A War For Their Hearts

This week has been a strange week for my brain. It’s been a little overwhelmed with thoughts about Syria and trying to make sense about what’s happening over there, reading FB posts about Miley Cyrus, and then sitting in a brand new strip club that had both my eyes and mind in overdrive. The first thing I thought as I sat in a super comfy chair with the green laser lights blinding me was, “Is that twerking?”

I might be the only 31 year-old puzzled by the term ‘twerking’ but here is what I now know today on twerking and all that comes with it:

1. Twerking was coined nearly 20 years ago in 1993 by DJ Jubilee. Miley Cryus is a little behind the curb. The only thing different 20 years ago? There were on giant teddy bears involved.

2. Stripping did not evolve out of modern society. Strip teases and erotic dancing can be found clear back to ancient Babylonia. It is mentioned by Thomas Otway in 1651 in the comedy “The Soldier’s Fortune” and in 1707 in the German translation of the French La Guerre D’Espange. Even the bible eludes to erotic dancing when Salome is mentioned to dance for King Herod (only later said to have removed the seven veils by Oscar Wilde, but let’s get real...she totally did). All that to say, even DJ Jubilee was likely behind the curb. Girls been twerking for centuries!

3. Prostitution ( just a tiny step away from erotic dancing) is considered the world’s oldest profession.

4. Stripping found America in 1896.

5. Burlesque became popular in 1925.

6. Strippers went topless in ‘go-go dancing’ in the 1960’s.

7. In 1969, full nudity dancing became popular.

8. Lap dancing began trending in 1980.

9. Everyone needs to stop focusing on Miley Cyrus and what she did, and wake up. This is nothing new. If you want to get angry about it, you need to find the root of the problem. And the root of the problem...is darkness.

10. Seriously, folks. (mostly, I just wanted ten points)

The club I was in last night, had centuries worth of education to know all the right moves. These ladies were the professionals of erotic dancing. I seriously sat there and wondered if they all went to the same strip school where they were taught by the world’s greatest seducer artist (I know, not a real occupation). These girls were incredibly tall, slender, had their curves where curves were supposed to be, long, silky hair, and...well...if they lost their job at the club, I think the Cirque dela would gladly take them.

And me bring five months pregnant, I sat there and thought I was pretty unattractive. I mean....goodness sakes!

I know you might be thinking that this isn’t exactly the point of strip club outreach, but I think it actually is part of the point. You see, up until now, I’ve been in clubs that are dives and the girls aren’t very attractive. These clubs are full of drugs and drunk girls, girls that are being pimped out and taken advantage of. But in this club, there was an air of pride. These girls knew what they were doing. It was almost like an art for them. They knew how to cast their eyes, how to tilt their chin, how to bend and move.

Sitting there, going deaf under the power of the speakers, I felt pretty insecure when a dancer pulled up a chair to our table and sat down to talk. She was 19...shouldn’t have even been allowed to drink. Thankfully, Bekah was able to carry a bit of a conversation with her, as the rest of us could not hear over the blasting music. She said she really enjoyed to work at the club, that it was easy, good money. When Bekah asked how she ended up there, she said her brother’s friend told her she should try it out.

These dancers may be different than the dives, but I can almost promise that somewhere, each of them has brokenness. After all, we all do. Maybe their fathers were not in the picture or did not show them enough attention, making sure their daughters knew they were beautiful, wanted and loved? Every girl wants to know she is pretty, that she has value, that she can be the center of a man’s attention. That’s how God somewhat made women, right? Even if these girls have no ‘hurt’ to speak of on the surface, there is one truth: Satan has been after the heart of women from the very beginning.

 “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

 ~ Genesis 2:18 (NIV)

“The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”
 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.  Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
~Genesis 2: 23-25 (NIV)

Woman was originally intended to please man, to ease his loneliness, to help him, to love him, and very importantly, to be loved and cherished in return. They were partners. There was respect. After all, until Adam received the gift of Eve, he was incomplete and not fully happy. I imagine The Lord thought out the design of woman, knowing what would please Adam; she would be soft to the touch, pleasing to the eye, and beautiful in all ways. Woman was special. Unique. Valued. Gifted. Irreplaceable. Needed.

And then darkness walked in...

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”
~Genesis 3:6-7 (NIV)

So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
~Genesis 3: 14-15 (NIV)

And that part: I will put enmity between you and the woman, is what stands out to me. Webster Dictionary defines enmity as mutual hatred or ill will. That’s powerful! God doesn’t say this about the serpent and Adam, does he?

