Job, My Brother

•August 13, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Job 6:11 – “What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient?”

This past week…just pretty much lousy. And, God forgive me, sometimes it seems no one sees me out here. In the middle of the Atlantic. Okay, maybe just Lake Superior, treading water. Will anyone even notice if I just slip under? How long before I sink to the bottom?
I’ve had important things to do, also. Responsibilities, also. Questions, also. Circumstances, also. Hopes and goals, also. How many back seats are on this bus, cuz it seems like a loonngg black hole?

When I welcomed you to church, today…I hope you felt it. My smile, handshake and hug were genuine. I’m not at all a good faker. But it felt like I was a shadow. In a world of vibrant colors, I was a faded…gray. Because black was too strong a color to try to own.

Pls do not comment. I don’t want to feel worse because you now feel bad for me. I’m not so much seeking sympathy, as I am just trying to prove to MYSELF that I still exist. If I can only see what I’ve written. Words used to be my soul. To keep from slipping under just a few minutes more.

Buster: An Unforgettable Dog

•March 2, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been thinking of this guy a lot, lately. Maybe because I know I will be moving very soon. Then again, maybe because the love of a dog is something that remains long after they are absent?

Buster died on August 5. I cried until my chest ached from sobbing, but held it together until my son and I walked out of the Humane Society. I did not want that good boy to remember me crying and upset.

He was roughly 14-15 years old. Buster had been with us for nine years. He came schlepping over to our yard one cold, Michigan February morning. We called the neighborhood vets, the pet stores, the animal hospital, and the shelter. No one had reported a lost, homely Rottweiler mix.

He very quickly became accustomed to us and our female dog, Rosie. When he was outside, chasing Rosie (whom he never could catch – he being longer of legs but lacking her speed), he would kick up his rear legs and bark with joyful abandon. It never failed to make me laugh.

Buster was a true lover. Of sticks, squeaky balls, attention, and pizza crust. And me.

Never was there a time I was ill, be it sinus headache, influenza, or vertebral disc displacement, that he didn’t plop his large, heavy head with those soulful eyes, right onto my lap. If there was room on the sofa, he’d climb up next to me. Even if I were seated in the recliner, it did not deter him from his self-appointed cure-all of 70 lbs. worth of cuddling. I believe that’s what I miss the most – his honest, loyal, doggy love. That heart! The only part larger than that ponderous head.

My heart started cracking about four years before his passing. He could no longer climb up on the bed without help. His heel-kicking-up was neither as high, nor as exuberant. What his vet termed his “premature gray” muzzle was now white. Oh, but he still held dear those things he loved. I was so fortunate to be one of them.

The ugly and uninvited shadow of death was patiently waiting… yet becoming more difficult to totally dismiss from my mind.

There were many good days, still. He yet enjoyed playing catch, though he often missed. He seemed to have a central blind spot. This was confirmed when the vet said he had cataracts.

One day, while stroking the fur on his neck and chest, there was found to be a firm lump. Back to the vet. Buster had no problem with the vet, herself, but he never did like going into the clinic. Maybe he smelled the anxiety of the animals that had come before him? Or perhaps the smell of antiseptic and medication was unpleasantly overpowering? Whatever the cause of his distress, he refused to take even one of the variety of delicious treats offered to him while there. This was the guy who would normally cause one to fear that, while offering a doggy cookie, one may pull away only a bloody stump of the hand that offered. After the exam and aspiration, it was declared a cyst and was duly drained.

The lump increased in size, slowly. Touching it seemed to cause no discomfort. There was no oozing – not for a long time. I had been trained as a medical assistant; I had seen the vet draw off the fluid, and thought I could accomplish the same end results. It worked quite well for a couple weeks. Then, I could not seem to stay ahead of the swelling. Also, less fluid was being extracted. Soon, the crisis came. One afternoon, I was petting an insistent Buster, when I felt a sticky wetness. He was bleeding. Not heavily, but constantly. I retrieved a clean, large rag and tried compression, to no avail.

Another appointment-urgently-was made at the veterinary clinic. Poor Buster! He just did not become any fonder of the place. Another examination alerted the vet to a different diagnosis: probable tumor. She happened to have the time to excise it, with the assistance of her intern. The attending vet brought the mass to me. It was softball sized and was convoluted-appearing. She gently told me that, “It doesn’t look good, at all.”

Buster had a determined and fighting spirit, however. He would survive well over three more years.

Those final years were progressively sad. Now, he no longer chased a stick, the ball, or Rosie. He would, instead, sit on his hind end and loudly bark! Loud barking always was one of Buster’s trademarks (when playing, alerting, or ‘asking’ for something).

On his last morning, Buster ate his breakfast with the usual exuberance, after his early morning bathroom break. He had been needing assistance with the one step down from the patio door for quite some while. It was very warm, already this early, and he retreated to the room in the middle of the house. I heard him plop down onto the floor, heavily, due to his arthritic, stiff back legs. After several minutes, I needed to go into that room. Buster looked up at me with more than his usual sad-eyed look. He had vomited his breakfast. Buster rarely vomited. I spoke kindly to him, reassuring him that he was a good boy and it was just an accident. It was quickly cleaned up. I petted him some more, then turned the fan toward him. He relaxed and lay down his head. I left the room.

Only a short while afterward, I hear the sound of urinating. Coming quickly into the room, I see Buster standing. I gently start pushing him toward the patio door, thinking that it was quite soon for him to have to go outside again. I tell him he has to go outside. He takes the couple of steps to the screen door. I open it and prepare to do the usual assist, supporting his rear legs, while the front legs take that step down.

He succeeded in getting the front legs down, collapsing immediately after. I tried lifting him, but was unable. I allowed him to rest a minute. With significant help from me, he was able to hobble a few steps, again collapsing, this time in front of the garage.

I ran into the house, down the basement stairs, and woke up my son, who worked third shift. I explained that Buster had twice collapsed and I thought he was dying. I then ran back upstairs, grabbed Buster’s favorite blanket, and headed back outside. Buster lay quietly. I could hear him breathing, but his tongue didn’t look right. He seemed unable to pant. I spread the blanket in the shade of the garage overhang, then gently rolled him onto it. Normally, my maneuvering him in such a manner would induce a growling complaint or soft bark. There was no vocalization, at all.

I tried to further assess his state. I moved my hands quickly toward his eyes. He blinked. I repeated the motion and he again blinked. I knew he could see. I sat in front of him. He tried to pick up his head, but could not. I then lay down beside him, gently petting him and telling him what a good boy he was. He appeared to go to sleep, closing his eyes.

