Helen Louise Herndon

Have You Cried Before God Lately?

I have found crying before God–—whether in confession or simply out of joy and thanksgiving because of his graciousness and mercies over a long period of time–—is salutary.  It ends with a sense of genuine peace with God.  God deserves our sincere humility before him. A thought came to me that perhaps the Holy Spirit is preparing my conscience and spirit for that time when I will personally bow before him in the life to come and perhaps sooner than later.

When was the last time you found yourself crying before God?  I can’t remember anyone sharing with me or others that they cry before God.  There was a time when the same could be said about me, that is, crying before God was not an event I experienced regularly or even rarely.
This is not about crying before God in pleading for something or something to happen.  It’s not even about crying before God in confession of sin.  This is about crying before God in humility and thanksgiving for his many mercies in your life.
I was reading Psalm 86 when I found myself shedding tears before God in awe and gratefulness for his great mercies in my life over the years.  At this juncture in time, I have to recognize I’ve been granted a long life.  In Psalm 90: 10, the Psalmist says: “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is only trouble and tragedy; for it quickly passes, and we disappear.”  Well, I recently passed not just that first number–—but lo and behold, even that second number!
This life has suffered many broken bones, near-death experiences, such as riding a moped and striking a car that turned in front of me, being lifted off the bike into the air and soaring freely over the car to just missing a curb.  It happened in Montpellier, France returning home from class at the university.  My very first thought was in French, “Ça y est” (This is it!).  My immediate second thought and prayer were in English, “I commit my spirit to you, O Lord.”  Soaring in the air, I thought I would die.  Besides many broken bones and near-death misses, my life has consisted of not a few disappointments and many failures on my part.
As I look back on life, I’m reminded of many happy, positive moments, relationships, and experiences.  I’m not a pessimist or an optimist.  I tend to be a realist, which accounts for my seeing both failures and progress in my growth as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ.
I find myself acknowledging much of what David acknowledged in his life.  I never imagined one day I would confess, as David did, that my “iniquities are more than the hairs of my head.” (Psalm 40: 12) And my head is quite full of hair.  One recent morning, I was reading Psalm 86, a prayer of David.  As I read through this beautiful prayer, I found myself first tearing up and then practically sobbing.  It wasn’t a painful sobbing, but rather a humble and joyful sobbing.  It was because I was so struck with how merciful God has been to me all these years. This wasn’t a first-time experience for me, as it has happened before in these later years. There’s a beautiful Black spiritual song entitled, “He Never Failed Me Yet.”  How true that has been in my experience and relationship with God in Christ, that is, He is always faithful despite my frequent unfaithfulness.
In Psalm 86, David prays, “In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You, for You will answer me.”  He has faithfully done that for me.  Further on, he prays, “But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.”  This speaks to his many, many mercies in my life.
At one point David prays this–—a petition I am making mine: Teach me, Your way, O Lord; I will walk in your truth; Unite my heart to fear your name.”
I have found crying before God–—whether in confession or simply out of joy and thanksgiving because of his graciousness and mercies over a long period of time–—is salutary.  It ends with a sense of genuine peace with God.  God deserves our sincere humility before him. A thought came to me that perhaps the Holy Spirit is preparing my conscience and spirit for that time when I will personally bow before him in the life to come and perhaps sooner than later.
Have you cried before God lately?  You might find it to be as precious an experience as I have.  It doesn’t hurt at all.  It beneficially heals and rightly humbles.
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.

An Old Testament Challenge for Today: “We Had A Mind To Work”

It appears they began working with one hand while holding a weapon with the other hand.  They both worked and were armed.  This is an actual and literal description of physical activity.  Sound hermeneutics and exegesis require the passage be interpreted and expressed as literal.  It is not intended to be spiritualized…At the same time, this passage may also be an illustration related to guidance, that is, there are times people of faith must do the work of proclaiming the Gospel and at the same time defend the Gospel.  There are times to build and fight at the same time.

