The Truth About Foster Care

 

 

 

Foster care is lonely. I won’t lie to you about that. When you come home from the hospital with a brand new baby, everyone wants to stop by with meals and new outfits, so they can hold the baby. But in foster care, no one knows how to reach out. No one knows that the days are long, and the nights are, in some ways, more difficult than they are with a newborn baby.

No one wants to come by and meet the child who has been abused. No one wants their children to play with a child who may have to have lice treatments in the beginning days at your house. No one wants their kids to be around a child who may know all the four-letter words because that’s all they’ve heard all their lives. I have even seen people shy away from my family because they don’t want their kids to “catch” whatever unknown disease the foster children might have

You see, bringing a child who is hurting into your home means that you have to get up several times in the night because that’s when the nightmares start. It means that you have to constantly be vigilant on watching them during the day because they don’t know to not leave with a stranger at Chick-Fil-A. Strangers are a part of their everyday life, and they’ll go with anyone who speaks kindly to them. Their love tank is running low, so they will hug anyone that will hug them back–even that strange man sitting on the bench outside of the gym. It’s about giving them a lot of love but not neglecting your own kids. It’s about having your kids share their toys but also not letting the foster child take advantage of their generosity.

One minute, you are in a normal routine with your own kids, and the next minute, your world is turned upside down as you try to figure out how to help a child, who desperately needs your love, fit into that routine. Suddenly, you have to throw your routine out the window and just strive at making it through the day. Some days are really, really good. And some days are really, really bad.

Currently, I have one who is having a full-blown meltdown. I don’t know why. This child can’t communicate well, so I am left floundering around to figure out what triggers are causing the temper tantrums. Is it sin, or is it insecurity, or is it misunderstanding, or is it fear, or is it anger? So many possibilities, and I feel like a new parent, who is struggling to understand the cries of this strange little person who has entered our home.

Foster care is messy, and it’s hard. But when I want to throw in the towel, I think about how Jesus rolled up His holy sleeves and dug right into the mess. He sat and ate with the worst of society (Mk. 2:15-17). He touched the unclean and healed them (Matt. 8:1-4). He opened His arms to the little children (Matt. 19:13-15).

In church last night, we heard from a team who traveled all the way to South Africa to help the children in the orphanage there. Our church is adopting that orphanage and partnering to help raise these children, who are losing their parents to AIDS. I cried as I saw the church helping the orphan, just as God commands us to do all throughout scripture (Deut. 14:28-29; Acts 20:35; Jer. 7:6; Job 29:12; Jas. 1:27). But there’s still work to be done.

We don’t need to go to the other side of the world to help the orphan. We need the church to get into the community and help the orphans who are here at home. We need to see people willing to foster. We need people willing to adopt. We need guardian ad litems, who will represent these children in court. We need social workers, who will stand with these children as they bring them out of terrible situations. We need families who will bring meals to the foster families, who will offer to babysit, who will drop off diapers and formula and car seats and clothing. We need churches to offer free child care and training for foster families. We need people who are willing to donate backpacks filled with necessities for these children who are pulled from their beds in the middle of the night.

Did you know that most of these kids enter foster care with only a garbage bag of clothes? Two little girls we had only came with one outfit between the two of them and one diaper. That’s it. Thankfully, Walmart is open 24 hours and has diapers and formula at 2 a.m.!

I have said this once, and I will say it over and over again until this number is zero. THERE ARE OVER 130 MILLION ORPHANS IN THE WORLD!!! They each have a name. They each have a story to share. If you know me personally, then you have met eleven of them (including my three adopted children). They have come and gone from our home, and I hope that we have filled up their love tanks while they were with us. I hope they will always hold in their hearts that they are loved–even if they can’t remember our names.

Please, won’t you pray with me about how you can get involved with caring for the orphan? If the Church continues to ignore their cries, I am afraid we will lose these children forever.

If you want to know more information about what you can do to obey God’s command to help the orphan, please feel free to reach out to me. There are so many ways to get involved! I’m happy to talk to you about what you can do!

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Out of the Storm

 

Photo courtesy of The Florida Times-Union

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice”–I Kings 19:11-13.

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture; and with all the natural disasters that have been hitting our country and other countries around the world, I have found this verse rolling around in my head over and over again. We certainly can imagine strong winds that break mountains as we watch the devastation caused by hurricanes. And we know the havoc that earthquakes can wreak, demolishing entire cities. And the West Coast certainly can attest to the destruction left behind by fire. It seems there is some sort of catastrophe happening everywhere!

