Aimed at providing encouragement for individuals, especially Christians, going through the tragic experience of divorce. Some readers are the ones who are actually divorcing and so the intent is to help them find hope through the postings in the blog and access to the Finding God in the Seasons of Divorce book.
Sadly, once again, the
headlines are filled with reports of another shooting at a school by a young
man with malicious intent on doing harm to as many fellow youths as
possible.As many have already said, our
hearts and prayers go out to the families of the victims.
Questions arise once again:
How can anyone do something like that?
Why didn’t the FBI act on the information
Why didn’t someone catch this
and help prevent it?(as, I understand,
was done with a similar threat up in Washington state.)
How can we stop this madness?
When is enough enough?
Why doesn’t the government act?
Isn’t it time to get serious about gun laws
and shut down the trade on assault weapons?
It is another terrible
tragedy.The answers are not easy.Certainly it is true that if these kind of
individuals don’t have rapid fire weapons, they will be less able to commit
mass murder as quickly.Would outlawing
those weapons produce that result?That
seems doubtful to me, because murder is also outlawed, and the fact that it is
illegal has not hindered these individuals from making their attacks.While I may not object to efforts in that
direction, I don’t hold illusion that such laws would solve the problem.After all, there are laws against burglary,
yet my house was burglarized.There are
laws against sexual harassment, yet the headlines are filled with one
accusation after another.There are laws
against embezzlement, but how many have chosen to misappropriate the pension
funds of others?Passing a law does not
stop the behaviors.It may hinder
them.It may allow for punishment of
But it cannot solve the
Others cry out for mental
health monitoring, with the belief that the problems these individuals have are
mental health issues.Having worked at a
mental health facility myself, I have concern that such statements wrongly
characterize those who suffer with mental health issues, and creates an
unfounded prejudice against good people who struggle due to difficulties
arising from brain chemistry, abuse or trauma.Still others look to economic causes that lead to hopelessness and
anger, or to social issues such as bullying that build resentment.Personally, I believe there is a degree of
truth that can be defended in all these different perspectives.
But I believe the neglect the real issue that
all too many in our country choose to ignore:the issue of the heart.
What is the answer?I am always reminded of a passage in the
prophet Jeremiah at times like this:
heart is deceitful above all things, and
desperately sick; who can
‘I the Lord search the heart and
test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways, according
to the fruit of his deeds.’”---Jeremiah
The scriptures teach very
clearly that the sinful nature of humankind has infected every person who has
ever drawn breath except Christ himself, although the way that sin nature
manifests itself varies from person to person.Jeremiah pointedly informs us of the deceitfulness of our hearts, a
charge many today choose to disbelieve.Or we believe it about other people, but do not put ourselves into that
same boat…which is itself one of the ways our hearts deceive us.In fact, a common admonition these days is
for people to “follow their heart.”But
if Jeremiah is accurate, as I believe he is, is that really the good advice it
is assumed to be?I don’t think so.God’s voice through Jeremiah then follows up
with the statement that God’s assessment of each of us is achieved when he
looks deep into our hearts at the essence and the deceitfulness that exists
there, which is then manifested in our actions.
What is the solution?
Well, once again, I find
powerful thoughts in the Hebrew scriptures, this time in the book of Ezekiel:
And I will give you a new
heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of
stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.And I will put my
Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey
my rules.---Ezekiel 36:26-27(ESV)
The answer to these
problems is to deal with the heart, which is something only God can do.God’s offer is to deal with the issue by
giving us a new heart, when the Spirit of God comes to take up residence inside
us, and to shape us into people who live lives of righteousness instead of
pursuing sinful lifestyles.It matters
not whether our hearts lead us to sins of dishonesty, or selfish living, or
mass murder as we have witnessed in Florida; in each case it is the sinful
nature within manifesting itself through actions far less than the
righteousness of God.
We need to take
seriously the need for God to cleanse and transform our hearts, and take that
message and opportunity to individuals whose lives are in such desperate need
of genuine change from the evil intentions that have consumed them.The good news of the Gospel is that, as
Ezekiel describes, God is ready and willing to come to us, to take up residence
within, and to transform the hardness of our hearts into conformity with the
love and righteousness of God.We have
but to invite him to do so.
I invite you to join me
in praying for God to give hope and comfort to the sorrowing families in Florida
tonight. I also invite you to join me in
living with a transformed heart, and to do our part in helping prevent such
tragedies by sharing that message of hope with people bound in the anger and
despair that comes from sinful hearts.
Valentine’s Day, a day
that celebrates love in honor of St. Valentine and his brave stand for love and
marriage in a time when doing so was forbidden, has become ingrained in the
culture of the United States. The florists, card companies, and the merchandisers make sure of that.For someone who has recently suffered a
divorce (as well as those who have never been married or who have lost a spouse
to death), it can be a difficult day instead of one filled with joy.
If you are a person who, instead of looking
forward to the celebration, you are wrestling with what to do to take you mind
off of it all, perhaps this blog might have some ideas for you.
There is, naturally, a
genuine sadness and grieving that this holiday can foster, when one you loved
has passed away, or when one you loved has rejected your love and turned
away.The holiday reminds you of a love
you once experienced and cherished, but a love which is no longer part of your
daily life, except through memories.If
the one you loved passed away, then nostalgia, longing and loss may make the
memories bittersweet.If the one you
loved turned against you through divorce, the memories may bring pain and
rekindle difficult feelings of rejection and betrayal.
Not much of a celebration for Valentine’s
Day, is it?
In worship today, as we discussed the biblical concept of love, we
recalled together the words of 1 John 4:8 stating that God is love.
Isn’t it interesting that in self-definition, God did not choose the
words Judge, King, Law Giver, All-powerful, or many other attributes of
For a defining of God’s essence,
the revealing of God found in scripture is that...
...God is love.
There are other descriptions of God, but
very few in the formula stating what God is….though another passage also states
that God is light.Wouldn’t it make
sense, then, for Valentine’s Day, to turn to the very source of the essence of
what love truly is, to God himself?
A couple of verses I
particularly like are Jeremiah 31:3b and Lamentations 3:22a, which (in ESV)
have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
steadfast love of the Lord never
In the second passage,
the term steadfast love is a Hebrew word that is translated several other ways,
including “covenant loyalty,” which I also like when thinking about God’s love
toward us as his people.In a world of
fickle and shallow love, a world in which those we love and who love us can
suddenly be lost to us through death, it is a wonderful thing to realize that
God’s love is everlasting toward us, steadfast, never ceasing, and his
faithfulness continues forever.
So here is my simple
suggestion.If you are feeling blue in
anticipation of Valentine’s Day, consider choosing to use the day to remember
and celebrate the highest, purest, strongest and most enduring love you will
ever experience:the love GOD has for
you.Search through the scriptures to
find passages that describe God’s love for you, and let their teaching soak in
as you absorb the love of God into your heart and being.Look back over your life and recount for
yourself some of the experiences in which God has revealed his love to
you.Stop and reflect on the fact that
even the most loving relationship any of us experience here on earth is but a
poor shadow of the great love God has for us as his children.Maybe even pick up a Valentine’s card that
expresses some of your love for God that you could read for God in prayer, or
find one that images well for you what God might write into a Valentine card
for you!Better yet, write both of those
yourself from scratch.
Then, make a Valentine’s
date with God, the love of your life.Have a nice dinner together.Sit
and visit with God, pouring out your heart to him and open yourself up to a
fresh experience of his love.It might
just be the best Valentine’s Day you have ever had!Just one more verse to close with, from the
love poem in the Bible, the Song of Songs---
brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.—SOS 2:4