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APRIL 2014

Filthy Rags

MAY 2014

By Laurie Penner, Canada IOM America Exchange Writer My name is Laurie Penner. In attempting to write this bio, I am discovering I have a hard time writing about myself and family. But praise the Lord, I’m ‘IN’ Christ Jesus and I have asked Him to do it! I have been married to my wonderful husband (Harvey) for 17 years. We have been blessed with three beautiful daughters - our youngest teenager (Julia) and Brittany and Jordan who are grown and live a few hours from us. We were first introduced to Exchanged Life truths 14 years ago. After receiving the revelation, we made ourselves available for Christ’s work and entered into pastoral ministry. Saying goodbye to our lawn maintenance/snow removal business in the city, we moved to a rural community in central Saskatchewan, Canada and filled the position of senior pastor (only pastor) at a small, but inviting country church. Because of the church’s size, Harv’s position varies from sharing his sermon on Sundays and making coffee, to planning events, to even septic tank maintenance when required. I love spending time with our ever changing Sunday school class, taking part in the morning worship, as well as leading ladies’ Bible study. We both rejoice in the fact that being so informal gives us the freedom to share the indwelling life of Christ. I have also been in the health care service for over 30 years and travel around the community having the joy of working with many people. I’m so grateful in my walk in the Lord, whether surrounded by fellow believers or in my field of work. Time and time again, I have witnessed God’s love, peace, and wisdom. I would like to share with you the first article I submitted to IOM America for publishing—Filthy Rags. Enjoy! When one sees the title of this article, I imagine the first thing in their thoughts are old, dirty, crusty, well-used rags, that equip our husbands or fathers to wipe down very dirty, greasy things. In Isaiah 64:6, God’s word tells us that all of us have become like one who is unclean, and our righteous acts are like filthy rags: we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Glancing over my Facebook account this morning and I came across pictures of a friend’s relatives. Continued page 2


Laurie Penner Article Continued: A Christian couple, through their pictures, appeared to hold every blessing from God. Scenes of her at her workplace and photos walking along the beach peacefully smiling (probably thinking of her Lord and all her blessings). Pictures of her and her husband looking adoringly at each other. More photos of their kids, with acceptance and love written all over their faces. Now a family like this would usually make me a bit uneasy, because our little family has had so many struggles. It wants me to question God. But this time, I thanked the Lord for all He’s bestowed on this couple. I sincerely thanked Him. As I pondered it all, I heard a still small voice say, “Yes, but do they have Me as their Life?” Wow! I really had to stop my train of thought and switch gears. “Well, Lord, they appear so full of joy. But now that I really think about it...they love You,. But most likely, their joy is coming from their own efforts to be happy and successful, and they are really, really good at those efforts.” This made me think of a Scripture I have taped to my dresser mirror, “There is a way which seems right to man, but its end is the way of death.” It must be important because it’s mentioned twice in Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 . My husband, Harvey, had to start his summer job today. To allow the finances at our little church to stay healthy, he voluntarily receives a wage cut and takes on a seasonal job in the community, working on the roads and ditches. This morning, as in the past, this has made him a bit sad and feeling somewhat of a failure. As we prayed together, he wondered about his abilities of being a pastor. With defeat, he cried out to Jesus for strength and endurance to keep both responsibilities going. Harv then surrendered and acknowledged that in and of himself he can’t do anything, and gave thanks to the One who can, His Lord Jesus. With a sigh, he agreed to depend on the Lord every moment of this day. I have to ask myself, “In whose life would the Lord be more glorified—a life that screams success or one that has great need to depend on His Savior?” In the hours that have passed since all this took place, I have been encouraged to pray for that loving couple to know Christ as their Life. I have to admit I’m a bit apprehensive, because I’m actually praying for the Lord to bring this couple to a place of surrender that might not be all that pleasant. At the same time, I have to rejoice that Harvey has really needed the Life of Christ in Him to walk through this day, and he not only has brought glory to his God, but he is allowing himself to be a vessel to be used by Jesus. Hallelujah! To really understand all of this, one must first realize that the filthy rags God is talking about in Isaiah 64:6 are anything of our own attempt, done outside of God. Good attempts or bad, successes or failures. If it’s not of God, it’s filthy rags. But, how do we know it’s not of God? To understand, I would like to take us back to the beginning of man, back to Adam (‘mankind’ in Hebrew). Adam was created by God. By having God’s spirit breathed into him, he was alive to God. To be specific, God created Adam in three (3) parts: he had a spirit, which was alive to God; a soul, which involved his mind, will, and emotions; and the physical body, which came from the dust. At the fall of man, by making the choice to disobey God, Adam died. It was not his body that died, but the spirit in him. Romans 5:12 says that just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin and in this way death came to all men, because all have sinned. In other words, because Adam sinned, we all sinned. Adam’s spirit died; we are all born with a dead spirit to God. Having a dead spirit to God, we have only our soul and body to rely on when we are brought into this world . We, in and of ourselves, cannot receive any goodness from our God. Our spirit is alive to Satan and there are ones who choose to receive power from him. As believers, the moment we received Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we received not only the forgiveness of sins, but also the gift of our dead spirit - what the Bible calls “our old man,” crucified on the cross, 2000 years ago in Christ. We also received a new, alive Spirit to God (born-again) in union with the Spirit of Jesus Christ. His Life is now in us. As Christ was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven, the Bible says that we also were, “raised up by God with Christ and are seated with him in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” How immeasura2


