by Erin Olson on June 21st, 2017

​Recently, every speaker and every conversation around a table end up at the same place these days…social media. The conversation is rarely uplifting, very authentic, and usually, by the end of the conversation, people are shaking their head in agreement.
 
But then, just as we get done labeling social media as the antichrist, we (I include myself here) in the next moment are scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We know it brings us negative feelings. We are aware it creates envy. We know it causes us to say and do stupid things, and yet we return to it…again, and again, and again.
 
Studies show that social media releases the same chemical in our brain that drugs do. It can be addicting. It can never fill a void…and it must be continually fed.
Drugs. Social media. Screen time. Pornography. All these things release the same chemical in our brain that causes us to want more and more while at the same time increasing our depression, our insecurity, and our emptiness. Is it just me or does this have the handprint of Satan all over it? He is the thief that comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). The things I mentioned above steal our time and rob us of joy. Some of these things literally kill us or sadly, cause some to kill themselves. And most of these things are destroying families, callings, and our land.
 
As I sit around a table and listen to people talk, they talk about how social media makes them depressed or jealous. However, they all recognize that the highlight reel of their “friend’s” life is made up moments that don’t encompass their entire lives. We know this, and yet it still bothers us. We know that most likely five seconds before that precious family photo, someone was crying, someone was yelling, and the fake smiles turned to frowns the minute the camera stopped snapping. And what about all those trips? Yes, your “friend” is traveling somewhere it seems every other month, but maybe you don’t know how in debt your friend is because they are trying to outlive their means. And then there is your “friend” who continually posts selfies because deep down inside, she or he is hurting and looking for attention from somebody…anybody…because he or she is completely broken. Do we take the time to reach out beyond the screen?
 
I don’t know about you, but I feel like Facebook and Instagram have turned into a larger-than-life “My kid made the honor roll, and yours didn’t” bumper sticker. I rarely see parents post about the child who fails a class or gets suspended or expelled, but I always see every single award ceremony and school event.
 
What did we do before social media? Were we lonely, depressed, and jealous because we couldn’t share our worlds with the world? Did we compete with people we don’t even know, but consider a “friend”? Is there anything godly about continually posting every moment of our lives, including those that are posed, and if you are honest, a little fake? Are we causing people to stumble, and in some cases, fall into pits of depression and anxiety? Is it our responsibility to care about how others see our lives? As Christ followers, yes, it is. Jesus commanded us to love God and love others. If we really loved God, we wouldn’t be insecure and feel the need to compete. If we really loved others, we’d use a little self-control (a fruit of the Spirit) before we post something and consider all those “friends” on our list.
 
Romans 14:13–14 in The Message translation says it well, “Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything, as it is in itself, is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.”
 
Paul was telling people, “Listen, I know as believers you can eat whatever you want, but if by eating what you want causes someone else to stumble in their walk (or worse not get to Jesus because they can’t get past the food thing), don’t eat it in front of them (maybe ever).” Social media is the same. Just because you can say or post whatever you want, if it affects someone enough to cause them to stumble (be jealous, sad, anxious, suicidal, angry) DON’T do it. If you dig deeper into Romans 14, you’ll see that Paul was addressing the issue of the weak and the strong.
 
Let’s be wise about what we post (and don’t post), and if you feel the need to post your highlight reel, make sure it includes the best moments and the worst moments. Because then, and only then, will your posts be helpful and authentic.
 

by Erin Olson on June 18th, 2017

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day appear to be handled slightly differently. Mother’s Day is full of pink and flowers, and tears. Father’s Day has lots of directives and barbecues. The roles of mother and father are so critical in a child’s life. However, sadly many children are growing up without one or both of their parents. Whether it be divorce, wedlock, prison, detachment, alcohol, drugs, or death, many children today will not witness their parents in a healthy relationship.
 
I was thinking about this last night. Mother’s Day has always been a time to be sad for the motherless. But what about the fatherless? Do we shed a tear for them, too? There is something special about a mom, yes, but there is something almost unexplainable about a dad. Dads are the ones who are supposed to provide for and protect their families. They are expected to be the strong foundation for their family.
 
For me, Father’s Day is a sad reminder that I didn’t know my dad. I’m not alone in missing and grieving the loss of a father. My dad left when I was two years old. I never saw him again until I was twenty years old, and even then, I only saw him for a few days. He has since passed away. I never knew him personally, and I knew very little about him. Half of what made me who I am was missing from my life. My mom remarried, and I had a step-dad, but that deep sense of abandonment and wondering messed with my mind and my soul.
 
