What We Feel About the Turpin Family

There are lots of heinous crimes committed around the world every day. Some we hear about, some we don't. But the crimes that surfaced recently that happened inside of the Turpin family in Texas & California are crimes that hit us a little deeper because of the thirteen children that they involved.

If you don't know about the Turpin family you can read a lot of details of the case on the internet, but I'll summarize them quickly for you.

Louise & David Turpin had 13 children ages 2 to 29. They projected the image of a normal family on social media & a mostly normal family to their immediate family. They took family trips to Disney Land that included each of their children, celebrated birthdays, & the parents even renewed their wedding vows several times.

But behind the walls of their home, David & Louise committed terrible & unbelievable atrocities against their thirteen children.

These children were chained & shackled to their beds, beaten, choked, starved, & kept as captives inside of their small home. 

I've been following the case closely as more details have surfaced & each time I am more & more heartbroken for what these children endured. 

I was sharing more details with my Mom the other day and I voiced the thoughts that were going through my head. "You wonder why God allows such things & why those children underwent what they did."

Even as Christians we have unanswered questions as we see the results of a depraved world around us. 

During the initial arraignment the District Attorney named the reason for such behavior by David & Louise as the "depravity of man," not because of their "religion" or the fact that they claimed to homeschool, both reasons that some may be tempted to blame. And he was absolutely right.

The world probably feels a lot of hate towards these parents. When you begin to read about the kind of crimes they committed against their own children you can't help but begin to feel that way. They deserve to be hated, right? They deserved to be condemned in our hearts, right?

But how do we as Christians, even while feeling anger, disgust & deep sadness (& rightly so), take these things & learn something about sin while also learning how to see people like David & Louise? How do we not follow the rest of the world by justifying hate & condemnation in our hearts? 

Things like this help us realize what sin does when people give themselves over to its utter depravity. In Romans 1 God talks about giving some people over to committing lude and perverted acts among each other. Of course, we don't know the extent of what kind of acts these were, but the book of Romans gives us a good picture of the fact that there are some people He no longer restrains & the destruction of sin. 

David & Louise Turpin grew up in the Pentecostal faith when they were first married but some years later they began experimenting with different religions & beliefs, including witchcraft. We can imagine the kind of evil that this deepened even more within these two people. 

Realizing how depraved we are without Christ is a good reminder. No, most people don't do the kinds of horrible things that Louise & David did, but, when you live a life without Christ there is nothing that we are not capable of. This is a reminder that all of us are in deep need of the gospel. 

You and I sometimes can't even imagine allowing David & Louise Turpin into our prayers. We can't imagine praying for their salvation. 

But the verses in the Bible that address salvation do not have any stipulations about the kinds of people God does or doesn't save. 

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance; Christ Jesus came in to the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
— 1 Timothy 1:15

Paul was speaking in that verse above & he considered himself the chief of sinners. If you know anything about Paul you know that before he was saved, he persocuted the Christians that were rising up in the first century. He later became one of the most instrumental apostles that God used to lead many people to salvation.

Oftentimes God brings people to Him who have previously lived terrible lives of the grossest sin we can imagine. Oftentimes those people are some of His greatest tools.

We cannot limit what God may choose to do in someone's life even with a history marked with gross sin. We cannot limit Him & create our own stipulations for salvation. 

One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
— Luke 23:39-43

This verse tells the story of the man who hung next to Jesus during His crucifixion who had lived a life of sin. This man had never done one good thing to deserve salvation, but at the end of his life this man had faith. Mercy, grace, forgiveness, & salvation were immediately extended to him from Jesus Himself & this man was promised a place in heaven upon his death. This is the essence of the gospel at work.

We must believe that the same grace & mercy extended to us is the same grace & mercy that God might choose to extend to people like David & Louise & like He extended to the thief on the cross, like He did for Paul, & like He's done for you and me.

