Category Archives: American Life

You’re Crazy to Live Down There!

IMG_0190People tell me this, especially when a hurricane is coming. Folks north of us watch the weather and think we’re all nuts for living here. The Weather Channel has the entire state of Florida breaking off, floating out to sea and everyone dead by Monday.

You have to remember the weather people in Florida love hurricanes. They wake up excited because they actually have something to report besides, “Well, it’s another sunny day in Orlando. Highs will be in the 80’s and lows in the 60’s. Great day to go to the beach. Tomorrow too. And the day after that. And the one after that. And next month. And for the next year..” (Yawn).

Hurricanes need to be taken seriously of course. They’re dangerous, and Irma barreling down on us as I write this, is nothing to laugh at. But every place has something. Fires in the mid-west and northeast. Earthquakes and mudslides in California. Tornados in the plains. Blizzards up north. The planet seems bent on keeping us on our toes.

We grew up in upstate NY. The remnants of Hurricane Agnes came through in 1972 when I was 17 years old. Torrential rain fell for days and the Chemung River overflowed it’s banks. Half of my home town was destroyed in that flood. Proof you don’t need a tropical climate to be in danger.

Other than the four years we lived in Portland, Oregon, where it was gloomy and rainy, like a London fog, from fall till spring, we spent many years in New England. Mostly New Hampshire with a short stint in Maine. I loved New England. It’s a great place to raise a family, beautiful mountains, lush landscapes, quaint towns, awesome people and of course, Autumn, when the leaves put on their color show and apples are pulled right off the trees, juicy and sweet.

But then comes winter to ruin everything! I froze my tush off nine months out of twelve, shoveled snow and chopped ice until my back hurt and fingers were numb. Bought truckloads in rock salt and sand so I could walk outside without slipping on a patch of ice and cracking my head open, then spent the other half of the winter sweeping the same salt and sand out of my house and garage.

I’d go grocery shopping on a January day and get shopping cart wheels stuck in six inches of slush. And holding that icicle cold nozzle while pumping gas sent waves of pain all the way up my arm to my eyebrows. It’s like a brain freeze for your upper body. Some winter days I’d open the front door and a blast of demonic cold air sucked the breath right out of my lungs and pinched my nostrils together until they defrosted thirty minutes later.

Then there was the constant pile of snowy boots, mittens, coats, scarves and snowsuits dripping by the kitchen door. It smelled like a wet dog died in the house and someone forgot to bury him.

And don’t even mention the snow banks so high I could barely see my neighbor’s house across the street. Or, yeah, the ice storms, coating the world in a winter wonderland of treachery and taking the power down with it, so I wore three layers of clothes under six blankets and refused to get out of bed until someone turned the heat back on, days later.

Last year 450 car crashes happen because of ice and snow conditions just in Minnesota. Sixteen people died in a March, 2017 winter blast that extended from the northernmost midwest states to the northeast states. It was so cold in December 2013 and January 2014, 33 people died and it cost 5 billion dollars in damages.

Is there any perfect place to live? Maybe we’re all crazy to live anywhere!

Irma will be my sixth hurricane since moving to Florida, seventeen years ago, and I’ve been calling myself a Florida wimp for quit some time now. Hmmm….hurricanes, snakes, gators, creepy crawling critters, fire ants and humidity so high in the summer, it makes you sweat just looking outside from your air conditioned window? Maybe wimps don’t live down here. Maybe we’re a tougher bunch than we think. Maybe Florida ain’t for sissies after all.

What I do know is while my friends up north are shivering and shoveling, in a few months, I’ll be sitting on the pool deck having breakfast and picking fresh veggies out my garden.

Guess we all get to pick what we’ll put up with in this life. As for me, if it’s my time to exit, I’d rather blow away warm and shouting “Glory!” in a hurricane than freeze to death, shivering in a snow bank. If that makes me crazy, then I guess I am.

Gotta’ go toughen up some more, so I’ll talk to you all soon. On the other side of Irma.

https://weather.com/storms/winter/news/winter-storm-season-so-far-january-2017
https://weather.com/storms/winter/news/snow-winter-storm-stella-news-updates
https://www.scribd.com/mobile/document/201347851/2013-2014-North-American-Cold-Wave

The New ‘Hater’ Speech

I have a fascination with words and how they evolve over time, how culture redefines them. Lately, as I scroll social media, read articles and hear news, the latest descriptive word is ‘Hater’.

