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.

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”.

 

 

 

Solitude and Safety in a Pine Tree

It is Saturday, January 23, 2016, and I am watching the effects of the winds that gusts over 60 MPH from a Nor’easter called Jonas.  Manklin Creek is swollen well above our little dock and the pine trees are swaying.  Although we are constantly sweeping pine needles from our floors and deck, I love them.  They remind me of the solitude and safety I have sought all of my life  Although I risk and fear revealing too much of myself, I write because I have too.

One would think that growing up in N.E., Washington, D.C. in the 60’s,  there would be little opportunity to find places that offer solitude.  I had many places and the only constraint was to be home before dark.  I found refuge in the beautiful gardens and cloistered areas of the Franciscan Monastery, even sometimes sneaking down the steps to the monastery catacombs.

Across the street from our house there was a patch of bamboo that I would go into and pretend I was Tarzan.  In our backyard there was a bush with branches that grew upward, then downward to the grass.  I would crawl to the trunk of the bush mindless of the bugs and worms, believing I was totally hidden from the world.

There were a couple other places I found, but my favorite place to this nine year old’s perspective, was a huge pine tree across the alley from our backyard.  Once I realized I could climb that tree to what seemed as high as the sky, I knew true safety and solitude.  I am now certain that my Lord’s hands guided me many times from branch to branch.  Other than musing upon a bird’s nest with eggs, then chicks one spring, I can’t recall what my thoughts were.  What I remember so distinctly was how safe I felt.  My child mind had already blocked the unpleasantness in my life, but not the need for feeling safe.  Unfortunately, and without cause, I still find safety in my solitude.

I remember asking my therapist, Sue, of three years, how does such egregious moments so completely be erased from memory.  This gifted woman of God gently explained to me that the events were so horrendous that my child brain could not cope and immediately blocked them.  Then, add that the person who a child loves and trusts above all, my father, was the one who violated the innate needs of this child.  Thus, blocking.  Sue was absolutely correct.  A couple years ago as I was reading through my journals from that period of therapy,  I came across an event written in my own hand, that I had blocked yet again!  Reading the details made the event fresh.  I can say that in addition to memory recall, I also experienced physical recall.  Without adding graphic detail, the discomfort from the act of sitting was very real and lasted over a week.

I need to add, and probably the most important is that throughout therapy, I was never afraid.  Blown away and hurt, yes.  In addition to the fact that my dad was deceased, I had the tangible presence of Christ right next to me.  So tangible, in fact, I could feel His soft clothing, the warmth of His breath and see the tears in His eyes.  As lunatic as this may sound to some, it is fact.  Even if it were my imagination, and it was not (emphatically stated) He saved me.  He saved me as a child and as an adult from addiction.  He saved me from perpetuating the abuse with my own children.  He made Himself tangible, a physical presence, in my life.  Because of this I need to speak about it.  *Most importantly, there may be others in pain and are suffering, who also can seek His presence and find comfort, as I did.  Surely, He is there….He was there for this despairing and sinful soul.

Don’t get me wrong by any means, I am still far from healed.  In spite of my real experiences with Christ, I sometimes forget to reach for Him when feeling confused.  He loves me anyway and I suspect I won’t feel completely healed until I am by His side in Heaven.

I pray that my need for solitude dissipates because, even at 60 years of age, I only feel my safest in my solitude.  There is a true sense of physical and emotional desperation when I feel the loss of this solitude and need to seek it.  I take comfort in knowing that Christ also sought solitude in the mountains.  Unfortunately, this can be difficult on my family and loved ones.   There are not enough words of gratitude to those who understand this.

I thank you, Lord, for my memories that give me clarity and understanding of this soul You created and prepared for service.  I know that in doing so You have suffered the same indignities that I have suffered.  You have always been in and with me.  This thought broke my heart, and I sobbed, when I first realized this years ago.  You have suffered not only for our salvation, but You have and continue to suffer every indignity and torment that Your children endure.  I praise You for that, for always being with me and I will speak of Your love forever.  And I thank You, Lord, for pine trees.