Potential Harm By Christian Division

These days our nation is divided and at times in turmoil.  Yes, I may be considered a lefty snowflake, but my most important title is Child of God. Most days I need to remind myself of that particularly on social media.  I’ll admit that at times I fail miserably.  I hesitate to call this blog a “christian” one as even the word christian can evoke negative emotions for some people.  For a lot of non-believers being christian is associated with judging, condemnation and elitists attitudes.  Non-believers don’t want any part of this and frankly, I don’t blame them.  With the present political division I’ve noticed a trend of increased christian division.  Recently, I had a social media conflict with a sister in Christ in which I overlooked that at the end of the day we both loved the Lord. It then occurred to me that my lack of humility and a sense of pride, because I KNEW I was right, was not how Christ taught. I apologize to anyone I may have offended in my pride filled comments. It is my firm belief that some of the words that we speak are divisive and certainly are not comforting to those who are hurting and seeking rest for their souls.

I believe that my thoughts on christian values are biblically sound and are directly taken from what Jesus demonstrated in His life.  My prayer is that all people find comfort and peace and a feeling of belonging through Christ’s words.

The Old Testament is a wonderful group of books and prophecies that exhibit the love God had for His people.  People will frequently cite O.T. scripture that support their personal beliefs, but it is important to know that when Christ came He had a new agenda.  His ministry was one of love.  Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).  At one time in my life I was weary and I so needed rest for my soul.  I was fortunate that I took in Christ’s words and not those of condemnation and judgment.  I had felt worthless related to bad choices in my life which just led to more bad choices.  In the following words of Jesus, I realized I had worth and value.  Listen with your heart.  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulder and goes home.  Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep’.  I tell you in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent”  (Luke 15:4-7).  It was easy for this lost sheep to repent because of the shame and remorse over the bad choices I had made.  I remember thinking, “He’s looking specifically for me!”  You may wonder who are His sheep?  His sheep are those who love money above all else, those that hurt with their words or actions, the woman who has had abortions, the man or woman who lie with other of the same sex, the murderer, the thief, the pedophile, the drug addict, the prostitute and so on.  No matter what others may think, no sin is greater than another.  Christ states clearly in Mark 3:28:  “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them”.

Do I still sin or say words that may hurt others?  Absolutely.  I am very imperfect as is all mankind.  Paul says in Romans 3:23-24, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ”.

Although I sometimes forget my principles before speaking or replying on a social media post, I try hardest to remember Christ’s repeated instructions to love one another.  When asked what was the greatest commandment, “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matt. 22:37-39).  See also, John 15:12-13.

In spite of my best attempts to separate church and state, the most recent divide regarding stewardship over God’s creation and loving our neighbors, hurt me.  So in light o Christ’s Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20, I will try harder and I respectfully request that we all pray to guard our words and that we be kind to one another.  This way if even one person is seeking rest for their soul, they might conclude by our words and, hopefully subsequent investigation, that Jesus was a pretty cool dude.  Thank  you for your time.

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Chapter 1 – Your Source of Courage, Saveone Post-Abortion Bible Study

This blog is an accompaniment to the Saveone A Guide To Emotional Healing After Abortion by Sheila Harper bible study.  Hopefully those interested have purchased the study and reviewed Chapter One.

Psalm 34:18:  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in        spirit”.

1 Timothy 1:12-14:  “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.  Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.  The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

The very first question asked in Chapter One was to describe how you picture God.  Having been raised Roman Catholic in the 60’s, I had visions of God with and angry face, flames about Him and a staff, much like the old paintings from masters depicted in the books we reviewed in school.  I was an adult when I learned that God’s very essence is LOVE.  And how He loves us no matter what!

Paul was a persecutor of christians and admits his sins freely.  Paul had known who Jesus was, what his followers had claimed regarding Jesus’ resurrection and about Jesus’ works while here on earth.  Paul was ignorant and was unbelieving, but God was merciful and sent the Lord to Damascus and Paul believed.  Maybe, like me, you grew up believing, but felt unworthy and doomed to hell.  Maybe you just partially believed, but were ignorant to who Jesus was.  Or, maybe your just like Paul.  The bottom line, though, is – it doesn’t matter.  The moment you chose to believe and wanted a relationship with Christ, God bestowed mercy and His grace flowed.  It just happened.  The goodness of our God is amazing!

Meditate on this significance of this scripture, please.  Romans 8:1:  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death”.

 

 

 

Gary Clark, NFL Champion; Self Limiting Fears and Me

The year is 1970 and I am sitting in Mr. St. Clair’s 9th grade English class at Rollingcrest Junior High in Hyattsville, Md.  Patty Philpott is sitting to my right and I am attentively listening to students give their oral book reports.  The book report is easy for me as I have always loved to read.  Since the age of 7, reading could transport me out of the house where my father had started paying too much attention to me.  My escape was books and Jerry Lewis,  and at the time and unbeknownst to me, the Lord.  I love all three to the depths of my soul, Christ first.

