Category Archives: The Christian Walk

When Hatred Becomes Necessary In America

hatred in America

What a weird few weeks it has been in America. Genders and races are changing right in front of the whole world. There has been tragedy and a response to said tragedy that has dwarfed even the events themselves and created a debate all its own. There have been some very important and remarkable Supreme Court decisions. Politics and emotion have collided and created a hurricane of debate about very serious issues.

And among it all, the word hate keeps being thrown around, whipped from both sides, hurled toward anyone who would dare disagree with the “mainstream.”

“Don’t hate.”

“That’s hate speech.”

“You’re hateful.”

“A hate crime.”

“Keep your hate to yourself.”

“Stop hatin’.”

“Haters gonna hate.”

“Your opinion is proof of your hate.”

Some of this hate is expected, born of disbelief and anger; born of revulsion to crimes that are unimaginable and viewpoints that are unbelievable.

I’m not one to shy away from a political or religious debate. I never have been. But I’m learning now how to make my opinions and views work for more effective change in the hearts of people rather than just temporary agreement in an argument. I like my opinions. I stick to my convictions. I’m not backing down and I’m okay with voicing my dissent.

But even if I end up shaking my head in bewilderment at your viewpoint, my opinion is proof only of my disagreement. And I am 100% capable of disagreeing without any hatred at all, as most people of faith are. Hatred is an emotion. Opinions should be based also on fact, whether that fact is drawn from scientific evidence, historical proof, or religious belief (which, to many, is fact).

So please, don’t mistake my dissenting opinion for hate. I. don’t. hate. you.

But I’ll tell you what I do hate—I hate sin.

I hate the way it twists and turns, weaving is way into willing hearts. I hate the way it defiles and deceives, and I hate the way it manifests itself in evil acts that serve to divide and destroy.

I hate how it abolishes tradition. I hate how it revises what is allowable. I hate how it murders and destroys families, leaving nothing but sadness and devastation it its wake.

I hate what it’s doing to our country, our neighborhoods, our relationships. I hate what it does to me.

And I think it’s 100% okay to hate sin. In fact, it’s encouraged. Even the Bible talks about how God himself hates sin.

We need to hate it, but before we can hate it, we need to know what it is.

“People are afraid of what they don’t understand.” How many times have you heard that or a variation of it?

Ladies and gents, you need to understand sin. (The more you read about and understand Christ, the more you will be able to recognize sin).You need to not be afraid to stand up against it. And you need to hate it. You need to hate it with the joy of knowing that one day it will be destroyed.

But until that time when sin is finally obliterated, what do we do? What about when something happens that walks all over our moral convictions, heats our emotional coil and threatens to spew words from our angry and frustrated mouths?

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. –Psalm 6:16

Proof right there from the scripture that God himself hates much of what has happened in this country over the last few weeks. Plug those events right in.

How have you added to it?

Sure, you didn’t pull a trigger inside of a church and spill innocent blood (in fact, like most of America, you were probably deeply saddened and repulsed that such a thing could happen). You didn’t spout racist propaganda, placing yourself above others. You didn’t sit on the Supreme Court. You didn’t issue court rulings or devise the very court cases that brought the rulings.

But did your reactions leading up to and after these events add to the hatred listed above?

Did you lie to support your side of the argument? Perhaps you pulled at half-truths just to feel like the victor?

Were you conceited and disdainful, filled with self-righteousness because of your views?

Did you run headlong into a conversation full of nasty words and vitriol?

Have you stirred the pot, making the angry, heated words flow even faster rather than cooling the situation with words that heal and encourage?

You don’t have to agree with the other side of the argument.

Once again, disagreement is not hatred and disagreeing with sin is not only encouraged, it’s necessary.Rick Warren

The winner of the disagreement is the one who leaves with his or her integrity intact, having soothed the angry mob with words that present the only version of Christianity that some people will ever see. The winner is the one who refuses to fuel the fire with more sin, but instead stokes it with the love of Christ. Sometimes this means walking away from the debate all together. Sometimes it means keeping your mouth shut, even when that is a difficult thing to do.

So seriously consider if you want the best version of you, as you present Christ to the world, to be the version that also adds to the very things that God himself detests.

Hate can be a good thing.

Hate sin. Hate what it does to the world. Hate how it lies and destroys. Hate how it misleads people into believing that they don’t need God.

Hate sin with such ferocity that introducing people to Christ and his loving forgiveness of sin becomes more important than winning an argument.

Stick to your convictions.

Hate sin.

But don’t be its vessel.

 

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Should My Son Choose the Military

Son military

To my precious boy—

I look at you now, playing on the floor, surrounded by trains and cars and millions and millions of Legos and tiny green soldiers, and my heart wants to burst as I watch you.

Can I freeze this moment? Can I keep you little forever?

You still think I’m one of the smartest people you’ve ever met. Your little mind is still innocent—you don’t quite grasp the horrors that mankind is known to inflict. Your world is tiny and you giggle at silly things like cartoons and mud and bugs.

You are little.

But one day you will be a man.

When that day comes, I’m certain I’ll think back to these moments—the ones we are living now, and I’ll wonder how they went by so quickly.

And if you should tell me that you want to serve our country in the military, I know for certain that my heart will move in a thousand different directions in a single second.

Will I be proud of you for your choice, my son?