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In 1 Kings 19, Elijah was dealing with his own catastrophes. He had fled from Jezebel and was seeking shelter in the desert. Frankly, he was hiding out. He was afraid of the queen, and he had taken his eyes off of his God. He was so depressed that he just wanted to die. But God was with him in his storm. He was with him in the desert, and He refused to let Elijah die.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God–I Kings 19:4-8.

Elijah was in the middle of an emotional storm. Anger, fear, sadness, and despair were swirling around inside of him. He felt alone. He felt that there was no one else like him. He would rather die. When God asked him what he was doing in the desert, this was Elijah’s reply:

He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away”–I Kings 19:14.

Have you ever felt that kind of despair? Have you ever felt that you are the only one? God loves you and will take care of you in your desert!

Maybe you are in the middle of a storm right now. Perhaps your spouse has left you, or your children are rebelling. Perhaps money issues are weighing you down, or your health is poor. Maybe you are being attacked by a friend or family member, and you don’t know why. So your emotions begin to whip around inside of you. They overtake you, drowning out all other voices, especially God’s.

The fire burns, and the winds howl, and the earth shakes. And then all is still. And when you are done with the storm, then God is waiting to answer you in “a still, small voice.” He is whispering your name and waiting for you, longing for you to tune out all other noise and listen to Him. For truly, He is with you.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you–Isa. 43:2.

For those in the paths of the fires or hurricanes right now, my family has been uplifting you in prayer each and every day. And if anyone has a prayer request to share, please feel free to leave it in the comments, so we can all be praying for you!

 

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Children’s Book Review of Bella Gets Rescued

Bella Gets Rescued

If you’re looking for a sweet book about animals to read to your children, then I want to recommend Bella Gets Rescued by Ellie Wakeman.

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a cat named Bella, who desperately needs to be rescued. However, Bella is unaware that she is even lost! As a loving family brings her home to love her, Bella struggles to accept her new environment and distrusts the family who cares for her and feeds her.

As Bella recalls her journey to finding her forever home, she sees realizes how she gradually grew to trust and love the family who was willing to rescue her and make her their own.

Ellie Wakeman based the story on her own beloved cat, Bella, whom she rescued. Using her pet’s story, Wakeman uses the imagery of being lost and then found to show how God the Father rescues us, even when we are so lost that we don’t even know we need to be found. The story can also be used to talk to kids about adoption, which you all know is very near and dear to my heart!

My kids loved the illustrations and enjoyed the story–even my nine-year-old! The illustrations are rich and beautiful and do an excellent job of carrying the story along. I would definitely recommend this book.

*This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review.

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Book Review: The Assault

The Assault

As an author, I appreciate when someone is willing to review my book, so I enjoy sharing what I am reading with all of you! Some books have been a let-down, but most of the time, I find authors who have a real talent at this writing gig.

The latest book I’ve been reading is the second cycle in the Harbinger series by Christian suspense writers, Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky. “The Assault” is their second novel that reads almost as a television series. Each author is given a character and writes a short novella from that character’s perspective. Together, they create a team of four unlikely characters, who join together to fight against the darkness in this world.

In “The Revealing,” Bill Myers writes from Brenda’s perspective. The rough-edged tattoo artist has an uncanny ability to draw the future. She doesn’t interpret the drawings; she just draws what she sees. When the team is asked to help an old acquaintance of the professor’s in Rome, Brenda begins to draw things that she hopes will not happen. Within minutes of arriving in Rome, the team already begins to feel that things are not as they seem. In fact, everything (including the very house they walk into) seems to change from one scene to another. Will the team be able to find reality and hold together as a team? And who is their benefactor?

In Frank Peretti’s “Infestation,” an unknown disease seems to be taking over the world. The professor knows what science says, but his doubts in supernatural beings is shaken to its core when he begins to see people losing their eyes and suddenly exploding. Will the team be able to find the source of the infestation before it takes one of their own?

In Angela Hunt’s “Infiltration,” Andi is in need of a vacation after the harrowing events she and the team had just experienced. But as the team begins to plan their next move at a beach house in her hometown, Andi begins to hear voices and struggles with nightmares. When she seeks help from a psychiatrist, he recommends hypnosis, but the results could be deadly. Will Andi ever regain her sanity, or will she literally lose her mind?