Christianity doesn't follow the rest of the world in hate or hopelessness. Christianity champions the truth of a God who can change the hearts of the worst sinners, including people like David & Louise Turpin. 

As we read the unfolding details of the twenty-nine year old secret of David & Louise Turpin, let's not allow the atrocity of what they did cause us to harden our hearts in hate like the rest of the world may. Though its hard to imagine God turning the hearts of David & Louise (& He may choose not to) let's challenge ourselves to allow this situation to grow our faith, strengthen our prayers, & believe in the power of the gospel. 

Its important that as Christians we think about how we feel & process things like this & to fill our hearts with truth to combat the doubts & questions that will naturally arise. We cannot allow ourselves to be disinterested in events & heartbreaking stories that cause the rest of the world to wrestle with questions that for them, have no answers.

Stories like this tell the truths about God, sin, & the power of the gospel. They have the ability to grow us in grace, faith, compassion, & a heart of prayer if we allow them to. 

~ Jenn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Grieve Over #MeToo, You Should Grieve This Too

Everybody's talking about Harvey Weinstein and as a result #metoo has come about; a hashtag that people are using on social media to join others who have become open about their sexual abuse, harassment, and assault. 

While there has, and always will be, instances of abuse, I believe there are tangible factors in this culture that have a lot to do with the rise in that abuse in the recent years. Factors that we often ignore because they're so normalized not just in the secular culture, but sadly so in a large amount of the Christian culture. 

Last year I did a study on pornography; it's effects, causes, and the fact that it's so accessible & addicting. It has even infiltrated the church and the expectation that Christian men & women will have struggled with it, or currently do, is very realistic. 

I grew up unaware of just how rampant pornography was until I couldn't be unaware any longer. It became a conversation between me and my parents, me and my friends, and even one of the first questions I asked any guy whom I was getting to know for a potential relationship. 

I believe that God in His sovereignty placed me in situations where someone's struggle with porn directly effected my own life & I saw the firsthand results of it. I became determined to speak out against it & encourage others to be aware of the destruction that pornography causes. Pornography is far from harmless.

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I'm sure many of you know why I began this post talking about the #metoo trend that has begun & now I'm talking about pornography. It's because they're directly correlated. But the problem is, not many want to recognize it or just plain and simple, don't realize it.

Several weeks ago the pastor at my church spoke out boldly & passionately against the atrocities, the sin, going on in our culture. One of those things was pornography and its blatant exploitation of women & even children. Its time that all of us take on the same boldness, disgust, & zero toleration of a sin so often coddled because of its accessibility. We have taken on an attitude of complacency. Its time that we take on the same hate of sin that God has & not be afraid to speak openly & boldly about the practices that are becoming more and more acceptable.

I do not speak out of ignorance, naivety,  or a false sense of pride. I speak out against it because I have seen firsthand the destruction that it wields in its users & the ones that the users use. I speak out because I do believe that we do have control over our actions. I speak out because God's Word is so black-and-white about what we do with anything that causes us to sin (Matthew 5:29). He doesn't tell us to coddle it, make excuses for it, or slowly wean ourselves off it it, He says for us to get rid of it.

The abuse that you so hate starts with you. It starts with us. It starts with hating sin & not taking our cues from a culture that is drowning in a moral decline with its now legalization of abortion & same-sex marriage and yes, normalization of abuse. Let's not hate the sin in one quarter (abuse) but turn around and nurse our secret sin in another quarter. 

Lets higher the standard in ourselves, in our brothers & sisters, in our (future) sons & daughters, & in our (future) husbands & wives. 

By the power, the healing, the hope, & the redemption of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that is more than possible. 

- jenn

"Why did you doubt?"

It doesn't matter if it's because of the smallest thing, it is so easy to allow my eyes to slip off of God and onto myself, my situation, my discouraging circumstances. I shrink God down to my size and begin to act as if He is bound by the same borders of ability that I am.