IMG_0180“Your a Hater!”
“They’re Haters!”
“The Haters are here!”
“He/she’s a Hater troll!”
“Ignore the Haters!”

Here a Hater, there a Hater, everywhere a Hater, Hater!

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of hate is – a very strong feeling of dislike, intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury, extreme dislike or disgust : antipathy, loathing, to express or feel extreme enmity or active hostility.

Is it possible those who call other’s a ‘Hater’ aren’t themselves being one, just by this definition? I don’t know, but it’s something to think on.

It seems to me, the new cultural definition of the word Hate is – you disagree with me/us/them, therefore you hate. Have we really become this thin skinned and easily offended? It is possible to disagree with another’s opinion, beliefs or position and not hate them? I disagreed with my husband a few days ago, and last week and probably last month and probably last year and I still love him. Imagine that!

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of the word disagree – to have a different opinion, to fail to agree, to be different, to not be suitable for or pleasing to someone. Something/someone being different, not suitable or pleasing does not constitute hate, unless we choose to make it so.

There are some valid haters in the world. Obviously. There always has been. But when we start labeling everyone who doesn’t see things our way as a ‘Hater’, when we silence opposing views by mud slinging and name calling or worse, free speech, free thought and healthy debate are diminished if not extinguished. No compromise can be reached and no problem can be solved.

Unity is not uniformity. Unity in it’s simplest terms means we all desire the common good for ourselves, family, community, nation and world. How we get there is always up for debate. But we’ll never get anywhere if we can’t even talk about it.

Let’s put the ‘Hater’ speech aside and listen to each other. Try to see issues from another’s perspective. Then think on it, pray on it and be compassionate in our convictions.

Speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) does not include labeling and name calling. And if you disagree with me here, you are not a ‘Hater’. Just sayin’.

 

Romans 12:14-18. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

The Myth of Assumptions

ASSUMPTION: a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof,

Or the Categorizing of People We Don’t Know, Under Labels:file

 

Myth- All people with Down syndrome are always sweet and happy.

Fact- I live with one who isn’t always sweet or happy and know of several others who cry a lot.

Myth- All Puerto Ricans love rice and beans.

Fact- I know one who could care about rice and beans. In fact, I’m a white Yankee from New England and I love rice and beans.

Myth- All black people are thugs and takers.

Fact- I have a lot of wonderful black friends who are hard working, loving and giving citizens.

Myth- All Mexicans are illegal.

Fact- I know people of Mexican descent who are awesome legal Americans.

Myth- All Moslems are terrorists.

Fact- I know of several Moslems that are just as concerned about terrorism as I am.

Myth- All white people hate…anyone else…who isn’t white.

Fact- The white people I know don’t hate anyone. If God made you purple with pink stripes or green with yellow dots, I’d still like you.

Myth- All people living in the south are racist, redneck, hicks.

Fact- Been living in Florida sixteen years, if this is true I sure know a whole lot of really nice non-racist, redneck, hicks.

Myth- All people who disagree with my opinion, lifestyle, and behavior are haters.

Fact- I’ve been married for four decades to a man I sometimes disagree with. We don’t hate each other. Ever.

Myth- All cops are racist murderers.

Fact- I have police friends who pray they never have to draw a gun on anyone and want to go home to their family at the end of each day, like the rest of us.

Myth- All Pentecostals swing from chandeliers.

Fact- I’ve been in Pentecostal/Charismatic type churches most of my life and have never seen anyone swing from a chandelier. In fact I’ve never been in a church building that had chandeliers to swing from.

Myth- All pastors are after your money.

Fact- I’ve been married to a hard working pastor for four decades. He’s never been after anyone’s money, not even mine.

Myth- All Clinton supporters are left wing, communist liberals.

Fact- I know people who supported Hillary and they aren’t communists. They had their own well thought out reasons for wanting her as President.

Myth- All Trump supporters are right wing, racist, homophobic, narrow minded, bigots.

Fact- I know people who supported Trump and they aren’t any of those things. They had logical, personal reasons for wanting him as our nation’s leader.

Myth- God only likes Democrats/Republicans/Libertarians (pick one).