It took me many years to figure out the only thing that could fill that void in my heart. I yearned for love and security, but honestly, I didn’t even know what love and security looked like because I had not seen it modeled. I didn’t look to God as my perfect Father because no one had ever presented God to me in that light.
 
“Father to the fatherless… this is God, whose dwelling is holy.” (Psalm 68:5)
 
To the fatherless, I want you to know that despite who your earthly father is or what he has done, you have a Father in heaven who loves you, cares for you, protects you, and is your sure foundation. He’s not a father who will leave you, turn his back on you, seek out pleasures over his responsibilities, and he is not dysfunctional and wracked with his own troubles. He is God. He is the great I Am. He has loved you and known you before your earthly parents knew you existed.
 
That longing in your heart…that anger in your heart…can be filled and erased with one word, “Abba.”
 
“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “’Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15)
 
Jesus cried out to God in His moment of desperation, “Abba, Father, ” he cried out, ‘everything is possible for you’” (Mark 14:36). Jesus said everything is possible for God. This "everything" includes being your Father if you will allow Him. He offers you salvation and adoption into His family through believing in His Son, Jesus. Call upon His name (Romans 10:13). At that moment, you become His child, and He becomes your Father (Galatians 4:6). Though you have no earthly father, you will have a heavenly Father who is best. No earthly father even comes close to measuring up to the goodness of God. None.
 
To those who are fatherless, but have accepted the love of the Father and been adopted by Him, love on the fatherless who are hurting and grieving today. Show them love. Lead them to the Father. Step in and foster them until their adoption is final. We can become a nation, and a world, who is no longer fatherless only if we look to the Father.
 
“But whenever they were in trouble and turned to the Lord, the God of Israel, and sought him out, they found him.” (2 Chronicles 15:4) 

by Erin Olson on June 12th, 2017

Last weekend was a super busy weekend for us. Between my husband’s schedule, my schedule, my children’s schedule, and our family schedule, we were going in lots of different directions. All good things, but at the end of the weekend, it made me reflect on a few things.

My husband and I have fought the good fight when it comes to protecting our weekend schedule from being overly crowded. Our children don’t play select sports or on travel teams. We attend and serve at church on Saturday evenings, so our Sundays used to be totally free. I say “used to be” because there’s been a shift. My children aren’t playing sports or hanging out with friends on Sundays. They’re serving in ministry. So, while we are busier than we like to be, my children are now serving in so many ways. It’s hard to say, “No” to that.

Read more of Erin's monthly post on Daughters of the Deep by clicking HERE.

by Erin Olson on May 9th, 2017

Ok...so it's not a national thing. Not yet, at least.

A couple months ago, I wrote a blog about God putting it on my heart to reach out to the women in my neighborhood to start a neighborhood Bible study. That has been going great so far and now God is asking me to do something more.
​Shortly after the National Day of Prayer last week, God whispered, "What about your neighborhood. What about gathering your neighbors together to prayer walk instead of worry about what's taking place." You see over the last few months, crime has increased slightly. We've had several houses broken into and of course, continually have cars broken into...and summer has not even started. With the long lazy days of summer, it always seems like crime increases. We don't live in a bad part of town so when crime hits, it is noticed. Not only does crime increase, but children who have far too many hours on their idle hands get a little bored and mischievous. One of the glass panes on my front door is proof of someone's boredom a couple years ago.

So, as I did with my Bible study, I posted on our neighborhood nextdoor.com. And as I type this, I'm laughing to myself because well, I haven't received nearly as many responses to this post as I did the Bible study post. Most of the responses have only been to ask me if I'd somehow arrange the prayer walk to incorporate the neighborhood crime watch membership drive (of which, I have politely declined and said, "Of course we will be praying for more members to join."

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6–7, New Living Translation)

Far too often, prayer intimidates people, but it shouldn't. Prayer is simply one of the means by which we communicate with God. Yes, He certainly is worthy to be praised and feared, but He is also loving and wants His people to pray. Jesus is standing there interceding on our behalf as we lift up every single prayer.

I know most of you don't live in my neighborhood so I am asking you to pray about doing this prayer walk in your neighborhood on May 27th (since Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff to summer). I have provided some media resources you can download and share, as well as prepared a flyer you can share with your neighbors. I'll be posting a prayer guide soon for all of those who need a little extra help getting the prayer walk started.