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
— Matthew 14:31

There are times when you have "conquer the world" type of faith. A faith so big, you are full to bursting with it. Other times, your faith is so small, you wonder if it's still there. The kind of faith that can only be seen under a microscope. It's only when I look at God's truth am I reminded of just how big our God is. How he does not operate under human impossibilities.

So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:5)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. (2 Timothy 2:13)

For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

I will admit, just this evening, I cut my prayer time short because I wanted to instead fume and wallow in my impossible, bleak circumstances. I was convicted (I quickly ran back to my prayer journal and confessed to the Lord my lack of faith!) and so I felt the need to type this up and post it right away since I know a little reminder in this area can be a huge encouragement. It can lift our eyes off of ourselves and our circumstances and place them right back where they belong; onto our Savior who holds out his hand and waits for us to step out from our boat and onto the stormy waters.

For now, 
Jennifer

In Deed & Truth

I've often asked myself and wrestled with the question, "As a young single woman how can I practically fulfill God's call for all Christians to put "hands and feet" to their faith and love for their Lord?"  You may be asking yourself the same thing.

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
— 1 John 3:17-18
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For many of us, God hasn't called us to mission fields abroad, but he has called each and every one of us to serve those in need. 

I've currently been reading through a book called "Sacred Singleness" by Leslie Ludy (I reviewed it here on my "Book & Movie Review" page on this site) and at the end of the book she talks about practical ways to minister to those who are in need. God used this chapter to speak to my heart and show me ways, however small, that I could love in "deed and in truth."

For me, this started with visiting each of the sites that Leslie Ludy mentions in her book. They are:

Through these sites you can learn further ways to help those in need whether it be financial giving, shoe drives, or even going on a construction, medical or simple outreach trip to interact with orphaned and needy children and show them the love of Christ. 

(These are all sites that Leslie includes in her chapter "Getting Started Changing The World" in the book "Sacred Singleness"). The sites that organize frequent trips to orphanages around the world are: 

Another amazing opportunity is a child advocacy ministry called Compassion International. (To visit their site go to: compassion.com).

With Compassion International you have a unique opportunity to sponsor a child through giving money providing them with opportunities they may not have otherwise. It also means you are able to have a personal relationship with them through letters and even having an opportunity to visit them and their family in their country.

My family sponsors a little boy from India and a little girl from Peru. I've been able to forge a special relationship with this little girl through letters. I've had the opportunity in my letters to share scripture and let her know she is cared for, prayed for and loved by my family here in the United States.

Leslie mentions in her book even using prayer as a way you can show love. Leslie's section on this says it so well that I'm going to post it here:


Here is a practical prayer suggestion from Family Life Today's orphan ministry:

"There are countless numbers of "waiting children" around the world and in our own country; kids who are up for adoption, hoping and praying for a forever-family. Pray for waiting kids whenever you are "waiting." Go online to find a waiting child listing. A few of these listings include: www.adoptuskids.org; www.rainbowkids.com; www.precious.org. Print out a picture and description of a waiting child and tape it to your dashboard. Every time you find yourself waiting--in traffic, at a stoplight, in the drive-thru--pray for this child. Plead with the Father on their behalf. Organize an evening prayer vigil on behalf of the orphan and waiting child. Invite other churches to join you as well. You can pray for children all over the world or you can ask your local foster care office for pictures and names of waiting children in your city to pray for. (You can also get these online.)" 

God uses the smallest deeds to further His kingdom. As Leslie says so well in her book, "As you read through the practical ideas offered in this chapter, I would encourage you to pray that God's spirit would be your guide. Ask Him to stir your heart toward a specific cause. Ask Him to clarify how He might want to use your life to build His kingdom. Ask Him to give you courage to take the first step forward."

So whether or not God does have a future for you ministering abroad, ministering in your own home town, or using ministry in a way you never imagined, these are some practical ways you can take the first step forward to fulfilling His call in our lives to show love to the least.