Fact- “God so loved the world…” He didn’t pick and choose. He didn’t die for Trump supporters over Clinton voters. He didn’t die for Pentecostals more than Catholics. He doesn’t love white people more than black or Moslems less than Americans. Jesus came and loved on sinners, publicans, religious leaders, prostitutes, big mouths, crooks, fishermen, soldiers, sick, broken, tired, and messed up people. He loved and died FOR ALL.

So, how about WE THE PEOPLE put away ‘childish things’; end the bullying, name calling, mudslinging (even though our politicians won’t), the kicking, screaming, whining and temper fits because we didn’t get what we wanted and get to the business of making our home, church, neighborhood, community, state and country a better place.

Jesus calls us to a higher standard, “But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell” Matthew 5:22.

Can we be mature adults? Stop labeling? Stop categorizing? Stop forcing our agenda on others? Stop believing everyone is our enemy because their opinion, their politics, their social status, their..whatever… is different from our own?img_0885How about we invite that ‘opposing person’ out for coffee or lunch? Sit and really listen to another perspective with an open heart, instead of an angry reply. Honor her/him because God cares about her/him and value her/him for who she/he is instead of tripping over what we want them to be. Give someone a chance when we don’t think they deserve it, because we’d like the same courtesy extended to us.

WE THE PEOPLE can end the division among us and we don’t need a President to tell us how to do that! Let’s freely give others the benefit of a doubt and release all assumptions.

Jesus is our example. We can choose to take up our cross and follow Him. Then the world will know we are His, not by our agreement, but by our love.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I stopped those childish ways.”

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”

John 13: 34 “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

Matthew 5:43-45 ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

Staying Home Instead

fourth-of-july-fireworks-It’s July 4th. Independence Day. The great American holiday.

People are celebrating the founding of our nation by going to the park, the lake, the beach, to a cookout with friends, a get together with family, or to a fireworks display.

Before or after a holiday the common question is, “What are you doing/did you do for the holiday?”

My answer is always the same. “Depends on Jon.” or, “Stayed home with Jon.”

We’re often invited to something, somewhere by someone on these special occasions. It’s not that friends purposely leave us out. “Oh just bring Jon with you,” they say.

And it’s not that we don’t want to go, we just never make it. Jon doesn’t care about being on time or if it’s July 4th.  He doesn’t like crowds or fireworks. Last night, as the neighbors set fireworks off all around us, he stayed in his room yelling, “Shut Up!” over and over again at the outdoors.

So others go and we stay home, learning how to celebrate without joining the masses of those ‘going’ and ‘doing’.

Because of this, I appreciate the true meaning of holidays in ways I never use to. Limits force what is taken for granted, to a place of greater meaning.

Today has been a day of simplicity. I’ve looked up some ‘reminding myself’ history on the founding of our nation and listened to several renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner” on YouTube.

We fertilized and watered all our plants then, surrounded by their colorful beauty, cooled off by floating in the pool for a while,

We broke away from our mostly plant food eating plan to celebrate in proper, God Bless the USA, style. Mike went to the store to look for no nitrate, no msg, no hormone, all beef hot dogs (hot dogs and rolls taste so much better when you hardly ever eat them!) and devoured them with corn on the cob and watermelon.

Americans are often bored and dissatisfied unless something monumental is going on. I know. I was one of those. Once.

Going. Always going. Doing. Always doing. Restless. Wanting. Miserable.

Be careful of a mindset that says we must constantly do huge, exciting things to enjoy life.

It’s not true. Don’t fall for the lie.

Most of us have a lot of what we want and everything we need, so be thankful in the still and overlooked moments and, in spite of our troubles and problems, the blessing of living in the greatest nation on planet Earth.

If you’re out somewhere celebrating our American Independence today, enjoy. But don’t forget to take time to remember what you’re celebrating. And don’t forget to explain it to your children so they can develop a sense of significance and appreciation for the day. If the meaning behind this day is important to you it will be important to them as well.

The gift of freedom should never be undervalued nor should learning the art of contentment in going or staying, being or doing, having or wanting.

Don’t live out of the constant dissatisfaction of What Is Not. Instead discover the joy and fulfillment of living in What Is.

Right here.

And right now.

 

 

 

 

 

Should All People With Developmental Disabilities Be Free to Make Their Own Choices?

UN-convention-disability-12.5.12“People with even the most severe disabilities have the right to make their own decisions, no matter if their choices are risky or ultimately turn out to be mistakes, a United Nations panel says in new guidelines to nations.”