My son came outside and looked at Buster, while I explained his symptoms. After several minutes, my son went back inside. I could see a mixture of denial and grief in his eyes. Buster was his special buddy.

I was with Buster, moving the blanket to follow the shade. I lay next to him for well over two hours. He continued sleeping, but I could hear his breathing. Still, no panting. I slowly stood, being careful not to disturb him.

I returned to the house and filled Buster’s water bowl. Sitting down, I began my first cry. I thought about how to deal with this situation. My son returned upstairs and sat next to me. We discussed our options. We talked about the possibility that Buster could pull through this, after a day or two of rest. We also spoke of taking him to the local Humane Society for euthanasia. That word. It always seemed so ugly. I made the phone call and found out the times they handled that situation. I told them I had to think about it, but would call before coming in.

We went back to Buster. He now was awake and tried, again, to lift his head. This time, he managed to plop it onto my lap. I stroked his big, old head. I cupped my hands and got some water. Buster could not lap it up, so I slowly let it trickle into his mouth. If nothing else, it would wet his mouth.

My son was able to pick him up and carry him into the house. I brought the blanket and we gently laid Buster down on it, again with the fan. We both agreed that it appeared to be time to take our old, lovable lug, to the Humane Society. I called them and told them we were coming, as there had been no improvement.

My son scooped up Buster and I grabbed his blanket. We situated him on the back seat of the car. He still made no sound.

It was about a 15-minute ride to Buster’s final destination. I went in ahead while my son, again, lifted Buster, bringing him inside. He was laid next to me. I was completing the request for euthanasia. Suddenly, that same word seemed kind and merciful. Buster was awake and made very small, almost inaudible noises. I could tell that he didn’t like being there. His legs were trembling; the only movement I had seen in his legs since his collapse. I was praying the staff would hurry.

An assistant came to check over the paperwork. She explained that we could take a little time to say goodbye. She shared what would happen with the euthanasia. She told us to let her know when we were ready, before returning to the front desk. We petted and hugged Buster, telling him we loved him and what a good boy he was. We tried as hard as possible not to cry in front of him. After a couple minutes, I told the assistant we were ready.

An employee emerged from the back area. She introduced herself and gave a brief explanation of the process. She brought out a large, wheeled cart with a fleece blanket spread over it. She helped my son lift Buster onto it. We both gave him one last hug. That assistant told us that it would be very quick, once she took him back beyond the door. He would be gone within a couple minutes. We watched her disappear behind the door with our goofy, precious buddy.

I began to cry, just outside the door to the clinic. Other people were coming in, so I stifled myself. We were just miserable.

Once inside the car, I no longer held back. I had left a very special chunk of my heart in that clinic. I was temporarily shattered; broken hearted. I could not help thinking that I would no longer feel that large head in my lap. I was acutely aware of how it felt to pet that head; the way his fur felt under my hand. The sound of his very loud sniffing. Those sad-looking eyes.

Buster, however, was finally at peace. We had to give him that gift, after all that he had given to us.11059627_10207259995395825_5617952933910779921_n

WordPress and Me: just a friendly little conversation

•March 2, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I swear, it really happened like this!

Me: Can’t remember password.
WP: Can’t grant access.
Me: Let’s take the long way home.
WP: You’re hilarious! But, no.
Me: Change password?
WP: Say please.
Me: To a computer program?
WP: Don’t know ’bout you, but I have all day…
Me: Fine, please.
WP: Try again, minus sarcasm.
Me: Please? (Making frustrated hand gestures)
WP: Do you call yourself a writer? Please use a complete sentence.
Me: Please, may I change my password? (Throttling gesture)
WP: Perhaps you may. Do you feel lucky?
Me: Not at all.
WP: I thought not.
Me: Did I just detect sarcasm?
WP: Session timed out.
Me: I don’t believe this!

Take II

Me: I’m back. Still have no access.
WP: What’s the problem?
Me: (Slapping forehead) I forgot my password.
WP: Why would you do that?
Me: Good question!
WP: Of course!
Me: May I change the password, pretty please?
WP: Sure. Open your account and choose the Change Password link.
Me: Since I cannot ACCESS my account, how will I choose the link?
WP: Please follow our directions, specifically.
Me: Okay. I will need to rephrase. I am locked out of my account because I cannot recall the password; therefore, I cannot use any links within the account, as I am unable to enter said account.
WP: That sounds unfortunate.
Me: Indeed, it is quite so.
WP: How may we help you?
Me: (Face turning red) I should like to very humbly request another chance to restore access to my account, please? And thank you, in advance.
WP: Your session has timed out.

Take III

Me: Hello! It’s Rob – again!
WP: How may we help you?
Me: Are you able to guess?
WP: No. Computer programs rely solely on proven, infallible data.
Me: (Thinking: Give me a break!) Why do I fail to achieve access to my account, being unable to recall my password?
WP: We do not respond to questions of ‘why’.
Me: Why not?
WP: We do not respond…
Me: (Quickly interrupting) I voluntarily rephrase: For what reason do you not reply to ‘why’ questions?
WP: Why is not logical. There are too many variables contained within ‘why’.
Me: May I simply start over?
WP: If necessary. Computer-generated sigh.
Me: What is the step-by-step process to recover a locked account due to forgotten password – keeping in mind that I cannot follow the link on the left side of the page, as I do not recall the password, resulting in not being able to use the aforementioned link?
WP: Could you be more specific?
Me: Impossible! By the way, aren’t you late in timing out my session?
WP: In three…two…one…

Take IV

Me: Look, it’s nearly bedtime. Could we move it along?
WP: We are stationary programs, incapable of moving ‘it’. Whatever ‘it’ actually is.
Me: Please, Mr. Unlocking Access WP Computer Program, would you mind, terribly, instructing this mentally challenged password forgetter regarding regaining access to my account?
WP: No problem! There is a secondary path to access.
Me: Wonderful! Please continue in this secondary instruction.
WP: Open WordPress home page.
Me: Done.
WP: Type user name and password.
Me: I remember my user name…
WP: Fantastic! Now, type your password.
Me: Therein lies the problem…
WP: Problem?
Me: My last password somehow escapes me.
WP: Is this Rob?
Me: Affirmative. Have you missed me?
WP: Negative on the emotion.
Me: Since we now have moved far beyond the mere acquaintance relationship – oops! I’ll wager you are incapable of a relationship. Too disgustingly human.
WP: You just may be catching on. Oops, your session, once again you silly goose, has timed out.

