It doesn’t take much scrolling through my social media feeds to find angry posts from my fellow believers. Posts driven by politics and posts that use terms like “Brainless”, “ignorant”, “dummies”, “delusional”, and “morons” to describe those that they disagree with.
These posts intentionally foment others to anger. These posts degrade and dehumanize. These posts bring out the worst. These posts accomplish little, aside from sparking unproductive conversations among the like-minded or venomous arguments with the opposition.
Sprinkled between these posts are the other posts - Bible verses, photos of mission trips, check-ins at church. There is a stark contrast between the posts that praise God and those that denigrate those made in His own image. As a believer, I am called by God to speak out when my brothers and sisters are acting in a way to alienate themselves from His word and His commandments to us. This responsibility carries even more weight when it comes to holding church leaders accountable, as their influence is wide and far-reaching.
I have tried to follow my calling of accountability and have been met with resistance. Repeatedly. A protection of the political, the angry, the degrading. A willingness to compromise on the commandment that is “above all” - to love each other deeply.
How quickly the love ebbs so the hate can flow.
I keep looking back at Jesus’ life here on earth and seeing His love and compassion for the lost. His call for justice for the least, the lost and the left out. When His followers tried to make Him into a conquering king and political hero, He rejected that. He didn’t reject it because He was weak, or because it was too hard. He rejected it because it is not what we need. It is not what this world needs. They wanted a conquering king and but were blessed with a humble servant. He dined with the poor, the sinners, the marginalized. They came to Christ because Christ came to them. And His followers wrote things like “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20).
Stephen Mattson puts it like this:
“Political parties are tasked with many things, but carrying out the Gospel isn’t one of them. Yet Christians continue to fall into the sinful temptation of limiting the practice of their faith according to their political beliefs, and they’re often only willing to follow Jesus up to the point where it’s agreeable to their partisan ideologies.
“Followers of Christ must realize that the Kingdom of Heaven will never be fully realized through worldly governments or carnal politics, but rather through the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. And according to the Bible, we can tell what the fruits of this type of Godly kingdom look like: joy, peace, happiness, self-control, charity, grace, forgiveness, justice, hope, and love.”
As Christians, our goal is not to convert people to a political party. The Republicans cannot offer eternal life. The Democrats cannot forgive our sins. Jesus was not a conservative. Jesus was not a liberal. Jesus was, and is, the way, the truth, and the light.
This is Jesus:
“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’
On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” (Matthew 9:9-13 NIV)
When I see these posts, I admit that I am fearful. I am fearful because these posts make us look hateful. I am fearful because these posts galvanize the views of those who reject Christianity. I am fearful because these posts drive God’s image-bearers away from the One who created them. The One who saved them. The One who died so that we may be with Him eternally. The One who so loves the world.
Let us draw near to them as Christ has drawn near to us.
I haven’t done social media perfectly - not even close. But there are two things I always try to do before I post:
Ask myself what I hope to accomplish with my post.
Use the filter of God’s word before I post - here’s the verses I keep in mind:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
Christ has to mean more to us than our political agendas. He alone is our Savior.
Let the hate ebb so the love may flow.
Written by Dede and Delaney Lomenick
Ever since the Kavanaugh hearings have been taking place, I have been troubled. Deeply troubled. Initially, I was troubled on many levels:
*As a victim of molestation, harassment and several unwanted very physical advances the narrative brought back several memories and, of course, the pain that accompanies it. I have wept for Dr. Ford - for the constant stream of venom being spewed toward her. I have wept for the many victims out there who have never spoken up and certainly won’t speak up now. Truly only Jesus knows the truth - although I find it hard to believe that anyone would knowingly set themselves up for this kind of spectacle and hatred.
*As a wife of a man who I adore, I have wept for Kavanaugh and for his family. I have cried over what all of them must be going through.
*As a mother of three girls, I have wept for them. Statistics say that that 1 in 3 women will be victimized in some way. So I pray fervently for their safety.
But I have been most troubled AS A CHRISTIAN. I am watching my friends and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ - people that I have admired and looked up to - spew the most hateful and vile things I have ever heard. Mocking her. Demeaning him. Laughing and taking delight in all of this by gleefully reposting “funny” character assassinating memes and jokes about both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. My beloved friends have made sweeping judgements on both sides.