Anyway, back to 1970 and oral reports.  As I watched a classmate give his report, I began feeling nauseated, sweaty and fearful, as though 25 catholic nuns, led by Sister Borromeo from St. Anthony’s Catholic School in northeast D.C.,  were marching through the door.  All 25 nuns were holding torture devices, such as rulers, magic markers and they are rubbing their thumbs and forefingers together as though preparing for a championship cheek pinching and ear twisting contest.  Now this is fear with no option of flight.  Again, I am digressing.

As I am listening, or attempting to listen, to my classmate speak I drift away until I hear Mr. St. Clair say, “Suzanne, are you prepared to give your report?”  Losing all concern for a failing grade, I simply replied, “No”.  Those sitting near to me, particularly Miss Patty Philpott, can see the cover of my report neatly printed with, “Johnny Got His Gun” by Dalton Trumbo.  The room was quiet until a loud and whiny voice said, “But, Mr. St. Clair, Suzanne’s report is right in front of her”.  This was not my first involvement in Miss Philpott’s school life and I think my life-long aversion to blond women with bouffant hair, blue eye shadow, and immaculately dressed white women began.  Mr. St. Clair said, “Are you prepared?”  Despite the huge elephant sitting on my desk, I again replied, “No”.  In the pause before Mr. St. Clair called the next student, Miss Philpott looked back and forth between me and the teacher repeatedly, without disturbing a single hair!  Miss Philpott was wildly popular and my apologies if she should read this and take offense to my perception of these events.

The previous event indirectly involved Patty Philpott and Dee Dee Catina and her friends.  While in PE class Dee Dee and friends had taken Patty’s dress and stuffed it deeply into the Kotex machine in the bathroom.  Somehow and within seconds rumor started though out the entire student body that I had ratted Dee Dee to Ms. McCollum our 9th grade PE teacher.  I had already learned a healthy fear of authority figures thanks to those misdirected devotees to God and the Catholic Church, starting when I was 5 years old.  I would have never approached a teacher!  As the day passed, I was told I had to meet Dee Dee Catina in front of the school when classes were over so that Dee Dee could tear my skinny limbs asunder and pull out my considerable mop of frizzy and kinky hair.  Just FYI, hair pulling  is an important technique as taught in Girl Fighting 101.  The fight never occurred thanks to a tiny, but tough dynamo named Delores Richter Shaut, who remains my friend to this day.  Delores went down in girl fighting history as a peace negotiator.

You may wonder why this trip down memory lane?  Despite a successful 60 year abstinence from public speaking and developing  a lack of concern of others’ opinions,  I learned last night, “Damn, I’m still that chicken-shit girl from 9th grade”!   Last Thursday I had received phone calls from Samantha Bowie of J.G. Wentworth Home Lending and Tessa Wilborne of The BlackFin Real Estate Network to inform me that I was a winner in the FreeTicketsGiveAway founded by NFL Legends and Super Bowl Champions.   Later in the day, Gary Clark of NFL fame, 8 year receiver for the Washington Redskins and two time Super Bowl Champion, called me.   He is a former member of the infamous  Hogs and The Posse, certainly infamous in D.C.  He was kind and friendly spending many minutes just talking to me.

Throughout my life I have learned to no longer be concerned about others’ perception of me.  I am honest and outspoken, sometime to a fault.  I am eccentric and at times and can be very irreverent.  People sometimes think that I am….gasp….weird!  Sometimes words just fall out of my mouth, totally forgetting my mother’s frequent admonitions, “Jesus Christ, Suzanne, think before you speak”.  I can be brash, profanely opinionated and I love to tell one liner dirty jokes.  All who know me well know Little Johnny’s response when his teacher asked him to use the word “dictate” in a sentence.  I had overcome my fears of what others think of me, until last night.  My excitement slowly turned to fear when thinking about being videoed realizing that I would be talking to strangers, people who don’t know my peculiarities.

Yet, when talking about God, I can speak and write without problems because He is guiding me and He is with me.  I can reveal very personal events from my life that led me to Him without any problems.  He guides my hand as I write and give me words to speak.  Earlier today He prompted me to express my feelings in writing.  It occurred to me while more than half way through this blog, that I did not have the faith nor ask Him to guide me this time.  How very blessed I am to have this opportunity to glorify The Great I Am, God.  Last night and this morning I had forgotten, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength”.  Phillipians 4:13   My earthly fear totally eclipsed my faith!  After some thought and hearing His still, small voice, God and I are okay with this earthly mistake.  Life is a learning venture, even at 60.