For now, 
Jennifer

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Forgiving Myself

Copyright: Jennifer Langley Photography

Copyright: Jennifer Langley Photography

When I was younger the idea of there being difficulty forgiving oneself seemed a bit strange. Usually the only people I worried about forgiving me were the people I had hurt or who had been privy to my sin. If they forgave and forgot I was off the hook and I could leave the memory and burden of that wrongdoing far behind. I knew, more importantly, that God forgave me. After all, it was why He had sent His son to die on the cross for us, a sinful people. (Colossians 1:13-14 - ...who has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have the redemption, the forgiveness of sins...

When I got older I didn't even realize a burden on my shoulders slowly began to grow. A list in my head of all the things I had done, mistakes I had made. I began to label certain things as "un-forgivable" and so I'd hang onto them. These things became my identity. I wore them like a piece of clothing everywhere I went.

After foolish mistakes in my teen years and being in a relationship for over a year with it coming to an end, my burden grew even heavier. I thought back to all the ways I had failed and instead of forgiving myself as God forgave me, I began to let the failures shape how I saw myself. Not as "Jennifer, God's daughter, saved by His grace and forgiven," but as "Jennifer, doer of a million unforgivable mistakes." It felt like an ever increasing weight growing heaver with every failure and shortcoming. 

I compared myself to other people who seemed so good. I felt like such an ugly young woman in comparison to them. They seemed to effortlessly radiate joy and goodness by the work of God in them yet I felt like I could never be like that. Those people didn't have the character flaws I had. Pride, selfishness, jealousy, lust, bad days, etc. Those people had somehow been gifted with perfection in every area. 

Inside I had become beaten down, bent over with guilt. I lost all confidence in myself with other people. How could anyone be around a person like me? Couldn't they see each sin I had committed written all over my face? That's all I saw when I looked in the mirror. It felt good to stand in the place of God and condemn myself. I felt it's what I deserved.

It felt impossible to forgive myself as I knew God had forgiven me. Even though I had all of the knowledge, I could not believe it.  Where did I start? When did the knowledge become practice? I had practiced preaching lies to myself and listening to lies from Satan for so long that I didn't know how to undo my doubt and self condemnation.  I wanted to forgive myself. I didn't want to feel the stab of shame and regret when I thought back to each mistake. I wanted to feel confidence in God's grace that forgave and washed us clean. I felt anything but clean. 

I wanted to fill up and distract from the emptiness I felt in my very soul. I thought an earthly relationship would be the answer to it all. Maybe it would make me feel worth something. I wanted to chase after something to give me temporary relief. But I knew in my heart, no earthly thing could fill me up. God alone was the answer. Earthly things, when we put our trust in them, are like shifting sand. (Matthew 7:25 - The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had it's foundation on the rock.) God is the only one who is never failing, never shifting, constant and unchanging. He is faithful, loving, patient and wise. He loves us perfectly like no one and nothing else can.

Slowly the truth in this began to sink in to my weary heart. Like a balm, it healed. My prayers no longer felt useless. I knew that God heard me. He heard every cry from my heart and knew all the pain that weighed me down. I was not just a voice among the millions, my prayer was a sweet song to my Savior. His sweet voice, his sweet truth, began to shape my heart and shape the way I saw myself and all of my mistakes.

My heart began to overflow with thankfulness for all of the things he brought me through. They had given me a vision for His goodness, His mercy. I saw so clearly who God was. He was not far away, He was so close. When he said he forgave, He really did. It was not, is not my job to forgive myself. I did not have to do penance by carrying around shame and regret til I felt I had paid the sufficient price. Jesus had already done that. My burden slipped off of my shoulders in front of the cross.

But though I know these truths, I still struggle. I still wrestle with believing this truth. When the devil whispers lies I struggle with succumbing to letting them rest in my heart and take up residence. But I have a weapon to fight back. I have the truth to wage war and win. (Ephesians 6:12)

1 John 1:7

 "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."

For now, 
Jennifer

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