Foster Parents Needed Now!

Foster Parents Needed Now!

I am making a shameless appeal to Bible believing churches to have their church members pray and consider being a foster family with the possible option of adopting the children they foster. You may already have a family or you may be childless. It does not matter. You should still PRAY about what the Lord would have you to do. It might be He will lead you to foster to adopt or maybe it is just to foster without adoption. We need you too! Then please consider helping the foster family with love and support. Possibly you could volunteer to babysit while the mom and dad have a small break. Or maybe it would be that you would come alongside a foster family and relieve the mom by offering to help with housework. Ask if you can mow the lawn for them. Help them at church by  showing patience as the children act out a little in the service. I am a pastor and we could not foster if I had a regular nine to five job. We are busy with seven children! Cathy will oftentimes call me and say, “I need you right now!” I am glad to be on call and take a few children over to the church with me and continue their homeschooling in my office as I work. Remember they came from a hard place so to speak and they will need more love and guidance than your biological children did. My precious wife and I have been on this journey for ten years now and have had twenty seven children come through our care and we have adopted six children. “I must be crazy!” I say to myself. “I am turning fifty nine soon and I am still changing diapers? Yes, but I view it as a sacred trust and duty. I want to raise these children with lots of love and for the glory of God!”

About now dear reader you are saying, “Yes, you are crazy!” or “I could never do that. I could never love a child and become emotionally attached only to have that same child sent back to their biological parents.” Our hearts have been broken to pieces many times during this journey but I thank the Lord that one of our trainers said, “You have to love them enough to take them in and help them and you have to love them enough to let them go.” And really, does not every relationship on earth end sooner or later? What a thrill to know you have impacted a life for time and for eternity! Of course the decision to remove or return a child never rests with us. Humanly speaking it rests with the court system, DHS, coaches, or even the parent’s willingness to receive the parenting classes and substance abuse counseling offered to them. As Christians we know the Lord runs things and we  must pray and trust His sovereignty in these and all other matters. Believe me when I say we have been driven to our knees in prayer many times when we see the stress these little ones have endured or the antics they perform on a daily basis. Malani once asked me, How old was I when you (dad) were pregnant for me?” That was a hard one to answer and I could not beg off by saying, “Go ask your mother.”

GRIM STATISTICS

According to the state of Michigan’s official website, www.michigan.gov/fostercare there are thirteen thousand children in foster care and over three hundred that need a foster family right now in this state. Just Shiawassee County DHS alone has their work cut out for them. The foster care system in every state is under tremendous pressure from the massive caseload put upon them. Across the United States there were 427,000 foster children in care at the end of the fiscal year 2015 and in 2016 the number jumped to over 437,500!  The opioid epidemic has further stretched overworked resources. Many times drugs and child abuse seem to go hand in hand. The worst states are Indiana, West Virginia, Florida, and Georgia. From 2015 to 2016 drug abuse rose an astounding 32% in these states alone!  If these precious children are not cared for they become candidates for human trafficking or sex trafficking. Children who are not cared for in a loving nurturing home are far more likely to quit school, abuse drugs, go to jail or end up pregnant outside of marriage. On a positive note, the number of country-wide adoptions rose up from 54,000 in FY 2015 to 57,000 in FY 2016. All of the children we have adopted have been removed under adverse conditions but I will not comment on any particulars nor will I either confirm nor deny any reasons for removal to protect their innocence. If you foster or foster to adopt you may be asked hard questions such as, “Why didn’t my mom love me?” or, “Is my daddy still in prison?” Believe me when I say you will need the wisdom that only comes from God to tactfully answer those questions. A word of advice is in order here. No matter what YOU may think of the biological parents you must never run their parents down or belittle them. In so doing you are lowering that child’s self-worth also. We know of instances where the biological parents are themselves the victims of terrible, or no parenting from their own parents!

THEY CAME FROM A HARD PLACE

Not so long ago a mother is Shiawassee county was sent to prison for child abuse. The details are sickening and will not be covered in this post. Hopefully, the child will have no memory of this. However, you may foster a child that is old enough and remembers every detail of what happened to them and therefore will act out upon arrival at your front door. We know of a foster family in another county that had a child get out of bed, urinate on his pillow, and then go right back to bed using that same pillow! As bizarre as that is, it made perfect sense to the child. He had been living in filthy conditions and the smell of urine made him feel a little bit safer. Sadly, it reminded him of the home where he was removed. A child may have severe nightmares or as it is called night terrors when a memory is triggered by a seemingly normal event in our estimation. It may be a dog barking, a dish crashing to the floor, or a loud voice. Be ready for these things. They do not have to make sense to us. Remember, they came from a hard place. The social worker will let you know what is needed about the child and you take it from there. As the child is placed in a new environment many times they will naturally revert back to some old “acting out” to get attention or they may be testing the water to see what is acceptable in this new house.

