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FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE..

tornadoonrichm,ondhighway

The clock said it was a little past 2:30 p.m. Almost time for the grandchildren to get out of school, but it was really getting overcast. I hate to have them out in a storm anytime, even just running for their daddy’s car. The weather was acting crazy, and yet the forecast had been for storms along the coastal area, several hours to the east of us. Still… The wind began picking up, and soon the rain started. I looked at the clock again, 3:15. The kids would be safe in the car–or maybe running for it. Why didn’t I think to turn on the radio? Because it’s not a normal part of my day, that’s why. I went back to work at the computer just in time to hear a storm take over. Wow! Water gushing, wind howling.. but I still didn’t connect the dots. 

It wasn’t long before emails started coming through: Route 460 closed. Tornadoes in Appomattox, Concord, Red House. Destruction everywhere. Power out. The feeling of reality didn’t hit, because we had been on the storm’s edge. I couldn’t put pictures with what I was hearing. In a little while a pastor-friend called; he had heard we had a generator, he had his grandchildren, and no power. Come and get it! He did. We wished we had had a hundred to give out.

Today, in the aftermath of twenty-four hours ago, the destruction is like any place where a tornado has left devastation and destruction in its wake. Homes demolished, cars wrecked, trees down–only if you’ve been in one, or been through an area immediately following a tornado can you picture what the reality looks like. But what a picture it is!

Do the homeowners have to worry, while they are adjusting to their lives being turned upside down, that thieves will come in and vandalize their homes? Probably. This is today’s world. Riding by, you feel the helplessness and lack of control to “fix” everything. But then… you start seeing with eyes that are really open, not just topical observation at the mass destruction. You begin looking more closely. Look! Those people had … and you find yourself looking deeply at the inner lives of those who lived in some of the homes. Things they would not have exposed to the world in a normal time. Things that would embarrass them, or cause them to be ashamed. Oh, not all, of course! Just “some.” But to those people, it was the baring of their souls—this showing to the world what was inside their home, which they could keep hidden on any given day. Now it was exposed for all to see because some part of their exterior had been torn away.

And yet… does it take a rocket scientist to realize that, with God, all of our lives are like that? We are thinking we have the outside looking great: we’re dressed right, our hair is in place, nice shoes, nice car. We go to church or meet together, and are we glad they can’t see our thought life, our inner heart, our motives? But what if some of that exterior were stripped away and suddenly everyone could see those thoughts, those motives? Would they know some may covet their money? Or their car? Or perhaps her figure? Or their power? Or fame? Does “so and so” pick up that they are barely tolerated, wishing they’d move? What happens behind those closed doors of the outside shell?

Yet, just as the world could now ride by those homes and see right into them, so God looks right into the closets and crevices of our lives, and nothing is hidden from Him. Yet so many go through life acting as though everything is private, and no one knows anything. He is the only One who matters–He will be judging everyone eventually, whether anyone wants to believe it or not. There is nothing in our dirty, wind-blown, tornado-ridden heart that He does not see and know intimately.

How ashamed we should feel, right? He loves us so much, and wants, as He said, to “gather us as a mama hen wants to gather her little chicks, but [we] would not.” Like our parents wanted to do but it embarrassed us. Ahh, we need to confess every sinful act, every sinful thought, and anything that would hurt our relationship with Him, and run into His arms, asking Him to be Lord of our life. Let Him be the Father He has promised to be. Let Him be our Guide and Shepherd and Savior.

In the joy of that type of relationship, we won’t have anything to be ashamed of when our lives are opened before Him.

THE TECHNOLOGY GENERATION GROWS UP

Do you remember the magic you felt as a young teen, thinking about “growing up”–to at least 21?? Years ago I KNEW I would never live until I was 21, it would just be too wonderful. To be on your own, without your folks (or others) telling you what to do, when to get up, when to go to bed,when to go to school, how to act.. and five hundred million other highly original thoughts that can go through the teen mind. You don’t factor in things like a boss, a wife, children–just freedom. But I was wrong. I made it to twenty-one.