I truly believe in the power of prayer because I've witnessed God move in response to prayer. I know prayer can change our neighborhoods, it can strengthen families in our neighborhoods, and it can hold back the schemes of the devil in our neighborhoods.

Will you join me? Click HERE to visit my website for all of the details. 

In His service,

Erin Olson
Sandalfeet Ministries
erin@sandalfeet.org
sandalfeet.org

by Erin Olson on May 4th, 2017

​I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the promised land. We talk about it still today, right? We think of the promised land as being a place or a thing. But in fact, our promised land has already come. Our promised land is Jesus.
 
Can you picture Moses? Old and tired Moses. Worn out from all that happened in the desert. The emotional and physical toll of wandering in the wilderness must have been exhausting for him, but it didn’t have to be. God told Moses about the promised land. A land that He was going to give to Moses and his descendants. Moses didn’t doubt God. Moses doubted himself.
 
How many of us are like Moses?
 
Deep down inside we speak the words, “I know God is big and He can accomplish anything,” but our minds and actions don’t come into agreement. We believe God is big, but we limit ourselves to what we think we are capable of and we forget that He is in control.
 
Moses didn’t think he could deliver messages to the people in an acceptable way. He doubted his ability instead of looking at God’s ability. He met God in a burning bush—a bush that was on fire, but never burned—but Moses didn’t firmly believe the God that could burn in a bush could give him the ability to speak.
 
Later, Moses took matters into his own hands when he struck the rock instead of speaking to the rock like God instructed him to do. As I read the Scripture today, I couldn’t figure out why Moses would do that. Was he just that frustrated with all the people or did he still have a little bit of doubt in him? We don’t know exactly, but because he didn’t completely obey, Moses forfeited the full blessing of God. Moses never actually entered the promised land. (See Deuteronomy 34:1–3)
 
Moses stood on the edge looking over the land.
 
Alone with God.
How many stand alone looking over into the promised land, but never enter it? The biggest deterrent? Doubt.
 
They doubt God exists.
 
They doubt God can use them.
 
They doubt Jesus accomplished the ultimate sacrifice.
 
They doubt they can change.
 
People don’t think they can change.
 
They erect walls of isolation.
 
God was working through the Israelites to deliver them from their enemies and into the promised land; a land full of blessing and peace. But the Israelites couldn’t stay focused on God for longer than a minute. They wanted to obey so badly, but they would fail so quickly. They continually needed to offer sacrifices for their sins, and eventually, that just wasn’t enough. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice requiring that no one would ever again have to offer a blood sacrifice for sin. Ever.
 
If God pulled you aside today and told you that He needed you to do something big for Him, what would you do? What would be your first reaction?

Getting back to the water and the rock…God instructed Moses and Aaron to go to the rock and speak. Remember, Moses didn’t feel adequate to speak to the people. God spoke to Moses and Aaron was the spokesperson. So, maybe it should have been Aaron who spoke to the rock, but instead, Moses hit the rock. God wasn’t happy.
 
But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” (Numbers 20:12)
 
Both Moses and Aaron lost their opportunity to enter the promised land because of their disobedience.
 
There, on the border of the land of Edom, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “The time has come for Aaron to join his ancestors in death. He will not enter the land I am giving the people of Israel, because the two of you rebelled against my instructions concerning the water at Meribah. (Numbers 20:23–24)
 
Blessing comes when we take full advantage of the promised land God has offered to us today. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we become children of God (Galatians 3:26). However, so many don’t walk in obedience when it comes to this first step (accepting Christ as their Savior who is the ultimate sacrifice for all sin), and therefore they forfeit their opportunity to partake of the promised land.
 
There are others who receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior but continue to walk in doubt and unbelief. They may be standing in the promised land, but their feet might as well be bound in cement because their doubt has them paralyzed.
 
Either way, doubt has no place in the life of the believer. When we receive a command or word from God, we must do what He says. If we don’t, our disobedience has a consequence, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. Moses and Aaron couldn’t blame anyone but themselves. We must learn from their example. Don’t forfeit what God has already said is yours because you doubt. Instead, trust Him and do what He says.

by Erin Olson on April 12th, 2017

​I recently had the opportunity to teach on 2 Corinthians 2:5-11,

Now, regarding the one who started all this—the person in question who caused all this pain—I want you to know that I am not the one injured in this as much as, with a few exceptions, all of you. So I don’t want to come down too hard. What the majority of you agreed to as punishment is punishment enough. Now is the time to forgive this man and help him back on his feet. If all you do is pour on the guilt, you could very well drown him in it. My counsel now is to pour on the love.