Take V

Me: Pretty please with a cherry on top, instruct me regarding regaining access to my account of four years plus. While I remain young enough to recall my name, user name, date of birth…
WP: Stop. Enough detail. There are fifteen people holding in the queue.
Me: What advice can you dispense?
WP: I assume you tried the link?
Me: You assume correctly. Please restore my WP Kingdom of Unimportant Ramblings.
WP: For our memory-challenged, elderly folk, we have a…
Me: Secondary path! That’s exactly what I want!
WP: We are able to send a code to the email of record.
Me: I earnestly request same. With extra awe and humility.
WP: It has been sent. It may take several minutes to reach your inbox.
Me: That will be no trouble, at all. Oh, I just received the notification. I’m double checking the numbers…entering the code…it’s telling me that’s an invalid code!
WP: You entered an error.
Me: Begging your pardon, but no. I double checked the numbers before typing.
WP: We will resend a new code. Have you taken your blood pressure medication yet today?
Me: Heretofore, I have not required any.
WP: Just checking. Your second code should be waiting.
Me: Yes, I have it. I’m double checking. Now I’m triple checking. Here goes…message says invalid code! HOW (Notice I’m NOT asking why!) is that even possible?!! It’s YOUR infallible, computer-generated code!
WP: Your other option is to use the link on the left hand side of home page.
Me: I refuse!!
WP: For what possible reason would you refuse?
Me: Because your session has timed out! At my election! (Closes website with entirely too much glee)

When Someone Says It So Much Better

•June 29, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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The Supreme Court Just Gave American Evangelicals a Gift

supreme-court-same-sex-marriage

Evangelicals are tenacious, persistent, and driven when they want to fight for a cause. The problem is that American evangelicals have been swept up in fighting for the wrong cause for a long time.

When the Supreme Court ruled to make same sex marriage the law of the land, American evangelicals received a gift that many don’t want: official permission to fight for people in need instead of fighting against same sex marriage.

Whatever you believe about same sex marriage, the role of government, and the future of the church in America, disagreeing with same sex marriage on moral grounds does not demand a public campaign to prevent it from becoming legally sanctioned. While I remain committed to creating room for affirming and non-affirming evangelicals who unite under the common banner of saving faith in Christ, evangelicals in America should have never made legalized same sex marriage a central moral issue to fight in the courts.

While I don’t believe Matthew 25 is exhaustive in its presentation of what matters to God, we do get a glimpse of the kinds of people who have internalized and lived out the message of Jesus. They work to alleviate the most pressing needs of others in our world.

That isn’t a call to relativize our sexual standards. Rather, I see Jesus pointing us toward the issues that pertain to the most basic aspects of human dignity: food, shelter, clothing, justice, and sickness:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

I was a stranger and you invited me in, 

I needed clothes and you clothed me, 

I was sick and you looked after me,

I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

We can disagree all day about same sex marriage. Heck, the majority of evangelicals will most likely continue to disagree about this issue for another 20 years until the millennials take their place in church leadership.

However, there’s no denying that millions of people around the world are suffering significantly, and Jesus wants us to focus our energies on serving them. If there was ever a group of people who should give a damn about children dying of hunger, deeply wounded people suffering in prison, and thousands upon thousands of refugees fleeing unprecedented violence in the Middle East, it should be American evangelicals.

It’s not like these massive global needs are a secret:

Over 49 million Americans and 870 million people overall in the world are going hungry (source).

750 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, leading to diseases that disproportionately kill children under age 5 who are unable to fight bacteria (source 1source 2)

The U.S. prison system incarcerates over 2.3 million people, including a disproportionate number of African Americans (source).

Over 100 million Christians around the world face severe persecution, including the believers living in refugee camps after fleeing Syria and Iraq (source).

Over 500,000 Americans are homeless (source), but worldwide an estimated 1 billion people are living in housing that is inadequate (source).

If you care about preventing terrible things like human trafficking, rape, forced prostitution, and child soldiers, partnering with groups that empower communities to meet these basic needs will go a long way in keeping potential victims safe, healthy, and in control of their own lives.

Declarations about the collapse of civilization because of same sex marriage ring hollow when we consider that Americans toss 31.1% of our foodwhile allowing millions to go hungry, fail to ask whether our ridiculously high incarceration rates ruin thousands of lives that could have been set right through treatment programs, and Christians in the Middle East have to flee their villages after ISIS invades, steals their women and children, and threatens to kill anyone who refuses to convert.

If God is going to condemn us over anything in America, it’s going to be our indifference and inaction when it comes to feeding people, giving out clean water, offering shelter, visiting the sick, and helping the prisoners, not a Supreme Court ruling.

It boggles the mind that evangelicals in America have long seen this ruling coming, but we have fought tooth and nail in what many suspected to be a losing cause. So many millions of dollars and hours were tossed into legal battles that were a long shot at best.

And yet, we have always had financial resources, competent charities, and passionate workers who are more than willing to travel to the ends of the earth to fulfill the very words of Jesus. If we collectively gave these most basic causes just a fraction of the time and energy that we had devoted to fighting same sex marriage, who knows how many thousands or millions of lives could have been saved.

We have been given a gift: The Supreme Court ruling means we can stop throwing our time and money into fighting same sex marriage and fulfill the words of Matthew 25.

We need not lament, lick our wounds, or bemoan the “terrible” world that our grandchildren will inherit. For millions of people around the world and even in our own neighborhoods, the worst has already happened and will continue to happen.

We need not wave the white flag of surrender on same sex marriage and pray for God’s mercy. If we’re going to take the words of Jesus seriously, know this:

God’s judgment has been upon us long before a single state allowed same sex marriage.

God’s judgment came upon us when we left people hungry, thirsty, sick, unclothed, and alone.

It’s time to stop blaming the court system. If we disagree on same sex marriage, that is our right. That doesn’t change the call of Jesus for his followers, especially American evangelicals at this time. We have our marching orders. We shouldn’t act surprised at who we’re called to serve.

We aren’t called to fight against someone. We aren’t called to litigation.

We are called to fight for everyone—especially those suffering in the most basic ways.

The longer we engage in legal fights against same sex marriage, the more apparent it becomes that we’d rather throw ourselves into any losing cause than obey the most basic commands of Jesus.

Let’s take our tenacity, energy, and resources and throw them into serving the people who are suffering the most in this world.

We may even hear the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant,” one day.

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151 thoughts on “The Supreme Court Just Gave American Evangelicals a Gift

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  1. Ugh. Are there any real Christians out there? So many are blindly strolling hand-in-hand down the broad road, the easy road…where love and tolerance and social justice are the pillars of the gospel.