More years went by. But I was POSITIVE I’d never make it to the year 2000—that was an eternity away. Good grief, my children (or any I might have) would be grown, I’d be old, sitting in a rocking chair, not able to do anything at all, because I would be sooo ancient! That year came, too. Drat, wrong again.

Recently I knew an apartment room was full of boys who thought like this: boys in their late teens, boys who thought being almost 21 was better than it had ever been. Boys who thought their age somehow gave them immunity from any harm, who could live and defy odds of being the one driving drunk, or getting cancer from smoking, or destroying their brain on drugs—or even playing Russian Roulette. Boys whose parents knew they were “rooming” together, but after all, these boys were friends, whom the parents knew. And friends don’t let friends… play Russian Roulette. The parents were wrong.

These kids were not city slickers, but country boys: raised by dads or granddads or uncles who took them hunting at four, serious shooting by 9, had them in gun safety classes, and taught them the dangers and value of a firearm. They weren’t ignorant of the rules, but they were ignorant of life and death. Christianity was for their folks; they’d take God seriously when they got older. It wasn’t needed right now because–after all–they were young and it was time for fun! And it didn’t occur to them that they had an enemy who is in the world to steal, kill and destroy. Because if he (Satan) can destroy these kids, they can’t turn their lives around and change the world for other kids. They mocked God, because He wasn’t–in their minds–going to step in and stop their good times. He was going to turn His head while they drunk, did some drugs, sex, and played their games, and had their time of rebellion to the rules the parents had had in the home. They were sure God would go ‘tsk, tsk,’ with His tongue, saying “Boys will be boys.” They were wrong.

This group of close friends had a .44 Magnum in the apartment. It was brought there by the boy whose father had bought it for him, who believed his son to be mature enough to own a gun. He believed him to be mature enough to use it for protection, not to play games like four-year olds. That dad was wrong.

Looking Down a Barrel

“Let’s play Russian Roulette!” Who wanted to be the one who said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea”? No one wanted to be the ‘parent’ in the room. So everyone shouted “Yea!” One, a younger brother to another in the room, handed the gun to his older brother, whom he looked up to. The older took the gun, spun the clip and said, “It’s not going to go off!” He was wrong.

The bullet went through his head. In an instant the friends had a tsunami of emotions: shock, denial, terror, fear, and more. Someone, somewhere, called 911 for the gunshot. The police, the EMT’s, and others arrived. He was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He was already standing in front of the Judge, the Creator. He had been wrong once too often. God didn’t say “Boys will be boys.”

Why are our children not listening to what we say? Were we gone so much in their youth that our words bounce off their brains, or were they so filled with garbage from being babysat by a television that they lost the ability to reason? I don’t know. But I do know a mom not far away buried her “baby” because he thought he could outwit God. Oh my, was he wrong.

Galatians 6:7: Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

 

© Dana Rothstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Serving Two Masters….

Hispanic Boy6

Attitude is everything.

The child climbed into the car’s back door, but refused to get in his car seat. Usually this wasn’t a problem, but this particular day he decided he wanted to stand right behind Dad, holding on to the head rest. “Sit down!” Dad raised his voice at this second warning. The look of rebellion on the child’s face told the father that it was not going to happen today. Is there anything that exerts more will power than a 3-year-old who doesn’t want to do something? His chin jutted out, and he stayed standing.

Dad put the car into park, got out, took hold of his son, and with necessary movements put him in the car seat, snapped the buckles and got back into the driver’s seat. As he pulled out of the parking space his son yelled, “I may be sittin’ down on the outside, but I’m still standin’ up on the inside!!”

It seems to meet that I’ve been standing up on the inside a lot lately. Christmas has come and gone (but will be here again soon, for sure), and I morph into Scrooge during that time. I fight the materialism with everything I am, but it does no good against all those sweet faces turned toward me. My attitude needs a major overhaul after the holidays. I probably wrote the same thing last year.

