Wise as Serpents: If the Word You are Hearing Does not Set You Free, it is not the Word of God (Part 25 of Sermon Series)

A powerful read on how some church folks twist or distort Scripture to justify mistreatment.

A Cry For Justice

God’s truth brings believers into freedom.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Evil distorts, perverts, twists and morphs the Word of God into a wicked counterfeit which traumatizes people and brings them into bondage. Evil loves to quote God’s Word but always does so with the method and intent of using it to deceive and enslave.

We are surrounded by phoney religion today, just as was the case in Jesus’ day when the religious establishment in Israel was corrupt. The temple was not the Temple, but had become a den of robbers. The righteous were put out of the temple while the wicked not only remained members in good standing but were preeminent in it — exalted with trumpets. When the Lamb of God came…

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Only Love will win in the end

“When we gloat in the low moments of others, regardless of our self-justifying reasons, we break the rule of love…”
The attached post tells a story of a photo of a Muslim woman remaining seated when everyone else around her was standing. The photo made the rounds on Facebook, and the conclusions  and comments that followed tell a sad story of human nature. The judgmental people bashing the Muslim woman probably felt a lot better about themselves after they put the whip away. See full post:

mumford & psalms

I wrote the post below a few days ago and am editing it here in light of this billboard that went up today just 10 miles from where I live.

white again

The You can listen to Rick Tyler in a new interview argue why America would be better off if we didn’t have “people of color” around.    The sentiment behind this billboard is found everywhere in America.   The picture you see below, for example, which made it’s way around social media, served to stir up even more animosity towards “non white people.”    As I try to make clear in the words that follow, if you cheer on pictures like these and get angry because she’s sitting during the National Anthem, you might be more like Rick Tyler than you’d care to admit.   The nationalistic zeal and xenophobia exhibited below is the natural breeding ground for the…

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Those without sin – Part II

After I published my blog about Brock Turner (read original post here) I was floored, not to mention completely unprepared, for the backlash. It started a heated discussion on Facebook, and you would have thought I was defending ISIS terrorists.

There were so many comments, I’m sure I missed many of them. But here are the main objections I remember:

  • I was misinterpreting/misapplying scripture. In my original post, I used the example of the Pharisee vs. the sinner praying in the temple, and the contrast in their attitudes. Jesus called the remorseful sinner justified. The second example I used was the woman caught in adultery, when Jesus told the crowd, whoever is without sin, throw the first stone, then told her to go sin no more. However, I don’t recall anyone offering a more realistic scenario of how Jesus would respond to Brock. If anyone did, I didn’t see that tree among the forest of comments. To the best of my knowledge, Jesus reprimanded only two groups of people: the Scribes & Pharisees, and the disciples when they demonstrated lack of faith. He didn’t rebuke the Brock Turners. Therefore, I stand by my original assertion.
  • Because his sentence was so light, and his dad’s attitude was so cavalier, Brock deserved his status of public whipping boy. But if people are mad at the dad and the judge, then whipping Brock is misplaced. Unless they are elevating themselves to judge, and imposing a sentence they don’t have the authority to impose. And that’s exactly what I believe was happening. When we get outraged at someone else’s bad behavior, if we’re honest, we have to admit we feel just a little smug, and a little better about ourselves. And that was the point of my first example.
  • One of the commenters asked if I’d defend Hitler, or the Orlando shooter. No, I said. Because the premeditated nature of those crimes put them on a whole ‘nother level for me. A six-month-planned shooting spree is far beyond a drunken rape. I’m betting Brock didn’t wake up that morning and think to himself, “I think I’ll rape someone tonight at that party.” However, Timothy McVeigh DID wake up that morning planning to kill and destroy. So no, I wouldn’t defend them, but neither do I have the right to judge or slander or make a public spectacle of any of those shooters.
  • I stated several times that there’s too much judgment and not enough grace in the world. Surprisingly, a few of my dissenters agreed with that statement. At the risk of sounding judgmental and self-righteous myself, I can’t help wondering if they were in fact blind to their own self-righteousness. (I’m sure that’s been true of me more than once.) The blog post was meant to address that.
  • The debate ended when one particular woman who’d been actively commenting said that Brock could have stopped his behavior any time during those 20 minutes, and the fact that he didn’t proved he had an evil heart. My reply was, Of course he has an evil heart. I’ve never denied that. My point is, we ALL have hearts full of sin that need redemption! That’s why I wrote the blog. She did agree, but reiterated that she disagreed with my Scriptural application. I could have prolonged the debate and asked her, “What do YOU think Jesus would have said to Brock?”  I know what Jesus wouldn’t have done. He wouldn’t have plastered Brock’s face all over social media so that everyone could hate on him.

