Life

The Violence Question

Horrible events have occurred here in the United States in the last few months in such rapid succession it is hard to comprehend. From a mass shooting in Las Vegas, to an ISIS driven attack in New York City to the most recent mass shooting at a small town Baptist church in Texas and a school shooting in California. While I know this blog is usually about updates to my books, it is also about my life and thoughts. Authors are not immune to the sadness and fears of the world even though we spend so much time in fantasy. It leaves me thinking of my huge church where inside hundreds of family members gather weekly and daily to serve Christ. I fear for our safety, yet then I remember how many times in the Bible God tells us not to fear.

Its 365 times. By God’s design there are 365 days in a year. Not a coincidence.

Times like this lift up the question, “Why does God allow such horror?” If you’re like me and a Christian, you’ll get asked that in your lifetime. So I remember that in times like this…. God weeps.

God isn’t allowing this suffering to happen. This horror and pain entered the world on the back of sin in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose sin over God’s loving guidance. The next question that will come flying at a Christian is, “Then why did He allow sin into the world?”

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33

That’s when Christians tackle the tough task of explaining how God loves us and how He wanted us to have free will. In order to be in a unique relationship with every son and daughter He has, He gave us individual choice. Without that, we’d be carbon copies of one another, marionettes for God instead of children of God. With our freedoms we have the ability, daily, to choose God’s love or to choose not to love.

“Then why can’t God just stop it all?”

The truth is, in my opinion, God surely can. Just as He opened his mouth and spoke light into existence He can speak sin out of existence. But then… when would God be able to stop? Take away one sin there is still another to deal with, then another, and another, and soon a world of sin to discipline. Pretty soon humans are nothing more than those marionettes with God constantly intervening to correct our thoughts and movements, instead of humans learning from our free choices.

Look at it this way, as children didn’t we learn from our mistakes? A parent who constantly scolds and corrects the bad action of a child isn’t teaching in my opinion, they’re merely controlling the child’s actions. If children behave there is no need to correct them, yet once they misbehave then the correction must occur. It’s a learned process to do the right thing. Had sin not entered the world when it did, learning right from wrong wouldn’t be an issue. The world would have known only right, good, and love.

God’s world.

Now I consider the fallen world I live in since sin entered and look at my neighbor. Would I rather be exactly like them, in all ways, the good, bad and ugly or have the ability to choose how I want to behave? Would you want to be controlled, or free?

“But He took care of getting rid of sin early in the Bible, so why not now? Answer that one!”

When the world was created, when Mankind was just taking its baby steps, there were a lot of miraculous ways God showed His power. He had to. In order for the race He created to understand His great love, and their mistakes, God had to perform many signs of His power, even if it meant things like the Great Flood. Today… He doesn’t have to. His great faith is evident in the millions of followers of Jesus worldwide.

I sadly heard one morning that someone somewhere said loud enough for the news to pick up on it, that praying at times like this doesn’t control or change anything so why bother. I’ve even been told myself that God can’t change things. That was one of the saddest statements ever said to me, and I disagree. It doesn’t make tragedies easier to endure knowing about free choice. But understanding that God gave me a will of my own can help me, and others, pray over tragedy. Pray that those impacted have hearts that remain rooted in the love of God, and that God’s spiritual warfare is present in their lives so that Satan doesn’t get a grip on them in the wake of their sadness. Just as the horrible choices of one person changed the lives of the victims and their families and friends forever, their individual choices after a tragedy can have impact good or bad too. Do I  want them to fall prey to all the horrible feelings Satan wants them to experience in this time, or do I want a hedge of protection to envelope them to know God’s loving guidance even more? I think many would agree with me over which is the better choice.

God wants us to use our free will to make the right choices. He wants us to choose to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples. We have the choice to pray for the sinners of this earth to turn to Christ so other horrific events don’t happen. So, praying in my opinion changes everything.

When we weep, God weeps too. Spiritual growth occurs in the valley and in that sorrow His love endures.

Something to ponder as I write.

 

The Shack Weekend

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for a long while. The Shack has finally released.

I can testify that there is no relationship on earth quite like the one we have with God, through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit.  When I first read The Shack I thought it was a good book, but didn’t really understand it. The ideas and concepts confused me even thought I grew up in the church. I wasn’t ready to hear what the book had to say. I was reading it for the wrong reasons. It was something trendy to do, since Oprah recommended it. It wasn’t until 2015 when I needed  and turned to God the most, that I re-read it…. and it made more than sense, it made the way to understanding my faith easier.

I was once told God didn’t have “time” to listen to prayers when I prayed for my needs, only when I prayed for the needs of others. I know this is wrong now for I know where to find my support first and foremost in the scripture. Matthew 7:7  says: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” The Shack helped me see that God has time for every prayer. I turned more away from misguided thoughts and more to opening my heart and mind to understanding my relationship with God, through prayer. He wants to hear from me and I from Him.  He is always speaking…

I hope everyone welcomes this book into their lives.  It may be the start to a new understanding…

Reclaiming Conversation.

It’s rare that a book makes me leap out of the tub to post a blog, but just a few pages into this one and I knew I had to. It’s called Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age” by Sherry Turkle.

The art of conversation has died around us. I was never a big conversationalist to begin with but I sure did listen..a lot. I don’t hear many real honest to goodness conversations where people are talking with each other and not at or through each other. In this day and age human empathy and connection has suffered by placing windows and screens in place of eye-to-eye, face-to-face contact.

I spend most of my time in an online world. It’s a part of my job. I interact with countless people on social media that I will never see face to face. For many years I came home and social media was my world too, so much so, the first thing I did when I walked in my door was to make sure the computer was on and the alerts were turned up. But the online world is no substitute for being present before another person, and yet, we all succumb to it. We love the idea of being able to edit a thought before we say it and be as flawless as we can possibly be.

Things have changed for me over years. I started to get involved in small groups with my church.  I am less interested in social media and growing more addicted to God and small groups. I get a high from making connections and hearing the flawed stories of people face-to-face.

It’s 2017 and it took some time and a lot of prayer but I can say I social media is not running my life as it has for the last 9 years. My phone is used to make calls or send a text to one of a handful of people. When in a waiting room full of people looking at their phones, I’m the one looking at them.

I’m “reclaiming” my own art of conversation. That’s why I am going to read this book and post a blog when a thought strikes me. I sure hope this helps me learn a lot more about the conversation before my daughter gets to be the age where she wants/needs a phone. I don’t want her to be one of those tweens who never looks where she is going when she walks or who’s idea of hanging out with friends is sitting around looking at their phones.

Turkle writes: “The very sight of a phone on the landscape leaves us feeling less connected to each other, less invested in each other….Once aware we can begin to rethink our practices. When we do, conversation is there to reclaim. For the failing connections of our digital world, it is the talking cure.

Granted, it’s the digital age, but God made people so people can be known to one another. He did not make us to live alone. He did not create us to love in secret. He did not design us to hide from one another. He gave us empathy for a reason.

I know mine needs polish.

Does yours?

  • Psalm 100:4-5
    “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”