This next piece of advice is priceless. MAKE SURE your biological children are fully “onboard” with this thing called fostering. Prepare them with the fact that life will be different and that the new child may steal, lie, or be demanding. Some of you may say, “That’s no problem! My kids are like that right now.” Believe me. It WILL be different! Then prepare yourself and your biological children that there will be no favoritism shown in the house to anyone. This is where the balancing act comes full circle. Fact: You already love your own children and now you have a child that is a real handful! He or she may wet the bed, destroy a toy or refuse to eat the delicious meal you just prepared. Love all of the children in their own special way that they need.Be prepared to compromise just a bit and not insist that, “It’s my way or the highway buster!” I have a theory that there are times you will get more by asking for less. They may have come from that hard place where it was a job just to survive let alone thrive. (I am sure there are many people reading this who have questions or comments. Please add to the post with your thoughts.) Thank you!

Suffering From Depression

Suffering From Depression

Depression is nothing to be ashamed of and it is far more common than most people think. I wanted to be sure and start off making that statement for two reasons, first if you are suffering from depression or anxiety attacks I want you to know you will not be judged or shamed into “getting better”  by me in this blog post. Really… who wants that anyway? You may be desperate for help but  have had so many shallow attempts at help from those who have not taken the time to listen to you, that you are leery at the next offer. The second reason is if you are a “normal” person searching for help for a friend I do not want you to get ammunition to misuse against your loved one to “fix” them with a one size fits all solution. There are many reasons people suffer from depression, bi polar disorder or have had panic attacks and I am asking that we listen much and speak little when helping others. It just may be that you and I do not know the whole story! There are many symptoms of depression and we should be on the lookout to help our loved ones get the help they need. The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as: “Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.” (from www.psychiatry.org) It is estimated that 16.2 million adults in the United States or 6.7 % of adults have had at least one major depressive episode in a given year. Friend, you are not alone in this! This problem especially affects the Hollywood elite, mainly because they have a distorted world view that encourages vanity and living for self which can never satisfy. There are many recent tragic deaths or overdoses that have claimed the lives of the rich and famous. People like Robin Williams, John Belushi, and Chris Farley have self destructed right before our eyes from their wrong approach to life resulting in an untimely death from drugs or suicide.

Depression: One Size Does Not Fit All

As I counsel people who are suffering I am aware that there are many reasons a person may suffer from depression. I know of many who have experienced the loss of a loved one and miss them terribly. The anniversary of their death or the birthday of the loved one is a day of grief and sadness.  Especially hard is the death of an infant through a stillbirth or SIDS. Maybe there was a terrible accident that you feel is your fault. I know of a few who suffer from survivor’s guilt. They have had people die next to them and wonder why they were left behind, wishing they had been the one who was taken in the tragedy. It is important to find a friend who will listen carefully and not be quick to pass judgment.

I remember one man in particular who was beaten mercilessly by his father and then was told, “I wish the boy down the road was my son and not you!” Sidenote: Please never quote the old proverb. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” That is a bold-faced lie. Nothing could be further from the truth! His depression led into extreme bitterness and affected his whole family. This, in turn, led into paranoia and stuttering. Being abused physically is a cruel burden to bear.

I recall another man who was repeatedly raped as a young boy by two gay uncles. He was severely depressed and sixty years later he was still drinking himself into oblivion every day so he does not have to deal with the memories. Sexual abuse causes depression, especially if the abused is a minor. He once told me God did not care about him and had no use for him. Being abused sexually is a cruel burden to bear. This is one of the most extreme forms of abuse that will deal a crippling blow to the youngster (or adult) who experiences this.

It may be that your family may have been involved in the occult i.e. Ouija boards, bloody mary, seances, or reading Harry Potter or Stephen King books. I am intimately familiar with a mother who did palm readings, attended seances and visited a fortune teller. The spirits she summoned did great harm to one of her daughters who had severe depression leading to suicidal thoughts. Please see my blog, “THE WARFARE AROUND YOU”. Also for a thorough treatment of the subject please read, “Demons In The World Around You”, by Merrill F. Unger. Depression as a result of exposure to the occult is a cruel burden to bear! I would implore you that the Lord Jesus can set even these precious people free. If you are suffering from post occult depression please contact me. If you are in the mid-Michigan area we can meet. If you are out of state I know where you can get help. Don’t play with this stuff!