But in the midst of all the bad attitudes, the chaos, the trials (already!), the crises (already, note the plural!), and the hurt feelings, God spoke to my heart. Don’t ever underestimate the power of the Creator Who “spoke” the world into being (John 1). As I turned to my Bible this morning, I began reading and verses I’ve read hundreds of times “lit up.” That’s God, speaking.

These were the verses that were prepared for me to be reading , the next set of verses on a morning “ritual”—not one of those “put your finger in a passage and read it” type thing. But as I read the verses “You cannot serve two masters; for either you will … love the one and hate the other…You cannot serve God and [the world]. Matt. 6:24).” Years of teaching came across my mind, God and the world… God and money… and then suddenly God shone His light directly upon those verses into my heart, and I knew He was telling me these verses can go much deeper than what I have heard all my life, and how much I needed to hear Him alone.

You see, it’s been a struggling week, one of those Stress Level Ten weeks, one where I felt caught in a conflict between an adult child and my husband. Nothing–nothing!–comes between a momma and her child (or should) no matter how old they get. A momma bear and her cub is a great analogy. Another–which I experienced a lot of years ago–is a cow and her newborn calf. I have been torn, taking up the offense of my child, and mad (as only a wife can be) that my husband would have allowed this situation. But then, God spoke to my heart.

He turned the light bulb in my mind onto the passage, and I saw, a Mother cannot serve her adult child and her husband if there is conflict. It doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong. The truth is, the situation is out of my control and I can’t make them both happy. I can’t change anything, can’t go back and re-do the offense, can’t “fix it.” But if I keep on with my warring attitude, I will end up “hating” one and “serving” the other. But that isn’t God’s best. He made us one in marriage, and to split that unity and go against my husband is wrong, and becomes sin, and He made my child “leave the parent” when they became one with their spouse. Yuk. Yikes. Double yikes.

I also saw that “two masters” could easily be me–with all my desires to control the situation, to control what had happened, to make everything okay again (because I hate confrontation, and disunity)–and my husband, who had done what he thought to be best in a situation where, he felt, there would be no winning. He knew ahead of time it was going to cause friction, and he wisely chose to do what was best for me, rather than for our child. I needed to CHOOSE to love him. Lesson Two.

Two masters, He spoke to my heart, is always a potential in a marriage: if you and your spouse are not dedicated to seeing that you are in agreement with discipline (one of the areas where the most combat is initiated), you are causing your child/children to choose which of you to “love/serve” and which to hate. Lesson Three.

This dredged up a long-ago illustration when we four–dad, mom, son, daughter–got in the car to leave church. Our son turned to me, asking if we could stop by the local ice cream shop and get cones. I said “No.” He got a tragic look on his face and said, “Mom! I didn’t mean to ask you, I meant to ask Dad!” We went. They had learned which questions to ask which parent. To food, I usually said no; Dad said yes. After this we also made (and stuck to) rule #783: if they asked one of us, the answer was set in stone (unless extenuating circumstances dictated otherwise), and they could not ask the other parent. Good rule, even for today.

Be sure you are not serving two masters: yourself and your spouse. Or, your child and your spouse. Or… anyone but God.  Even then, you have to be vigilant that you do not present a second master to yourself. God only is the First and Last in our lives, and He only holds the keys to family unity, love and working out stressful problems when we look to Him to watch our backs. He alone is holy, praise His Name.

Has the situation gone away? No, but my attitude is adjusting, and I see both sides. I also have confessed, and am sorry for the “tantrum” I threw when I first found out. God is in control, I have no doubt at all about that, and my repentant heart can now be worked on. It will be okay. This hasn’t come to stay, but has “come–to pass.” I’ll be grateful when it’s passed!

 © Andrew Taylor | Dreamstime Stock Photos

WHAT ARE YOU TEACHING?