Read about it here; another bureaucratic idea that looks great on paper (especially one with such vague language it can be interpreted a zillion ways) but won’t work in reality.

Here are a few reasons why:

1. I believe everyone should have freedom of choice and some developmentally disabled folks are quite capable of making good choices on their own. Guardianship is still an important safeguard for those who can not. Such a loose policy that attempts to place everyone in the same category is foolish if not dangerous.

If Jon was allowed to make all his own choices he would never take his meds, shower or change his clothes, get a haircut, go to the doctor or dentist. He would most likely wander off down the street never to be seen again.

2. Someone has to pay for those choices. Who? The UN? Government budgets, both federal and state are tight. Wait lists are long. “Nationally, almost 317,000 people remain on waiting lists for home and community-based services…based on data from 2012, the most recent year available.”

Even those who receive disability funding usually can’t afford costly housing and other expenses for their disabled family member. Money and services are limited depending on geography and families are often one income earners or struggling single parents because someone has to be at home for the caregiving.

3. Are all parents and caregivers devoted and loving? A small percentage may not be, but these loosely worded conventions can be a slippery slope that eventually steamroll families and caregivers who most love and best know those they care for.

Someone in a far away office, creating regulations about our children’s lives and ultimately our own lives doesn’t sit well with most. I can’t help but wonder who the ‘supporting decision makers’ would eventually be.

4. “Article 12 of the Convention affirms that all persons with disabilities have full legal capacity.” It’s not clear if this translates to persons with limited mental function who commit a crime being tried as any other adult? Will no special consideration be afforded those with diminished understanding? I doubt anyone wants our over burdened prison system to become the new residential facility for the disabled who break the law.

The United States signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as did hundreds of other countries, but so far has been unsuccessful in ratifying it.

So many blanket statements and one-size-fits-all propositions exist in this treaty, I would hope Congress and The Senate would review it with common sense reservation and revision, demanding specific definition of terms and then consider if it needs to be ratified at all. 

There’s certainly a great need for improvements in servicing our disabled population but shouldn’t it be done on state, local and national levels instead of by international regulation? For those of us who believe in the sovereignty of the United States, and all other nations, the answer should be clear.

 

 

Is Hate Speech Free Speech?

You may have heard about the grandmother in Canada who received a disturbing letter from an anonymous neighbor in regard to her grandson.

It was all over the news and internet a few weeks ago.

Max, has autism and spends summers with his grandmother while his mother works. The disgusting words this neighbor wrote about him barely warrant repeating, but the computer typed rant informed grandma that the boy was a nuisance to the neighborhood and he should be euthanized and his non-retarded body parts donated to science!

I read about it with anger and disbelief. Just about the time I think we’re making some headway with some of our human maladies, I’m surprised to discover there are still people like this in the world.

Of course, the disability community went nuts over this, as they should, as we all should.

Websites and Facebook pages began calling for support for this family and there has been a massive outpouring of outrage from all over the globe.

Online petitions demanding justice, for what many call a hate crime, have sprung up with some supporting the arrest and imprisonment of this letter writing neighbor. Others are demanding laws be put in place to stop this type of hate speech.

Canada’s Human Rights Act and Criminal Code passed laws prohibiting ‘hate propaganda’ some time ago but parliament repealed a section of the law this year because of the inability to draw distinct lines between what constitutes hate speech and what is only offensive.

While legislators wrangle over how to define hate speech and turn it into a crime, it is evident that laws against it create a slippery slope that ultimately risks everyone’s freedom of expression.  first-amendment

We who live in freedom loving nations, are still blessed to say whatever we want without fear of imprisonment, which means we sometimes have to put up with people who are rude, cruel or just plain stupid. 

I opt for that over loosing the ability to voice our opinions and beliefs just because they are viewed as offensive or yes, even dangerous.

If you read my previous blogpost, “Tolerating Intolerance,” http://aplacecalledspecial.com/2013/07/02/tolerating-intolerance/  you will already know where I’m going with this.

As much as I believe this neighbor’s letter is despicable, I refuse to sign a petition calling for this person’s arrest. I love my free speech more than the satisfaction of knowing this person’s sorry attitude is sitting in a jail cell.