There are thousands of our returning veterans who suffer from PTSD. This is a unique form of depression that results in flashbacks to the battle field, sudden outbursts of anger, withdrawal from loved ones, or prolonged periods of extreme sadness. Preventing suicide among veterans is fast becoming a priority in the world of mental health. I have served sixteen years in the United States NAVY but I have never been under live fire or had to kill any one in combat, but for those that have it may seem to them like a reoccurring nightmare that haunts them when they close their eyes or try to get a good night of sleep.  The counseling that is needed for our wounded warriors is time consuming and sensitive but oh so needed! Many times the wounded warrior will not open up about PTSD unless the counselor is another veteran who has experienced taking a life or been pinned down in a firefight. My eyes were opened when I received my PTSD Level 1 Training certificate from the Wounded Spirits Institute. We must understand this and give them the time and love they need. They need to know that others vets have received help and that there is hope for them too. Depression as a result of PTSD is a cruel burden to bear!

Then there is social media. Dare I go there? I will. Recent studies have shown a correlation between screen time and depression. Teens are especially susceptible to this type of depression because they are continually exposed to the lives of the rich and famous and feel they have to keep up which is impossible. Then there is the huge problem with online bullying and inane things like facebook fights. People get so attached to fb that they even say, “Good Morning facebook!” or at the end of the day they will  sign off with, “Good Night Facebook!” As I read these type of things I think of how silly it is but for the addict, it is their virtual reality! My wife and I have determined that our children will not get a cell phone until they are eighteen. This is not child abuse. They will learn to read whole books, play an instrument, play outside, exercise, have eye contact with others and not busy themselves with playing Candy Crush.  There has even been a new medical/psychological term coined by the name of  “digital dementia” which refers to the decreased capacity to think or process thoughts normally. Another term is “digital zombie” , which the Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt is worried about. You may ask why I am posting this on the internet then. Isn’t that hypocritical? No. My theory is that I do not like that fact that so many are surfing from one site to the other for most of their day, but if they do live online then they are going to meet me there with good content. After they have gotten the help they need they ought to get outside, feel the sunshine, walk the dog or ride a bike! 

Men and Depression

Ok men, if you are like me in the least you are a little nervous to even read this portion of the blog post. I mean aren’t only weak people subject to depression? Men, please do not forget what I said at the opening of this post, “Depression is nothing to be ashamed of and is far more common then we think.” I too have suffered from depression and anxiety. I had some bad news in the middle of 2016 and again at the beginning of 2017 which threw my world into a tail spin and it took me several months to pray through it. Only my wife knew the extreme depths of sorrow I experienced and I am thankful she was my confidant and stay, humanly speaking. By the grace of God the Lord brought me back into a calm mindset and He has deepened my message as a result. I am a pastor and I do not view my world as purely organic. “What in the world are you saying, Brother Whalen?” By that I mean I believe very strongly in the supernatural unseen world around us. (Please see article, The Warfare Around You.) We must also understand that some mental illness is organic, (i.e. physical)  Back to the spiritual: There is a devil who hates you and will feed you lies if you care to listen to him. Many thoughts that people have are dark in nature and they try to push them away with little or no success. To try to do this is about as effective as using a flashlight with no battery to light up a dark room. Only light can conquer darkness! “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Psalm 119:130 If we combat the dark with the light of God’s word we will experience victory! There will still be a need for a godly mentor and counseling but the Bible promises, if we meditate “day and night…he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:2,3 (More to follow. Leave a comment and add to the discussion.)

The Warfare Around You

The Warfare Around You

He Is Looking For You

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12 Most of Christianity today has no idea of the battle that rages on around us in the unseen spiritual world. To begin with, it seems like God is merely an attachment to our lives who is kind of like the rich uncle that lives in Texas. We know he is there and have warm thoughts of him, that he loves us, but we really don’t stay in contact very much. He is not our reason for existence. We do not greet Him in the morning as we rise from sleep. He is just another App on our screen. We believe in God and occasionally pray to Him but we only visit Him once a week. Then there is the devil. We believe that he also exists and then we trivialize him to the point of a cartoonish devil that wears a red jumpsuit, has horns, a thin mustache, and oh yes, a tail. I really want my readers to learn to lift up our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords and not give any undue attention or fascination to Satan but brother he exists! He hates you with a passion and rages against you and your family. He works 24/7, 365 days a year and does not really want the attention for what he does. In fact he would rather go undetected and work undercover where he does his best work. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:11 “We are not ignorant of his devices.”,but tragically we oftentimes are very ignorant and even complicit in his plan without knowing it. He would love for you to have a failed marriage. He wants your children to rebel against you. He wants you to be offended and leave your church. He does not mind if you skip the Sunday night service or Wednesday prayer meeting. He wants you to compromise just a little and will wait patiently for you to get cold and indifferent to the things of God.