Absolutely. I will be proud that you’ve chosen to continue a family tradition of military service. I will be proud that the patriotism I pray we are instilling in you now has led you to make a decision to want to protect the great freedoms this country allows for its inhabitants. I will be enormously proud that you understand that military service is something to be respected and honored, and that you want to be counted among the many who have served in honor of the tenets on which this nation was founded.

toy soliderI will be proud that you’ve chosen the practical applications of military service—funding for your education and skills that will benefit you should you choose a career in the private sector later on or a career in the military–skills like leadership and self-discipline.

I will be proud that you are educated enough to understand the state of the world. Although I can only imagine what the world will be like by the time your tiny feet are able to fill man-sized combat boots, I pray that between now and then you will live outside of the American Bubble and develop an understanding of world affairs—enough to know that serving the USA often means helping and serving those across the world.

Will my heart burn with fear?

Most certainly. While you may never understand the reasons, I’ve prayed over you since before you were you were born. I’ve prayed for your future, and although I do not know what it holds, I know that my God does. And so I will struggle with the fear of knowing that you might be in danger because of the path you’ve chosen, and I will have to cling to the belief that my God knows you and loves you even more than I do. He will protect you, he will sustain you, and should I ever have to face a dreadful day when you might not be with me anymore, although I can’t imagine it, He will sustain me, too.

I will love you, my son, for your courageous choice. I will love you, respect you, and appreciate you for your willingness to put your life on the line for our country.

I will love you because you’ve chosen the military, even if for a short time, as your mission field. For I pray, my son, that your life will be a reflection of Christ, and your willingness to serve will come from the Ultimate Sacrifice given by Christ our Savior.

And so I pray now, while you are little, for your future. You must know that I will be proud of any future choice you make for your life, so I pray that you will seek the direction of God and that you will remember that you can do anything through Christ who gives you strength. 

To my precious boy who will one day be a man—no matter what your future holds, know that should you tell me you’ve chosen military service, you’ll have the respect, honor and love of not just your mama, but many grateful hearts around the world.

 

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Experiencing the Black and White

black and white

I recently wrote a post about 50 Shades of Grey (you know, like 5156872154 other bloggers. Between that and my American Sniper post, well, you’re welcome, movie industry).  I wrote about the things I wished people would do before seeing the movie, hopefully giving rise to some serious consideration on the part of the reader to avoid the movie (and the books) altogether.

I read a lot of posts similar to mine, asking women in particular to stay away from the movie.

And I read a lot of posts on the opposing side, stating that it was just “love story” and those of us avoiding the movie just needed to get over it and accept it.

And one theme seemed to ring true throughout several of the posts I read that supported the 50 Shades franchise– that my “religion” hindered me from making sound judgement of the whole ordeal.

In fact, it was even suggested that “religious” people were incapable of making sound judgement against the 50 Shades franchise because we hadn’t experienced it.

In essence, the world is not black and white, but instead several shades of grey…maybe more than 50.

From these bloggers I read that if I want to truly understand the people around me, I have to make myself willing to experience and test everything in order to be able to accurately identify the black and the white and all shades of grey in between– in order to be able to identify the harmful from the harmless.

I have to experience sin in order to be able to identify it.

In order to know that the 50 Shades books are filth that will destroy relationships and a morally-based view of sex and love, I need to read them.

Let’s apply that logic to other things.

In order to know that an affair would destroy my marriage, do I need to have one?

In order to know that stealing isn’t okay, should I take what isn’t mine?

In order to know that abusing my children will hurt them, do I need to hit them?

In order to know that murder is wrong, should I kill someone?

It would appear that based on this logic, it’s the outcome of the action that decides whether or not the action is morally reprehensible.

See, people like me, the “religious” types, believe that it’s the heart motivation to commit the action, not the outcome, that labels whether or not the thing is sin.

Sin is a word that most people don’t like nowadays. We live in a world based off of instant gratification and the idea that we must do whatever makes us happy–we want to feel good all the time. It’s all about how we feel. And we want to feel good All. The. Time. We want to do whatever it takes to make us happy, even if that means what we’re doing might be harmful in the long run, or even the short term.

As long as it makes us feel good. Sex. Drugs. Abortion. Taking what isn’t ours. Demanding what we don’t deserve. Hurting others as long as we’re not hurting ourselves. The list goes on and on.

Here’s the thing, friends– I can recognize sin by the motivation behind it. The motivation behind 50 Shades of Grey is nothing more than lust. It’s not a love story; it’s a lust story. I don’t need to read it to know that.

The root of all of this sin is simple: pride. We believe we’re better than we are. We believe that we can live outside of the black and white–somewhere in those shades of grey.

But this world IS black and white.

We’re stained, dirty, dark; covered in the muck of this world. Myself included. I’m no better than anyone else, whether I consider myself “religious” or not. Although I try daily to emulate my Christ, I’m not perfect and I never will be.

He, on the other hand, is perfection in radiant white, spotless, blameless–wholly complete and unchanging– and without pride.

The world in its broken state is the darkness, while He, the Savior of the world, is the Light.

No matter how good we try to be, no matter how much we want to think we are better than someone or something else, no matter how much we excuse our lifestyles or choices, no matter how many nice things we do, nothing we do will ever be good enough.

And that’s where the beauty of His cleansing grace comes in.

snowHe washed away all of our stains with his blood– he cleaned all the black and all of the shades of grey. He made us white as snow through his sacrifice. Praise Him and hallelujah!

The only thing we need to experience is the beauty of his mercy and grace– the only thing we need to accept is the forgiveness of our sins. 

We don’t have to experience sin in order to know it’s wrong. But we do need to experience Christ– and when we do, we’ll know just how right he is.

This is my prayer for you today, friends: that you will experience him and find that living in His light is so much more fulfilling than any shade of darkness could ever be.

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