I would love to get your take on my question. What do YOU think Jesus would say to Brock?

 

 

 

 

For those of you without sin

After seeing Brock Turner’s face on social media one too many times, I’ve had enough. Today, I even read that some Wiccan coven is bringing hexes and curses down on him, because, legal experts that they are, they don’t believe Brock’s sentence is harsh enough. So they, the media, and Americans as a whole have set out to crucify him. And boy, don’t they feel good about themselves. They would NEVER commit such a terrible deed.

If Brock Turner ends up committing suicide, I can already hear the cheering and the celebratory whoops.

Tragic.

I’m pretty sure I know why this particular rapist, among the thousands already out there, is being made an example of. And I bet I know why this particular CRIME, out of all the murders and assaults that take place daily, is being singled out. But that’s not what I want to write about. I want to explore the question, WHAT WOULD JESUS DO if he had a chance to sit down and chat with Brock Turner?

Here’s an actual example from Luke’s gospel. I’ve just changed a few words to reflect current events.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the church to pray, one an evangelical Christian and the other a rapist. The Christian stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this horrible rapist. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the rapist stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

I wonder what the Wiccans would say to that.

And here’s another example that we’re all familiar with. Again, the changed words are in red.

At dawn he appeared again in the courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The media brought in a young college student caught in the act of raping an unconscious woman. They made him stand before a jury, and when the judge sentenced him to only six months,  they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this man, Brock Turner, was caught in the act of rape.  Because he victimized a woman, he deserves to be castrated. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to pick up the knife.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the man still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked him, “Young man, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” he said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

 

Q&A with former Solo Mama, Angela

Today I visited with Angela, who solo-parented for two years during her children’s formative years. I loved her insights…so many things she said resonated with me. Let’s sit down, sip some English Breakfast tea, and hear what she has to share with us.

tea pot

DVC: The verse Lamentations 2:19 was especially meaningful to me while raising my children alone. It says, “Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord; lift up your hands toward Him for the life of your children.” Was there a particular verse or passage that really encouraged or uplifted you during your single-parent years?

A: Oh yes! My favorite passages during that time came from the Psalms. I learned in Psalm 34 that the Lord would be my protector, provider, and He would answer me in my time of trouble. He would rescue me from my fears! Psalm 34:6 said I didn’t need to be ashamed. When I felt ashamed at the failure of my marriage, at the shortcomings of being a single mom, I could turn there and find hope.

DVC: Tell us how long you single-parented, and how old your kids were at the time.

A: I solo-parented for two years. My children were elementary through junior high at the time. But as many women experience, the weight of parenting fell on me throughout their earlier years as well.

DVC: During my single years, my parents and my ex’s parents really stepped in and helped with things like transportation and meals. Did you have a strong support network?

A: No, I didn’t really have a support network. Coming out of the abusive situation, I hadn’t been allowed friends and my family had been systematically alienated. It took a lot of prayer, work, and time to build a new support network. But I had a family friend who held my mortgage. She helped me by providing relief for a year of my $300/month mortgage. (That sounds low, but it was an inexpensive mobile home.) I paid off a ton of debt and then started paying on the mortgage again.

DVC: I know there were a few things I wish I’d done differently. Do you have any regrets from those years?