Ignorance Is No Excuse

Those who do not know God very well and are ignorant of Satan’s devices will have flesh and blood battles against people and miss the real source of the conflict. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4:18 we should, “…look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen,…for the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Spiritual warfare is a subject that every believer should study and be aware of. We have the weapons listed in Ephesians Chapter six but very few believers use them.

Where Are Your Priorities?

We are encouraged to have a heavenly vision when it comes to our brief journey on earth. The Lord knew that we would be tempted to view life through the natural man instead of the spiritual man. In 2 Timothy 2:4 we read, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” This battle as was mentioned before is an ongoing fight to the finish. We must understand who the enemy is and fight not fight a carnal (fleshly) battle with people. When we encounter strife and trouble with family or coworkers it is a natural response to push back at the one who hurt or offended us. In so doing we miss the true culprit who is the liar, accuser of the brethren, the deceiver, who is also known as an angel of light. When we battle flesh and blood (people) Satan gets the victory and we are further from victory than when we began. Let us never forget…”the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Corinthians 10:4,5 To complicate matters many believers are filling their minds with the things which will eventually pull them away from the things that speak of Christ. It is a subtle tactic of the enemy and does not seem so wrong at first. But when this is the philosophy of life of one who will be leaving this world soon, it is a waste of time at best and will lead to further erosion of the testimony of the Christian. One secular writer lamented that just when the world needs the church the most the church has become just like the world. Those who are a child of God truly need to set their affections on things above. Instead of being heavenly minded many men are sowing seeds of destruction by spending huge amounts of time on social media. The shocking fact is that over 70 % of the men in the United States view pornography on a regular basis and according to study by The Barna Group 64% of “Christian” men admit to watching porn. Where are the blessings of God when this is happening? They certainly are not coming down as we need them to. One of the ways we can fight this scourge is to be held accountable, knowing that what we view will be known to our accountability partner. Covenant Eyes is an online company that will help us men to stay pure in God’s eyes. In their own words it will help us to “maintain our online integrity.” Satan has done a masterpiece of a job in the area of lust to render men helpless in this area of spiritual warfare. It is bad enough when our public world is so lewd and now with the click of a button or a tap of the finger, the vilest and most wicked things are right in front of the viewer.

Hell Is No Joke!

By now you are either on board with this blog or you think I am making much more of Satan than I should. Friend, we are warned many times in the New Testament of our fallen foe who seeks to devour you. If you are not viewing the reality of Satan, Witchcraft, and evil spirits from the perspective of the Word of God you will fall prey to the deception that most of the world has bought into, namely that he either does not exist or “Hey It’s all in good fun! i.e. Halloween and Buffy The Vampire Slayer et al. Hollywood has so muddied the waters in many ways but the most powerful trick they have pulled is to make you think this is harmless fun. Take note of how wildly popular the Harry Potter series was or the Disney kids cartoon, Vampirina. These subtle tactics have won thousands of young potential converts to the dark side as parents are left thinking, “How cute!” I have personally dealt with a young teenager who wanted help in getting out of witchcraft. Her sister meanwhile was happy to continue in a vampire-themed game complete with a playbook full of rules. In the NAVY I met and debated with four different practicing Satanists who were very devout in their worship of their Lord Satan. They were not joking at all! Hell is no joke and Satan plays for keeps.

We Are On The Winning Side!

Before you think the devil has the upper hand, remember that He was defeated at the cross where our Lord Jesus Christ paid for our sins and took the handwriting of ordinances that was against us and nailed it to the cross. Satan WILL be cast into the lake of fire and we DO have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ on a daily basis. Never think we are to stand against the devil in our own strength.  We stand in the power of the Lord and we clearly state, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” – Philippians 4:13 Let me encourage you to be a man or woman of intense, fervent, red-hot prayer!  Again, have a look at what The Barna Group has found about the prayer habits of evangelical Christians and you will be shocked! Other sources suggest that the average Christian spends 3-7 minutes in prayer daily and that includes meal time prayers! That “rub a dub dub thanks for the grub” praying just won’t cut it, friend!