    Does no one read their Bible anymore? Or believe it? Jesus said that most who think they are Christians are not. And thanks to those who preach a false gospel, this massive, jovial parade will discover too late that the bridge to their heaven is out and will stand rejected and condemned by Jesus, the very one they thought would save them. Read Matthew 7:13-29

    As important as it is to care for the sick and help all those in need, these righteous deeds are simply the evidence of those who truly love and serve the Lord Jesus.

    And neglecting these acts of service is NOT—I repeat—NOT the reason for God’s condemnation or coming judgement as this author falsely claims:

    “If God is going to condemn us over anything in America, it’s going to be our indifference and inaction when it comes to feeding people, giving out clean water, offering shelter, visiting the sick, and helping the prisoners, not a Supreme Court ruling.” -ED CYZEWSKI

    “God’s judgment came upon us when we left people hungry, thirsty, sick, unclothed, and alone.” -ED CYZEWSKI

    God’s judgment and righteous condemnation will rightly fall on all who reject Jesus the ONLY means of being right (justified) before God. “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity–the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim 2:5

    Jesus calls us to be his hands and feet and care for and truly love others, but let’s not forget the real reason Jesus came…to call sinners to repentance and holiness. To be reconciled to God the Father. He came to prepare for himself a pure and holy people who are called out of sin and darkness and into His kingdom…to reign with him forever.

    No matter what the Supreme Court does or how many rainbows we post on Facebook, let’s not forget that when Jesus returns, he will not be wearing a rainbow-colored robe. He will be coming in a blood-soaked robe of judgement to destroy all who rejected HIS GIFT of salvation. Rev 19.

    In the end, #LoveWins ONLY for those who belong to the Great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who came to save them. Titus 2:13

    For the rest, it matters not whether they are draped in rainbows, a judge’s robe, a nurse’s scrubs or a papal hat, if they haven’t repented and been stripped of their pride and clothed in the righteousness of Christ Jesus, then they stand condemned.

    Let’s get God’s story straight.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ed, do you believe Paul’s writings are inspired and canonical? Read 1 Corinthians 5. Paul says Christians should not concern themselves with the world – God will judge. For a Christian to hold a loud vocal opinion on the marriage question is contradictory to Paul’s message. (Many fundamentalists also choose to ignore Paul’s writings about women’s ability to speak in church, and his orders on the wearing of jewelry.)

      Like

    • Loving your neighbor does not mean you agree with their lifestyle. Not one of you liberals really understand the Bible. You’ve taken it and made it into a fairy tale to suit what YOU BELIEVE IT SHOULD SAY. Yes we are all sinners, saved by God’s grace, BUT WE WHO ARE REALLY SAVED TRY EVERYDAY TO LIVE A PURER LIFE AND YES SOMETIMES WE FAIL, BUT WE DO NOT IGNORE WHAT GOD HAS SAID IS SIN. AND MAYBE YOUR BIBLE AND ALL THE RAINBOW FOLLOWERS BIBLE HAS ALL THE PARTS YOU WANT OUT OF IT BUT MINE TELLS ME THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS A
      A SIN AND TO REFRAIN FROM IT AS WELL AS ADULTRY, ETC. SINCE YOU SEEM TO THINK IT’S LOVE AND A LOVING GOD WOULD JUST WANT YOU HAPPY AND FREE THEN I SUGGEST YOU REMEMBER HOW MANY TIMES THIS LOVING GOD DESTROYED PEOPLE WITH THEIR UNWILLINGNESS TO STOP THEIR SINNING . YES I SAID UNWILLINESS. WHY? BECAUSE A REAL CHRISTIAN KNOWS THAT THEY SIN, AND JUST BECAUSE YOU THINK YOU’RE A CHRISTIAN DOES NOT MAKE YOU ONE. AND YOU ARE SO RIGHT_, ALL YOU WHO THINK YOU ARE CHRISTIANS AREN’T….. AND BY THE WAY IF YOU’RE SO RIGHT WHY DIDN’T GOD JUST TELL THOSE 2 MEN ( OR WOMEN) TO GO FORTH BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY?? NOTHING YOU CAN SAY CAN CHANGE THAT.

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      • Not sure which Bible you are reading, but the Bibles I have seen are full or terrible stories of killing innocent children, rape and the proper way to treat slaves, as well as some good stories too. If the parts you like literally then you have to take all of it literally, and that means you will spend lots of time in jail or worse.

        This I do take literally:
        Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

        Like

      • “We are all sinners saved by grace, but…” There’s no but to that statement. We are all sinners saved by grace. Full stop. Followers of Jesus are not authorized to condemn others for their sins, but we are authorized to forgive sins. So if you’re sure that homosexual acts are always sinful, the best thing to do is make good friends with as many homosexuals as you can and diligently forgive them.

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    • The reason why Christian leadership doesn’t emphasize these issues is because they don’t bring in the revenue streams the way that condemning gay marriage does. Organized religion is a business, and in order to stay in business, leadership selects the issues to rile people up about that induce the greatest contributions to the Church. Once churchgoers, never really ones for critical thinking in the first place, decide they care more about social justice and the like, leadership will have no choice but to emphasize those issues instead – some churches are already doing this. It has to be a bottom up process – with a credible threat of people actually leaving the congregation to facilitate change.

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  2. Ed, if in fact you have spent much time feeding the hungry and clothing the stranger in our cities and around the world, surely you know how deeply intertwined poverty and brokenness are with sex. If you care about poverty, you have to care about sex. My parents have worked for decades in the inner city and in Kwazulu-Natal, the area with the highest infection rate of HIV in the world. They have seen first hand how inter-generational poverty is a corollary of unchastened sexual practice. And here in the US, out of wedlock birth is one of the single greatest predictors of poverty. It would be foolishness if the Christians who for so many generations have been on the front lines of serving the poor never paused to consider: What are the causes of this perpetual poverty? Perhaps we should also address that too. Regarding same-sex marriage, it is less obvious what the consequences will be of more and more children lacking either a father or mother, but one can be sure it will not be an isolated thing, an island unto itself. There will be social consequences. Christians must carry on the unenviable task of being sexually counter-cultural, because we have every evidence that the biblical sexual ethic is good for personal and societal well-being. And, as we go, we must remember the poor, who are in so many cases the victims of cultures that haven’t provided the tools to choose wisely.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think you have your cause and effect backwards… Perhaps poverty is the single greatest indicator of out of wedlock pregnancy.
      If you are poor, you can’t afford contraceptives… Or marriage.
      Maybe conservative Christians should stop fighting against people’s needs for contraception as a basic part of healthcare coverage.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jesus said He was worth the cost of expensive oil poured on Him before His crucifixion, part of our act of belief and worship. Christians get criticized any way possible. Christians do obey by feeding, clothing and comforting the poor. We must stand up for God given standards, no matter the cost.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You almost got it right Ed, Jesus does want us to meet the needs of the poor and hungry. By the way, the evangelicals you choose to judge and mock are the biggest contributors of those needs on the planet. But Jesus asked us to make disciples of the nations, priority one for a dying world. Your lengthy rant left that out.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Do you have any proof they are the biggest contributors to the planet? Because I’d like to argue Bill Gates.

