgotten God and replaced Him with our own golden calf. We have bowed down to the idols of humanism, secularism, and government control, and we have reaped the rewards of our actions.

It is probable that a great majority of church members in America today have few convictions against breaking any of God’s commandments. Child sexual abuse has become an epidemic, that the Church rarely speaks out against. (If they speak about it at all) Deception, robbery, and even sexual assaults have become all too common among Christians in both urban and suburban communities across our nation.

A very insidious doctrine has been developed in both Catholic and Protestant theology which has tended to minimize the authority of God’s commandments and moral precepts. It has led many to look lightly upon transgressions and has made sin to appear less objectionable. In fact, sin has become an acceptable mode of life for both youth and adults in the Church. How can this be? Especially among those who profess such high regard for the Bible, and a love for Christ?

This question becomes more significant when we consider the historical position of Christianity toward the Bible’s Ten Commandments. Almost all of the great denominations have confessed that they support the authority of the Ten Commandments, yet very subtle errors of interpretation have crept into the modern Church that has lead to the present state of confused loyalty toward God’s spiritual laws found in the Torah. (The first five books of the Bible) God’s spiritual laws are those that focus on moral precepts and thankfulness to God.

We need to look at God’s spiritual laws and their relation to God’s grace and salvation. It is so easy to accept the popular clichés concerning God’s laws and grace without searching out the biblical facts by which we will finally be judged. We must find authoritative scriptural answers to questions like these: In what sense are Christians free from the God’s law? What does it really mean to be under the law? Does God’s grace nullify God’s commandments? Can a Christian be justified when breaking any of God’s commandments because they are under grace?

We read in Romans that “the wages of sin is death”, (Romans 6:23 ) and that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) We might as well replace the word “all” with our own name. Because according to 1 John 3:4, “sin is the transgression of the law,” and we are all guilty. Whose law did we break? God’s law. The shocking truth is that we are all guilty and under the sentence of death! And and in God’s court there are no plea deals or appeals that can reverse the sentence!

In desperation, many search for a way to be justified in spite of fact that they have broken God’s law. How can the sentence of death be turned aside? Can we atone for our sins by obeying the commandments of God for the rest of our life? Paul gives the answer in language that no one can misinterpret: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” (Romans 3:20)

There is a logical reason why works will never justify us. A convicted murderer may serve 10, 20 or even 50 years in prison. But because of good behavior, the warden may reduce his sentence. Then soon after completing his sentence, he can try to justify himself, saying that he paid his debt to society. But his crime will still remain on his criminal record that will follow him for the rest of his life. But suppose his sentence is death instead of 50 years? Can the prisoner then hope for a reduced sentence because of good behavior? Never! Even if he should become a model prisoner for a hundred years, the law would still demand his death.

It is the same with us. We have broken God’s law and the sentence is death. And without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. (Hebrews 9:22) This is why good works can never justify us from the sentence of death. Only the shed blood of Christ can satisfy the sentence of death on us. (Romans 3:25)

Is the Law still binding?

Now we are brought to the question that has created confusion for multitudes of Christians: If the works of the law cannot save a person, is it therefore necessary to keep the law? Apparently this was a burning issue in the early church, because Paul asked the same question in Romans 6:1: “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” In other words, does grace give us a license to disobey the law of God? His answer is an unequivocal No! “God forbid! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (verse 2 )

Sadly, Christians have invented their own definitions that not only condone lawbreaking, but teach others to do so as well. (Matthew 5:19) The Bible tells us that sin is violating God’s commandments—the law which has been described as irrelevant today by many modern Christians. Don’t be deceived. Every one of God’s spiritual laws and moral precepts are just as timely and needful today as they were when God gave them to Moses, who in turn instructed his people. And nothing has ever happened to make them less binding than they were when God gave them. In fact, if you study the Bible with an open mind, you will discover that Jesus came to bring the full spiritual meaning and intent the law and making it more comprehensive to us. That’s what he meant when he said that he came to fulfill the law. (Matt.5:17)

Countless sincere Christians have been taught and have accepted the idea that the Old Testament was the dispensation of works, but that the New Testament provides for a dispensation of grace. Under this pretzel logic people were saved by works in the Old Testament and by grace in the New Testament. This is simply not true. There is only one way for anybody to be saved—that is by grace through faith. God will not divide people up between those who got saved by works and those who got saved by faith. Those who entered into salvation in the Old Testament were those who trusted the merits of the blood of Jesus Christ, and they looked forward in faith to the atoning death of Jesus. We look back in faith to the same death and are saved in exactly the same way. (See Hebrews 11) The Bible teaches that the entire redeemed host throughout eternity will be singing the same song of deliverance, exalting the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world. (Revelation 5: 11-13)

Did Jesus give us a “new law”?

Some try to ignore God’s commandments on the basis of the “new” commandments of love that they say Jesus introduced. It is certainly true that Jesus laid down two great laws of love as a summary of all the law, but did he give the idea that these were to replace God’s spiritual laws? The fact is that Jesus was quoting directly from the Old Testament when he gave those “new commandments” proves that he had no intention of replacing God’s commandments. “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) And “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Leviticus 19:18) Jesus was merely pointing out the spiritual principles of God’s laws—Unlike the traditions of man taught by the Pharisees. In fact, most of what the apostle Paul spoke about came directly from the Old Testament  Scriptures.

Jesus told a parable of two sons who were asked to work in their father’s vineyard. He asked the Pharisees which son obeyed. After they answered Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.” (See Mathew 21:28-32)

In 70A.D. the Jew’s Temple was destroyed fulfilling Christ prophecy. (Matthew 24:1-2) The Temple’s sad end slammed the door on the Jew’s sacrificial system. Could it be that God allowed the Romans to destroy His Temple because of  the Jew’s legalistic observance of their traditions and ceremonial-sacrificial laws? Or maybe God just wanted them to realize that He doesn’t live in temples made by human hands. (Acts 7:48) They adjusted, of course, creating new rituals and traditions in their synagogues.

Perhaps that is why God will not destroy the Christian’s houses of worship—Even though they are filled with just as many traditions and ceremonies as was practiced in the Jew’s Temple. Because God knows that we too, would just create new places for our rituals and traditions.

Christians today are no different than the Pharisees when we place traditions above obediance to God’s spiritual laws. Scripture warns against any traditions, customs, precepts, or laws that are in opposition to, or contradictory to God’s commandments. (Deuteronomy 12:31) Customs, rituals, and practices such as Christmas, Easter, or Lent are inventions and traditions of men that Jesus warned against. (Matthew 15:8-9)

We must be cautious of the emptiness of the traditions of men passed down through time—even those from our own forefathers or elders. Because when we place more importance on our traditions than we do on God’s commandments we dishonor God and  turn the grace of Christ into sin. (Jude 1:4)

Remember, there is a thin line between holding onto non-biblical traditions and participating in pagan practices.