It should give the devil a fit when he sees you bow in prayer. Your prayers, if prayed with a holy life will be like thunderous cannons destroying the kingdom of Satan. What a shame it would be if ole smutty face were to say to you, “Paul I know and Jesus I know, but who are you?” Leonard Ravenhill says you should be such a threat to Satan’s kingdom that you would be known in hell. Brother the time is short. Darkness is coming when no man can work.The devil knows it. Do we? Let’s get in the business of praying down the power of God and I believe we can still see revival and see many captives set free. Please feel free to leave a comment to encourage other believers in prayer. Let’s get some commitment. Can I get an Amen?

May I Help You Please?

May I Help You Please?

 

In this world of hurting people, there are not nearly enough people offering help to those without hope. In our community, we are averaging one suicide a month and others are overdosing on drugs or just committing the slow suicide of drinking themselves to death. I have been ministering in the jail system both at the county level and the state prison for well over seventeen years. Ten years ago our church started the Reformers Unanimous addictions ministry in the local jail. The jail admin said they would allow twenty men to sign up and over thirty men actually did! The chaplain said he has never seen a ministry launch so big and so fast.

It has been a thrill to see people set free from addictions and destructive behavior. The opioid epidemic is not confined to Michigan or even to Shiawassee County. It is now a nationwide problem and America has the stigma of being the largest drug consuming country in the world. I try to remind people of this when they want to criticize Mexico and the cartels. We are creating the demand and they are simply supplying it. I am looking for like-minded people who want to address the underlying problem, namely that of the consumer, the drug abuser who lives across town, or in your neighborhood or maybe even across the table from you.

Curse the Darkness? or Turn On The Light?

The Bible says we are blessed (happy) if we are not sitting in our seats scorning or despising those who are addicts. I have no use for that attitude! To be sure the addict has made bad and even sinful choices to get to where he or she is at. There are some who are responsible for their actions and others who are victims. I asked one man who had been a drunk for many years how long he had been drinking. He said, “My mother used to put beer in my baby bottle to keep me quiet!” I am sure there are many who have never heard his complete story and it makes me grateful for my precious parents. I was asking another man in his thirties how he had to come to use marijuana and he said his relatives forced him to smoke dope when he was still a young boy of six or seven, thinking it was cute. Yet another man, my good friend from high school had his drunken father take him to the bar when he was four or five years old and had set him on the bar stool to help him have his first drink of beer. Would you like other examples? Sadly I have many more. I am sure you see how scorning these people is the wrong thing and helps no one but to inflate our own egos.

Let’s stop kicking people who are down and be sure we have all of the facts before we sweep them to the side of the road of life and wait for the trash man to pick them up for a one way trip to the human landfill. Will you criticize and complain about our drug epidemic or will you partner with me to offer a hand of help to those in bondage?

It Takes Prayer, Love and Time to Help

I used to think that it took a lot of love to help people and to be sure it does. You will work really hard for their family and kids and then not have the loyalty or appreciation always paid back to you. I live by the maxim to do what I do as unto the Lord, knowing that ultimately it is Him that I serve.

My background is one of drug and alcohol abuse and I am grateful to be alive! With all of the dangerous things I have done and the people I associated with, I should have been killed many times over. I have been a lawbreaker, both God’s law and man’s law, and I am now on the other side! The Lord saved me from my sin, including that of abusing drugs and alcohol in the year of 1980. By His grace and power, I have been set free for thirty-eight years! It is a lie from the devil to say that once a person is an addict or drunk that they are doomed to a life of abuse. It a wonderful thing to experience sobriety, which I prefer to call victory from bondage. I so desire to see others join me in this walk of life that I have led our church in establishing Reformers Unanimous in our local church. Reformers Unanimous was established by Steve Currington and now has chapters in every state in the US and many foreign countries. I was quickly reminded of how much love it takes to love the addict, how much patience it requires to help with her baby steps toward victory and yes, the great rewards to have them testify, “I have been free from shooting heroin for over a year now!” or, “I have been tobacco free for two years!” or, “I have been anger free for three weeks!”

What Do You Want From Life?

“There is a way which seemeth right unto man but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12) I attended a concert in San Francisco and remember chanting with the whole crowd, “We’re white punks on dope! White punks on dope!” I was deceived. I was blind. I was on my way to destruction. I had become the person my parents warned me about. Then I was set free with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Will you join me in setting others free?

We Have a Worldwide Problem

This blog is intended to reach around the world. I may never meet you but please stay with us and help “Set The Captives Free!” I appreciate your input and feedback, because none of us is as smart as all of us.