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      • I recommend that you read the book “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism” by Arthur C. Brooks. You will find ample proof there. Also, as I pointed out in my own comment on this thread, evangelicals give far more to humanitarian relief organizations than to social advocacy charities. I looked up the IRS Form 990 information for World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion International, and Prison Fellowship. Last year, just those four humanitarian relief groups received $2.5 billion in donations. By contrast, the four social advocacy groups of Alliance Defending Freedom, American Center for Law and Justice, Family Research Council, and National Right to Life only received $75 million in donations. I think each of these two sets of four organizations is representative of their categories, so you can see for yourself where evangelicals are donating the bulk of their resources.

        Liked by 3 people

        • That’s not a fair comparison at all. A lot of non-evangelicals and non-Christians donate to World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse and Compassion International. For obvious reasons, they would not donate to the social advocacy causes you listed. Unless you have specifically limited your research to a fixed quantity of Evangelical donors and tracked their donations to both types of organizations, this is a comparison that is useless at best and deliberately misleading at worst.

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        • Jenna, please read the book, especially the chapter on Faith and Charity. The author has done meticulous research to show that it is in fact primarily churchgoers who give to charity, and not just to their local churches, but to the very types of humanitarian relief agencies I’ve listed. Therefore, I stand by my statement. It is an entirely fair comparison and an accurate one. It is not in the least bit useless or misleading.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes. Yes. YES! This is exactly what we need to hear. I’ve made this point to many in my congregation. Somehow, we skim over God’s great concern for the weakest in society. Just a few passages: God called Israel a sinful nation for abandoning concern for the poor, fatherless & widows. (Isaiah 1)
    James tells us that pure religion isn’t taking control of the world, but to look after widows & orphans & to refrain from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27) The implication there is that showing no concern for the weakest in society IS being polluted by the world.
    Jesus said people would know we are his followers, not if we stop gays from marrying but if we show love. (John 13:35)

    Furthermore, I believe it is wrong for us Christians to attempt to use the law to stop gays from marrying. Read Jesus’ parable of the wheat & the weeds in Matthew 13. It is NOT our jobs to stamp out “evil.” Attempting to eliminate evil can cause harm to the world. If you disagree with me, go on and read the text for yourself. It IS our job to nurture goodness in this world.
    So let’s turn this “loss” in the world into a win. By using this & every opportunity to do good for those in need.

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  6. This is not a very well thought out piece. It’s maddening really. It’s completely ridiculous to say that the Supreme Court gave American evangelicals a gift, the gift of being able to focus on the poor because the issue of same-sex marriage has already been decided so evangelicals don’t have to focus on that anymore. As if one cannot focus on both. At any rate— Here’s something I would like to know—if the Supreme Court prohibited SSM instead, would the author still say that the Court gave Evangelicals the gift of now being able to focus on helping the poor? Something tells me that he would not.

    Interestingly, it was Judas who said that the money bag was wasted on anointing Jesus when it could have been given to the poor. It seems to me the author’s doing something similar. Who said that those who will suffer as a consequence of the legalization of SSM, suffer because what they thought would make them happy ultimately didn’t, are not poor? Who said that the children who will lack a mother or father because of SSM are not poor? Poverty can be spiritual, psychological, mental, emotional, and moral, in addition to material. The author of this blog post seems oblivious to this, and to the existence of the spiritual works of mercy.

    Another thing… this ruling will lead to individuals attempting to file lawsuits against conscientious Christians and Christian churches. The ruling could also get in the way of some Christian groups and organizations of helping the poor. Gift? Hardly.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. “When the Supreme Court ruled to make same sex marriage the law of the land, American evangelicals received a gift that many don’t want: official permission to fight for people in need instead of fighting against same sex marriage.” American Evangelicals will have to spend time and money defending their right not to be forced to perform same sex weddings or provide services for them. They will have to fight for their right to hot have to be forced to hire homosexuals in their churches, Christian schools, non-profits because those institutions believe marriage is defined as one man, one woman. These are the types of things they will be spending time and money on. They will continue to do their best for the poor and disenfranchised. There are many of us who are on the front lines caring for the poor. Evangelicals “ignoring the poor” is far from the only reason the poor or not being served well. Corruption, greed, selfishness, etc. I agree with Nate Jacobson’s post above: “surely you know how deeply intertwined poverty and brokenness are with sex. If you care about poverty, you have to care about sex.” Exactly!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sweetie, gays don’t want hate and fear mongering clergy / churches performing their weddings, anymore than you would demand an imam or a rabbi or Buddhist monk, or a Shinto priest or a Satanist perform yours.

      Your comment/fear is so ludicrous, it should be named Chris Bridges.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Please do not disrespectfully call me “sweetie.” And, yes, people have been forced to perform ceremonies, provide services to same-sex couples for their weddings (or be sued), and hire gay people or be accused of being discriminatory or bigots. Please do not respond because I am not longer receiving e-mails per this article. It is unfortunately not worth my time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Then why do they sue Christian bakers and photographers who refer them to someone else because they can’t be a part of a religious ceremony that contradicts their beliefs? If they will sue these Christians, why wouldn’t they sue the pastors? What if they are dead set on marrying in a specific church , but the church will not perform SSMs because of their religious convictions? You think they honestly wouldn’t sue, having a pretty good idea that they will win now? I don’t think you really believe that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • There is a big difference between a church and a florist. The church has a right to practice it’s religion as guaranteed under the first amendment. The florist or other business sells a product or provides a service not covered by the first amendment. Any attempt to force a church to host a wedding it does not want to will fail.
          But, for the business owner who says, I don’t want to “participate” in a same sex wedding by selling them a cake, I say nonsense. Is the gun shop owner “participating” in a murder when the weapon is subsequently used? Then why do you think you are “participating” in the wedding?

          Liked by 1 person

        • Because these are businesses, not churches. Businesses do not have the right to discriminate against anyone. This violates public accommodation laws. Churches, on the other hand are private institutions protected by the first amendment.

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  8. Pingback: Toward an Explanation of Fundamentalism and Freaking Out over Equality « Andrew Joseph Pegoda, A.B.D.

  9. I’m deeply saddened to see so many negative replies. We just continue to miss the point and this piece just proves that! Just act out of love and let God do the judging!