God’s divine revelation is an amazing book–—replete with new lessons and guidance upon continuous readings.  Take the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament.  We tend to see it basically as an historical narrative of Nehemiah, a Jewish captive in Persia and a wine taster for King Artaxerxes, which he was, and his mission to rebuild Jerusalem.  But, perhaps there’s more to it.
In chapter one, Nehemiah requests the king to be allowed to return to rebuild Jerusalem.  The king was pleased to grant him his request and allows Nehemiah leave from Persia and his duties to return to Jerusalem.  Interestingly, the Bible makes special note stating: “Then the king said to me, the queen sitting beside him . . .”  I wondered why God chose to include the fact that the queen was with him?  Is it possible it’s a hint he might have consulted her, and she might have taken pity on Nehemiah and his concern for his country?
Chapter three is strange in that it names all the builders of the walls.  It’s a bit like the genealogy chapters where name after name is communicated.  Most of us wouldn’t even know how to pronounce the majority of names given.
Chapter 4 relates how zealously the workers worked to repair the various gates and walls; however, they begin also to feel threatened by the surrounding inhabitants who ridiculed the Jews for what they were accomplishing.  They begin to do something differently.  It describes half of them continued working while half carried spears, shields, bows and breastplates.  Then verses 17 and 18 describe this remarkable activity:
“Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdenscarried with one hand doing the work, and the other keeping hold ofa weapon.  As for the builders, each wore his sword strapped to hiswaist as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me.”
It appears they began working with one hand while holding a weapon with the other hand.  They both worked and were armed.  This is an actual and literal description of physical activity.  Sound hermeneutics and exegesis require the passage be interpreted and expressed as literal.  It is not intended to be spiritualized.  Spiritualizing Scripture has done harm to texts and to what God intended us to learn.
At the same time, this passage may also be an illustration related to guidance, that is, there are times people of faith must do the work of proclaiming the Gospel and at the same time defend the Gospel.  There are times to build and fight at the same time.
Today, the Church is assaulted and attacked from different directions with false teachings and even heresy. These attacks involve morality, identity, and adulterating sound doctrine.
Just as Nehemiah and the Jews acknowledged and recognized dangers and threats to their work and took extreme steps to protect the work and themselves, Christians should follow their example and counsel by doing the same though it involves a spiritual battle–—not a physical one.
What steps can be taken?  For one be faithful and steadfast to biblical and theological teachings handed down through Scripture and the early Church Fathers.  This requires faithfulness and willingness to study both.  Secondly, be careful and cautious to solely apply sound hermeneutical (interpretative) principles to God’s Word with attention to context.  These are areas of assault and weakening God’s communications and intentions. Thirdly, give attention to apologetics, the defense of the Gospel, Scripture, and the Church.
The above are defensive actions.  Give priority to proclaiming the Gospel and “the whole counsel of God.”  Be true to all of God’s Word, not just to pet or favorite passages.  Be zealous in making Christ known as Judge, Lord, Redeemer, and Savior–—the only way to the Father and source of one’s salvation from sin and death.  Don’t scrimp on who all Jesus Christ is, why He came and what He accomplished on the cross and in His resurrection.  Present Christ and the Gospel in both truth and love.  Make sure people know God is a mystery–—three in one, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
These are just a few suggestions; there are others.  Just as the Jews were ridiculed for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the Church and Christians faithful to God’s Word are being ridiculed and threatened in many ways today.  Nehemiah and the Jews in their day serve as an example as to how to confront not only physical attacks, but spiritual attacks we are confronted with today.
Nehemiah 4: 6 states:  So, we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.”  This may be a message for today, that is, “. . . for the people had a mind to work.”  May we also “have a mind to work.” This message is for Christians today, both clerical and laity.
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.

America’s Purported “Original Sin” Taints American Race Relations

Slavery was never black and white, involving only Whites enslaving Blacks. It was multiracial just as most evils existent today are multiracial. It’s time to correct America’s history. It’s also time to cease promoting racial division based on the falsehood of America’s “original sin” and its selective omission of facts about all the oppressors and practitioners. If we fail to correct how we teach history, we will reap untold and potentially horrific consequences. 