In Alton Gansky’s “The Fog,” Tank finds himself out of his league when the team is requested by an unknown benefactor to attend a high-profile party at a high-rise downtown. But the party is abruptly interrupted when what feels like an earthquake rocks the building. When Tank looks out the over the city to see the destruction, he instead sees a fog that is quickly rising and covering the city. But this fog is unlike any he has seen before, as are the creatures that seem to be swimming in it. When Tank realizes that the creatures have death on their minds, he realizes that he must make the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends. Will the team be able to help him in time?

While each of these stories could stand alone, together they make a unique series that draws on the strengths of each of these beloved authors. If you’re looking for a good Christian suspense, I highly recommend you try out this series!

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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The Great Eclipse of 2017

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If you were in the path of totality for the eclipse today, then you had a chance to see what I saw–God’s amazing creation at work. It was awe-inspiring to watch as the moon slowly passed in front of the sun, almost completely blocking it out from the earth. There were rumors that there would be chaos and that this could be the end of the world. Yet, all I saw was God’s majesty on display, and it made me contemplate this God Who set the sun in the sky and the moon and the stars and the planets. Who is this God Who created these amazing things, yet loves me so much that He sent His Son to die for me?

Lately, I have posted my concern over the darkness that is sweeping across our country, and I have searched for scriptures to reassure me of God’s goodness and purpose in all of these things. But today, I saw God in the eclipse, and I couldn’t help but compare what I saw to Who God is.

We were standing in the brightness of the sun, when darkness fell upon us. The darkness only lasted for about a minute and a half, but we were overcome by it. It overwhelmed us and amazed us and even scared us a little bit. But even in the darkness, there was light. The light was never truly extinguished (which is why we had to wear special glasses), and we could even see it shining around the edges of the darkness. Then, just like that, the sun was revealed again, and night became day once more.

The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up–Matt. 4:16.

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This world we are living in seems lost in darkness right now. And because we live in this moment, we are consumed by the darkness, overwhelmed by its power, and scared of its ability to swallow us. But the truth is that the Light hasn’t gone out. It’s seeping through and around the darkness, pushing away the darkness to shine its Light so brightly that we can’t even look upon it. Not yet anyway. But the darkness is just for a moment. Some day, we will be able to take off our “glasses” and look straight into the Light. And oh, what a glorious day that will be!

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known–I Cor. 13:12.

If what I’m saying here seems strange or confusing to you, please feel free to message me! I know the One Who created the heavens, and I would love to introduce you to Him!

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In a World of Fear: Think on These Things

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Glimpses of God’s love in our world

I don’t know about you, but this world is starting to get me down a little bit. As a mom of littles, it’s hard to not let my imagination run wild with fear for their future. Social media feeds on hate and violence, and the stories that fill my inbox allow darkness to seep into my heart and shatter my peace.

That’s what Satan wants. He wants us to sink into the darkness and forget about the Light. He wants us to be so overwhelmed with fear that we push away Love. He wants us to fear man, so we forget about the One Who made man.

So in these times when my heart is fearful and my thoughts are running wild, I turn to the One Who holds me in the palm of His hand, and I reflect on His Word.

Today, I want to point my thoughts there and maybe encourage some of you other moms as well by thinking on what God has to say in light of these troubling times.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things–Phil. 4:8.

1. Whatever is true…We know that there is evil in this world and that there has been evil since the world was created. But we also know the One Who created this world, and we need to set our sights on Who God is.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand–Is. 41:10.

The truth is that God allows suffering in this world because this world is not our home. While evil may prevail for a time, we know that God has the victory in the end.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ–I Cor. 15:57.

When we start getting too comfortable with our lives, we begin to forget that we have a job to do here on earth–to glorify God. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routines of going to work, dropping the kids off at school, going to the gym, attending ballgames or whatever extracurriculars your children are involved in, grocery shopping, paying bills… We forget that all of these things are just distractions from focusing our hearts on God. I’m guilty of it. In fact, if I’m honest with you, I have been praying lately that God would give me a passion for Him, a passion to dive deeper into His Word, a passion to be involved with the body of believers, a passion to step outside of my comfort zone and tell others about Him. Perhaps all of the chaos in the world is meant to drive us to that desire, to give us an urgency to reach the lost with the power of His Word, to show the world that the love of Christ is more powerful than any hate that can be shared. That’s the truth we need to remember.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”–Jn. 8:31-32.

2. Whatever is honorable…Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines honorable as “deserving of respect or high regard.” Currently, one of the main issues being fought over in our country is what is honorable–which group of people deserves honor, which monuments deserve honor, which government officials deserve honor. Who or what deserves “respect or high regard”? Who gets to decide the answer to that question? What was considered “honorable” when certain monuments were erected is now considered dishonorable by many. And one group of people feels they deserve honor over another, while a third group believes they should be honored. The back and forth between so many different groups of people makes me think of an exchange that Jesus had with two of His disciples–the brothers, James and John.