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  10. Pingback: Rainbows and Happiness…and Broken Friendships | a small person

  11. Excellent blog. Excellent post. It very similar (although toned down a bit) to a blog I wrote yesterday titles “Take Me To Church – Same Sex Marriage And The Supreme Court” and linked in perfectly with yours of Evangelicals needing to “refocus”. Sadly, it won’t happen. I believe at times they thrive on drama and yelling and telling certain groups they are the ones damned to hell. Must be an Evangelical hobby. Maybe they should take up Yo-Yoing, Fishing, or Mountain Climbing.

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  12. Pingback: The Supreme Court just gave American evangelicals a gift | Baptist News Global Perspectives – Conversations that matter

  13. We can yell all we want about “God establishing marriage between one man and one woman”, but the Christian church seems to get really quiet when the issue of divorce comes up. Most Christians choose to ignore what the scripture says about divorce – it is “hated by God” and it is clear throughout the Bible that, except for a few rare cases, divorce and remarriage leads to continued sin – adultery…

    Luke 16:18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

    The Old Testament, Jesus, and the other writers of the New Testament were all clear on the sin of divorce, yet my church and every church I have been associated with is full of divorced / remarried people, many who probably sit in judgement of same-sex marriage. Why doesn’t the church condemn them for openly living in sin?

    Our call is to Love God and Love others – leave the judging to Him…

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  14. This post and the following comments are the perfect example of the root problem in and outside of the Church (pride). We choose one scripture passages “that we believe in as the whole truth” and condemn anyone who does not champion it the way we do. The Bible has a lot more to say about caring for the poor, sex, money, life, etc. than just a handful of verses. There is a thread that runs through the whole book on all of these topics and more with examples of what happens when people live by faith or not. The New Testiment doesn’t make sense unless you understand the covenant requirements of the Old Testiment. And none of it can be understood or applied correctly without the help of the Holy Spirit, but few people will take the time to humbly ask for His help.

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  15. Thank you, Ed, for bravely writing this post, full well knowing the rain of hate and garbage that would follow. Social justice is not hippy dippy bullshit. It’s the heart of Christ. If I risk being condemned for my love and acceptance of homosexuals when I am standing before god and the throne, I’m certain I don’t want any part of that “kingdom” anyhow.

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  16. Ed,
    Empowered by grace, I have fed Him when He was hungry, sheltered Him when He was homeless, given Him something to drink when He was thirsty, clothed Him when He was naked, cared for Him when He was sick, visited Him in prison. In doing so I have learned that so few of the homeless have parents who honored their marriage vows, nor honored their marriage vows and love their children in practical ways. Asserting Divine plans for marriage across the board is a fundamental way to ease suffering that can be done while doing the rest of the remedial work needing to be done in our sin sick world..

    Like

  17. Happy Monday, folks. I took most of the weekend away from this here blog, and apparently things kind of exploded while I was gone. I’ve never had a comment moderation policy because it’s never been necessary. From what I hear, I’m going to need one. So I’ll be going through the comments later today, and I wanted to give everyone a heads up on what’s going to happen:

    1. I welcome dissenting opinions. I have many close friend who disagree with me on this topic, and we can get on with our lives just fine. So I’m not worried about disagreements here. I am, however, concerned with civility so that all views feel welcome.

    2. I see this blog as a kind of front porch conversation that I’m hosting. So if anyone starts attacking anyone else verbally, makes unfair accusations, insults anyone by calling them a fool, idiot, etc., or does anything else that may make other commenters from voicing their opinions, those comments will be deleted. If you have written a particularly long comment that you feel perfectly captures your views like nothing else in all of the internets but you also resorted to insulting people or created a particularly hostile commenting environment, please copy and paste it somewhere else because I will most certainly delete it later today when I stop by to moderate things.

    3. Comment moderation is not a science. It’s far more important to me that I create a space where civil discourse can happen rather than giving room for people to bully, accuse, judge, etc. The Internet is a big, wild place with lots of diversity. It may be that this particular blog just isn’t your cup of tea.

    4. It’s been my ongoing policy to close comments after a post has been live for two weeks in order to minimize spam. That policy will remain for this post as well.

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  18. The link between ingrained poverty and the culture of sexual anarchy is undeniable. The”freedom” our elite class celebrates is devastating to the poor as it absolutely guts the social resources they used to rely on. Want to help children? Feed them, yes, but help to restore the place of the traditional family if you want to have the greatest impact.

    Like

  19. “Without a voice, you and I will be known ONLY by the labels that the militants give us.”

    Oh, I don’t know. I think with the voice we have used we’ve done a fine enough job giving ourselves those labels.

    Joe

    Like

  20. I agree-WAY too many evangelifish have wrapped the Bible in the flag, and have used it to bash the world. Bad move, and I am not going to defend that mindset.

    What we have NOT done is bring logic and reason along with our faith..

    Like

  21. “What we have NOT done is bring logic and reason along with our faith.”

    Yes. Dualism is a tragedy and travesty with which the church has played along for many centuries.

    Joe

    Like

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VITAL Questions to Engage Metro Detroit

•January 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

colorful.questions

Hebrews 13:16

But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Q Place. Where people can explore questions in a setting of love and grace and enthusiasm. Hard – albeit common – questions, such as, “Who is God? Does any Almighty, Spiritual Being really have any interest in this ugly, hateful, divisive world of messed up people? How did this mess happen? Does anyone, anywhere, understand me?” And a final question – one from which many people shy away – “Is there any hope and can anything be done?”

On that first volunteer day at the national office of Q Place, I met so many people! Names and faces were impossible to match up, at first. Slowly, I began to sort them out.

I was impressed with how warm and welcoming each person was. They always spoke to me when they passed by. And even smiled! Many also expressed thanks for my taking time to volunteer to do the little things I was able to do.

It was a beehive! There was an ever-present undercurrent of excitement with the quickly approaching Chicago Area VITAL Conference. As with any large endeavor, there were not only the large details, but also the small and tiny. It sometimes is said that you-know-who is in the details! Although the deadline was approaching…zero hour…there was no blaming, no raised voices, and no unpleasantness. I was observing a living, breathing, fluid mission. Many people; many ideas; many last-minute challenges. Yet, the goal was always at the forefront. We drank a little more water or a little more coffee. Maybe ate some extra chocolate? Pressing forward, with faith, together.

In the early morning hours of October 30, ready-or-not, there we came – to the College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. The environment looked lovely and inviting. The bookstore was all stocked and ready. A lot of time had been spent on planning the layout of the tables and the displays, the video presentations, the oral discussions, and the appeals. It all sounded and looked professional, interesting, exciting and hopeful!