She’s “bought and paid for by the democrats”, “despicable”, “liar” etc ….
He’s a “disgusting pig”, “probably raped many women”, “liar” etc…
I have read lengthy arguments between fellow believers or, worse, between a Christian and someone who isn’t a believer and have been sickened by the words they seem so comfortable typing out.
The fact is, WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. ONLY JESUS DOES.
Here is what we DO KNOW - as Christians, there is a higher standard we are called to uphold. I keep waiting for someone, anyone, to respond like Jesus. It isn’t just morally wrong to be this combative. The Bible calls it sin. I’ve certainly been guilty of it many times. The tongue is a powerful weapon. The book of James puts it like this:
“No human being can tame the tongue.
It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father,
and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.
Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.
My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
I pray that we would be as quick to pray and show compassion to these people as we are to judge them. I pray that we would be as prepared to share the hope of our salvation as we are to pounce on an opposing point of view. I pray for peace. I pray for mind of Christ. I pray for my brothers and sisters. I pray for the victims. And, like Christ, I will pray for the victimizers as well.
impossible to subdue or defeat.
On May 21, 1936 a baby girl named Sylvia Irene was born into the world to two very young and overwhelmed parents. She had one older brother and would go on to be the sister to two additional younger brothers. She learned from an early age that home and family were not safe places and from the time she was a very young girl, she was subjected to unimaginable abuses. The kind of abuses that would break someone’s heart, mind and spirit. But not Sylvia.
After a heartbreakingly short and scary first marriage, Sylvia literally ran for her life and ended up back in Florida. She was young and divorced with no high school diploma. It would have been so easy to give up and blame the world for her circumstances. But not Sylvia.
She took a job at a soda fountain counter and found a place to live and then went back to school. With her good looking boyfriend (my dad) by her side she completed high school and then those two crazy kids eloped on Father’s Day 1957. The odds were most definitely against their marriage from the start. Abused girl, second marriage, elopement - none of this seemed to add up to a stellar beginning. I’m sure many people thought she would not and could not make this marriage work. Failure seemed certain. But not for Sylvia.
When Sylvia wanted to start a family she discovered that she would never be able to conceive children - most likely due to many of the abuses she suffered as a child. Surely this would be the thing that would break her. But not Sylvia.
She and Jerry (her husband) began the process of adoption and brought home a baby boy named David in 1964. In 1967, they brought me home at the ripe old age of five months. It became clear pretty quickly that it would take some work for Sylvia to learn how to parent her kids differently from how she was raised. Besides, who would blame her if she had a temper? She could have easily blamed her foibles and struggles on her past. But not Sylvia.
She committed herself to Christ and to His word and filled her home, heart and mind with His Holy Word. She covered herself and her family and prayer. She was fiercely devoted to Christ and to His service. She walked alongside of her husband through a massive career change when he knew that God was calling him into full time ministry - selling her dream house and letting go of the ladder of worldly success they had been climbing. She never ever complained in front of her kids. Ever. Even when she was working all night sewing and doing alterations and squeezing oranges during the day to make ends meet. No one would have blamed her if she decided to walk away from that life. But not Sylvia.
Only Jesus could transform someone so completely. She’s almost 82 now and still leads a weekly women’s bible study at her church. She’s been married to that tall guy for 60 years, She is indomitable. Perfect? No! But so very indomitable. Impossible to defeat because of Christ in her the hope of glory. She chose to follow Christ and all he offers and every single day I thank God that she did.
Thank you Mom. Thank you for showing me how to love Christ and His Word. Thank you for your devotion and loyalty that you gave to Dad. Thank you for showing us what a life surrendered to Jesus looks like. I adore you and hope that I can be like you when I grow up. Happy Happy Happy Mother’s Day.
“Bomb Threat Procedures. ... The primary goal of the bomb threat procedure is to minimize injury to people, damage to the facility, and avoid disrupting normal schedules. The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures for handling bomb threats and actual bomb emergencies.” (https://my.limestone.edu/main-campus/campus-security/)
Is it just me or does everyone seem like a bomb ready to go off? Tense, irritable, defensive, angry - you get the idea. It’s almost funny sometimes - I see people driving down the road with no one around them just honking their horn repeatedly. Who are they honking at? God? Their imaginary friend? Maybe it’s cathartic to just honk your horn with abandon! But I digress…
Everyone seems to be just barely hanging on and all it takes is that one thing to push them over the edge. That one thing can be anything. It can be that we are running late and we take it out on everyone else in traffic. It can be that we are frustrated at our job and we choose to take it out on the cashier at the grocery store. Or maybe we just had a fight with our spouse and we decide to explode all over whoever happens to be closest to us - our kids, the dog, any target will do.