He/she has the right to say whatever and the responsibility to choose words carefully. Obviously the responsibility part is ignored.

Jesus taught us to, ” Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28), and the Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 4:29 admonishes, “Let no corrupt 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.”

As much as we’d like to, we cannot control what other people think or say but we best be in charge of our own thoughts, words and responses.

We have an obligation to stand up in the face of injustice, but our response as Christ followers should be with wisdom and include prayer, kindness, encouragement and grace – for all. In a situation like this one that is not easy.

Max’s mom must have this figured out. Her reaction to this vicious verbal attack on her son, is, I will not stoop to an insulting level. What I have to say is about tolerance, acceptance and respect for kids with special needs.

Good for her! She’s taking the high road.

But then she has a child who has probably taught her a lot about that.

So I’d expect nothing less.

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/19/karla-begley-autistic-letter-teen_n_3780378.html

Tolerating Intolerance


A recent article in a disability newsletter I subscribe to states that the social networking site, Facebook, has problems with “pages featuring questionable content and misappropriated photos of those with disabilities.”  The company promises to do more to control this type of offensive and bullying behavior. (See link below).

I’m not sure it can. People still have the right to be thoughtless and rude if they choose. Human thought and speech, is hard to control without creating burdensome laws, rules and regulations for everyone.

I’m someone who’s tuned in to the offensiveness of actions and words. I have a developmentally disabled adult son who has been and still is the brunt of other people’s disrespect on occasion and I’m also a pastor’s wife. Over my lifetime, I’ve experienced enough crazy human behavior and offensive words from those two situations alone, to fill a volume of books.

We have more ways than ever before to be heard, yet our freedom to speak is under attack now more than any other time in recent history. The war of words rages on in America.

There is a great conflict arising in our post modern culture over what constitutes intolerance and how to legislate it. On one side of the issue, our priceless First Amendment protects our freedom to speak our mind. On the other side we have an emerging attitude that anything anyone deems offensive becomes “hate speech” or “racist” and should be banned.

One thing I’ve figured out; what one person might consider a free-to-express opinion, another may judge offensive, even hateful. There is no way to force everyone to see eye to eye, be nice or think the same way. We can’t control it all, not without becoming a totalitarian state.

Tolerance is defined in my 1976 edition of Webster’s Dictionary as: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own, the act of allowing something. 

The definition has not changed in the most recent edition. It’s quite clear, from this definition, we don’t have to agree with an opinion or difference to ‘allow’ it and that creates the new problem in our current culture. Obviously we need to regulate immoral and illegal behavior in a free and civil society but when disagreement is construed as intolerance; that is a dangerous road to walk down.

The new tolerance says we all must pat each other on the head, believe, feel and do exactly as “I or you don’t like me.” Is it not good enough to make allowances for each other anymore?

We all have issues we believe strongly and things we don’t tolerate well, but quite frankly, I’m tired of the labels we put on each other when there is conflict. Someone who doesn’t agree with a lifestyle is considered a hatemonger. Another person who believes in God, guns and the Constitution is considered a right wing radical. Other’s who think we all should live and let live are construed as left wing liberals. One group’s beliefs and opinion are perceived as suspect and dangerous if they differ from another.

If certain words are spoken, political correctness moves in to make sure there is just punishment. Journalists are fired, and cooks are removed from TV shows; then there’s the double standard of one group calling each other words that are suddenly offensive if another group uses it. Words that used to mean one thing have evolved into something else, so they aren’t usable anymore or they have come to define people in a way they were never meant to. It’s a crazy game of Scrabble!

Meanwhile, this patriotic baby boomer is standing here scratching her head, wondering what’s happening to First Amendment rights in my great country. There are days I don’t agree with my own husband, for goodness sake, and I still sleep next to him at night and I don’t call him names. We either work it out or agree to disagree – agreeably! That’s how we’ve managed to stay married for thirty eight years.

I’m not accountable for the words others say, but I do have a responsibility to speak the truth with grace and be a keeper of my own words. James 3:1-9 gives a sobering picture of our speech and paints the tongue as set on fire from hell, restless, evil, full of deadly poison and unable to be tamed. The Psalmist in chapter 141:3 asks God to, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” I desperately need God’s help with this, because like most of us, I have difficulty doing it on my own.