It was all that – and more!

The speakers were not only engaging and captivating, they were loving and lovable! They were pouring out their hearts of love and concern, not only for people with whom they worked, but for those with whom they had studied, prayed, laughed, and sometimes cried. And, especially and specifically for those whom they had not yet engaged, who would be searching for companionship; for encouragement; for hope, and for exploration of answers to those nagging questions.

So that was my very first VITAL conference.

I plead for the continued blessing of the Q Place mission so that many more people can come to the realization of just how important they are, individually, to the Almighty God whom Jesus taught us to call by the intimate name of “Abba – Father.”

I see an answer to my prayer, as Q Place’s VITAL conference is now coming to Detroit! You can join with us at VITAL – Detroit on February 21, at Ward Church, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at 40000 Six Mile Road in Northville, Michigan.

You will be blessed to hear Christian author, Hugh Halter (BiVo, The Tangible Kingdom, Flesh) speak on his first-hand experiences with people in his community, meeting them where they are and helping them experience the reality of Jesus through everyday interactions.

Mary Schaller, president of Q Place, will speak on how God gave her a new, meaningful “midlife” goal that impacted her friends as never before.

Jeff Klein is another dynamic speaker, showing how everyday followers of Jesus can build relationships, invite people to explore their questions together, and create a safe place where they can question, discover, and grow in their relationship with God. Jeff’s passion is contagious.

I love this summation of the living purpose of Q Place, and I experienced this myself at VITAL:

“Q Place empowers Christians to engage in meaningful conversations about God with people who believe differently.”

So, Metro Detroit! Please consider this your personal invitation to be involved in what God is doing in this area. He has seen the tears, the fears, the brokenness and the struggles of people all around us. He knows the most cherished hopes! He has heard the questions, spoken or not.

We can be involved in the greatest adventure in the world, helping people put voice to their questions in a non-judgmental environment, exploring His communication with us, making discoveries, and coming to know Him. I’ve been personally VITAL-ized one time and am hoping to have the opportunity to be re-VITAL-ized, once more.

Hearts, indeed, are being prepared. The harvest is so ripe! It may seem that the workers are few, but I’ve witnessed, first-hand, what our God can accomplish through willing human cooperation. We have a Rock that cannot be broken. And when we allow ourselves to be broken upon that Rock, our world changes – one heart at a time.

Including mine. Praise God!

James 1:25

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word, this one will be blessed in what he does.

What’s in a Password? Everything…or Nothing!

•September 17, 2014 • 2 Comments

Let me state, clearly and unequivocally:  “I HATE passwords!” If only that would clear it out of my system!

What has my life become with all these ‘secret’ codes/words/messages/answers to  archaic questions that my ever-approaching dementia won’t allow me to remember, anyway?

A typical day in the life of an old gal – traveling where she feels safe in the far right-hand information lane, trying to survive with the fast, speed-limit-be-darned, far left lane people:

Wake up at possibly two hours premature to sunrise. Cat is jumping between me and Himself. When jumping becomes boring, then tries balancing on our lateral ribs. This cat should join Cirque du Soleil. If I can ever get their password-protected permission to comment on their website, I might just make the referral! Since I am in the established pre-sunrise fog, I cannot quickly recall the cat-stopping, shutdown password. Not to worry! The feline song-alarm goes off and I suddenly recall that it’s,

f-e-e-d-me_still#dark@don’tcare2014.

I tried a simpler cat password. All 10,000 were already taken.

Supposing that I should feed the breadwinner, Himself, next, I determine if the preference today will be cold cereal (Mr. Kellogg should be sainted, I don’t care if I am Protestant!) or (would you believe the NERVE) hot eggs. While eggs are cooking, time to make coffee. Does anyone else out there realize that it is possible to lock oneself out of the coffeemaker?! After weeks of consternation and droopy eyelids, I discovered that a covertly whispered, threatening word at the tiny clock (as if I haven’t figured out that’s a cloaking display) tends to brreak the impasse. Well, along with a large and powerful jerking of the pot out of the base.

Now to try to catch up on what happened in the whole, wide world while I was asleep. OMG! Who actually touched the remote(s) last?? If it was moi, then I know I need only touch one small green button, right at the very top of the light silver, older – not the light silver, newer – controller. If it was (insert very s-l-o-w, heavy-handed, lower register piano notes here) Himself…then it’s a virtual hodgepodge of punching not only the correct buttons, but in the correct sequence (kills me every time) and while my left retina (non-dominant, BTW. Gosh, I hope that’s not one of my secret questions!!) is correctly positioned in front of the laser. As you can imagine, this is in the top 2 reasons for marital discord. Oh, and then Himself wonders why I need new glasses each year!

By the time I get all this controller rigmarole straightened out, the REAL news is over and they’re broadcasting the ‘pop’ news. I thought all that stuff was corralled into one silly channel that only 12-year-olds watched at 1:00 a.m. because they could not sleep? Okay, maybe an occasional insomniac adult visitor! Murrow, Huntley, Brinkley, Reasoner! They’re all spinning in their graves!

The housework comes next. I have a Maytag dishwasher that’s about circa 1985. It’s used rarely, though, for the occasional day after a big day of errands or visiting someone in the hospital that keeps me from having enough energy reserve to wash that mountain of dishes at 9:00 p.m. (We both enjoy cooking from scratch – it’s a hippie-like protest.) Usually, it’s the dishtub and whichever bottle of liquid dish detergent that doesn’t have a digital, child proof lock top.  My mop looks like Whoopi’s hairstyle. And I use the kind of broom that witches use for transportation. I don’t care! None of them require a password! I hope I expire before them.

Never being satisfied with ‘well enough’, I  am drawn to the computer. It’s a love-hate, hate-some-more relationship:

1.  Sign on screen greets me with a cheerful, mint green color. I’m onto it, though. I know it’s a ruse. The heart of my computer, actually, is the color of mud. And it beats about as fast as mud dries on a rainy day. This is the only password I easily remember, as it has never prompted me to change because of some foreign hacker-spy.

2.  Today, I want to keep it simple. Just mail server and Facebook. Oh, dear! Did I not just catch on the first 5 minutes of real news that somebody hacked into an internet mail server? Was it mine? I need to look this up! Wait! Not without the password, I don’t! I type in my current password and immediately change it, regardless. It feels a little like shooting myself in the foot. The dominant one!