What if we trained ourselves to understand what makes the bomb inside someone go off and we sought to dismantle their internal bomb instead of engaging in combat with them? When someone blows up all over us - what if they received kindness? What if we stopped and looked them in the eye and saw God’s image in them? Wouldn’t that be different? What if we saw ourselves in those moments and thought about how we would want to be treated?
Maybe we should all wear t-shirts that let everyone know what’s going on in our lives - wouldn’t that be handy? It sure would help me out if I had some kind of context for someone else’s behavior. Shirts that say things like “My husband just left me” or “I just lost my job” or “I can’t get through the day unless I drink”. That would make things so much easier! Ammiright? But - alas - that isn’t how it works.
SInce the t-shirt idea won’t work - how about we just love each other and believe the best of one another? Reading that bomb threat procedure at the top of the page makes me think that we can dismantle an emotional bomb. Their goal is to “minimize injury to people”. That’s an admirable goal! Shouldn’t that be our goal? And if someone else’s explosion ruins my day or angers me - then I need to take a good look inside of me. No one can destroy my peace unless I allow them to (I allow them to a lot -pretty much every time I drive - and that isn’t everyone else’s fault. It’s mine.)
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility COUNT OTHERS MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN YOURSELVES (even the ones that explode all over you). Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4)
I’ve made a horrible mistake. I started cleaning my utility room out and it has morphed into “THE SPRING CLEANING TO END ALL SPRING CLEANINGS”! I don’t know what has happened but it has most definitely happened. Today I am at stress Def-Con level 10. There is so much stuff to deal with and I am determined to have a yard sale and just so I wouldn’t change my mind I ran three online ads for this Saturday (and yes that was definitely a run on sentence). I want to curl into a ball and hide but I can’t BECAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH STUFF EVERYWHERE THERE IS NO ROOM! If I smoked, I’d be lighting up right about now.
Me and stuff have a love/ hate relationship. For the last few years I have lamented that we don’t have enough storage space in our house. I wish I was making this next part up - I have a recurring dream that I discover all these closets that I somehow had never noticed before. Seriously. But based on the amount of items that I have managed to cram into the limited space that we have, I think it’s safe to say that if we had more space, I would just fill it up with more stuff.
Here’s the deal - the key isn’t a bigger closet. The key is my willingness to accept the closet that I have. When I’m spending too much time looking for things or managing my stuff or tripping over stuff something is wrong. And for most of us - something is really wrong. We have way more stuff than we need and we just keep buying more and more and more. There is always more to want and more to buy and more ways to organize all the stuff we never use. Have more stuff than your house can hold? No problem! Go rent a storage unit and pay someone else to hold on to the stuff that you haven’t looked at in a decade.
As I’ve been going through all my belongings I just keep asking myself this question:
Does my stuff enable me to fulfill my mission in life or is it adding to my stress? So far all I have left is my Bible, one plate, one fork, one cup and one outfit. Not really! But don’t think that thought hasn’t crossed my mind.
While I’ve been purging my physical home the Lord has been nudging me to purge my spiritual home as well. Yup - He’s been doing some spring cleaning of His own on my heart. What junk am I carrying around that I need to let go of? What treasures has Christ given me that I haven’t pulled out and used? I think my heart needed a purge way more than my home.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
The other day my husband, youngest daughter and I were waiting in the line at the post office. It was one of those moments where I was in a hurry and, as I stood there in the line that never seemed to move I could feel myself getting ticked. I’m sure you know that antsy feeling. I don’t even know why I was in such a hurry - I just was! It also occurred to me that my purse was ridiculously heavy and that I needed to return an email and that I had far too much to do….blah, blah, blah. I stood there - lost in my thoughts and somehow silently conveyed enough anger that my daughter told me that I seemed a little tense. “I’m FINE!” I snapped. Then suddenly I overheard angry voices at the counter - two customers were fussing with each other and as I listened I was literally overflowing with internal self-righteousness. Here is just a sampling of my pithy thoughts: “No wonder the post office is going under, they have terrible service!” “I have better things to do than to wasted my time waiting around like this!” or my personal favorite “Those people need to calm down. Some people can be so impatient!” Ugh - why am I admitting all of this? I make myself sick seeing this in writing.