We’re experiencing an increasing racial divide when there should be a remarkable decrease. What is the basis for this historical anomaly, given that American has no more prejudicial race-based laws? No race currently faces legal obstacles to equal justice and opportunity. The most likely culprit for the divide is the simplistic, inaccurate approach to American history in our schools.
When people try to explain the racial divide, they offer many reasons: Critical Race Theory, which divides everyone into oppressed/oppressor categories; the Black Lives Matter movement; politicians pandering to receive ethnic-based votes; or the emphasis on police actions involving race. Something deeper is involved.
Americans are taught that slavery is America’s original sin.” Wrong. Slavery was not America’s “original sin.” It existed before any White or Black person arrived. Native Americans practiced it before they ever came along—but even then, it wasn’t their “original sin.” Slavery is humankind’s sin.
In elementary and secondary schools, slavery is now and has long been taught very simply: American slave owners were White and slaves Black—period. Students learn slaves were shipped from Africa, without any focus on who caught them, enslaved them, or sold them to Europeans to be shipped to Europe or the Americas.
Only after school ends do some learn the whole story. I broadened my knowledge by reading “Unspoken Reality: Black Slaveholders Prior to the Civil War,” co-written by Yulia Tikhomirova and Lucia Desir at Mercy College. Tikhomirova is Russian and Desir is Black. They draw upon and include information from Black historians and scholars (e.g., John Hope Franklin, Larry Koger, and Carter G. Woodson, et al.). The truth is Blacks were also slaveholders.
American slavery begins in Africa. Black Africans, chieftains, and Arabs were the main participants and oppressors of the enslaved. They captured, kidnapped, enslaved, and sold millions of Black Africans into slavery. Millions were sent to Europe and the Americas and millions more to the Middle East and North Africa.
Read More

The Debatable “My Body, My Choice”

Therein lies the crux of whose body and whose choice.  Abortion doesn’t dismember the woman’s body or crush her skull open to suck her brains out.  Those practices are aimed at another vulnerable human being: the baby carried in her womb.  That person’s heart is beating, his arms and legs moving, and perhaps his thumb is in his mouth.  He feels pain.

The most popular words of pro-abortion and pro-choice advocates are perhaps “My Body, My Choice.”  On the surface, it makes sense and sounds rational and reasonable.  In fact, it’s so sensible that even anti-vaxxers are using it to talk about their bodies and their choices.  Don’t we all make decisions related to our bodies, especially medical decisions?
The person who composed or created that slogan hit it big, and credit is due for such a commonsense, clever phrase.  It seems difficult to debate.  How could anyone challenge such a recognized personal decision with a response, such as “no, you don’t have that right” or “no, your body is not open to your choice”?
Wouldn’t such a person or response be widely ridiculed?  After all, we all make decisions about having surgeries for appendicitis, cancer, broken bones, cysts, and even benign tumors.  “My Body, My Choice” certainly applies to these.
At the same time, however, the patient contemplating the procedure usually discusses the details with the surgeon.  If it’s surgery for a broken bone, the doctor will discuss how complex the break is, that he plans to insert a pin, and the estimated length of time to recuperate.  If it’s surgery for cancer, he may tell a patient how he intends to extract or excise the cancerous growth, what the recovery will be like, and what outcome to expect.  Will it lengthen the patient’s life, or is it just a stopgap procedure to improve temporary well-being?  After all, it requires the patient’s consent because it is the patient’s body and the patient’s choice.
Read More

El Shaddai, The God Who Is More Than Enough

Spiritual warfare is both real and perpetual.  The evil one is either waging battle to prevent unbelievers from coming to salvation and to receiving eternal life or he seeks to render believers disobedient, ineffectual, or undisciplined, thereby, failing to achieve God’s great goal for them, that is, “To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

