How to Win the War

The enemy is not a race of people. The enemy is not a religion. The enemy is not an ethnic group, a nationality, the government, a political party, a football team, or species of dog. The enemy is the evil one, his minions, and people who have bought into his propaganda.

When you hate, fear, get discouraged, doubt, study and/or spread propaganda about conspiracies you are giving your power to the evil one.

The only way to fight and resist the evil one is to strengthen your connection to God and to focus on Him constantly.

Do what you must to reconcile yourself to God; rid yourself of issues that block your ability to be close to God.  Purge yourself of resentments, insults and injuries, memories, abuses, diagnoses, and negative, limiting labels.

Forgive yourself and others.  Clean your slate, clear your plate, and unblock your spiritual connection to God.  If anything comes up, give it to Jesus in His Name and with the Blood of the Lamb.

Re-read “Don’t Hate. Just Don’t.”

Practice the Presence of God.  Re-read the piece on the teaching of Brother Lawrence on how to Practice the Presence of God….and do what it says.

Dwell on what is good and pure.

Strengthen your faith.

If you find yourself fearful, angry, discouraged, confused, doubting, or dwelling on past issues, give them to Jesus and go back to Practicing the Presence of God.

The battle is a spiritual one.  The evil one’s power is Spiritual.  Our defense must be Spiritual.  Giving in to negative thoughts and feelings gives him power.  Dwelling on God takes power away from the evil one.

Amassing weapons will not protect you.  Stockpiling food will not protect you.  Focusing on propaganda, conspiracies, and terrorist activities will increase your fear, stress, discouragement, anger, and a tendency to hate.  Crush the evil one by focusing your energy…your thoughts and intentions on God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Purity, trust, faith, obedience, humility, reverence…these attitude, practices, and postures protect you.

Spending your time and energy trying to be ‘wise, informed, shrewd, and prepared’ positions your heart too close to responding with anger, hate, and fear.  Don’t go there.  Align yourself with True Power:  Almighty God, His Son, and His Holy Spirit.

Trust.  Believe.  Have faith.  Be faithful.  Fight for the Good Side by giving your energy to, and getting your energy from, God.

May God bless you.  And to God be the Glory.

(Addendum, six or seven hours later:  Do not let the confident tone of this post mislead you; what I am recommending here is HARD.  Within minutes after posting this message, I began receiving news of disasters with my family members, friends, business partners, acquaintances, and fellow bloggers.  I responded with the expected anger, discouragement, and disappointment in my own lack of strength and resolve.  But I realize now that our success is not what is required but our persistence….our resolve.  I just told a friend that every time I fail to do what I have recommended here and stop and pick myself back up, hand my failures over to Jesus, and turn again to God, I give another slap to the face of the evil one, or as Brother Lawrence says, crush his head.  Every time.  A slap is a slap.  A crush is a crush…every time.  Don’t lose heart.  Keep it up.  Give it to Jesus and turn back to God.  A slap is a slap.  Thanks be to God.  Pray for me; I’ll pray for you.  We can do this.)

Don’t Hate…Just Don’t

The opposite of Hate is not tolerance.  I’m not even going to suggest the opposite of Hate is Love.  The opposite of Hate is an appropriate response that does the opposite of playing into the hands of the perpetrator and/or the evil one.  The family members who forgave and asked God’s forgiveness for the one who murdered the nine blessed church members last summer, did the opposite of Hate…and gave no power to the man’s cause and no power to the evil one.  And THAT is how it is done.

That situation was complex and not all family members bought into the Amazing Grace expressed in that courtroom and that is Fine and totally understandable.

An appropriate response to expressions and actions of evil can take many forms but does this one thing: it weakens the influence of evil.  Hope, faith, optimism, perseverance, kindness, gratitude, forgiveness, telling the truth, resolute conviction that Christ Won the battle on the Cross and Nothing can change that.  Nothing.

I would have a T-shirt that says “Love…Just Love” but the word “Love” is difficult to define; it is nebulous and covers a lot of expressions and actions.  But, you know Hate when you see it.  Hate has a smell.

Don’t Hate…just don’t go there.  Keep your mind on the good: think about the strong response of Christians and non-Christians alike…everywhere…who are showing compassion to the families of the ones who were killed.  If your emotions are over-powering, shift them to righteous indignation and rail against the evil one but do it in the Name of Christ and with the power of His blood.  No rancor.  Bless persecuted people, everywhere.  No spitting hate.  Praise the Almighty.  No condemnation.  Sing Hymns.  Don’t despair.  Hope in Life Everlasting.

I never thought I would praise ‘the media’ but when the media refuses to publicize actions performed to gain attention, they are doing the correct thing.  Do likewise.  Do not give your energy to evil.  Shift your reactions away from a negative response to a positive one…somewhere.

The bottom line:  the evil one wants us to hate, wants us to despair, wants us to be fearful and disheartened.  Do not give him the satisfaction.  Jesus Is Victorious.  He is With you.  The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say and the words to pray.  God is In Control.

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.

 

I bought the T-Shirt.  No, I really did.  I ordered two purple T-shirts with the words “Don’t Hate” on the front, and “Just Don’t” on the back.  I gave the second one to an engineering student who works at the Mall and is getting his degree at Clemson University.  If you are interested in getting a T-shirt like it, I ordered mine from Spreadshirt.

Pockets of Grace

Finding Grace in Moments of God’s Love

The priest at St. George’s this morning brought up two very timely points…timely for me as well as for some loved ones; he pointed out that we Christians tend to dwell on our failings and work ourselves over with feelings of unworthiness.  (Moi?)  He also pointed out that we should focus on the moments of God’s love, which I am calling Pockets of Grace.