I also get to choose to NOT be offended by everything others say, believe or live that disagrees with my point of view and convictions. I get to give another space to be who they are and allow God to fix them if necessary and hope they will do the same for me. I also get to state my opinion and listen to another, even if we don’t meet on every point.

Those who believe in the truth and authority of God’s word, understand there are teachings in its pages that are clearly intolerant of certain ideals and conduct. We are not required to give consent to everything and everyone but we are required to show love and respect to all, while defending what we believe.

America, we can’t have it both ways. We can’t preach free speech and then despise people for using it and we can’t preach tolerance while being intolerant to those who disagree with us.

But not to worry, I’ll still like you even if you disagree with everything I just said.

1 Peter 3:8-11Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.  Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.  For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;  let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.

 

Heart Attack!

A few days following the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting, I went to the post office to mail a CD and buy a book of stamps.  As I  placed my small, bubble wrap lined, mail envelope on the counter, the clerk asked the usual,  “Does your package contain anything liquid, perishable, fragile or potentially hazardous?”

“No,” I smiled, ” it’s just a CD. Nothing dangerous in there.”

By his demeanor, I could tell the guy was in a grumpy mood, but it was his response that revealed how troubled he was about the recent tragedy. 

 “We’ll you never know now days. Could be instructions on how to build a bomb or take out a theater full of people on a DVD.”

“I suppose that’s possible, but I don’t know much about guns and nothing about bombs. This is just a Microsoft program for a friend’s computer,” I assured him.

He weighed the envelope, “It seems like people can take each other out with anything if their mind is set on it, guns, bombs, razor blades, it doesn’t matter.I don’t know what’s wrong with people anymore. There’s gotta’ be something that can be done about it”

He stamped the postage on the envelope so hard I hoped he didn’t break the CD inside. 

“There is, ” I said as he pulled a book of stamps from underneath the counter. He stopped midway, staring at me, waiting for me to continue. “This isn’t a gun or bomb problem, this is a heart problem.”

His gaze changed from curiosity to perplexity and I went on, “The only thing that can really fix a person is a heart change and the only one who can change a person’s heart is Jesus.” 

Immediately his expression went dark and the conversation shut down like an off switch had just been tripped. He shoved the stamps toward me, grabbed my money and slapped the change with a bang back on the counter, then turned around and walked away. There was no, ‘Can I get you anything else today?’ or ‘Have a nice day, Ma’am.” None of that for me!

I left there with a greater realization of how offensive Jesus is to some. He is not always the answer people want to hear. Though the existence of sin in the world requires the rule of law for maintaining justice, controlling outward behavior with more rules and regulations rarely gets to the root of our dilemma. That’s like putting a bandaid on a tumor. Jesus dealt with this problem constantly during his earthly ministry. He never danced around the perimeter of an issue but always went right to the heart of dealing with our brokenness.

Anytime our country is overrun by the wicked plans of men, media pundits and government officials want to guarantee us that it will never happen again. I don’t believe that’s possible. Jeremiah 17:9 says, ” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  A person’s actions display what is in his heart, whether good or evil. Proverbs 23:7 states, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Our nation is having one ‘heart’ attack after another and emergency intervention is desperately needed. We are under attack by people whose hearts have been overtaken by great darkness.  Other tragedies, the senseless slaughter of little children in a Connecticut school and the recent bombing of innocent bystanders at the Boston Marathon, give credence to that fact. 

The price of man’s sin is always death (Romans 6:23) but God gave all of us a way out in the gift of His son, Jesus, and has set us into this historical time to be light in the midst of darkness.  So what can we do? 

~We must be certain our own heart is right before God. Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me..”

~We must know God’s word in order to stand firmly in times of despair, doubt and temptation. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

~We must pray continuously for our nation, state, leaders, churches, family, friends and not give up. Luke 18:1 “…men ought always to pray and not to faint [lose hope].”  We must also pray for our enemies even though it is not easy to do. Matthew 5:43-44  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,”

~We must overcome fear of current events with a sound mind and the power of love.  2Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

~We must be ambassadors of Christ’s love one person at a time, living the Good News of the Gospel within our world of influence. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3,”You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, recognized and read by everyone. It is clear that you are Christ’s letter..not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God—not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh.”

Counter attack the forces of evil with a heart full of Jesus, love and truth and give our nation a heart attack that will do it some good.

Luke 24:46-47 ‘[Jesus] said to them, “This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations..’