ALL LIVES MATTER

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13‭-‬14 NASB

I’m so tired of seeing my nation, my world, being divided by color of skin. We are Americans. Not African or Irish or Chinese or Mexican or Italian or any other country. We can’t let politicians, who are really only interested in themselves, divide us! Seriously, people! If you hold dual citizenship with another country, then by all means identity with it! Any British-Americans? German-American? Guyana-Americans? See what I mean? I honestly don’t understand why someone wants to self identify as part of a country other than the one they were born in, unless they want to move to that country to live. African-American is very widely used and claimed by hundreds of thousands of Americans. Why? Are they or their parents from Africa? Besides which, Africa isn’t even a country. It’s a continent. I know, we Americans have appropriated the name of the continent we are on as the name of our country, but understand that the world also refers to citizens of the United States as Americans. Are people from Ethiopia considered African, or Ethiopian? Kenyan, or African? Ugandan, or African? See the question?

Racism is promoted and perpetuated by the insistence of some people to identify as anything other than as Americans. I really don’t understand. I was actually polled the other night (a first!) and when asked what race I was, I answered “American.” I know it’s not a race, but neither is African-American. I should have answered “human”, because there is only one race. Sure, we have thousands of cultures and as many colors, but there is only one race, human. It would behoove us all to grasp onto that fact.

I love my country and the melting pot that it is. I will continue to pray for my country and that somehow, people will see through all this “racial” divisiveness, and I will do everything in my power to defend my country from our enemies, both within and without. Celebrate the diversity of all of our beautiful skin colors and cultural differences, but, please, don’t fight over them!

Jesus is the answer. The only answer. Come to Him today. Jesus said:

“I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 NASB

There’s a WHOLE LOT of Judging Going On.

“If you judge someone else, you have no excuse for it. When you judge another person, you are judging yourself. You do the same things you blame others for doing.” Romans 2:1 NIV

Did you read that? Let’s get it in a different translation.

“You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.” Romans 2:1 NLT

This one might be my favorite:

“Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done.” Romans 2:1‭-‬2 MSG

As Christians, we should be setting the standard for the world in compassion and mercy, and instead we – as a group – are called judgmental by the world. It is up to me, and you, to change that perception. There’s a whole lot of judging going on today. Personally, I’m trying really hard not to judge the people who are rioting and destroying other people’s property and livelihoods. If I could, I’d be one of those defending the properties in danger.

However, I know this. GOD is the Judge of this world, not me. LORD, help me and guide me as I go through this day. Show me when I am being judgmental so I can repent of it and focus on loving people instead of judging them. Whether it is a family member, a coworker, or someone on the street, let them see You in me. Amen.

Love & Peace

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:9‭-‬21 ESV

I’m struggling this morning. Watching the protests last night right in my own city, seeing violence and looting happening, breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to see the damage that has been done to people’s property – people who had nothing to do with any of it, having their lives destroyed by others who decide to be both judge and jury and find everyone guilty.

I’ve been in protests. I believe that peaceful, non-violent protests can be effective. There’s no way, really, that I can understand a life lived in abject poverty, but that isn’t what these protests are about. I’m white, so, no, I’ll never understand what it is to be black (or brown or red or yellow). I’m a woman, and I do know discrimination. I’ve been discriminated against for being white, and for being an American. I have lived with prejudice against me. Respect is an attitude that doesn’t seem to be taught much anymore.

We are all guilty. Every single one of us. We are guilty of prejudice, we are guilty of judgment. We all do evil. We are guilty of discrimination. There are times when protesting injustice is necessary, and coming together in solidarity to protest an injustice goes back to the beginnings of these United States. There are no excuses for vandalism. Vandalism doesn’t solve anything, and it hurts those around us, our neighbors and families.

I’m struggling with the upheaval and chaos facing my country. I’m crying for the losses of so many innocent people. Join me in praying for the people who want to see change, that they will understand that violence is not the answer. Martin Luther King, Jr. said this:
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Vengeance…..

Today, as the nation bows in prayer, I think the following scriptures speak more than anything I could possibly say.