After deleting 9/10 of my so-called mail, I decide to look in on the family on FB. (Really, socially-conscious conservation group? You know of at least 3 global crises 24/7/365-1/4? And I highly suspect you SOLD my address to the political hacks!),  Uh-oh. Was there a REAL FB warning about changing the password – or was that a trick to get me to click on a subversive link that will shut down my computer and infect my dogs with diarrhea? Or was that infect my computer with spamarrhea and shut down my dogs? Might I substitute my cat? Change another password! Wait! Did I use this (not really new, rather, recycled) ‘new’ password before the allotted timeframe has passed? If so, those irritating secret questions will come up!

According to the first 5 minutes of real news last night: All we slow laners should take heart! We just need to write all of our  passwords down! On that ancient Papyrus 1.0 with our ancient, lead, ciphering instrument! Those smarty-pants Egyptians! No wonder they ruled the world!

Pray with me that those most ancient of dishonest professionals – thieves – do not hack into my home alarm system and make off with the most valuable item in my home:  That ancient papyrus! (And if they do, could they please leave detailed instructions on how they did it so that I can get into my home the first try and stop irritating the very busy local police with false alarms?)

In proofreading this article, I’m laughing to myself. I often crack myself up! If I can remember my WP password, and whether or not there’s been a red alert to change it, I hope you might allow a slight smile to be noticed on your features. Just enough so someone wonders what you’re up to.

Make Sure Your Revolt is Not Revolting

•June 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Isaiah 2:4  He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

While trying to distance myself from too much political speak, sometimes something will grab my attention and make me want to ruminate on it for a bit. Such is the current news story about a young couple, supposedly involved in Neo-Nazism, who went in search of police officers to execute to protest the government. 

While this is my opinion, and yes, I know exactly what they say about opinions…I’m still going to try to puzzle this out. 

No one doubts that our financial and political systems are broken and rampant with greed, unfairness, and dishonesty. Unfortunately, when you amass a body of people whose main goal has become their own exclusive financial well-being, the evil will reveal itself, sooner or later. 

It is out of the minds of sick people, who also have their own agenda, solely, in mind, that come ideas to take up arms in a cowardly manner of sneak attack on unsuspecting and unprepared people. These same Neo-Nazi spin doctors will not hesitate to try to convince people that the Holocaust never happened; therefore, the recollections of personal experiences of thousands and thousands of American GIs (not government officials or a certain ethnic group) are all fabricated and photos have been ‘doctored’. Blame is assigned to the Jews, who they suggest wanted worldwide sympathy. Except, what of those millions of people who were not Jews, who still were executed by Hitler’s orders? Of the soldiers in various European countries who were killed while attempting to defend their own borders against an egomaniac who thought he and his flunkies should rule the world? The clergy members; Romanian gypsies, Russians, Poles and other Slavics; mentally disabled; and Jehovah’s Witnesses and other Christians who would not salute Der Fuerher? 

Why must some be so rabidly ‘right’ that they willingly morph into murderous lunatics?

I cannot ascertain who is more mentally unstable – the people who support and teach such lies – or those who throw their lot in with them and carry out the killings? Yet, more often than not, they will claim to be Christians. Searching the New Testament (including Revelation), I can find no direction from Jesus Christ to take up arms and slaughter people. Instead, I find things such as the Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes. The only weapon Jesus picked up was a whip with which to chase away the money changers and sellers from the grounds of the Temple, who were making His Father’s house a raucous, irreverent den of thieves. In another very glaring example, all the disciples (except for John) and the Apostle Paul, died unnatural deaths of persecution. They did not defend themselves or try to incite riots or raise an army of armed soldiers. The army they were interested in was an army of people to follow the example and lead of Jesus – love for God and people, reliance upon the will of God, and humility, even, if necessary, to death, believing that their Heavenly reward would far outweigh any temporary reward for a few years on Earth. They submitted their fates to whatever their Lord had in mind. 

God declared that He sets up and destroys earthly kingdoms. We have not learned that lesson and want to run ahead of God, claiming that He is on our side. God is His own side. He chooses who is on His side, not the other way around. We cannot make that decision for God. We can only pray for His Spirit to guide us to His side – even when that side is not what we would choose for ourselves. God HAS always been, and WILL always be, in charge of HIStory. He does not bow to mankind. 

We tread an extremely dangerous path when we glory in our fire power and twist self-glorification into the guise of ‘patriotism’. How badly do you need that 15 minutes of fame? We are so quick to set up our individual idols. An idol is more than statue. It can be addictions. It can be covetousness. It can be our esteem of our own intelligence. It can be an over-reliance on lethal weapons. It can be over-reliance on other people’s influence over us. It certainly can be the hate that spills out to affect others. The worship of hatred causes a type of ‘high’ in the hater. The more they feed it, the larger it grows and the more power they assign to it. And that worship of power increases when they can influence followers. Each person needs to search the heart for false gods of our own choosing, which are much more dangerous than a lifeless stone image. 

I wish I were intelligent enough, and persuasive enough, to come up with THE answer to turn away such diabolical rage. I wish I knew how to fix our unsympathetic and self-serving government that protects the super wealthy and continues to take more and more from those who can least afford it. But, if people then, and still today, cannot follow the example of the very Son of God, I suppose my surprise should be tempered. It is sad that those who profess to wear the name of Christ will sometimes be the worst offenders. Not everyone who says Lord, Lord, in that day…The people who claim they healed and worked various miracles in His name will learn that they had only their own objectives in mind. They enumerate their pride in what they think THEY accomplished, not the power of God working through humbled servants. 

We can have rational, non-violent discussions. We can earnestly turn to prayer for God’s deliverance and strength. We can avoid carelessly throwing our children onto the battlefield and ripping our country apart with hatred. God says to defeat our enemies by having faith in Him and His plan. To show them kindness, which will feel to them like heaping coals of fire upon their heads. That His people will love their enemies, as even the devils love only those who are like themselves. If we want to change people, we must lovingly encourage them to change their hearts and minds from force to reliance upon God’s wisdom and God’s plan. God will not abandon those who bow before Him, but only those who insist on having their own way, declaring themselves to be smarter than anyone else and ridiculing the efforts for peaceful reconciliation. 

Revolt against evil, yes! Revolt against injustice, yes! Revolt in your heart and decide to lean on God Almighty. But do not meet revolting behavior with more revolting behavior. We cannot change society by military force. Our last two wars should prove that. We change hearts by example of the virtuous ideals of love and kindness. Threats incite fear. Fear incites hatred. Hatred incites killing. And it becomes a never-ending cycle of self destruction. 

May we show enough courage, exemplary courage, to love in the face of others’ hatred. To empty ourselves of self worship and the lust for power and submit to the plan of our Divine Defender. We do not strengthen Him or His cause. He is not a weak God. He desires our hearts, not our weapons. Plowshares do much more for this world than do swords.