But then…(I just love those two little words)
But then…God does what only He can do.
But then…It was finally our turn and for some reason Jesus saw fit to show up right there at the post office counter. He opened my eyes and I saw this precious human being standing in front of me. She wasn’t just a service provider, she was a child of God created in His image. And so Jesus told me to really look at her and pay attention!! In that moment everything else just faded away and she told me her story. She told me that she had two grown kids and that her son who was 28 had died of a massive heart attack three months earlier while they were gathered for a family reunion. She told me that it has been terrible and surreal and that sometimes she still cannot believe it happened. We stood there - the two of us and we connected and swallowed our tears and I told I would pray for her and I have definitely prayed. She poured out her heart to me standing at that ugly formica post office counter and it was hard and sad and beautiful.
Jesus somehow always seemed to be able to really see people. Here’s what He said about how He communicated and ministered:“This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed,lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” (Matthew 13:13-16)
Can I pull my eyes off of myself and my agenda long enough to be more than what Jesus describes as a person who has closed her own eyes? Am I willing to make my to-do list subserviant to the bigger to-do list that God has in mind?
I want to.
I want to take off my glasses of selfishness and put on my Jesus goggles.
I want to really see and be seen. To know and be known. I want to take the risk of being awkward and not knowing the right thing to say if it means that I can show someone else the love of Christ.
Get your googles on friends - we have some work to do.
Today is our girl’s 17th birthday and I just wanted to say thank you! Ever since Reina came to us as a tiny baby, we have prayed for you and also thanked the Lord for you! Every birthday, every Mother’s Day, every Christmas, you are always on my heart and I think of you with such gratitude. I wish you could know this precious girl today - you would be amazed by her. From the time she entered our lives, she has been an absolute joy! When she was little she was always - and I mean ALWAYS - smiling. It was like every day was a giant party that she had gotten invited to!
She’s a junior in high school now and just got her driver’s license. In many ways, she’s wise beyond her years. She loves all kinds of music - but NOT country. Every square inch of the walls in her room are covered with music posters, photos of friends, etc...I sometimes wonder if the room will collapse if we take all the stuff off the walls. She’s artistic and emotional. She loves makeup and will always offer to do my hair and makeup before I speak or perform and I let her since she’s so much cooler than I am! She’s good with kids and they love her - she babysits and works with kids at our church every week.
She is compassionate and hurts so deeply when others hurt. That kind of heart can be hard on a person in this world. I have that same kind of heart so she’s like my emotional spirit animal - we totally get each other in that way. She still climbs up into bed with me once in a while and snuggles with me - although those times are getting fewer and farther between. She loves photography and has an incredible eye behind the camera - it’s just in her to know how to take the right shot. She worries a lot. She would go to every single rock concert that came to our area if she had the money to do it.
When I look at her, I wonder about you. I wonder if you know that you made the right decision. I wonder if you know that she is doing extraordinarily well. I wonder if you know that she is thankful for you and so are we. You would be so incredibly proud of her! And so today. I want to tell you from one mama to another - thank you. Those two words are not nearly enough but I hope you somehow know deep in your spirit that our little family is so grateful to you for the dear gift you gave to us in the form of our Reina.
Several months ago a first time visitor came to our church on a Sunday morning. Also in attendance, was a homeless gentleman that had attended several times before. Our church had lovingly welcomed him in - however, he was mentally unstable and sometimes would wander in the back of the worship area muttering things that sounded threatening. We always made sure he was given something to eat and told him he would need to stay seated during the service. We also told him that he could no longer bring his backpack with him into the sanctuary. He seemed to understand and some of our staff made efforts to minister to him, be sure his needs were met and also protect everyone in attendance.