A: Absolutely. I’d do so many things differently. But then, I wouldn’t have the wisdom I do now to help others with what I learned. I think I made a ton of mistakes, flailing around trying to find my way. The dating thing, wow, so embarrassing. But loneliness, even from a bad marriage, is a difficult situation.  If I had it to do over again, I suppose the one thing I’d do is be single longer and not date for a lot longer. I don’t think I gave myself enough time to grow and heal.

DVC: But there were also things I did that turned out to be the best decision for them. I enrolled them in Christian school, taught them the gospel, enforced consequences, rewarded them for positive behavior. Looking back, what are some things you know you did right?

A: I love this question because we beat ourselves up for our mistakes too much. I think I did a good job connecting my children into healthy activities and church activities. I made sure my sons were around healthy men/coaches and my daughter had an outlet around healthy coaches, both men and women. I had to fight for those activities because my ex-spouse tried to force me to stop putting my children in any extra-curricular activities through the courts. He didn’t want to pay for them or take the kids to anything. He won in court, not having to pay, but he couldn’t win forcing me to stop enrolling and allowing my children those activities. So I paid. I worked extra to do it at night while they slept. But I do not regret it. My children explored their talents and callings because they could go to those activities. But they also had healthy adults pouring love and wisdom into them. I see them now, as adults, so much healthier for that decision. I knew I couldn’t be everything for them. I had to find others to help me provide healthy input and grow their talents.

DVC: Can you think of anything you’d like to tell other single moms to encourage them?

A: Don’t get so caught up in the financial support from the ex. That can too easily get construed as the battle when you’re really fighting for your children to have a healthy, happy life. My lawyer(s) couldn’t see the battle wasn’t money. Money was a symptom of the problem. In court, that’s where they wanted to start. By doing that, they lumped me into the exact place that didn’t fit. I felt painted into a character that had nothing to do with me. Instead of the funding issue, get creative with education and employment. I worked in sales and on weekend did craft fairs with my children. By working on weekends in craft fairs, my children did the activities with me (unless they were at a camp or kid event) and we spent time doing it together. That built relationship and a sense of working toward a goal together.

I have to say that my children are all very good with many aspects of business. Doing these craft fairs together built their skills in sales, creativity, and relationships. But I also helped them do fundraisers for their dreams. If one wanted a certain camp, I helped them find a way to make and sell Christmas cards or chocolates or yard work. This way I didn’t have to say no, my child learned to work for what they wanted, and I did it with them to help them learn how and to stay safe in the process. I’d do that all over again! Because of these creative ways to earn money for activities and experience my children have ended up traveling around the country and world. They never felt like they couldn’t do something because we’d find a way to focus on the dream and work toward it.

Yes, there were many meals I ate what was left over after my children finished. Yes, I had to get creative and communicate a lot with bill collectors after the divorce. But one year after, I had gained a confidence that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Now, if someone says it can’t be done, I say, “Hmm, I bet there’s a way. I’ll give it a try.” I don’t take someone else’s negative opinion as my fact. Very rarely has that other opinion proved true. But most often, creativity has proven triumphant.

 

Unrealistic expectations and societal judgment

narcissistic-mothers-sm

A gorilla is dead, but a child is alive. And a mom is getting hated on for supposedly not keeping a close enough eye on her son. 

I’ve seen the video, and boy, if it had been my son, I would’ve been terrified. Not only at the danger to my son, but from other folks’ judgmental glares and the backlash on social media. That poor mom probably hasn’t left her house since. She’s the one I feel for.

I can’t stand the way society imposes unrealistic expectations on mothers. Especially single mothers. Not so for fathers. All that’s expected of them is the contents of their wallets. Sure, mothers are revered, but if we make the slightest slip, scorn is flung our way. That’s just not fair.

I’d love for you to share any memories of a scary moment with your kids. Did you ever lose sight of them for a moment, only to find they’d gotten themselves into a terrifying predicament? Or have you ever been the object of judgment for your parenting by observers who thought they knew better than you? Please share in the comments below.

Finally, someone has offered kindness and grace to this boy’s mom – an open letter to the gorilla-loving boy’s mom. Here’s the link:

http://karacarrero.com/open-letter-mother-boy-fell-gorilla-enclosure/