A Biblical View on Rapidly Changing Social Institutions

A Biblical View on Rapidly Changing Social Institutions

A Biblical View on Rapidly Changing Social Institutions

Third Thursday Theology Bible Study Guest Speaker – September 2016

T3 hosted Joshua Hetzler, legislative council for the Family Foundation of Virginia, as he spoke about the breakdown of our social institutions starting with the family and cumulating to the very fabric of human life – pinpointing how the devil wants to destroy who we are so he can separate us from God.

Josh’s PowerPoint Presentation: a-biblical-view-on-rapidly-changing-social-institutions

Link to Josh’s Family Foundation Blog: http://www.familyfoundation.org/blog?tag=Josh+Hetzler

Family Foundation of Virginia Website: http://www.familyfoundation.org/

T3 Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/t3study/


Compassion in the Midst of Addiction

Compassion in the Midst of Addiction

Compassion in the Midst of Addiction: A Doctor’s Journey of Turning Grief Into Education

Third Thursday Theology Bible Study Guest Speaker – January 19, 2017

T3 hosted Dr. Omar Abubaker, D.M.D., Ph.D., (Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Virginia Commonwealth University) as he told the story about the loss of his son and how he was able to look at addiction with a new perspective through an educational program at VCU.   Below are (1) his PowerPoint presentation, (2) the video of his talk, and (3) a news article that was written about the event.

PowerPoint Presentation: compassion-in-the-midst-of-addiction

Recording of lecture:  https://ess.echo360.vcu.edu:8443/ess/echo/presentation/5c1d6d38-70f0-4b5a-aa37-61226751a378 (The presentation begins at the 4:30 mark).

News Article: http://www.commonwealthtimes.org/2017/01/23/department-head-seeks-educate-professionals-recognizing-treating-addiction/

For more information about how to contact Dr. Abubaker or Melissa Burton to speak on this subject or for more information and resources, please contact Melissa at mhburton@vcu.edu

T3 Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/t3study/

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou My Vision

“Be Thou My Vision” has been in my head for the last few weeks, and I didn’t know why. Today I decided to look up the words (because I did not know them all). In looking at just the first line of each verse and thinking of a few of my interactions lately, it really puts the last month in perspective:

  1. “Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart”: God should be what we look to, and if He is the Lord (that would make Him the master and us the servant) of our heart then what He wants is what we should do. He should be the driving factor of everything we do or don’t do … so we can bring Him glory. When we get up for church even when we don’t feel like it (self-control), when we tithe even though we don’t know where the bill money will come from (faithfulness), when we give to those less fortunate (goodness), when we look people in the eye while talking to them (kindness), when we don’t give into anger (patience), when we don’t listen to our doubt and anxiety (peace), when we listen to someone who is hurting (gentleness), when we are thankful in spite of our circumstances (joy), and when we show the light and compassion of Jesus to others even when we don’t agree with what they are doing (love). (Fruits of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23) All of the things that God is whispering to our hearts should give us the picture of who we are suppose to become.
  2. “Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word”: God should be the final authority (truth) in our lives, as well as the standard for what we base our actions. There have been a few times this month where I felt under attack for what I believe or for the work that I was trying to do for God. Normally I would have responded with a list of reasons about how I was justified in my actions and the reasoning behind my motives (I mean really how is giving per-natal vitamins to a pregnancy center “not a worthy cause”), but then I remembered that people that don’t know the light of Jesus are blinded in their ignorance and sin. The devil was using them (and their whistle-blowing tactics) to try to steal my joy, make me feel foolish and be afraid to do the work of God, and pull me down in cowardliness by not standing firm in what I believe to be true. I guess the older I get, the more I realize that I need to let the Word of God speak while I remain silent. Sometimes you simply need to keep your nose down and keep pressing through. And all the horrible things I thought might happen – didn’t! If I had been antagonistic, the situation might have escalated and I may have had to stand up and fight. When I “killed” my pride, the situation died with it.
  3. “Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight”: Sometimes we are called to stand up and fight. I had this happen a couple weeks ago. I headed into a situation that had been escalating and really needed to be handled and fought for, but I didn’t use all the right armor. My righteous anger was justified, but I took the wrong sword. The outcome may have been what it needed to be, but a couple of my tactics could have been more lovely. I went off on someone. Did they need to hear what I had to say and some threats in this life or death situation? YES! But could I have used a little more compassion and a little less ugly words? YES! When I went in with guns blazing, I thought God was my battle shield, but I forgot to use it to protect me from myself. I didn’t fight fair, and even though I thought I was “driving the money changers out of the temple”, I will always live with the regret that I let my love of good get twisted momentarily by the devil into something that sought to wound another.
  4. “Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise”: Everyone likes to know they are doing a good job, but is that our motive? Last week was my busiest of the year for my job. We had our annual symposium and I worked ALOT! After working all year for this day, and then running around like a crazy person all week, we finally got to the start of the event. In the announcements my boss recognized me for my work and said that I should be commended even though I am shy and wouldn’t want the praise. I don’t think he knows me very well to say I am shy (LOL), I felt like I was just doing my job (and who doesn’t like overtime pay), and while I did appreciate his thoughtfulness – being honored for putting on an event was not my greatest accomplishment of the day. Everyone clapping and telling me the that the event was great just kind of got shrugged off, but I almost cried when I was taking care of an older lady at the conference and she said “Melissa, you are such a good person and take care of everyone.”. That is what I want to be remembered for – the light of Jesus showing through in my actions and service to others. I want people to look at me and say “There is something different about her and I want it – she is good”.
  5. “High King of Heaven, my victory won”: Heaven should be our ultimate goal and our ultimate joy. No matter what happens in the day to day, we need to realize that there is something much better coming. This life is simply a dress rehearsal for eternity. It is hard looking at everyone and feeling unconditional love all the time … but once we get to heaven and God gives us our new bodies I am assuming He will also equip us with “Jesus eyes” so we can see others how He sees them. (So here is praying that my new body is a little thinner or that everyone’s “Jesus eyes” do the opposite effect as the camera and take 10 pounds OFF!) Our lasting victory is not in our heart being pure, our words being lovely, our fights being fair, or our heads not getting to big … but the fact that Jesus’ blood washed away all of our impurities in spite of our screw-ups! Yes we should try to emulate the words of this hymn, but the author also knew that we would one day be made perfect when we are transformed by the holy light of Jesus as we enter His kingdom.