THECRYINGBOYBYDRAGO

The child could not have been more than seven or eight: an adorable looking boy, happy and having fun at the football game. He was obviously among family who loved him. I saw him take a big drink of a soda, and something made him laugh. It happens to all of us–young and old! We laugh, and the soda (or crackers, or food) explodes from our mouth with an intensity we can’t control! Which of us can say we’ve never done that? His family instantly laughed hysterically, and, observing the fiasco, I had to smile.

In the flash of a second, however, the man sitting in the next row in front of him–and a little bit lower, as football seats go–got some drink on the back of his head, and down his neck. With the speed of a striking snake he turned, jumped up, grabbed the drink out of the little boy’s hand, and stalked out of the seats, looking for all the world like he wanted to take revenge. It was so very humiliating for the family to be caught in such a situation in public, and so distressing for on-lookers to witness such a spectacle of rage. I wanted to grab the little guy, who instantly rolled himself into a ball and tried to hold big drops of tears back, and hug him until his little spirit was calmed.  It couldn’t have been more than a teaspoon or tablesp00n of soda, but you would have thought the man got soaked. And the man had not even waited to see if it had been an accident.

Scripture poured into my mind as I watched: “Who can bear a broken spirit?” (Prov. 18:14), “A [seasoned Christian] is [should be] above reproach, self-controlled” (1 Tim. 3:2), and “The anger of man does NOT achieve the righteousness of God,” (James 1:20). From the interaction when the man returned after throwing out the drink, I realized he was the boy’s grandfather. My heart was literally breaking, for many reasons: the man had not asked what happened, and whether it was an accident, he didn’t give the little boy time to re-act, and he was providing an example of what a hair-trigger temper is all about, and what it means to display it. Worse, the child was the victim of an adult who should have–by the grandfather’s age–learned self-control. Somehow I got the impression that the child saw anger like this more times than he should have.

The man’s wife tried to talk to him; I could tell she was indicating that his attitude had hurt the child terribly, and that he needed to heal that “wounded” spirit. Okay, so I sound like any problem with a child is the child’s fault, and amends should be made immediately. Not so. But let’s face it, we all laugh at “slap-stick” humor–witness I Love Lucy! Had the grandfather laughed and wiped his neck, it would have created a tighter bond and a happy ending.

I watched the older man turn around and could not believe the words out of his mouth, which I could overhear: “YOU didn’t even say ‘I’m SORRY!'” Good grief, who had had time? The trigger was pulled before the child had his mouth closed! I felt sorry for the man’s wife. But even more, I was appalled at the “Blame Game” the man used. What?! He was blaming the child for HIS own lack of being a godly role model? Again, sometimes it’s a curse (but always a blessing) to know Scripture: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us” (Matt 6:14), or “How many times do I forgive my brother…” (Matt. 18:21) and more. Did I see anything Jesus said about them having to immediately–with the next breath–say “I’m sorry!”? No. You forgive immediately because it’s the right thing to do. And this wasn’t even a sin! Imagine that? Wonder how the man treats his enemies.

I reflected the next few hours on the scene I had witnessed. The child was having fun. He did something accidentally that, yes, should have had a “Grandpa, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that!” but there had been no time. But he learned that it’s okay for a person who says he loves Jesus to instantly have a rage attack against a child; he learned it’s okay to do it in public; that it’s okay to blame the other person–because, after all, for goodness sake, they caused your rage. So the Bible must be wrong–anger is okay, because it was his grandpa; anger is okay but what if I make God mad? What will He do?

What a lesson in love. Is it any wonder the world calls us hypocrites? We talk the talk, but the instant our body or feelings get tramped on, we walk a walk Satan is proud of. I pray for this little boy, that he comes to realize anger is a choice that people make when they have no self-control, when they set themselves up with pride as if they themselves never make mistakes, so it’s okay to throw a stone. Especially at a little child. “Whoever offends one of these is [in danger of hell-fire]” (Matt. 18:6). I pray this little boy does not think God is like his grandfather, and think that God re-acts in anger when he has not meant to offend.

