Tag Archives: redeemer

A Tale of Two Strip Clubs…

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I have been in a total of two strip clubs in my lifetime, both for work; not as a dancer, but as a reporter wanting to do a story.

One club that ultimately was willing to participate in the story had me stop in on a Thursday night, during operating hours. When I finally gathered enough courage to walk in, I took note of what I saw as I waited on the young women who would be speaking with me. Most of the club was dark, with neons and spotlights highlighting the parts of the room they wanted visitors to focus on – the bar and the dancers. Loud music, a party kind of feel. Kind of what I expected.

I was able to get the story and talk to two sweet girls who I am hoping by now really were able to get their education from Ashland Community College and begin a new career.

The other club I had stopped in was a different scenario altogether. It was a small, lesser-known club on Route 60, and I stopped by during lunchtime to see if any of the dancers would be willing to share their story. Lunchtime isn’t a busy shift for exotic dancers so the only person there when I walked in was a cleaning lady. Turns out, she and the owner both assumed I was from the health department (not relevant to this story, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it – was it that I and my grey turtleneck sweater gave off a sense of purity that would clearly say I wasn’t there to do anything worldly, or was it that I gave an overall feel of a health inspector rather than a dancer? For some reason I felt slightly insulted…)

No dancers were there at the time, so I talked with the cleaning person for a few minutes, and left my business card, but I also gave a quick look around the room with the lights on. No music, just some wooden tables scattered around the room, with chairs haphazardly placed as if they themselves were in a game of freeze tag and were paused in precarious positions. A tiny stage. Floors sticky with spilled alcohol from the night before. It looked old, and cheap. Nothing fun or classy about it.

Things sure look different with the lights on.

I was thinking about how Satan can use all his trickery, making sin look so beautiful and cool and fun, and then what we are left with is the music-off, lights-on version, the real version. The one that shows the damage and the grossness and the emptiness. I have been there.

Satan sees what we are longing for, and presents us with a fraud, something that seems almost like what we are looking for, and in the dark, amid the spotlights and the loud music, you think you might have found it. But eventually the lights come on. Whatever it was that seemed like the answer is now revealed for what it truly is, and we are left with guilt and shame.

We are looking for our answers in the wrong places. We want to find fulfillment and purpose and meaning in another person, or in our job or in our money. But none of that is where it is. All of those things can only be found in God. He is where we are fulfilled, where we find our purpose, where our lives have meaning.

It’s important to keep your eyes on Him, so you aren’t tricked into searching for those things somewhere else.

In the Bible, in 2 Kings, chapter 6, starting at verse 8, the prophet Elisha is passing along messages from God, warning the King when he is about to be attacked by the Arameans. This ticks the king off royally (see what I did there? J ) and he says he is going to capture Elisha. The Arameans surrounded the city where Elisha was staying during the night. When his servant woke up in the morning and saw them all, he freaked out a little, but Elisha was completely chill. He could see what the servant could not. So He prayed to God, asking Him to let the servant see what he saw.

“And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:17

What was really there was an army of God, ready to protect Elisha, and Elisha wanted his servant to see it.

I have certainly been unable, and I have had people I love unable, to see things for what they are. And while the situations are kind of opposite, my prayer is the same as Elisha, I have prayed for their eyes to be opened. To see things as they really are. If only they could see what the sin will look like with the lights on, if they could see Satan as the mastermind behind it, they would run for their lives. But in the dark, fixated on what we think we need, we are tricked. Snookered. Lured in and left with emptiness.

If you have seen this firsthand, and fell for it, as most of us have, I pray that you will find healing and redemption in God. He is really good at what He does. He has done it for me.

If you have people in your life that you see headed that direction, pray hard for their eyes to be opened. The God of Elisha is still the same God today.

#2K617

What’s in your bag?

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Anytime I go on a trip, I’m so afraid I will forget to pack something extremely important, like underwear or pants or my hairbrush or 7 books. My way to prevent this is by making a list and taping it to the inside of my front door, adding as I think of things, and crossing off as they are packed.

But it’s inevitable that I will forget something. When I went to Ecuador this summer for a mission trip, I forgot all socks, other than the pair I was wearing and a spare pair in my carry-on – not enough for our 2-week trip. Thankful it wasn’t the pants.

The reason we pack these things is because we will need them. Situations will come up and the things in our bags will serve us well.

We will have bad breath and be able to use our toothbrushes. We will get our clothes dirty and need new pants. We will sleep and need a hairbrush to get rid of our bedhead.

In the same way, it’s necessary for us to keep our life experiences at the top of our metaphorical bag so we can whip them out when the situation calls for it.

Sometimes those things are good, and we’re as happy as Pharrell Williams to get those experiences back out and use them. Happily married? We can use that to encourage other couples. Graduated from college? We can use that to serve our purpose God has given us and to inspire others to pursue their own education. Living without credit cards? We can motivate friends by showing them it is possible to live within their means.

But we’ve all got some ugly stuff in our experience bags too. And I most often prefer to leave those way down in the bottom of my bag where no one will notice them.

But there’s a purpose for even those things.

Sickness or disease, still waiting for healing – God can use that.

Painful divorce that you wish you could forget – He won’t waste it.

Past abuse – He can make good come even from that.

Sins you caused yourself – God can make beautiful things out of every part of our story. I have experienced it first-hand.

Our stories can be an inspiration to somebody. Our stories can offer guidance, either in a “See how I did it? You can do that too!” Or a “Please don’t do what I did… Take my advice. Learn from my mistakes.”

Like Jason Gray says, “In the hands of our Redeemer, nothing is wasted.Thank You, Lord, for that!

Can God really use all my junk and make something good from it? I believe He can.

But the tricky part sometimes is being willing to get these stories out of our bags as others need them. It’s so much easier to leave them be, hidden and forgotten. But God really doesn’t waste anything, and if He has a purpose for my story, then I don’t want to stand in the way of that.

Think about your story today. Write it down if you have a few minutes. The really good parts, and the really hard parts – both can be used for great things in the hand of our Redeemer. Spend a few minutes with God today offering all the parts of your story back to Him.

“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…” Psalm 107:2a