bly wealthy is this gift from our Lord?! Now those with no knowledge of this co-crucifixion (whether a believer or non-believer or believer), are living out of “self” - self as their center, responsible for all their abilities, using their own efforts and ways to cope in this life. The Bible terms this as our “flesh.” Some of us are very successful in our flesh whether we are believers or not. Unfortunately, a believer walking in their “flesh” is no different than a nonbeliever. God does not acknowledge these efforts. As hard as it sounds, He looks at these works as filthy rags. As believers, to not walk in your flesh, but from the source of the One in you, the Bible calls “walking in the spirit.” It’s in these steps from Him that we find ourselves hopeless and helpless of ourselves—not only to receive this as knowledge, but to “experience” the crucifixion of our old man or selflife, which is just as important. With that experience comes deep humility...being humbled as if to the point of death. This humbling seems not to be a onetime event; but continues through our days, encouraging us to get to a place where we are convinced it’s not about us. It’s not about being satisfied in oneself, having a good performance, or saying the right thing. It’s not about happiness, material things, relationships, or even worldly success we supposedly deserve. We need to get past the point of concern or even judgment of self, stop the attention on self, and place it fully on Christ Jesus and what He did on the cross, When we are satisfied in this alone, I believe then we are learning to walk in Him, experiencing the freedom in Him, and living the Abundant Life. In our weakness, He is strong. God is being glorified, and in the place of filthy rags are acts of righteousness.