There’s not enough fun in life on the good days, let alone on the bad days. A child laughing in fun is a beautiful thing–and a merry heart does good like medicine (Prov. 17:22). Maybe that’s why so many of our children are on medicines in this age, you think?

 

 

The painting is by Drago Ivanisevic, copyrighted, and not able to be re-copied or painted. If you have questions, please contact me.

 

SHOW ME YOU LOVE ME….

  SHOWMEYOULOVEME

Walking into the ICU room, it took our breath away to see the man hooked to seemingly every machine the hospital had available for keeping someone alive. There was the breathing machine, inserted directly into his neck in the trachea, the filtration (dialysis), removing all the blood from his body, eliminating the fluid from the it, then putting the dry blood back into the body. The body responds by saying, “Hey! I have no fluid in this!” and goes into emergency mode, pulling fluid from arms, legs, hands–wherever it can, in order to keep the blood flowing and to keep his body from filling with fluid. The IV’s were providing some nourishment–not enough, but some. Because of the throat tube, he could not speak nor swallow–only small ice chips which could run down his throat were able to be in his mouth. Talking was not possible.

By the time we left, our hearts had been wrung to the point of despair. He is not an old man, being kept alive at the whim of family, but a virile, middle-aged man, whose thinking processes are alert and high. He is aware of everything said around him, and able to interact with lip movement. It was hard to learn to lip-read in an hour, but we did the best we could.

Everyone says, “Don’t keep me alive by machines!” In this case, it is necessary. The problem? The doctors aren’t sure. His breathing, when it stopped originally, caused the family to call 911, and the rest has been almost seven months in the hospital, trying to find a diagnosis.

When we got home, I began praying “fervently.” That means you recognize God is the only one Who can do anything and man’s wisdom is wholly reliant upon Him. I prayed for just ONE doctor who would go home at night, with the thought of this father, husband, son and brother not able to move, talk, or eat, and search every book known to man for an answer–but above all, one who would seek the Healer to give wisdom.

We went back a few days later, while the doctor was in, along with several other members of a team who were changing bags, adding medication, and doing everything in their power to help him. As the doctor was leaving, a member of his family stopped him to say, “He’s nervous about what you’ve been saying; can you explain to him?” The doctor stopped at the foot of the bed and in strong, direct words said, “Don’t worry–it’s all simple [what he had been doing and saying]! Everything is looking good,” and then he explained the medication, the numbers in the tests, and more. He exuded strength and knowledge. The patient took him at his word. When he left, the family member said to us, “He’s the best doctor we could have gotten. He told us he goes home at night, and has cried tears before God, asking for wisdom for what is wrong, and how to heal him.”

My mouth fell open as I told her that is exactly, to the letter, what I’ve been praying! God had shown me in one sentence that He had heard my prayer, and was answering that one. The rest? That everything will turn out the way we want it? I don’t know yet. But God does–and He will answer in His time, and in His way.

Do you think we’re the first people to cry out to God: “God, help me to believe You are here with me! Increase my faith! God, PLEASE, show me You love me!”? No. Does it help you to know that your deepest Valley of the Shadow is one that was walked by  even King David himself, as well as countless others? In Psalm 86:16, 17, David cries out, “O, turn to me and have mercy on me! Give Your  strength to Your servant and save the son of Your maidservant. Show me a sign for good, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed, because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me!” David was crying out, “God, show me You love me!”

David went through many trials–we don’t know if God showed up on this occasion, whatever it was, or if His answer was “wait,” or “no.” That’s where trust comes in. That is where faith gets proactive, and not pew-active. That’s where the rubber meets the road. Are you going to trust that whatever He does is right, or are you going to manipulate things so that it goes your way? It always comes back to a choice for us–sometimes so hard we want to throw a tantrum, and sometimes it shows us our heart.