When I was little, I thought this meant that women were predestined to be afraid of snakes forever, and that they would stomp their heads with the heels of their boots (I often picture my Great Grandma, Ida, in her knee high panty hose and black work shoes doing this...and it makes me laugh). But I don’t see this verse that way anymore. I believe that women have always been a target for Satan. And why not? She made Adam complete. She was God’s treasured gift to mankind. Why wouldn’t the enemy spend all of history, present, and future to warp and destroy what she was meant to be?

Miley Cyrus stood on a national stage and simulated sexual acts for a man. The audience on TV cheered. The other musical artists looked on with disgust (as if they’ve never done the same exact thing). We tweeted and posted our disdain and noted how we feel sorry for Miley. But we watched. We failed to see where the enemy was winning.

If you think what Miley Cryus did was shocking, you don’t know what I see on Wednesday nights. Every single night, all across the world, women are in bars and clubs, projected on movie screens, printed in the pages of magazines...all shedding their clothes to display what God meant to be truly beautiful. He never intended for them to be an object of lust, performing sex acts for anyone to see. “It’s easy money,” in the words of my new friend. “He said I should give it a try.” And I bet she feels a measure of beauty in it. I really do. There’s faux approval when the money pays the bills. She’s special. She’s coveted. She is prized. So says the men in the club. So says the enemy.

Want to change things?

1. Stop tuning into the VMAs if you don’t want to see something dirty. After all folks, it happens   every single year. You’re partly to blame.

2. Make every single little girl in your life feel that she is positively cherished, beautiful, and worthy of unconditional love. Give her value in her identity of who she is, not what she can do for anyone else.

3. Mothers, stop obsessing over your looks and weight. One day, you daughter who might grow up to be insecure in her own looks will have a brother’s friend tell her she’s pretty enough to dance with the A-lister dancers and she will give it a try, feeling gorgeous. I once had a friend feed me the same line and felt pretty because of it (thankfully, I did not listen to his career advice!). So show her daughter you see value in your appearance.

4. Fathers, set an example for your sons. They watch everything you do. Open the car door for the women in your wife. Speak to them with respect. Touch them gently with love. Do not let your eyes linger of women passing by, showing your son that women are here to please men’s eyes.

We may not be able to change history (yet) but we can start by changing with the little boys and girls in our lives. We can be better men and women for them. We can stop letting music, TV shows, and movies stream into our homes that make our gender roles less than what God intended. We can do better. We can be better. We can start raising outstanding young men and women.


So, I'll leave you with this rather bizarre old photo of Miley that now makes little sense. What happened? There's a war on for the heart's of women. That is what's happening.

Note: Also posted at Light in Darkness.


Greater Is He

A while back when Roger started to grow tremendously in his ministry, we began to experience spiritual warfare and sucker punches at full force. There would be nights when I would suddenly wake up in the middle of the night and be overcome with fear. I could feel something. Not to much longer after, Lucy would start to cry. I would go into her room and she’d be terrified, awoken from a nightmare. This happened almost every night for a few months, always around the same time.

Wondering how this ties into outreach last night? Well, here you go...(and don’t think I’m crazy, please?).

Last night, I felt discouraged before I met up with my outreach team. I really just wanted to cry (and it was more than just being pregnant) and things slowly fell apart for me as the night went on. When I was sitting in the club, I made small talk with my outreach partner, making sure she was okay and answering questions she had. But inwardly, I was thinking that this entire ministry was going to be impossible. What if the team fizzled out? What if we couldn’t make it work when our leader was no longer there to guide us each week? I mean, these are brand new clubs that an outreach team has never entered. I started this ministry when veterans had already laid the groundwork and developed some relationships. I went in with the club owners and dancers already knowing we were the church ladies that brought gifts. And this is how I sat there, with my partner oblivious to what was going on in my head, simply worried.

About 30 minutes in, I sent the prayer team a text stating that I felt like I was failing at this to which a friend quickly sent back an encouraging response. Soon after, a huge group of men walked in. They sat close to where we were; one guy pulling his chair all the way up to the stage. It quickly became obvious that this guy was the trouble maker and all his buddies were there just to cheer him on and encourage him to get hands on with the dancers. All of a sudden, the dancer on stage became much more energetic. She got down right in the guy’s face, presenting...body parts to be touched and fondled.

My hands started trembling. This has never happened to me in a club before. I once saw a girl I had just talked to, a girl that was sobbing over her drink, go to dance for a man and allow oral sex to be preformed on her right on the stage. I spoke with the same girl afterwards, tears still streaming down her cheek. But even then, my hands didn’t tremble.