The focus of my letter wasn’t on punishing the offender but on getting you to take responsibility for the health of the church. So if you forgive him, I forgive him. Don’t think I’m carrying around a list of personal grudges. The fact is that I’m joining in with your forgiveness, as Christ is with us, guiding us. After all, we don’t want to unwittingly give Satan an opening for yet more mischief—we’re not oblivious to his sly ways! (The Message Translation)
In these verses, Paul was addressing the church in Corinth about a forgiveness issue. He specifically mentioned a man (many believe was the same man spoken about in 1 Corinthians 5:1–2). This man had insulted Paul because he had committed an egregious sin, and the people in the church grieved Paul because they hadn’t done anything about it. When we become complacent to call out sin, it makes it more difficult to deal with issues such as forgiveness, rebuke, repentance, and restoration because the boundaries become blurred. In between the first letter (1 Corinthians) and this letter, Paul had written a second letter (that letter was lost and did not make it into the Bible). Apparently, the second letter was effective in bringing about the needed repentance and change.

In this (the third) letter, Paul basically was saying, “Enough. It’s time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him” (2 Corinthians 2:7–8).

This was a specific church issue, but how does this account help us in our everyday lives? It reaffirms the need for forgiveness 

Forgiveness is at the core of the Gospel. The Gospel begins with forgiveness because without forgiveness we would be eternally separated from God.

Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
 
Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
 
“Forgive” is a verb. It's an action. It is not passive. It is intentional.

Dictionary.com = verb (used with object), forgave, forgiven, forgiving.
1.to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
2.to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
3.to grant pardon to (a person).
4.to cease to feel resentment against: (i.e., forget)
to forgive one's enemies.
5.to cancel an indebtedness or liability of:
to forgive the interest owed on a loan.
Forgiveness is a choice. Whether we are receiving or extending forgiveness, it begins with a choice.

In Colossians 3, Paul urged the church to not act like they did before they were in Christ and one of the things he mentioned was the act of forgiving. He said in Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” 
 
I came across a video clip last night on Facebook by the WayFM. In the video, Mike from Tenth Avenue North talks about his grandfather. His grandfather beat his wife (Mike’s grandmother) and his dad (Mike’s father), and was an alcoholic. One day, Mike had a conversation with his dad and asked him how it was that he didn’t perpetuate the cycle of alcoholism and abuse. Mike’s father said that one day he was reading his Bible and he read the verse I just mentioned above (Colossians 3:13). Mike knew he was commanded to forgive. Mike’s dad wrote his dad a letter and in it, he didn’t just say, “I forgive you.” No, he owned his own wrongdoing. He asked his dad to forgive him for the resentment he had against him. Not only did Mike’s dad release his dad from his wrong-doing, he admitted his own wrong-doing of not forgetting and forgiving. That’s huge. There is blessing in obedience and Mike’s dad did not go on to carry the ugliness of alcoholism and abuse that his dad had. He extended forgiveness as Christ forgave him for resenting his dad for all those years.
 
Forgiveness often comes before repentance, and often we may never see repentance, but forgiveness should motivate us (or the offender) toward repentance.

In the account of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1–11), the woman never asked for forgiveness, and never confessed her sin. She simply was there, Jesus forgave her, and told her “to go and sin no more.” That kind of forgiveness (which spared this woman from a physical death and a spiritual death if she, in fact, put her faith and trust in Jesus) motivates you to change.

There are numerous other examples in the Bible where Jesus extended forgiveness without the individual specifically confessing before forgiveness was offered (the woman at the well, the demon possessed, naked man…even the criminal on the cross never had a moment to show true repentance and yet Jesus forgave him (Luke 23:40–43)).

If we are to be Christ-like in all our ways, we need to extend forgiveness in the way Jesus extends forgiveness. We don’t have the power to save, but we do have the power to cause someone to stumble and be discouraged (as Paul mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:7) if we don’t forgive.
 
Forgiveness + repentance can lead to reconciliation and restoration. If we withhold forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration might not ever be possible. It all starts with forgiveness.
 