May we all say, “Please, God, increase my faith! Increase my trust!”

© Ed Isaacs | Dreamstime Stock Photos

TUNNEL VISION OR DREAMING DREAMS?

CLOUDS

He sat down at the dining room table, feeling carefully to the left for his fork, and to the right for his knife. Gently he reached forward and touched the glass of Coke. Our granddaughter was describing the food on the table, and we were all a little unsure how to make this unseeing guest feel welcome. Within seconds, however, our granddaughter had kidded him about something that referred to his lack of sight and when he responded immediately in kind, we knew it was going to be a great time of fellowship. His sense of humor carried him through any difficulty, and if it lagged at all, she was there to make him laugh. Eventually we learned he did not mind questions, so we asked many. “What comes into your mind when someone says the sky is blue?” I asked. He said he had no frame of reference, except to conjure up an image and try to make it the “picture” that stood for “blue.” After dinner, this amazing person went to the piano and gave us a spontaneous delivery of praise and worship music. God had not given him eye-sight, but He definitely has given Brian talents that many would covet.

This past Sunday our pastor preached on vision. Perhaps not vision as a physical attribute, but the far-seeing vision that all Christians should have to see that their church fulfills the Scripture where Christ told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel, telling the story of the good news that our sins have been paid for, and we can have eternal life. (John 3:16). As he talked, I realized how there is no separating the vision one has for their church, and the vision that must be internalized into the heart for daily life.

It was many years ago, or perhaps yesterday, that someone I knew lost all hope that life would ever change. Their “vision” for a future became blind. The tunnel telescoped to a point at the end, and they could see no further than the dot, so they took the “easy way” out. Young people are especially vulnerable to losing hope that a bright future awaits them when they wake up–and go to bed–with the sounds of angry parents cursing and screaming at each other. Because they have no control over their parents, and are bright enough to realize they could not exist on the streets, the next best thing seems to be death. It is quickly over, and there will be no more screaming. Not having had someone tell them there are many places or people who will help, they end their life. It is becoming more and more common.

I sat there, realizing that I, too, have lost my vision of hope. Not perhaps for the American Dream, but hope that I am making a difference in someone’s life. Hope in the form of passion–to care about something so passionately that a sacrifice is worth the risk. Recently I read of Kimberly Smith (Make Way Partners, “Passport to Darkness”) who has gone to the people of Sudan to rescue orphans and women who are at the mercy of men with no sense of moral values. These victims take whatever comes because they have no hope of anyone rescuing them. She is a brave woman. I have to ask myself, do I care so much about comfort, security, and ease that I would not do what she is doing? I have to hang my head in shame for I’m not sure I could do it.

The sermon became a double-edged sword. Yes! I want my church to move forward, planting churches in countries where the people have never heard that there is a God who created them, watches over them, and has sent His Son to make a way for salvation. But do I want the planter to be me? I believe so. Then I think of the grandchildren. Suddenly I understand what Jesus meant when He said, He who is willing to give up family or land [or things we think we can’t do without] to follow Him, is worthy to be called His disciple.

What will I have when I stand before Him? I pray for renewed vision to see as God sees, and not as those about whom Jesus  said,  “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” I pray that is not me.

 

© Cristian Nitu | Dreamstime Stock Photos

LOVE IS A CHOICE…

TOWERS2The news came suddenly: mothers started running to the nursery at church, grabbing their little ones, fear full-blown on their faces. It was a Tuesday morning in September, and what we were hearing was bits and pieces–something about an attack in New York. We were in central Virginia, many hours away from NY. One woman was trying to hold herself together, for her husband had a meeting that morning in NYC. She was desperately trying to reach him. My daughter and I left the nursery once the babies were all picked up and headed for a television in the church, where the news had interrupted regular programming. Everyone was shocked speechless, some crying, some stunned. Over the next hours I can so well remember my feeling: how can anyone hate America this much?