O LORD, God of Vengeance, God of Vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth, Render recompense to the proud. How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked exult? They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves. They crush Your people, O LORD, And afflict Your heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger And murder the orphans. …..Can a throne of destruction be allied with You, one which devises mischief by decree? They band themselves together against the life of the righteous And condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD has been my Stronghold, And my GOD the Rock of my Refuge. He has brought back their wickedness upon them And will destroy them in their evil; The LORD our GOD will destroy them.” Psalms 94:1‭-‬6‭, ‬20‭-‬23 NASB

Vengeance is Mine, and Retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.’ For the LORD will vindicate His people, And will have Compassion on His servants, When He sees that their strength is gone, And there is none remaining, bond or free.” Deuteronomy 32:35‭-‬36 NASB

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:14‭-‬16‭, ‬21 NASB

Finally, even with all the fear and chaos:

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” Romans 12:10‭-‬13 NASB

We are the Called.

Fearful?

“Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You. I said to the LORD, “You are my LORD; I have no good besides You.” The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied; I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, Nor will I take their names upon my lips. The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot. I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalms 16:1‭-‬2‭, ‬4‭-‬5‭, ‬8 NASB

Are you worried about your health and safety because of this virus called COVID19? Are you fearful that the world as we know it is ending?

I will say this. Yes, the world as we have known it is over. We can’t go back. I’m not convinced we should want to. My fears aren’t because of a biological “bug”. I’m much more concerned about the actions of people, and especially of those who are “in charge.” Government, whether it’s your local town or those in Washington, doesn’t easily let go once they have taken over something. Is it necessary for the powers that be to pass resolutions to order people to stay at home except for going out for essentials? Apparently so….. but for the criminals, and those people who consider themselves above the law, will it make a difference? Probably not, and those are the very people who are creating issues for the rest of us. Politicians have turned it into a political issue. I’m talking about both sides of the aisle.

“The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied; I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, Nor will I take their names upon my lips.” We are so busy bartering for all of our everyday gods that we have forgotten the GOD Who is in control.

I will continue to protect my family and my home to the best of my ability, but I will not fear or be intimidated by the enemy’s actions.

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalms 118:6 ESV

Quarantines and Social Distancing

“When the supreme being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, he impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be. For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with free will to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that free will is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.” – William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England

In his letter to the Roman church, Paul said “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Romans 13:1‭-‬2 NASB

Honestly, I struggle with this. As a young adult, two of my favorite quotes were “Resist Authority!” and “Why Be Normal?” My “normal” is still very different from people’s around me, and that’s okay with me. I confess that I still struggle with the whole authority situation, too. How many people do you know who can claim that they were introduced to the Commander of a military base that was involved with nuclear weapons, while wearing a shirt proclaiming “You Can’t Hug A Child With NUCLEAR ARMS” …..? (Yes, that actually happened, and I think I made an impression on him.)

While I think that this situation with the current health issue has gone to an extreme, I don’t wholly disagree with the amount of care being taken. Of course I don’t want people sick. For the already sick, and for those most susceptible to a virus, by all means they should be protecting themselves. I wouldn’t want my 93 year old Mom out in public right now, simply because her immune system probably wouldn’t be (isn’t) very efficient at fighting off infections. I don’t want my brand new baby great niece around people for the same reasons. I agree that taking precautions is a good thing for all of us. I mean, who hasn’t had a cold or other virus at some time?

We have to be watchful with the chaos around us of people who are fearful and apparently think the Zombie Apocalypse is on us. Hoarding supplies, fighting over toilet paper, afraid to touch anyone or anything; I believe these are from the enemy.

The saddest part of all this? The healthy among us, and those of us who are cautious and have already been diligent about hand washing and cleanliness, are caught in the same restrictions as the susceptible. I’m an introvert, so “having” to stay home isn’t a real imposition…… as long as it’s my choice. My rebellious self says “How dare you tell me I can’t go out and eat or shop or meet up with friends?” My Christian self says to listen to the LORD, and He says to do what is right and proper, and to obey the authorities. I don’t have to like it, I just have to do it. (However, know this: if the authorities overstep their own boundaries as laid out in the Constitution of the United States, I will not sit by and passively allow it. Just sayin’.)

And the LORD said to Joshua “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NASB

GOD, the Ultimate Authority

While there must be an institutional separation of church and state, there must NOT be separation between God and government. NO people, institution, or government has any authority beyond what has been given by God. GOD has the ultimate authority and power!