So the next time someone tells you hymns are outdated … remember “Be Thou My Vision”. Remember the strength and hope it gives, as well as the instructions to put you on the right path. Here’s to humming your way into a more victorious day serving the High King of Heaven!


Be Thou My Vision: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIMhshpf0Y4

T3 Bible Study – Prayer: Does It Work?

T3 Bible Study – Prayer: Does It Work?

Third Thursday Theology discussed the works of prayer.  Below is the powerpoint presentation that facilitated the discussion (with some ideas from the group as well as ways we can pray for those around us).

Prayer Power Point Presentation: prayer-does-it-work

If you have questions or comments about the group or the presentation please feel free to contact us through this page or the groups Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/t3study/



I Lost God

I Lost God

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.”

– Isaiah 55:6 –

              If you are like me .. .you’re that girl who loses her phone while she is talking on it, the girl who locks her keys in her car, and the girl who can’t buy nice water bottles because she leaves them everywhere she goes … so it would make sense that you too feel at times that you have lost God. For those of us who love Jesus and know he will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 4:31) … I guess we could say we have “misplaced” Him. But in all reality we have to come to grips, look ourselves in the mirror, and say “REALLY Melissa … you know you put Him on a shelf last week and just cant remember which one”.

              (At times to my detriment) I am a fixer. I pride myself on being the strong one with the Miss America smile that doesn’t fade, the one ready to push up her sleeves and take on the difficult jobs, the one you can count on no matter what … or as my brothers would call me – “mother hen”. This has gotten me pretty far in life, but a lot of times holds me back from the most important thing: listening to and searching for God. When problems come my way, I think I can see the big picture and dive into action, but what if I stopped looking a little less confident and proved to God that I really need him?

              Today I am home sick, my dogs chewed a hole in my kitchen floor, my husband switched jobs (which is a blessing) but he was out of work for a few days in between so now we have a little less money this pay period and I am trying to make sure everything is paid this month, we just had the busiest week of my year at work and I feel like I am behind on my job, I’m trying to be a good step parent and get some things done for the kids but the system says that no one is allowed to talk to me about anything because I’m not a “legal guardian”, my house is a wreck, my yard needs to be raked, I am trying to run a ministry, and I have gained back 5 pounds! Today I do not have it all together. Today I do not want to be an adult! So what did I do? I would love to tell you that I got my bible out first thing to soak up God’s love and tell Him how wonderful He is … but I’m that girl who misplaces things – mainly my priorities! I threw up a little “Give me strength Lord” half a prayer/plea, spanked my dogs, checked my bank account to pay the bills, and went on Facebook to ask everyone else for prayers for health. (I can’t believe I’m telling you this lol)

              Oh I have no doubt that God is in control, and He will provide, and everything will turn out just fine because He loves me … but maybe if I did a little more seeking and a lot less worrying and complaining, I wouldn’t have to wonder where God’s purpose was in all of this. Maybe that is the problem with most of us “church-kids”: we know all the bible verses and Christian quotes to tell ourselves and others but instead of repeating them over and over I should study them more in-depth to apply them to the everyday. So after my “I-can-do-it-myself” flurry of activity happened, I started to think: “Melissa, you know that God has to slam doors in your face to make you listen. All of these things are happening at once because God is trying to get your attention. You feel like you take one step forward and two back because you do … by going against what you know to be true. Instead of feeling like you can’t catch a break, why don’t you take a break and listen and learn.” I remembered a verse so I looked it up: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.”(Isaiah 55:6) and it made me think!