So back to that fateful Sunday morning...our homeless friend came into the sanctuary and was extremely agitated and was carrying his backpack. A few of our guys sat behind him and one of them tried to gently calm him down but he wasn’t able to. So they walked with him to the exit and explained that he would need to leave until he was calmer - no one was angry but we had to be sure that all the others in our service were safe. Our first time visitor saw what was happening and was instantly enraged. “You don’t care about the homeless! I’ll never come here again!” he said. We assured him that we very much cared about the homeless and tried to set up a time to discuss all of this with him. As you might have guessed - that never happened. He stormed out having decided that we were the bad guys without knowing the whole story.
We live in a sound-bite and click-bait world. People spend all their time and energy creating little snippets of information that are designed to do one thing: CREATE ANGER. And guess what? It’s working remarkably well. We read something or see a picture online and with zero other information the mob assembles to assassinate someone’s character. For example, after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman-Douglas High School, a fictitious story was circulated that one of the survivors, David Hogg, was a fake - a “crisis actor”. Then the conspiracy theories started. People were saying things like, “He doesn’t even go to school there” (WRONG - he is a Senior). “Does anyone else find it suspicious that his dad is former FBI? Something just doesn’t smell right!” (WRONG again: there was no cover up, his dad had retired from the FBI due to an illness that they had wished to keep private). But no matter, enough people read what they wanted to read and now this family who is dealing with the illness of a parent and survived a school shooting IS RECEIVING DEATH THREATS.
Friends, we must do better. We have a responsibility to use the hearts and minds that God has given us and take a few extra minutes to fact check what we are reading before adding our voices to the angry mob. We all do it. I’m guilty of it too. Imagine if all of the effort that has been devoted to discrediting David Hogg and his family was used instead to care for them and find ways to encourage them. Wouldn’t that be amazing? What if we started doing that everywhere we went? What if?
As we all know by now, one week ago today the absolutely unthinkable occurred at Stoneman Douglas High School. We have seen and heard beautiful tributes from fellow students and watched parents try to come to grips with the sudden loss of their children. I’ve wept several times trying to imagine how we got to this place. But over the last few days I’ve noticed something that has broken my heart further- I’ve noticed fellow brothers and sisters in Christ using this moment in history to denounce all kinds of other things. In less than a week we’ve seemingly forgotten that people are still mourning and jumped straight into condemnation. I’ve read all kinds of theories about everything from video games to abortion to arming the teachers. I cannot imagine being a parent who’s child is dead and reading all the vitriol that’s being posted ESPECIALLY among Christians. We all have very strong opinions - and yet those 14 children and 3 adults are still dead.
We are all so busy trying to make our points that it seems we’ve skipped right over what Jesus said about being salt and light and peacemakers (Matthew 5). I keep trying to think about what Jesus would be doing right now if He still walked the earth in human form. So I keep going back to His word and from what I gather I believe He would be mourning and sitting with the bereaved. I believe He would be listening and looking for ways to bless others. The Jesus I follow would pour out compassion on this hurting and broken world and would encourage His flock to do the same. The only cause Jesus sought to advance when He walked this earth was His Kingdom.
Here’s a direct quote straight from Christ Himself:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
If we say we are Christians we also must believe that we have a common enemy who loves to divide and destroy us and, from the looks of my Facebook feed, he is having a heyday. We have to be savvy enough to know that people love to stir up controversy online and there is compelling evidence that there are Russian bots devised to do just that. In our passion and haste to make our opinions heard we must be careful to remember what matters most - and it’s not our human agendas. It is to make the Gospel known.
We don’t need agendas - we need Jesus. We don’t need more anger - we need Jesus. And by the way - Jesus does still walk the earth in human form - in us.
Just drove by Fort Lauderdale High School (where Delaney attended) and noticed students outside protesting. Decided to run to the store and grab bottled water and lollipops for them. Came back to hand them out and every single kid came up and thanked me and then they allowed me to speak to the group and pray for them. What an honor!
I don't have any pictures of it because I was too busy hugging them all and reassuring them that they aren't just someone else's kids. They all are MY KIDS TOO. Their voices must be heard - something has to change.
Let's spread the MY KIDS TOO message everywhere possible. We all have to speak up about this!
I'm sure that there will be people that will disagree with this message - but as a mother of a child that was in the middle of a shooting on her campus a few years ago - I have to speak up. Please do not leave negative comments on this post. I already know all of the arguments.
Respectfully and with a hopeful heart,