Reconciliation = verb (used with object), reconciled, reconciling. (dictionary.com)
1.to cause (a person) to accept or be resigned to something not desired:
He was reconciled to his fate.
2.to win over to friendliness; cause to become amicable:
to reconcile hostile persons.
3.to compose or settle (a quarrel, dispute, etc.).
4.to bring into agreement or harmony; make compatible or consistent:
to reconcile differing statements; to reconcile accounts.
5.to reconsecrate (a desecrated church, cemetery, etc.).
6.to restore (an excommunicate or penitent) to communion in a church.
verb (used without object), reconciled, reconciling.
7.to become reconciled.
 
Restoration  = noun
1.the act of restoring; renewal, revival, or reestablishment.
2.the state or fact of being restored.
3.a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition.
 
What happens if you quit? What if you don't forgive? What happens to the other person? Do you care? It hurts either way so why not keep pursuing forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration? Push through in prayer. Push through in the way you react.
 
Unforgiveness is a tool the enemy uses to get a toe hold into your life. The ugly fruit of unforgiveness is sadness, hate, and unkindness – the complete opposite of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23 (the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Unforgiveness and bitterness harm us physically, emotionally and spiritually. 
 
We are not responsible for the outcome; we are only responsible for the obedience. Paul wrote to this church and he said he “tested” them to see if they would be obedient (2 Corinthians 2:9). What if whatever it is that you need to forgive or be forgiven for is a test by God?
 
We’ve already been told by Jesus to forgive. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:14-15, right after saying the Lord’s prayer Jesus said, “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part” (The Message Translation). In unforgiveness you are not only not forgiving, you are being completely disobedient. There’s no blessing in that.
 
As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:11, Satan’s schemes are evil. Satan understands unforgiveness better than anybody. He will NEVER have an opportunity to be forgiven. EVER. His fate is sealed, but the believer’s fate is sealed with FORGIVENESS. We can’t withhold something that God gave His only Son to die for. Forgiveness from God through Jesus is a gift that changes lives for all eternity. Forgiveness has the power to change lives here on earth, too. It releases the captive, it repairs relationships, and it heals physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies how much better is forgiving someone? How does unforgiveness lead to healing and hope? It never does.
 
Paul urged the people in the church at Corinth to forgive this man because the risk of causing further hurt was too great. Forgiveness may not result in immediate repentance, restoration or reconciliation, but unforgiveness can for sure hinder those things. How would you feel if you spent years not forgiving someone (as a believer mind you) and one day that same person came to you and asked you to forgive them? How many hours did you waste time and energy withholding forgiveness to that person? It’s not worth it. Choose to forgive today and pray that your forgiveness and prayers lead that person to repentance. If you are in need of forgiving, prove it by changing your ways, and praying that person (or people) will see your change.
 
I’ve spent a lot of time reaching out to people I needed to forgive and people I needed to ask for forgiveness from. It’s humbling, but it is so freeing. Unforgiveness grieves the Spirit because it grieves the heart of God and breaks our complete fellowship with Him. I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, to live in a state of forgiveness always. 


by Erin Olson on March 30th, 2017

So excited to share about the thing God has laid on my heart recently. Today is the big day!

Read all about it in my monthly blog post appearing on Daughters of the Deep titled "Gather Your Neighbors." Click HERE to read.

by Erin Olson on March 6th, 2017

My Facebook timeline today reminded me of a "memory" from 2014. As I re-read the blog I wrote that day, I wanted to write new words. We have learned so much more about human trafficking in the past three years. More and more people are speaking out about it, but the fact remains, there are still women and men being trafficked all around the world at this very minute. They are trafficked in your city. They are the sons and daughters of someone—maybe even someone who is trafficking their child.

As pornography rises, the demand for those who are trafficked will rise, as well. The stuff on screens is not the stuff of life. Those in the porn industry may or may not have been trafficked into the industry, but once there, they become stuck. Trafficked individuals need rescuing.

I recently watched the For King and Country movie titled "Priceless." It addressed human trafficking. My husband could barely watch it, and we fast forwarded a few parts because they were just too intense. Women were held against their will inside of a house in a regular neighborhood—a neighborhood that could be any of our neighborhoods. Good won out at the end of the movie, but it took someone taking action.

We need to take action, too. Get involved. Pray. Support organizations that are rescuing trafficked people. Volunteer to help someone who has been rescued. Be a voice for the voiceless.

