Make Us Peacemakers In a Violent Land

On Sunday morning, while I was singing with hot tears streaming down my face, moved by the conviction that I don’t trust God’s no and longing for Him to help my unbelief, some of my brothers and sisters in this faith were violently plunged into the presence of Jesus amidst the terror of bullets, blood and screams. While they worshipped the goodness of our God a man given over to the schemes of the devil filled the room with death.  My heart can hardly take it.

This shooting brought my fears to light.  I’m afraid I’ll grow numb.  I’m afraid for my white male sons who statistically are more likely to commit such an atrocity.  I’m sickened by the violent culture in my country and I’m afraid I don’t know what to do! I want things to change!  
I’ve been casting those anxieties on God all day.  As I’ve cried and groaned and listened I see how violent, divided and dark the time we live in as American Christians is.  And these dark times are in the hands of the One who suffered for us.  He has us in this time, and in this nation to be peacemakers and truth-sayers, by reconciling and resisting.  Reconciling in laying down our lives to bring the peace of God to relationships.  And resisting evil, even unto suffering.
Jesus said, “

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5:9-12

In a heated discussion with my husband about guns and laws and what needs to be done I yelled, “Someone is going to have to give up some of their rights!”  
People want the right to bear arms.  OK.  Well, if we do anything to change the way guns are legally “born” in this country, someone is going to cry foul and feel like their rights have been violated.  If we restrict based on mental-illness someone will cry foul about discriminating against people with a disability or violating the rights to privacy.  If we restrict based on kind or amount of weapon someone will cry foul about the second amendment.  But if we do nothing this will only be one of a string of massacres with guns in the United States.  
As I passionately voiced my opinion, concerned for my sons and for my neighbors,  I realized none of my rights would be violated if gun laws were imposed in a different or more stringent way than they are now.  I’m not a gun owner.  I’m not a gun person.  It’s not a hobby for me and I don’t feel the need to carry a weapon for protection.  I know many people who do and I know them to be kind, moral people who I trust.  I know they would feel some sense of their rights being infringed on if gun laws changed.  I know this is not a black and white issue.  But my thought is, as Christians in America, we should be the last people crying rights when it comes to guns.  
I wonder what it would be like if Americans who love and trust the Jesus who bore violence to save them laid down their guns and said, “We will be a people of peace even if we have to suffer the loss of our American right to bear arms.” But since I’m not one of the people who would have to say that I thought about Christ’s call on me to humble myself because I know who I am in Christ.  And my prayer was, “How would you have me lay down my ‘rights’ Lord?” 
The Governor of Texas in updating the public about the massacre at the church in Sutherland Springs said, “Every mom and dad… put your arm around your kid and given them a big hug and let them know you love them…”  And he went on to say we should go to our neighbors and find ways to help them.  It struck me as subtle but powerful.  As a Christian, Jesus beckons me to get off my phone, my computer… my agenda and sit with my teenage sons and listen and give them a back rub and look them in the eyes and plant the gospel in their hearts.   Jesus also beckons me to leave my comfortable four walls and go outside and be a good neighbor, on my street and in my city.  It’s messy out there.  People have messed-up lives.  But I will not be a peacemaker, as Christ compels me to be, by hiding in my home in the most violent, wealthy nation on earth.  Trying to hold onto my controllable, clean and tidy life (as if I had one) won’t keep my sons from evil.  The Governor pointed to a profound truth: hugging our children and helping our neighbors is one of the most powerful things we can do in such a violent culture.  
I am a Christian.  I live in the U.S., a nation where rights are valued and defended.  And I enjoy the benefit of those rights being defended.  But rights shouldn’t be an issue for me as a Christian.  I know I have no rights and yet have been given the right to be called a child of God and therefore have nothing to loose.  I don’t have any guns to lay down.  But I do have a life and resources.  I can plant my life in Jesus’ name in the lives of those around me with good news that brings lasting peace. I can pray for healing in my nation and a restraining of violence and evil, and trust my good God’s no. And I can be willing to suffer, even the loss of rights, for what is right.  
Oh Lord God.  You who raise up nations and bring others to nothing.  You are the source of all that is good and right.  You give authority and take it away.  You hear the cries of your children and you sometimes say no when we cry.  You speak and nature gives way.   And you’re silent and we ache and reel and wonder if you’re hearing, all the while you’re working your wonderful plans for our good and you’re glory.  Help Lord!  Help me and us weak, wimpy American Christians who don’t know how to suffer well.  Help us to lay down our phones and hug our kids.  Help us to leave our homes and help our neighbors.  Help us to resist evil and speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.  Help us to rejoice if we suffer because Jesus is living in us!  Make us shine here Lord.  Make us peacemakers in such a violent place.    

something has to change

Something has to change!

Let’s do a social experiment.  Let’s set a limit on the ability of folks to purchase weapons. Let’s start with a limit of no more than 1 weapon per eligible, background-checked, and vetted (tested for major mental health issues) person.  And le’ts completely prohibit the sale of weaponry attachments that turn single-fire weapons into automatic weapons as well as completely prohibit the sale of assault style weapons to the public.

I’m all for people having guns.  Even as a hobby.  I have zero problem with that.  I have zero problem with people wanting to own a fire arm for self-defense and have the right to bear those arms.  What I have a problem with is the notion that limiting the sales of certain kinds and amounts of weapons is taking away a persons rights.  I also have a problem with the idea that says until we can solve the reason behind why these mass shootings seem to be happening more and more we can’t really do anything.  And beyond that I have a problem with the thought that trying to limit weapons purchases or prohibiting certain weapons is somehow an ignorant blaming of these atrocities on the weapon.