It is said that those of us who are old enough to remember when John Kennedy was shot, know exactly where we were when the news came, and it’s true. It’s also true we remember where we were when we first heard of the attack on the Twin Towers. These moments in our past will never fade.

Recently, I was reading a news article on a well-known American family who were blind-sided by a media attack, after news that they were not perfect was made to look like something the whole family should be executed for. I read some of the tweets under the article–something I never do. As I read the venom that poured out of people’s computers, I was once again struck by the hatred that was spewing forth. Stunned and sickened, I considered the truth that, had a Christian written those verbal attacks on a  family of another religious persuasion, it probably would have been labeled a “hate crime,” and they would have been interrogated by the police. Such is our culture today. The hatred is becoming greater and greater.

Now we are watching Lincoln’s prophecy come to pass: America will never be destroyed by outside forces; when it falls, it will fall from decay within. How true his words are becoming! Having been raised in the mid 1900’s, I have seen the black/white racism from A to Z. Well, maybe not yet Z. It’s still heading there.

I was one of the fortunate ones growing up: my mom, a naive West Virginia “hillbilly,” never saw color, only character. She raised me to look at the person, not the color of their skin or the slant of their eyes. I remember in a Sunday night class in the early ’60’s making the remark, “I’d rather my daughter marry a Christian black man who worships the ground she walks on than a white man who beats and abuses her!” I can still remember the shock and disbelief on the faces of those die-hard Southern folks who sat in the chairs. Later, I was outspoken at Dr. Martin Luther King’s tactics, and recall saying, “I would do exactly what he’s doing if I thought my children and grandchildren were going to be treated the way most whites treat blacks.” I wasn’t popular for saying so.

Today we see the hate again becoming an issue between whites and blacks. Haven’t we gotten past this? Have we learned nothing from history? Strip away the skin and what do you have? God said He looks on the heart, not on the outward appearance. That, I have always believed, is why He chose a Jewish mother–so that He was neither white nor black, but of Middle-Eastern appearance. One pastor whom I love once said to me, “A lot of ‘Christians’ are going to be surprised when they see the human color of Jesus!” How true. What we need to be asking is, who is the one who is stirring up this hatred? There is someone who is at the bottom of all of it, I’m convinced.

There’s no excuse for hatred. It cannot be the heart condition of anyone who calls themselves Christian. If you hate someone because of the color of their skin, you are condemning someone made in the image of God. How sad. Sad that we treat brothers and sisters in the Lord as if they are less than we are. Sad that people of the world, whose morals equal that of Sodom & Gomorrah, condemn and judge as if they should be executed, those who are Christians but commit a sin, repent and seek healing. Hatred is a choice, just as love is a choice. As Jesus said, “If you don’t love your brother, whom you have seen, how can you love God, who you haven’t seen?”

Sin is a fact of life: Jesus tells us through John that if we say we have no sin, we lie and the truth (Jesus) is not in us. Once we accept that fact (that we have sin), we are accountable to God as to what we are going to do with it. Are we going to continue living with it, enjoy it, and judge others, or are we going to recognize our right to eternity in heaven depends on our asking forgiveness for what we do that is wrong, asking Jesus to come into our lives and save us–not that we will never sin again, but that we will have someone in our lives who has paid the debt of our sin–and run to Him when we sin again. That’s the difference between love and hate. Hate continues to hate. Love makes a choice to ask for forgiveness when sin rears its ugly head, be cleansed, and continue living with a happy heart, knowing He has forgiven again! That’s what the world does not understand, because their eyes are blind to God. That would scare me to death!

If I realized that the God who will one day be my Judge, whom I will stand before, as someone who has rejected the offer of salvation, if I KNEW that He had crossed me off His list, wiped me out of His Book of Life–it would scare me so badly I would run to Him, gasping for mercy.

Hell is not going to be a party. But stomping on the mercy, grace, and love of Jesus–when it was still a possibility in your life–is a choice only you can make. Before it’s too late.