My hands are my spiritual barometer, of sorts. That same terror, dark fear, that wakes me and Lucy in the night, came into the club with those men. I remember mentioning to my partner that I didn’t think we should stay much longer. I think she replied at some point about Greater is He...if not, it kept circling my brain (1 John 4:4). I said we would try to stick it out ten more minutes and pray hard core for the girls. But soon after, some guys in the group kept turning around to stare at us and I knew it was time to leave.

Then, all of a sudden, ‘C’ (a dancer a team had met two weeks ago) was standing at out table. My hands were still trembling and I wished I for have a face-to-face with God right at the moment. I wanted to ask Him, “What exactly is going on here? I have felt like getting the chance to speak to a girl was going to be impossible. Now, when I know it is time to go, You send a girl to our table when my hands are trembling and my head’s a mess?!”

Of course, I didn’t the chance for that face-to-face with God.

When ‘C’ moved on, we packed up our things and left...but I ended up taking that darkness all the way home with me. My mind couldn’t make sense out of what had happened or why the group of men bothered me so much. I felt kinda crazy.

You can blame it on my over active imagination, or my curiosity over C.S. Lewis’ ‘Screwtape Letters’, but I have a huge belief in the idea that people can bring their ‘garbage’ or their ‘spiritual junk’ along with them. I guess that’s what I felt when those guys got settled in. They weren’t doing anything more shocking than I’ve seen in the past.

I was up for a long time, laying in bed and trying to fall asleep. I kept thinking about random verses, none of which were particularly uplifting. I thought of God encountering Satan in the book of Job and how Satan tells God that he has been patrolling the earth. I thought about the demons in ‘Screwtape Letters’ that thought it funny that mankind did not even know that the demons are with them, sitting beside them, keeping them in bondage. And then, at that familiar time of night, Lucy let out a terrible scream of, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” I think I almost peed, the sound scared me so much!

Roger and I jumped out of the bed, nearly running into each other, yanked open the door of the kids’ room, and found Lucy out of bed, shaking at the top of the stairway that goes to the top bunk. She was pointing at a dark corner of the room screeching, “Daddy! You have to get that snake! Get it out of here!”

There was no snake, but it took some convincing to get her to believe me. When she was calm, she climbed into bed, asked for us to turn some worship music on softly, and fell back to sleep. But me? I went back to bed still feeling defeated. Was being in ministry and trying to love people that are pretty hard to reach out to worth the sucker punches? Was it worth my daughter’s nightmares and the darkness that sometimes gets into my home? I mean, my gut reaction is to tell God, “Never mind!” It’s hard. And I think these attacks and other like it, have been regular for over a year.

I laid in bed for an hour. Then, I finally heard from God (to which I wanted to tell Him that I NEED sleep). He reaffirmed that I did feel the spiritual atmosphere change when those men walked in (so I’m not crazy). Who knew a strip club had spiritual atmosphere? But it’s everywhere. While my team was there, it changed. People don’t see it now, but we bring in light; we take the presence of The Lord in. And when those guys came in...goodness!...if we could only have looked at the scene with special glasses...see it the way God and His angel armies see it!

Yes, Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. We weren’t in danger, but I do believe those alarms both my partner and I felt were God’s way of saying it was time to go. But in that two-in-the-morning hour, God clearly told me, “Andrea...that may be how it felt to you, but you can’t feel what the darkness feels when you and the teams walk into those clubs.” I thought what I felt was troubling, but I suddenly understood: though we don’t see it yet, the battle being done and the victories already claimed in the name of The Lord, are ripping the enemies’ feet right out from under them. They do more than tremble in His presence. They eventually flee...and that’s a promise. If we keep going, if we stick it out, if we roll with the sucker punches and commit to do this thing even when there is so much on our calendar...the darkness will flee. God will win.

“And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.” Genesis 1:1

He could do this without us, really. But how awesome is it that He has called us to serve by His side? Don’t let sucker punches keep you from standing with a chin held high and your hand tucked into His. What’s happening that we can’t see with our earthly eyes, is well worth it.


PS: At six years old, my sweet baby girl is leaning how to be a trooper in these wars she can’t see with her own eyes. If she doesn’t ask for worship music when she is terrified in the night, she gets my phone, opens the YouVersion app and plays the Psalms audio. So...even a little girl is mightier than the enemy. If that’s true for her, it’s true for me...because I’ll be 31 next week!