I can still picture Mr. Sells, our Old Testament professor at Columbia Bible College holding up one hand and shouting in his booming voice, “El Shaddai, the God Who is more than enough!”  He taught Survey of the Old Testament, and we were studying the names of God.  Despite the fact that it was a survey course, he pressed us to study the Old Testament in depth and to glean principles for everyday life, as well as to learn facts and history.  I doubt that any student who passed through that class will ever forget the name, “El Shaddai.”
The common translations of El Shaddai throughout the Old Testament are Almighty God, God Almighty, or the Almighty.  El Shaddai also carries the meaning of sufficient, hence, “The God Who is more than enough!”  If we think long enough on the subject of God’s sufficiency and the fact that He is Almighty, we can derive a limitless source of comfort, encouragement, and satisfaction.
When I first came to Christ as my personal savior, I knew an elderly 90-year old Christian woman.  Mrs. Kirkpatrick taught Bible to the women of the inner-city church where I grew up.  I remember her saying often, “Satan is mighty, but God is almighty.”  This dear lady was keenly aware of the spiritual battle being waged.  She was not ignorant or unaware of Satan’s power; however, she focused on the fact that God is more powerful and He is sufficient for any trial or battle.  We cannot afford to underestimate the power of the Christian’s archenemy.
A. W. Tozer wrote, “A right conception of God is basic, not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well. It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God current in the middle years of the twentieth century is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the most high God and actually to constitute for professed believers something amounting to moral calamity.” If Tozer is right, and he was a unique, prophetic man of God, we are in serious trouble.
It is rare that spiritual battle is mentioned today.  One of the few times we hear it referred to is when there is serious illness.  Perhaps we’re too sophisticated and don’t want to draw criticism for conjuring up images of warfare.  We may prefer the respectability gained by being just plain, “normal” folks.  If this is true, then we have one fine indicator of just how mighty Satan is—mighty enough to lull us into spiritual complacency, and for some—spiritual death.
Spiritual warfare is both real and perpetual.  The evil one is either waging battle to prevent unbelievers from coming to salvation and to receiving eternal life or he seeks to render believers disobedient, ineffectual, or undisciplined, thereby, failing to achieve God’s great goal for them, that is, “To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”
It’s up to us to recognize the danger we face daily and unrelentingly.  The spiritual battle might be on an individual basis.  No matter who we are, “El Shaddai” is on our side.  However, the battle also faces us as a corporate body, especially at this time in history—when the culture around us becomes more paganistic—the evil one will seek to take advantage to discourage, and divide the children of God.  But God Almighty, our all-sufficient God, is the same and has not changed.  He is with us and for us.
Let’s focus on “El Shaddai, the God Who is more than enough,” to be our arm and strength in these days.  Let’s not forget that Satan is mighty, but our God, “El Shaddai,” is Almighty!  Let’s join those who sing the song, “El Shaddai, age to age You are the same by the power of the Name.”  Let’s praise Him forever.
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.

Childhood Abuse and Humiliations . . . But Christ’s Healing and Redemption

I sometimes wonder if such experiences didn’t play a major role in my seeking something or someone in life that accepted me warts and all, loved me, and gave purpose to my individual life.  I’m here to say I believe such experiences prodded me to find such a one, such a person.  I met that person not for the first time—as I was already acquainted with him—but when I was 19 years old and received him into my life, heart, and spirit.  That Person was Jesus Christ who became my Lord and Savior.

A question recently posted on Facebook asked if you remember your most humiliating experience as a child.  It took me by surprise how fast two experiences came to mind.  Both took place in elementary school coming at the hands of adults—a teacher and principal.  Memories came to the fore; pain was felt immediately.  Those experiences weren’t forgotten but rather had scarred me and followed me through life.  They accounted for some of my most prominent and constant insecurities.
The first took place in third grade.  Coming from a poor family situation, I did not receive allowance money as other children received.  I did not have the freedom to buy candy or gum.  One day, a student who was friendly with me offered me a stick of gum.  I took it and unwrapped, it sticking it in my mouth.  The teacher espied me chewing gum and came to me, made me stand up, she walked me to the front of the class and made me stand there for what seemed an interminable amount of time with the gum on my nose.  I was humiliated.  When the class ended, I went to the restroom to remove the gum that had hardened on my nose.
The second experience occurred in sixth grade.  We were in the auditorium. Some boys grabbed the stage velvet curtains and leaped off the stage to the floor crying out like Tarzan’s hoarse bark, flying through the air on a jungle vine.  As a tomboy, I felt I could do whatever they were capable of doing.  I grabbed the curtain, cried out like Tarzan and leaped to the floor.  The principal came and caught us.  She scolded us and went on to say to me in front of all the students, “. . . but you, a girl!  I can’t believe you did it too.”  The curtain had torn. We were all told our parents would have to pay for the repair.  I cringed that I would have to report this to my parents who struggled financially.  I went to my class, sat in the back of the room and silently cried in humiliation.  I was eleven years old
Such experiences as a child lastingly impacted that child—in fact, any child.  The first experience is recognizable today as abusive action by a teacher against a child who normally never had gum or candy at school.  To stand in front of the class with gum on one’s nose until the end of class was abusive humiliation.  I later recognized how deeply it scarred me causing almost a self-hatred and sense of rejection.
The second experience represented a childish prank of a child doing something foolish to prove herself.  The principal’s rebuke was valid, but the action of singling out one child due to her gender put her in a more vulnerable position.  Later as I stood waiting on a corner to cross the street, my brother in an upper grade came behind me and said: “I heard what you did.  Boy!  Are you ever going to get it when you get home”!  I trembled crossing the street fearing what was in store for me.  My mother scolded me and said, “Wait until your father comes home.”  I did not receive a spanking but rather a strong rebuke and “How could you do that?”  Both parents discouraged my tomboy ways, as they wanted their daughter to be all-girl. We waited with dread for how much the bill would be to repair the curtain.  When it came, my parents paid it immediately.  Since I didn’t receive an allowance, I couldn’t pay them back.
Why am I sharing this story?  It’s because children are very fragile emotionally and mentally.  Discipline can cross a line that goes beyond correction to permanently scarring them.  Back then, educators probably didn’t study child psychology.  Some children who experience abuse become abusers.  Others become dysfunctional.  All experience brokenness to some extent.  Those scars remain hidden or latent, but they do remain; and to think more than seventy years later they still cause pain reveals how powerful they are in a child’s life.
A second reason for sharing this story is a reminder to me and, I hope to others, to never forget children are fragile and vulnerable.  Discipline with love, sensitivity, and limits.  It’s not just actions that matter, but words also matter.
Lastly—but not least—remember and give thanks to God who can enable us to be healed even if scars remain and to forgive those who either abused or humiliated us at any time in life, not just as children.
I sometimes wonder if such experiences didn’t play a major role in my seeking something or someone in life that accepted me warts and all, loved me, and gave purpose to my individual life.  I’m here to say I believe such experiences prodded me to find such a one, such a person.  I met that person not for the first time—as I was already acquainted with him—but when I was 19 years old and received him into my life, heart, and spirit.  That Person was Jesus Christ who became my Lord and Savior, who brought pardon and redemption, who brought real purpose and even confidence to my life, and has steadfastly been faithful to me despite moments of unfaithfulness to Him.  I didn’t seek Him; He sought me.  As the African American Spiritual articulately reveals, “He never failed me yet.”   I am nothing more than a debtor to God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
Helen Louise Herndon is a member of Central Presbyterian Church (EPC) in St. Louis, Missouri. She is freelance writer and served as a missionary to the Arab/Muslim world in France and North Africa.