              Remember when we used to ask “Teacher, can I go to the bathroom?”, and the teacher would say “I don’t know, can you?”. God says specific things to us: “Seek the Lord while he MAY be found”. It isn’t that we can’t find God … it’s that we won’t. God is available but we have to seek Him. Jesus does not want us to stay where we are; He was always moving and so we have to move as well. Jesus always said come and follow me, so why do we think we can stay in our old ways and still go down the new path He is preparing for us? The “may” in this verse gives us permission to be one with Him. This shows the people of the Old Testament (and us) that they didn’t have to just sacrifice and wait for God to rain down fire from heaven so they would get a clue and move. They were allowed to seek Him, find joy in His comfort, and get the direction they needed to do His will.

              The next part of the verse says: “Call unto Him while He is near.”. This indicates that God won’t be available to everyone at some point. We serve a loving God, but He also has justice, and we know that there is a heaven AND a hell for a reason. If we strive to keep Him near at all times, then He won’t ever be able to get too far away that we have to run to catch up. I am assured in my faith, but I don’t want to reach the end of my life and have to explain to God where I was the whole time. I want Him to know I was at the edge of the stage at His concerts holding up the glitter signs and I have proof because I was in the picture in the “Heaven Herold” that He put in His scrapbook … not having to explain that He must have not seen me because I ran out of gas and my car broke down and so I was in the back next to the porta-potty and couldn’t see Him jamming out or get His autograph!

              So what are some things to remember when we feel like we have lost sight of God? Here are a couple tips that I borrowed from some friends:

1. You can never say that God is silent when you have a thankful heart.

2. You can never say God is silent when you have an open Bible.

3. You can never say that God is silent when you are a faithful servant.

              So the next steps for me (and perhaps you):

1. Stop complaining and realize God is trying to get my attention. Be thankful for what I do have instead of focusing on the negative. (I have an amazing God, a wonderful loving family, a good job that provides and nice co-workers, a home that keeps me safe, relatively good health, and the ability to stop eating bread so I loose those 5 pounds again!)

2. Seek Him first and search for answers in His word. (Get off Facebook and open the Lord’s book!)

3. Serve others. (This helps put everything in perspective. If I am serving then I am thinking about God and others and not myself.)

              I hope God slamming the door in my face today will help you stay one step ahead of your troubles tomorrow! May God bless you and may you always seek Him.


Our 21st Century Genocide

Our 21st Century Genocide

“Genocide: a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups, as homicide is the denial of the right to live of individual human beings; such denial of the right of existence shocks the conscience of mankind, …and is contrary to moral law…”

– United Nations General Assembly Resolution 96 of December 11, 1946, following WWII


What if you knew that every single day somewhere in the world, thousands of innocent people were being targeted and killed, on the basis of an involuntary characteristic unique to a particular group? And what if that group was entirely comprised of vulnerable people such that they were not able to fight or even speak for themselves? And what if, instead of protecting these people, their government provided cover and even active support for their slaughter? What would you do? How might you respond, if you had the power to act?

If only this were a hypothetical, or a question for 1940’s Europeans.

The harsh truth is that this is happening now. Every day. And one need look no further than our own shores, right here in the United States of America. There’s a genocide occurring, on our watches, under our noses, all in the name of convenience and “women’s rights”.

As you may have guessed, I’m talking about that heinous practice called abortion, in which innocent children are ripped limp from limb and whose heads are frequently crushed and whose body parts are then either tossed in the garbage or sold like sides of meat to the highest bidder.

Such a practice, which unequivocally denies certain human beings their right of existence, more than anything else, truly “shocks the conscience”. And such a practice, more than anything else, must be stopped.

There may have been a time in our history when ignorance could perhaps be claimed – when science and technologies had not advanced to where they are now, having provided us all with overwhelming proof of the existence of the independent life inside a womb. We now know, for instance, that every unborn child has unique DNA, often a separate blood type than its mother, and brain activity and a heartbeat at the very early stages of pregnancy. These revelations were not always widely known.

But that time is over. There are no more acceptable excuses or reasonable disagreements. The truth can’t be hidden any longer. All of it is out in the open – known and viewable in a thousand ways at any moment, right in the palm of our hands.

There remains only the knowledge that an unborn person is a person and the question of whether we will protect life for all kinds of people or just for some.

How we answer that question will rightly be the thing which most defines us as a people and as a nation. And how each of us responds to the genocide in our midst will likely determine how we are remembered for generations to come, when abortion has once and for all been hurled onto the ash heap of history.

I hope and pray we will all do what we can to end this 21st century genocide. How could we not?

2/9/17 – Josh Hetzler

Legislative Counsel for The Family Foundation of Virginia