Be a Voice for the Voiceless

I stumbled across an article today regarding sex trafficking in the United States. The article is about the movie “Eden: Innocence; It’s Not Lost, It’s Stolen” that was released in July 2013. The movie is based on a true story about the account of a Korean-born American who was sold as a sex slave to Russian gangsters in 1994. The article highlighted some of the things that this woman experienced and/or witnessed during her three years of captivity (http://investik8.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/eden-a-sex-slaves-story/). All of it makes one’s stomach feel slightly nauseous and weak.
 
As I read the article, I kept thinking about how easily this could happen to any woman…any of our own girls. Yes, some of us put ourselves at greater risk by some of the choices we make, but nevertheless, bad people can do bad things even to the best people.
 
My heart raced as I read this woman’s account about how she was sold by someone she was dating and how she went on later, as part of her escape plan, to become a madam and began to lure young woman into the industry. The youngest victim she saw there was seven years old…seven years old! She said the image of that child still haunts her in her dreams some twenty years later. Horrific!
​Photo from www.women.org.
I am not a man so I cannot for the life of me figure out how a man could find it acceptable to visit a woman under these conditions solely for the purpose of being “serviced.” Without being too graphic, it is just sick. These men are politicians, businessmen, sports players, husbands and fathers…doing despicable things to young women who they know are enduring a complete hell. This madness has got to stop.
 
Most of us think that sex trafficking is something that occurs only overseas. To some extent that is true. A lot of the women who are trafficked within the United States are not American born, but this still does not make it solely an international problem. It is happening right here in America at this very moment. Women are being forcibly drugged and held hostage in deplorable conditions far worse than anything our convicted criminals endure.
 
These are but a few of the statistics:

* Human trafficking generates $9.5 billion yearly in the United States. (United Nations)
* Approximately 300,000 children are at risk of being prostituted in the United States. (U.S. Department of Justice)
* The average age of entry into prostitution for a child victim in the United States is 13-14 years old. (U.S. Department of Justice)
* A pimp can make $150,000-$200,000 per child each year and the average pimp has 4 to 6 girls. (U.S. Justice Department, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
* The average victim may be forced to have sex up to 20-48 times a day. (Polaris Project)
* Fewer than 100 beds are available in the United States for underage victims. (Health and Human Services)
* Department Of Justice has identified the top twenty human trafficking jurisdictions in the country:” Houston
• El Paso
• Los Angeles
• Atlanta
• Chicago
• Charlotte
• Miami
• Las Vegas
• New York
• Long Island
• New Orleans
• Washington, D.C.
• Philadelphia
• Phoenix
• Richmond
• San Diego• San Francisco
• St Louis
• Seattle
• Tampa  (Department of Justice)
* One in three teens on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. (National Runaway Hotline)   

    (Source: http://thecoveringhouse.org/act/resources-2/sex-trafficking-statistics-source-documentation/)
 
Maybe you have seen these statistics before, maybe you haven’t. Maybe you care about these statistics and maybe you don’t care to think about these things. Is your heart burdened for these women? What about for the men who feel the need to visit these women? Is your heart heavy for them? Yours may not be, but let me assure you that they are on the heart of Jesus. Like you and me, Jesus weeps for these people. Jesus prays for these people. And because Jesus is burdened by their conditions, we too should be burdened by their circumstances.
 
Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. (Hebrews 7:25 NLT)
 

The one tool we have to fight this battle is prayer. The second tool is awareness. Did you know that the trucks you see on the highway as you drive to work could contain a truckload full of these young women? Are you aware that at any given moment, you could be driving by an establishment or a warehouse where these women are being held captive? Did you know that these traffickers lurk about our daily places looking for victims as well as clients?
 
It makes me sick that at this very moment there are women locked in a dark warehouse that are unaware what time of the day it is or what day of the week it is for that matter. They are being held completely against their will…imprisoned by evil.
These are real issues. These are things we should be talking about. These are the people we are called to fight for…the voiceless, the oppressed. Why aren’t we doing that? Why is it easier to close the webpage than to finish the article? Why is it easier to think there is someone else who is better adept at tackling this issue?
 
It takes a village…and that village includes you and me.

_____________________________

This blog, "Be the Voice for the Voiceless" first appeared on sandalfeet.org, March 6, 2014.

by Erin Olson on March 1st, 2017

A season of sitting at the feet of Jesus looks different than our twenty minutes a day with Jesus. God doesn’t want an obliged heart—He wants a willing heart.
 
The forty-six days leading up to Easter give us the opportunity to take the time to slow down and remember who Jesus is, what He did for us, and what He is continuing to do. Without Easter, we wouldn’t have eternal life.
 