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Him and said to Him, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 And they said to Him, “Grant us to sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at My right hand or at My left is not Mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to Him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many”–Mk. 10:35-45.

The very One Who deserved honor, Jesus Christ, set aside His own glory to be a servant to all of us. That is what honor looks like. This is Someone Who deserves honor and glory. Yet, He came into this world as a baby, born to an unknown carpenter and his young, innocent bride, to grow up and be hated by his own siblings and rejected by the people in His own hometown.

He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as One from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not–Isa. 53:3.

When we find ourselves fearful of the events surrounding us, we can still turn our eyes to Jesus, Who loved us this much–to enter this world full of evil to give His life for you and me. Stop and think on that for awhile.

3. Whatever is just…Ah, justice. The war cry of the masses. “We want justice for how we have suffered.” “We deserve justice of the sins of your fathers.” “We want justice for all.” While the cry for justice sounds like a call to arms, we need to be careful about what we are calling just. Do I believe that there should be justice for people who have suffered? Absolutely! But before you accept the call, make sure that you are certain about what is just and fair. What is the right thing to do? Sometimes, it may not be what we want; but if it is right, then that’s what we should be fighting for.

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause–Isa. 1:17.

The problem with rallies is that they are not truly action. Like-minded people joining together to march and yell about what they consider just does not usually amount to much change. The first part of the verse in Isaiah says to “learn to do good.” If we truly want change to come about, if we truly want justice to happen, then we need to put action to our words. We need to get into our communities. We need to cross over to the other side of the street and shake hands with those who oppose our views. We need to build houses in our communities; we need to feed the homeless; we need to get involved with our youth; we need to foster; we need to adopt; we need to love more and yell less.

Rather than seeking revenge for what has happened to us, we need to seek to do good and to let God handle the rest.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”–Rom. 12:19.

God has been patient with us. He loves us and allows us to do as we want, even though we often turn away from Him. But there will be a day when He will exact justice for the evil in the world, and that is the day that we need to be preparing for. We can either turn back to Him, or we can continue to turn away. But one day, we will all stand before Him, either way.

4. Whatever is pure…None of us is pure. We all have sin in our lives that marks us for life as sinners. We can do nothing to get to heaven because everything we do is marred by our sin.

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away–Isa. 64:6.

 The good news is that God sent Someone Who is pure, Someone Who can save us from our sins–Jesus Christ.

Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you–I Pet. 1:18-20.

So while we can’t look on anything on this earth as pure, we can turn our eyes to look at Jesus, Who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn. 14:6).

5. Whatever is lovely…We are a generation that likes gruesome things. We love horror movies (not me personally, but most people do). The zombie, vampire, and werewolf industries are booming. Our children love to be scared. Most of the hit television shows are dark, sinister shows that focus on evil. We can even be caught up in the darkness that is spouted on our news channels. We have lost the ability to look for the things in this world that are lovely.

But God created this world (Gen. 1), and He created it to be good. There is loveliness in a baby’s laughter. There is loveliness in the change in seasons. There is loveliness in a solar eclipse that shows us the awesomeness of the universe our God created. There is loveliness when a sinner accepts Christ. There is loveliness in two people joining together in marriage. There is loveliness to be found in every place if we just learn to look for it.

He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord–Ps. 33:5.

6. Whatever is commendable…There is nothing to commend when people turn to each other with their fists raised and and their hearts filled with hate. There is nothing to commend when one group of people thinks of themselves as better than another. There is nothing to commend when crimes are committed–even in the name of “justice.” There is nothing to commend when the world is allowed to get out of control.

What is commendable?

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God–Micah 6:8.

There it is again. God wants us to do justice, but we are also to love kindness and walk with God. The point isn’t for us to seek revenge on one another. The point is to be kind to one another (Eph. 4:32) and to walk humbly with God. When we walk humbly with God, we suddenly find ourselves less important and the welfare of others to be more important. We are suddenly able to let our own injustices go and to seek the good of others. Only then can we love well–as Christ has loved us.

7. If there is any excellence…We live in a competitive world, where we seek to excel at everything we do. We want to be the best athlete, the best homemaker, the best executive, the best cook, the best mother, etc. And we want our kids to be the best speller, the best athlete, the best student, the best child, etc. We compete to be the best, but we are setting our sights on the wrong prize.

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God–Heb. 12:1-2.