Does God give us opportunities to speak of His love?  Absolutely!  I inconsiderately texted Mr. Clark at 10:30 this morning, the same time I was supposed to have been there.  Mr. Clark was very kind and patient in his texted responses, ultimately telling me, “Not a problem”.

I thank God for the opportunity to still glorify Him.  I thank Mr. Gary Clark for his kind and patient nature. To him I own my sincerest apologies.   (I thank Patty Philpott too, lol.)  And I thank you for your time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE

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Please look at this picture closely. Notice a hospital bed, a living area, the looks of fatigue and contentment on both faces. This is a picture of my nephew, Tim, and his partner of many years and devoted caregiver, Rick.  Regardless of anything else, Rick loves and Timmy loves and this pic is a true illustration if that. Throughout my life of searching for understanding of my trials, the only meaningful and rational answers come from Christ’ mouth. “A new command I give you: Love one another.” (Jn 13:34); “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”(Jn 15:13); “This is my command: Love each other.”(Jn 15:17) and last, not least, from 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins”.

I know what sins are in the Bible and let me tell you that every man, even you believers, sin every day. Only one person is sin free!  And He said, “If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”. (Jn 8:7b). So I respectfully say to “Those Christians”, and you know who you are, SHUT YOUR CONDEMNING AND JUDGMENTAL MOUTH! Yes, I’m a bit angry, but more than anything, I am sad. Christ said to the Pharisees (the professed believers of the Law, sound familiar?), “But I tell you that men will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned”. (Matt 12:36-37)

I am so very grateful to God that when I was hurting and lost, I was met with words of love and acceptance from lovers of the Lord. Where I was fortunate, so many were not.  I am also so grateful for the love demonstrated by Timmy and Rick.

One last thought. So many believe that we live in an immoral society. I think of what Paul said in Romans 7:b-8a), “For I would not have known what coveting really was if the Law had not said, ‘Do not covet’.  But sin seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire”. I interpret this to mean, the law is good, but in pointing it out, our nature immediately may violate that law. Christ’ mercy and love saves us. So stop naming, pointing out repeatedly others breaking the “law” and keep on task to what Christ commissioned us to do:  love others, serve others stressing that He Loves us, no matter what. We are so very concerned about others’ sexuality. Tell me, please, when did we become more concerned over sex than love? When did we care so about what others do, and in doing so, spew hate and self-righteousness from their mouths, literally erasing another’s value, rather than modeling Christ’ love as He taught us to do? Do you realize that this behavior is mirrored by our children who then mirror this hate to their peers?  Have you not read the suicides in our bullied to death children?  Do those who point fingers or “carry stones” really think they are spreading Christ’ message of love for others?

Now please, look at this picture again. I can tell you that what I see are two men, who I love beyond words, providing comfort and exhibiting love to one another. I do NOT see what some finger-pointers see and can’t wait to condemn. I truly believe it’s time you “pharisees” turn that finger inward, to yourself.

Thank you for your time and thoughtfulness on this matter.

Homosexuality and God’s Word

When God puts something on my heart, He is relentless. It is on my mind until I respond to His nudge. He works that way. How about you?

A friend responded on my Facebook status regarding homosexuality and she said, “A person who accepts homosexuality is not a true christian.” I have to admit that it offended me because I truly love the Lord and He has been my strength during very hard times and in miraculous ways. But my testimony is another story. As offensive as her remark was I am sick in my heart when my brothers and sisters in Christ speak scathingly and judgmentally regarding homosexuality. I know through God’s Word that we are all children of God. That would include Jeffrey Dahlmer, Hitler, Ted Bundy, Sandusky and even my father, a pedophile. Amazing and difficult at the same time. God’s Word tells us to agape love everyone, even the unlovable.

When I think of the Old and New Testament the sin that is referred to the most was worshiping idols or other gods. Modern day gods might be our children, spouses, money, cars, shopping, drug or alcohol addictions, food, our houses and even our lawns. My brothers and sisters in Christ…are these children of God? Are they entitled to a relationship with Christ and the love of the Lord? Does that mean they automatically stop sinning when they accept the Lord? You know the answer to that and for some your hurtful words say the opposite of what your heart says.

Let’s talk about Saul who persecuted christians. Before, during and after his conversion God used his life in a mighty way. There are many, many examples of how God used sinful men and women in mighty ways. Off hand, there was Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Job and especially King David who disobeyed God greatly, yet God called David a man after His own heart. Paul, a prolific writer in the New Testament, is man who evangelized and brought thousands to Christ in his lifetime and untold many more through his words. If you read Romans, my favorite, Paul talks a lot about sin and in a very familiar way. I hope this scripture will touch seekers in a special way as these words touched me. Romans 7:19: “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” I’m thinking this man knows my heart, my struggles. Also “So I find this law at work: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:20-25. Wow, Paul really got it! He understood mankind in relation to his own sin and reveled in the loving nature of a God who sent Jesus Christ as the perfect lamb because God understood, after all the turmoil in the Old Testament, the sinful nature of man.