It’s not the weapon’s fault.  I get that.

It’s the messed-up person’s fault.  I get that.

The messed-up person with evil intent will find a way, even with one weapon, to carry out his/her horrific plot.  I get that.

Good-intentioned people need to have the right to defend themselves against crazy people like mass-shooters.  I get that.

But not one of those ideas is a good reason to NOT limit the sale of certain types of weapons or the amount of weapons a private citizen can own.

The only people who need to own 36 weapons are police departments (not even individual officers) and military personnel in certain positions in the military.   No one needs 36 weapons.  There’s a reason this man in Las Vegas bought so many weapons.

As a Christian, I know that the heart of this problem is just that, the heart of man.  But while I can’t change the heart of man, I can put restraints in place that hold back the evil that wants to kill.  God hates a heart that devises wicked plans (Proverbs 6:18).  And He holds those in authority accountable for restraining people who carry out their wickedness (1 Samuel 3:13).  Keeping the general public from having an accumulation of weapons seems like a perfectly reasonable option for a start in the direction of restraining the evil in the heart of men like the man who terrorized Las Vegas with his wicked plans.

What’s your thought about what we should do as a society about the problem of mass shootings?

Sunday thoughts and an open letter

It always feels good to sleep in. For me, 6:30 is sleeping in. So when I woke up at 7:15 this morning I felt like I’d slept my life away!  But boy did it feel good.  

The girls were ready for me when I got out to the milking area this morning.  All their calls said, “Where have you been?!”

I love the quiet mornings filling feeders, collecting eggs, and the tinny sound of hot, fresh milk hitting the empty stainless steel bucket.  And now that it’s cold outside in the morning it’s just so refreshing and quiet and peaceful.

I haven’t been able to be at church for several weeks now.  Between having to work on Sundays (more than I’d like) and Connor’s baseball tournament schedule I haven’t been able to make it.  But in the hit and miss months I think we’ve settled on a church family.  The Refuge meets at a community center near 107th avenue and Camelback.  Good friends of ours recently started meeting there and invited us.  There is no perfect church.  The requirements are there.  The abundance of fluff, smoke and mirrors is not.  That’s about as close to perfect as it gets for me.  We’ve been at a few great churches in the weeks I’ve been looking.  There are some great Bible teaching, gospel preaching, Christ-centered, worshipful churches out there.  Some of them I’d actually prefer to settle down at, but they’re far away and my kids haven’t made a connection with anyone.  At the Refuge my middle school boys know a fellow middle school aged boy already and the youth group meets on a Wednesday night which allows for the boys to still get together with their peers and learn about God together.  I like that.  I want that for them.

I took the boys to the Arizona Science Center after church.  We’ve been before but it seemed to be more of hit this year than when we went last.  Ryland was enamored with the 3D printer.  Connor was fascinated with the water works and gears.  Tells me something about them.

This morning I read a post on Facebook that shook me.  The person posted their feelings about the latest shooting in Colorado at a Planned Parenthood.  She aligned the man who did the shooting with right-winged conservative Christians and seemed to think this deranged man who killed three people was a representative of a Christian who is anti-abortion.

My mind went into high gear.  In my head I wrote her a whole letter.  I didn’t post it.  I don’t know if I should have or not.  I don’t want to come across as a knee-jerk reaction Christian who rants about all the things they’re “against”.  I want my life to this woman to say:  She’s a Christian.  And I know because of the way she treats people.

She may never read this, and maybe, if God gives me the grace and the courage and if it’s even necessary, maybe she and I could talk about it.  But just to get it off my chest here’s an open letter to the Facebook world:

Dear Facebook friend, 

I read your post and had a flood of thoughts.   

I wanted you to know that this man in Colorado Springs is not representative of a true Christian.   

I’m a Christian woman who opposes abortion and knows nothing about the hashtag #alllivesmatter.  But I do believe all lives matter.  And I know this man was not a Christian no matter what he said.  Nor was he for life, no matter what he said.  A true Christian lays down their life for others.  They don’t take others lives to achieve some kind of moral state they think there should be.   

To me, both this man and the men and women who perform abortions, commit appalling acts of horror because they take life from a person according to their own judgements of what is right and wrong.   

What is right and wrong?  Who gets to decide?  The man with the gun on a snowy morning at a Colorado Planned Parenthood?  Or the practitioner in an exam room with a young woman on the table and the lethal saline about to be injected into her womb to stop the beating heart of her unborn human baby?   

I wonder what the logic is behind defending either one of those people’s actions?   

I guess it comes down to what you believe.   

If you believe we’re all highly evolving species of living matter randomly generated by time and chance, then why is it wrong for any Homo Sapien to take the life of another Homo Sapien?   

No one writes CNN headline stories and is grieved or appalled, demanding justice in the pride of lions when one lion kills another.  And it’s not just because we’re more highly evolved than the lion.  We demand justice and are grieved when people are murdered because we know right from wrong.  We know there is such a thing as evil.  And the only reason why we should know such a thing is if some kind of law higher than our own opinions governs the human race.   

I believe those precious lives taken by that man in Colorado are precious because they bear the image of God. They know right from wrong and were made to represent in their nature the wonders of the Creator who made them.  

What happened at that Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood the other day is evil.  And I grieve.    

I think one day we’ll look back at the horrors of abortion in the United States like we look back at the horrors of the genocide in Auschwitz in WWII.  Because we know right from wrong.  We know evil from good.   

I believe the world will get to see what real Christians are like more and more as these days of terror, and evil and violence progress.   They aren’t out to kill those who do what they don’t agree with.  They are out to lay down their lives for those they don’t agree with.  

With love and a heavy heart,