Dear IOM Readers, Family Watch was forwarded an advance copy of a joint declaration being circulated to get agreement at an upcoming conference of the International AIDS Society (IAS) from major stakeholders in the fight to stop AIDS. So what does IAS, which describes itself as “the world's leading independent association of HIV professionals, with more than 16,000 members in 194 countries” say is the solution to the AIDS pandemic? Most people would guess abstinence before marriage, sticking to one sexual partner in marriage, or delay of sexual debut. After all, this approach was proven most effective in Uganda where it dramatically reduced the HIV infection rate. Many would say “safe” sex. In fact, whenever I ask an audience what they think the experts would say is key in preventing AIDS, they usually come up with abstinence, fidelity, and condoms. After all, developing the most effective strategies to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic means life or death to millions of vulnerable people. But these “experts” apparently disagree. As the declaration of a conference whose theme is “Stepping Up the Pace,” one would think there would be increased focus on the things that are proven to work, like abstinence, fidelity in marriage and condom use as a final resort. But, no. These “experts” backed by people like billionaire Bill Gates say in their new “Melbourne Declaration” (click here to read it) likely to be launched at an upcoming IAS conference, that destigmatizing and legalizing the highest risk behaviors for spreading AIDS including prostitution, drug use, and male homosexual sex will stop AIDS! Their conference to be held 20-25 July 2014 in Melbourne, according to their website “is expected to convene over 14,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries, including 1,200 journalists. Their draft declaration now circulating, however, goes so far as to call for punishments ranging from withdrawal of funds or being banned from “leadership roles in international HIV/AIDS fora, policy meetings or conferences” for any person, organization, or country which “discriminates” (i.e. does not embrace the destigmatization of high risk sexual behaviors such as prostitution or men who have sex with men, or LGBT rights) as the way to prevent HIV/AIDS. Truly we live in a world turned upside down when those who encourage behaviors that prevent a Editorial Comments: Kathy Hill, CO editor@iomamerica.org Entire content of this publication is under © supervision of IOM America 2014 Reproduction permitted when entire publication remains intact. Digital view or copies can be obtained online at: click here All Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963,1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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deadly disease are ostracized and those who condone and celebrate such behaviors are lauded. I am baffled by how these people think. Surely many of them know someone who has suffered and died from AIDS. I know from personal experience what it is like to care for someone in the last stages of AIDS. It is a painful, awful slow death that no one should have to suffer. Surely many of them know how awful this disease is, yet they value sexual freedom over sexual health and even over the value of protecting and saving lives. Here are some outrageous statements from the Melbourne Declaration: “Leaders of Governments who adopt discriminatory laws and policies [this means any laws that restrict, criminalize or stigmatize the knowing transmission of AIDS or the highest risk behaviors for spreading AIDS] should not be permitted to exercise leadership roles in international HIV/AIDS fora, policy meetings, or conferences.” “The promotion of intolerance, discrimination, and homophobia [meaning pointing out the fact that the sexual behaviors of male homosexuals and prostitutes put them at a much higher risk for HIV and thus should be discouraged] by any individual or group, faith-based or secular, is unacceptable in health or social policy or through the law. Such organizations should be excluded from donor funding for HIV programs.” “Donors and Governments should insist that all HIV service providers adopt non-discrimination policies [meaning you cannot discourage high risk sexual behaviors] as a condition for funding.” “We know that an end to discrimination is inextricably tied to the effort to end AIDS.” [They provide no evidence to support this.] Anyone who has taken even the most basic course in public health knows that the best way to curtail the spread of a disease is to try to change the behaviors that spread the disease, yet this basic health fact is not only ignored by AIDS experts worldwide, it is attacked by them. The declaration sets forth a straw man argument making it seem as if everyone is trying to discriminate against prostitutes, drug users, and male homosexuals by refusing to treat them or give them services, yet there is no evidence that such people are being denied treatment or care. We certainly promote the fair and equal treatment for all in AIDS prevention, and treatment for any person regardless of their sexual habits or inclinations. But we support far more strongly promoting things that are proven to be far more effective. What they are really after is to exploit the AIDS pandemic to promote sexual rights that have nothing to do with AIDS prevention and treatment, using scare tactics to make people think that somehow people will die of AIDS unnecessarily if we don’t embrace their AIDS-spreading behaviors. We contacted two of the foremost AIDS experts in the world to give their comments on the Melbourne Declaration. Here are their comments: Dr. Edward C Green, PhD (Formerly) Director of the AIDS Research Project, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies; “Regarding the Melbourne Declaration, after a very quick reading, 2/3 of all HIV infections are found in subSaharan Africa, and many of the issues in the Declaration are not really relevant when one (finally) realizes that most HIV infections in Africa and the world are in the general population, not among gay men, IDUs [intravenous drug users], or sex workers. Most infections are in fact among better educated, wealthier Africans who can afford to have and maintain a great number of sex partners. So the problem I have with these statements is that they reflect a basic misunderstanding of where and how most HIV infections in the world occur, a misunderstanding about the crucial differences between concentrated and generalized epidemics. There is also the suggestion or assumption in this Declaration that overcoming e.g., homophobia will defeat AIDS. Yet we find HIV rates actually rising in the U.S. and in the UK (especially among gay men), both world leaders in overcoming homophobia. This is discussed at length in our book: Green, E.C and A. Herling Ruark, AIDS, Behavior, and Culture: Understanding Evidence-Based Prevention. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press 2011. We reported that at CSW this year, the African Group tried to insert a provision promoting “delay of sexual debut” and “reduction of concurrent sexual partners” in an HIV resolution. This is just plain common sense as well as being unquestionably effective measures. Yet, unbelievably, the rich Western countries forced a vote to remove this. This is cultural imperialism at its worst in keeping with a pattern of such actions that we outline in our documentary, “Cultural Imperialism: The Sexual Rights Agenda” which you can view here. We (FWI) have been getting a lot of renewed interest in our documentary recently, which exposes this whole scandal. Click here to see our policy brief with the facts on HIV prevention policies. The more people speak out about this, the more lives can be saved. Please help us spread this information. To read more of this article, go to http://www.familywatchinternational.org/fwi/newsletter/0690.cfm Sincerely, Sharon Slater President, Family Watch International

Permission given by Family Watch International to reprint this article. http://www.familywatchinternational.org/fwi/

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Exchanged News - May 2014