Like I said, Paul certainly understood sin. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given to me a thorn, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul never says what his thorn is, but to me it is clear that it was sin and that he struggled with it. Paul bears his heart and it so speaks to my heart! Here is a man who sins, struggles, suffers; exactly like all mankind. He brought so many people to Christ through his humility, words of acceptance and his love for Jesus Christ. Some commentaries, like William Barclay, believe it was a physical ailment. A more contemporary commentator is Jon Courson, who refers to Paul’s thorn as an “issue” that returns over and over. Courson does state, “Keep praying, saint. The Lord will either remove your thorn, your pain, your struggle – or give you understanding to go along with it”. Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, page 1157.

Worshiping gods. It’s even one of the 10 Commandments, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Well, honestly, I know lots of christians who break that commandment and I include myself in that remark. There have been times in my life where alcohol or drugs were gods. And currently I worship my daughter. I could never be as faithful as Abraham with his near sacrifice of his son, Isaac. I have not yet totally released my daughter to God, even though God blessed me with her. That’s another personal testimony story of how God miraculously worked in my life despite my sin. Worshiping other gods is not talked about by some of my brothers and sisters in Christ like homosexuality is. My own fellow christians, who I know love the Lord, sorely test me because Jesus did say, “This is my command: Love each other.:  It’s the red words in John 15:17. So I try.

Since my son’s death in March of 2012, the fact that he was gay, how he suffered from scathing words of professed christians, he avoided the church and because of those words he did not believe he also was entitled to the love, peace and comfort that comes with a relationship with Jesus. Because of those scathing words that are so very hurtful my daughter had to hear, after her brother’s death and from a friend, “All gays go to hell.” Because of those judgmental words that profess to speak God’s Word, young teens are committing suicide. Imagine the loss of those lives, what they could have been, the contribution they would have made. Those precious children of God who during very formative, identity defining time succumb to the scathing and judgmental words of christians and non-christians alike. I don’t think this makes God smile. I don’t think these hurtful opinions bring non-christians to God, in spite of Jesus’ great commission. I don’t think the hurtful opinions represent all christians very well, certainly not me because I know in my heart that the very essence of God is love.

I know homosexuals, women with abortion in their past, people who have sex outside marriage. I’ve known adulterers, people who steal or covet others’ belongings. I’ve known people who have worshiped other gods from drugs to their possessions. I’ve known people who gossip, sometimes use vulgar language and  people who have gotten angry with God and asked “why me”, maybe even cursed Him. The common thread of all these sinners are just that. We are all sinners! And despite the sin God grants us grace, undeserved favor, which is stated over and over again in His Word. Isaiah 43:25: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

I urge all my brothers and sisters in Christ, please search your hearts, remember to love one another, remember the plank in your own eye, or he without sin cast the first stone. Remember Jesus’ great commission so that you can stand before the Judgment Seat of God with gemstones representing all the lost souls you brought to Christ. And please, please keep hurtful words and opinions to yourself.  As commanded in the Bible only the Father in Heaven will judge and Jesus goes so far as to say, “Who are you to judge?” Even Jesus didn’t judge. So don’t do it! If you feel you must then be sure to include scripture referring to all sins which WE ALL commit. Let seekers read God’s Word and feel Him work in their hearts. Don’t turn them away because that is exactly what your words do! I had a pastor, Brent Brooks, who said regarding South Potomac Church, only members could join and those members are sinners.

For all souls struggling, in pain, feeling shame and guilt by those hurtful words of others. Know deep in your heart that you are a child of God, a brother or sister to Christ. That life on this Earth is fleeting and that void that you feel now is waiting to be filled with the love of God. If you feel that you can never be 100% happy, take comfort that God made us that way and that true joy comes after we depart this Earth and go home. Know that in our suffering we are more Christ-like than any other time in our lives. Take some comfort in knowing this. Know with God you will never feel lonely and gain a freedom you have never experienced before. Know that when Jesus died on the cross as the flawless sacrifice for our sins, that it became a done deal. All you have to do is accept it and the free gift of grace from God.

I will make a couple more statements and let you go. You have heard, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner”? While you are typing or vocalizing hurtful and selective remarks about gays, are you remembering your own sin? Is this sin that you condemn something that personally offends you?  When you feel compelled to type or state hurtful words, stop and think and compare yourself to Christ. It’s a humbling experience. And lastly, because of judgmental, hurtful words bandied about from some christians regarding homosexuals, and the increased teen suicides regarding homosexuality, be aware, I will speak louder than you of God’s grace and love.

So long and thank you and may God bless all sinners.