God wants us to excel at the race He has set before us, so He provided a way for us to do that–His Son, Jesus Christ. We need to do our best in all things, but we need to excel at running the race of this life. When we set our eyes on the prize of an eternity in heaven, all the other non-essentials fall to the wayside.

8. If there is anything worthy of praise…Truly, there is only One Who is worthy of our praise–our Lord God. He is the One Who deserves glory and honor for all that He has done for us. We praise athletes, scientists, actors, artists, etc. But one day, we will know Who is worthy of praise, and we will all bow down before Him.

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable–Ps. 145:3.

I know this world is a scary place. It’s hard to not know what’s going to happen tomorrow. It’s difficult to try to love and protect our children in a world where hate abounds. But that’s when we need to focus on the One Who fulfills all of the above–One Who is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. When we fix our thoughts on Him, we can cast our fear aside because “no one will snatch [us] out of [His] hand (Jn. 10:28b).

So rest in peace tonight, Mama. The same God Who created this world has our future and our children’s futures already planned, and it is good to be loved by Him.

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Love Wins

 

I wish that I could say that I am surprised by the hateful events of this weekend. But to be quite honest, this is becoming an all-too-common part of our American life. I am disgusted by it, yet it exists in the very fabric of our culture. Adults no longer know how to civilly disagree with one another. Instead, they attack–unleashing fury on complete strangers who may just not agree with them.

Yesterday’s events were about race. But let’s be honest–hate is showing up in all shapes and sizes these days. Somehow, we have forgotten that we can disagree and still love one another.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God Whom he has not seen–I Jn. 4:20.

Honestly, in this day of social media, it’s easy to hide behind our computers and spew out hate against people we don’t even know. It may be about race or sexuality or religion or politics or breastfeeding or baby-wearing or organic eating or school choice or… What starts out as a simple point of view, preference, or belief becomes fodder for someone’s hateful and disgusting comments. We may not take action in events like the one this weekend that hurt a lot of people, but we aren’t afraid to bite, slap, and slander from the confines of our own home. We are outraged by events that spread hate but then create our own diatribe online.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear–Eph. 4:29.

We may sit in our pews on Sunday but spend the rest of the time proclaiming how right we are and how wrong someone else is. I see it every day in my newsfeed, and, sadly, many times, the hate is coming from the very Christians who were worshipping together earlier that day. It has to stop, and it starts with you. And it starts with me.

But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so–Jas. 3:8-10.

As Christians, we must call sin by its name. But in calling out sin, I think we have forgotten that we can hate the sin while still loving the sinner, which is who we are as well! Christ condemned the sin of the Pharisees and the prostitutes and the tax collectors. He called men to be his disciples who were some of the most despised of society. He redeemed them, just as He does you and me! And He loved them well.

 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them”–Lk. 15:2.

We don’t have to agree on everything to break bread together. We can be adults and agree to disagree. There is no shame in loving others well. But there is shame to be had when we allow our disagreements to fester into hate and violence.

Let’s be honest–we do notice the outward appearance of one another. We notice the things that make us different–whether it’s skin color, hair color, piercings, tattoos, clothing, weight, height, etc. To say that we don’t notice those things would be a lie. What we need to say is that we aren’t going to concern ourselves with those things. We need to worry about the heart, specifically our own hearts. How are we treating one another?

When violence erupts from hateful rallies, what can we say? We feed the hate by our own response. We egg the hate on when we don’t respond with love.

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law–Rom. 13:8-10.

I am stunned and sickened by the events of this weekend, just as I am stunned and sickened by the hate that causes wars around the world that leave children as orphans or that makes profit from sex trading young girls and boys or that allows the raping of women. I am stunned and sickened by the hate that allows us to stop seeing each other as people and helps us to act like animals instead.

So what can we do? If we truly want love to win, then we need to do all we can to promote love. We need to allow diversity around our dining room table. We need to listen to people of all walks of life and actually hear their story. We need to guard our tongues and “let [our] speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that [we] may know how [we] ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:6). We need to stop worrying about being right and start worrying about defeating hate. Together.

My church’s motto is “the Gospel changes everything.” The Gospel can change hearts filled with hate and fill them with love instead. The Gospel can take a worthless sinner like me and fulfill God’s purpose for the world. The Gospel can take what man means for evil and turn it around for good.

As we process the acts of violence that happened in our country this weekend, let’s follow God’s example for us:

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another–I Jn. 4:11.

P.S. Love wins in the end.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love–I Cor. 13:13.

 

   

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