Parents Have The Right To Be Vocal

Some schools, though, are already promoting sexual or gender issues—issues that are controversial based on parental and religious beliefs. Likewise, many race-oriented issues are especially controversial. Those influenced by Critical Race Theory focus heavily on Black and White populations even though the United States may be the most racially diverse of all nations.

Around the country, parents are vocally challenging curricula related to race issues in the K-12 schools of their children and on their school boards. Not a few of these curricula contain elements taken from Critical Race Theory, which separates at least two races into two categories: “oppressed” and “oppressors.”
My local newspaper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ran an op-ed article, “Why St. Louis-area classrooms need more open discussions about race.” The authors are two St. Louis-based women: Sienna Ruiz, a research coordinator at the Washington University School of Medicine, and Akilah Collins-Anderson, working on her doctoral degree in public health sciences at Washington University. The article ended with this sentence: “Schools should provide critical thinking tools about race because it shapes everyone’s lives, whether parents accept it or not”—an exceptionally bold statement. The obvious question it raises is, “Are the ‘critical thinking tools’ that parents must accept unbiased and fair?”
First, it needs to be firmly stated that the public schools’ main purpose is to teach basic subjects as thoroughly as possible to prepare students for their futures. Traditionally, this has meant giving them the knowledge and skills to serve them well for either a vocation or higher education’s demands as well as to enhance citizenship.
This type of education takes time and demands sufficient priority. Students should graduate with basic English and math skills, and knowledge of science and both national and world histories. No one should need remedial reading classes in college if K-12 schools accomplish their purpose. Adding issue-centered courses should not diminish time spent on core subjects.
Some schools, though, are already promoting sexual or gender issues—issues that are controversial based on parental and religious beliefs. Likewise, many race-oriented issues are especially controversial. Those influenced by Critical Race Theory focus heavily on Black and White populations even though the United States may be the most racially diverse of all nations.
This exaggerated focus dismisses the fact that students are multi-racial, not simply Black or White. It’s like forcing one to watch black and white movies when technicolor is not only available, but it also represents the most enjoyable of movies. It’s passé and terribly narrow-minded to remain stuck on one binary issue of race when we are so beyond that issue. It’s unfair to students who are Asian, Hispanic, African, Middle Eastern, or Native American—and all the many subsets of those broad classifications.
Read More

Scroll to top
Refcast

FREE
VIEW