We’d do well not to get caught up in the ritualistic practices per se, but to get totally caught up in our Savior. C.S Lewis said Lent is “a season of a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious.”
The passage I’d like to focus on today is:
 
Luke 10:38-42:
 
"Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.' But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.'”

 
Verse 42, “but One thing is necessary.”
   
We get caught up in the “necessary.” If it’s Christmas, it is necessary to decorate, shop for presents, bake, entertain houseguests and the like. If it is Easter, it is necessary to decorate again and host family and friends for dinner on Easter Sunday. We get really good at being busy all in the name of Jesus, right? For Christians, we do all of these things while proclaiming “Jesus is the reason for the season.” We do, and do, and do. Sometimes we get the opportunity to share the love of Jesus and the Gospel during our hectic holiday seasons, but if we are honest, is that truly the emphasis of your holiday season? How about your everyday? If someone asked you who Jesus is to you, would you be able to respond to them personally? I’m not talking about Evangelism Explosion or Three Circle kind of answers. I’m talking about who is Jesus to you personally?
 
For a lot of you, you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior many, many years ago. You’ve been doing a great job of staying on the path God laid out before you. You’ve been obedient. You’ve attended church, raised your children in church, you’ve served, delivered meals, and shared your faith. Those are all great things. However, we get in the habit of using our works to show our love and devotion to Jesus instead of spending time with Jesus.
 
My love language is acts of service. I’m not big on getting gifts, but if my husband does an act of service for me like doing the laundry, making dinner, doing the dishes, getting my car serviced…that’s how I receive love. Jesus’ love language is quality time. Jesus wants you and me to spend time with Him. He’s our Teacher. We can’t learn if we aren’t willing to sit with Him and listen.
 
Memory links our past to our future. It turns history into destiny. – Rabbi Benjamin Blech
 
The solemn season of Lent is the perfect time to reflect, slow down, and spend intentional time with Jesus. We learn so much about God through the person of Jesus. We learn about our future and our potential through His life. We can’t be like Jesus if we don’t know Jesus.
 
FAITH
 
In the Luke 10 passage, Mary’s posture demonstrated her readiness to believe what Jesus taught. This implied faith as well as submission.
 
DISCIPLESHIP
 
To be a disciple of Jesus, we must assume the position of a student. He is the Teacher.
 
SERVICE
 
In glancing at the passage, it appeared Martha was the only one serving. She was preparing the meal that would be served to Jesus and the disciples. However, Mary was also serving Jesus. She was ministering to Jesus. There is nothing like an attentive student listening to a teacher. Mary was also waiting on Jesus. If Jesus had told her to do something, she would have. She might not have physically been sitting at His feet any longer after that point, but her heart would remain in that posture. She was waiting to hear from Jesus as to what He wanted her to do.
 
QUESTION: When was the last time you sat with a postured heart waiting to hear what the Lord would have you do?
 
LOVE
 
Sitting at Jesus’ feet also implies a great love for Jesus. Mary was eager to learn from Jesus, and Jesus was eager for her to learn.
 
“But one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:42). Jesus spoke a “but” to Martha. Martha was a little snippy with Jesus, but Jesus gave her words to consider. He told Martha she was busy doing many things, but Mary was choosing the most important thing, and that thing would never be taken away from her. Perhaps Martha was snippy with Jesus because she didn’t know Jesus as well as her sister because she didn’t take the time to get to know Him. She wasn’t willing to risk to be at her Savior’s feet (women weren’t allowed to learn in the same way men were at this time).
 
How often are we busy? We get busy doing ministry, pursuing things of pleasure, we get busy being religious, but we forget to spend time at the feet of Jesus. Charles Spurgeon said, “To me, as a worker, the one thing needful is to keep near my Lord, and I must not so suffer the watering of others to occupy me, as to neglect my own heart, lest I should have to say ‘woe is me, they made me keeper in the vineyards, but my own vineyard I have not kept.’”
 
Jesus must be our only priority. We must all commit to sitting at His feet.
 
If we compare Martha and Mary, the biggest difference I see is that Martha believed in Jesus—she was a saved saint destined for heaven, but we never see her at Jesus’ feet. Her response to Jesus on three separate occasions illustrates her relationship with Him. He was at arm’s distance, not because He kept the distance, but because she kept Him there. However, we see Mary on three separate occasions at the feet of Jesus. We see her in this passage in Luke 10:38-42 at His feet, she threw herself at Jesus’ feet when He came back after Lazarus’ death (John 11:32), and we see her at Jesus’ feet when she anoints His feet with oil right before His death (John 12:3).
 