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” Romans 13:1 NASB

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ ” Jeremiah 29:7 NASB

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; ……” Colossians 2:8‭-‬10 NASB

Just some things to keep in mind as we move into this season of campaigning and elections. The Deceiver is moving strongly throughout our nation, and it is easy to fall into his many traps and lies. Our nation is unique among nations because it is based upon Christian principles and values. Think hard, pray hard, evaluate each candidate by their lives, their families, their actions. Above all else, remember this:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 NASB

Talking Heads

From the Urban Dictionary (urbandictionary.com), the top definition for “Talking Head”:

A “Talking Head” is someone who never stops talking. They will corner you by your car after a long day’s work to tell you gossip about the neighbors or to ask you about the details of your day, so they can distort it and spread it throughout the neighborhood. Not all Talking Heads are malicious, but all talking heads are idiots and time-wasters. Over a year, you can lose many precious hours cornered by a Talking Head. – As defined by Ian De La Rosa, from September 19, 2013

On Quora (quora.com), I found the following “definition” of the term “Talking Heads” – and I have to say that, in my opinion, he absolutely nailed it!

“Talking heads,” as an idiom, refers to individuals pontificating a certain creed, ideology, or kindred set of beliefs without critically analyzing the context and substance of their statement. In essence, these individuals are “spokespeople” or pundits representing an ideologue, movement, or other memetic process. Its usage, from my experience, is as an invariably derogatory epithet that coalesces these “spokespeople” into a clique of intellectual stagnation and coagulation which fails to grasp or address any opinion to the contrary of the orthodoxy promulgated by the talking heads. – Michael Alvis, November 27, 2015

“Talking heads” are everywhere. On TV and in social media, they mix actual news with political agendas and twist things out of context. We can find any point of view – from the blantantly radical and violent (both Left and Right) broadcasts, to knee-jerk reactions full of vitriole and inflammatory language, to orchestrated calls to arms (literal and figurative), to carefully thought out commentaries meant to encourage and to inform. I would love to see more of the last! James says:

“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man**, able to bridle the whole body as well. …..So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. ……With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” – JAMES 3:2‭, ‬5‭-‬6‭, ‬9‭-‬10 NASB

(**There is and was and will be only One Perfect Man, the person of Jesus Christ, Who never stumbled in anything He said.)

We can easily find ourselves becoming individual “Talking Heads,” if you will, when we become too stuck and dogmatic in our views. As followers of Christ, it is so important to guard our hearts, so that our tongues don’t start sparks of resentment and animosity, causing the people we speak to to reject what we say. Our hearts and what we hold in our hearts, no matter how well we think we have it hidden and tucked away, affects every word that we utter. Listen to James! (He is much wiser than I can ever hope to be!)

“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” – JAMES 3:14‭-‬16 NASB

In Proverbs, we receive many instructions on the value of using wisdom and the teachings of our youth. Unfortunately, too many are growing up today without good teaching. (**This is not a dig against school teachers! I am referring to the Good teaching of the Scriptures.) In chapter 4, I believe the father referred to isn’t David, as you would expect from Solomon, but to GOD, the Father.

“Then He taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast My Words; Keep My Commandments and live; Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of My Mouth. Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth And put devious speech far from you.” – PROVERBS 4:4‭-‬5‭, ‬23‭-‬24 NASB

When we search for God’s wisdom, and we learn His commandments and store them in our hearts, our tongues become more obedient…… That’s my goal! To remember I have two ears and one mouth, and to think before letting the words tumble out of my mouth.

Listen to Matt Maher “Lord I Need You” – My One defense, my Righteousness!

Religion Is Dirty Word

I don’t really like the word. It almost has a negative conotation to me, so I thought it would be good to do some research on the word. What does the word ‘religion‘ mean to you?

Merriam-Webster defines religion as

1 : (1)a : the state of a religious – a nun in her 20th year of religion. (1)b : the service and worship of God or the supernatural. (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.

2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.

3 : Archaic : scrupulous conformity. Conscientiousness.

4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.

Examples of religion in a sentence:

*Many people turn to religion for comfort in a time of crisis.
*There are many religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.

(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion)

Even though they list ‘scrupulous conformity’ as the archaic definition, I feel like it’s the one meant by most people today when they speak of religion – like it’s a curse word, almost. ‘Scrupulous conformity‘. Do you even have a reason to believe as you do, or do you just go through the motions? Is just habit to go to mass / communion / confession / Sunday (or Saturday) service? Are you consciously pursuing a relationship with the LORD? This is a serious question, not just for the lay people, but for the church leaders as well. It doesn’t matter what your title is: from the newest Sunday School teacher and nursery worker to the most well-known evangelist, and even to the Pope – are you consciously pursuing a relationship with the LORD?

Having religion is much more than keeping the ‘rules’. It is more than being spiritual. To me, real religion, real spirituality, is the conscientiousness of consciously pursuing a relationship with the LORD.

“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” – JAMES 1:26‭-‬27 NASB (Read all of James chapter 1)