The New Testament reading, this morning, was from the book of Acts, the story of the frightened jailer who feared severe punishment for allowing his prisoners, Paul and Silas, to escape.  The jailer was poised to commit suicide when Paul cried out from the darkness, “Do not harm yourself, for we are here.”  The jailer was so overwhelmed with gratitude and impressed with their grace, he immediately asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

I will not divulge the details because it involves someone’s personal life, but I am helping a loved one who is overcome with guilt because of his inability to do what he feels he must…what he feels would be expected of him…but he cannot live up to his own expectations due to physical limitations and illness.  He is overcome with shame, feelings of failure, and self-judgement.  I related to him the story of Paul, Silas, and the Jailer.  I told him to close his eyes, get an image of Jesus, put all of his issues into a bucket and lay it at the feet of Jesus…and to not pick it up again.  Then I related that life is hard and his inability to do what he expected of himself was unreasonable and that his situation and limits are fully understood by everyone involved; Jesus did not want him to feel bad about himself:  “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”

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This morning we sang a hymn that relates (so much better than I did last night) how the battle between good and evil is won:

Who is this that comes in glory,
with the trump of jubilee?
Lord of battles, God of armies,
he has gained the victory.
he who on the cross did suffer,
he who from the grave arose,
he has vanquished sin and Satan,
he by death has spoiled his foes.

He has vanquished sin and Satan.  (Hear that, Satan?  Hear that, those of you whose only power is in frightening and disheartening others?  Back Off.) †

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For the past few Sundays, I have been jolted by familiar and well-worn words from The Great Thanksgiving, part of The Holy Communion:

          …and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, You, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ

I will simply say, that describes the past 18 months of my life.

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Finally, during communion, St. George’s sings one of a handful of hymns; the one sung this morning I can not sing.  I don’t know why.  For some reason my voice, usually prominent, falters…it cracks, and I weep, deeply.  It is as if my soul were crying for someone; I just don’t know whom.  I have my suspicions, and a few people came to mind as I cried this morning, including the guilt-stricken soul I mentioned, above.

The shame is, I love the hymn.  I look forward to it and think, “this time I am going to nail it.”  And, I don’t…I can’t.  You know the hymn.  Here are the lyrics:

I am the bread of life
He who comes to me shall not hunger
He who believes in me shall not thirst
No one can come to me
Unless the father beckons
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up on the last day.

The bread that I will give
Is my flesh for the life of the world
And if you eat of this bread
You shall live forever
You shall live forever
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up on the last day.

Unless you eat
Of the flesh of the Son of Man
And drink of his blood,
And drink of his blood,
You shall not have life within you.
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up on the last day.

I am the resurrection, I am the life
If you believe in me
Even though you die
You shall live forever.
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up on the last day.

Yes, lord I believe
That you are the Christ
The son of God
Who has come into the world.
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up
And I will raise you up on the last day.

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After all this, I am spent…but resting in the Grace of God.

Thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.

and thank you, Diane.

[The image at the top is a photo of the four roses I got for Mother’s Day, one rose for each of my four children (two human, one canine, one feline.)]

Were You There…?

Yesterday was long and stressful.

I have been changing my name at the same time as changing my residence.  I should say, “chaaaaannnnging,” because it is taking sooooo looooong and that is causing problems:  I spent six hours yesterday between the DMV, the county auditor’s office, the county treasurer’s office, the DMV (again), the bank (for proof of residency), and back to the DMV, …but the day was not lost, and here is why…

On the way into the county auditor’s office, the neighboring First Baptist Church’s bells were playing a vaguely familiar tune.  Before I knew what I was doing, I was singing…out loud…in the ante-chamber of the county annex building (which has excellent acoustics, by the way)…

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh were you there when they crucified my Lord?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Well, were you there when God raised Him from the tomb?
Were you there when God raised Him from the tomb?
(Ohh, sometimes it causes me to tremble)
Tremble
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?

I sang loudly and I did not care who heard.  Actually, I DID care; I cared a great deal…so much so, that I sang louder and clearer, over and over…and was amazed at my ability to glide up to and hold the high notes.  If you know it, I recommend you sing it now.  (If you need help, try this youtube rendition )   It will do your heart good, if not bring tears to your eyes and may even send you to your knees.

(If you can, only listen to  this one…

…but I don’t recommend watching it…it hurts too much.)

I sang that song all day long, and it sustained me throughout the frustrations and complications.  What’s more, it put me in the mood to be bold and speak out to strangers and give them the address to my writings.

While sitting at a sidewalk table eating lunch, and listening to youtube recordings of the song, I was overcome with grief.  But then I realized that had Jesus not been crucified, He would not be with me now.  He would not be comforting me at that table, going out each morning with me and Stella to fill the bird feeders, watching Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth with me (which does make for an interesting dynamic…watching Jesus…with Jesus.)

Say what you will; believe what you will.  But the people I speak to are usually in agreement with me or change their countenance dramatically when the subject turns to kindness, love, understanding, and forgiveness.  People, ALL people, are tired of hate; they agree that you can not fight hate with hate.  They are in the mood to forgive; to look beyond color, circumstance, and affluence; and to think better of and be kinder to family members who are estranged or neighbors they have problems with.  They are ready for change…and welcome the opportunity to talk about it.  In the words of one young lady in the county auditor’s office, when I said I wrote about hatred and racism, she said, “I don’t usually read, but I NEED to read THAT.”

I was not there when they crucified my Lord.

But I am here, now…

… and so is He…

…thanks be to God and to God be the Glory.

(The image of First Baptist Church is borrowed from the internet)