Both of these ladies would end up in heaven because of their belief in Jesus, but how differently they lived their lives on this earth. Mary soaked in every minute of Jesus when He was around, and Martha focused on the worldly things without fully realizing how little time she had with her Savior. Mary knew and desired Jesus in a different way because she spent more time with Him. Who would you say you are more like?
 
The privilege of position is no substitute for faith and obedience. As Christians, we all have the opportunity to come into the presence of God. However, we shouldn’t take this privilege for granted. We don’t earn a place at His feet. It’s His gift to us. If we desire the company of men (spouses, friends, and the like), how much more should we desire the company of Jesus?
 
Forty-six days at the feet of Jesus will change you. You become like who you spend time with. Don’t spend time with Jesus because someone tells you to. Do it because you want to. There’s no better time to sit at His feet and revisit His ministry than the reverent season of Lent. It’s a time to reflect on all He did for you and me on that Good Friday.
 
I’ll leave you with this thought by Charles Spurgeon, “How can we get revival? We shall have it, when we commune with Christ. When the saints habitually sit at Jesus’ feet they will be revived, and of ​necessity the revival will spread from them, and the hearts of sinners will be touched.”
 
I think we can all agree we need revival. There’s no better time than NOW. Start today.


by Erin Olson on February 22nd, 2017

​It started several years ago but became much more real as I realized my oldest child was interested in pursuing music. When he was around nine years old, it had become clear that not only had God gifted him with the ability to play the piano, but he was also gifted with singing and creating music. Later, he would also learn to play the guitar. As a young child, he looked up to pop stars. The problem is, those pop stars started to grow up, and their lyrics and behaviors got worse. I didn’t want him following in those footsteps or chasing that empty lifestyle. He had gifts, yes, but I wasn’t going to fund anything that didn’t honor the Lord.
 
This dilemma created in me a desire to earnestly pray for the entertainment industry and media. It appeared that things had gotten so bad and the things that were becoming acceptable were just too much. No longer could we watch sporting events, award shows, and even some children’s programming because they were becoming more and more full of mature themes and inappropriate attitudes and language.
 
I prayed and prayed for the Lord to take control. I asked Him to put people in positions to make movies and television shows to be aired that would share the Gospel and portray the Jesus I love. I prayed for a shift in the music industry and for God to raise up young men and women who would use their gifts to awaken the hearts of people who had never worshiped before. I can’t even begin to count how many times people had asked me (both Christians and non-Christians) when I mentioned my son's musical ability “if he was going to be the next Justin Bieber and make a lot of money.” “Not if I can help it,” was always my response. Even people who knew he led student worship would ask this question. It’s as if the idea of fame and money can replace the fulfillment of serving the Lord with the giftings He has blessed a person with. 
​I know I am not alone in praying these bold requests to God. The mother of a worship leader I know wrote a book titled, “Shifting the Spiritual Atmosphere.” In her book, Sharon Mullins has many prayers about changing the spiritual atmosphere in the entertainment industry:
 
“Don’t allow the imaginations of the dark places of the mind to be the norm for what entertains. Once again, return this nation to virtuous, respectable, and decent living. Allow productions that glorify You, O Lord, and uplift the human soul.”
​In the last few years, we’ve seen Christian movie after Christian movie released in theaters across the country. We’ve seen singers on shows such as The Voice lift high the name of Jesus. Recently, a new rapper sang about Jesus on the stage at the Grammy’s. God is doing something big. How do I know?
 
There is an assault going on.
 
“God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27)
 

God has slowly been taking over the entertainment industry. He is putting people in place to control movies, music, and television. And now, there is an all-out war on the news media.
 
Entertainment used to be a form of escape. But lately, we need an escape from what we see. The stuff on television and movies and the lyrics in songs become living nightmares because people act on what they see after watching it again and again.
 
I pray the entertainment industry continues to see a movement of people being disgusted with the boundaries that have been pushed and thrust upon our society. Enough is enough. I pray for actors and musicians to say, “No!” to the pressures of giving in for the sake of a dollar. I pray there is a funding shift in the entertainment industry from those who would seek to do harm by what they produce and create to those who desire to lift high the name of Jesus through television, movies, and music. We may have a glimpse of success right now, but we can’t give up on interceding for a greater harvest to come.





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