16 Feb

Thoughts, Prayers and ANGER!

I’ve been mulling what and how to write this post almost since I heard of the latest shooting.  Please be warned that it’s social, political and spiritual – yes that CAN happen!

The multitude of posts for “thoughts and prayers” for the latest (I’ve read 18) school shootings this year is starting to ring hollow. Aren’t we, as Jesus followers supposed to take action as well as pray? (James 1:22) . My beloved unbeliever is wont to continually rag on these self-righteous leaders in government and the church who say all the right platitudes but offer no justice, mercy or humility when it comes to developing solutions. Yeah, “thoughts and prayers” are pretty empty about now. In truth, I believe most of us may have started to normalize this rampant epidemic! You know what I mean… “Ho hum, there was another shooting today. Only seventeen people died” I ask you, is THAT what we have become as a nation, a people, and the Church?

How sad is it that we’re doing “active shooter” drills in schools? That we’re not even safe to go to the sanctuary that is our local house of worship? Heck, I’m starting to think its safer to walk down the streets of New York at midnight than it is to go to a concert!

Let me re-iterate, as I have done in previous posts about mass shootings: I AM NOT ANTI-GUN! I am against wholesale slaughter, especially of our young people so it’s about time to DO SOMETHING!!!

Our duly elected Congress seems to have forgotten the basics of the Constitution! Yeah, there IS the Second Amendment (and might I add NRA contributions) that seem to cause them to hesitate when it comes to ESTABLISHING JUSTICE, INSURING THE DOMESTIC PEACE (TRANQUILITY), PROVIDE FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE AND PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE  of their constituents aka their EMPLOYERS  … We the people!

One of my guiding verses in Scripture is 

Many will say that its a mental health issue. I’m of the camp that leans more to an emotional health  issue. You may think they’re the same, but that’s not quite true.  We may have diagnosed mental illness like bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia or depression.  These are considered physical psychiatric illnesses. However, what I’m talking about is how we deal with those feelings we all have like anger, frustration, fear, sadness, love, envy loneliness etc..  I think you get the idea. EVERYONE experiences these at one time or another in life. That isn’t the issue.  The issue is how we cope with these things. I suspect that the young man who horrendously shot up former classmates and teachers was depressed, angry and in pain. Unfortunately, while I understand he had been getting some direction, it wasn’t helping. I’m not making excuses for him – just sayin’ ! We humans are funny in that when we hurt we may strike out to hurt others. When angry, we want revenge. When sad, well, we may artificially try to fix that with addictive substances.

In my view this is part of the problem. In recent decades funding for those who need support has been drastically reduced. Medical costs, in general are often beyond the median income of anyone.

Now to the other aspect-responsibility and liability. This is where government has a role!! Recently, DJT rescinded an order preventing the mentally ill from acquiring a gun. Congress, as we speak, is considering a bill that would allow permitted individuals to carry guns across state lines-even those states that have no provision for “concealed carry”. How is this furthering the aims of the Preamble to the Constitution? How is this justice, mercy or humility? Dare I say it- it’s damn near stupidity! Just think if the Las Vegas shooter was able to take his arsenal to a concert at Hollywood Bowl!

As I said- I’m not against RESPONSIBLE GUN OWNERSHIP!!!   I have owned guns with requisite registration, licensing etc. I also took certification and use classes to know how to handle it. (just think, we do all that to drive too!)  IMHO MOST gun owners are responsible. Sport hunters, collectors, target shooters as well as those who do keep a gun for personal protection. From all I’ve read, they are just as upset as I am! As the saying goes … one bad apple… Sadly, too many paranoid conspiracy fanatics are “‘fraid the gov’mint gonna take our guns and lock us in FEMA camps and make us slaves” Well if that’s you-GET OUT AND VOTE! ELECT TRUSTWORTHY LAW-ABIDING REPRESENTATIVES. NOT THESE GREEDY POWER-MONGERING BRIBED OFFICIALS!!!  There, I said it! In many ways, we the people’ are responsible for this carnage! We, as a free people, are privileged to choose our leaders. And yet the apathy towards voting amazes me. What’s really sad is that those who do the most complaining about the government are the least likely to vote!

Parents-you’re there too! When did it become ok to not teach coping skills at home? When it was easier to sit them in front of the idiot box while you did your nails or had a beer with the boys? Teachers and school seem to me to have become nothing more than a babysitting service with some education thrown in. And heaven forbid a teacher let’s you know your child has a problem.  It must be the teacher’s fault right??? NOT!!! Many of my fellow Jesus-followers will say its because there is no prayer in schools. However, I believe scripture says otherwise. (Prov. 22:6). As parents WE need to train our kids to deal with those negative emotions in healthy ways. I know it’s hard but learn to say “NO” once in awhile. Help them to realize that they’re worth more than what Facebook, Instagram or other social media might dictate. Teach them it’s NOT acceptable to strike out when they’re angry, disappointed or not the most popular kid in school. And for heaven’s sake, let’s stop with “participation trophy” awards. Despite what culture seems to dictate, winning isn’t everything!

One last thing.. those who are classified as terrorists may, at the end,  follow a specific ideology. Considering  our culture and the current socio-political outrage of those who are immigrants or have a different faith or maybe just speak more than one language or don’t look just like you. (Can you say bigotry, racism, prejudice?)  I have a theory that perhaps a reason there are those “lone wolf” terrorists is that somewhere along the line they were singled out and persecuted.  Human nature is to go where we ARE accepted, are wanted and sadly, too many will go to extremes to prove their worth and belong.

So, to summarize… be watchful and yes definitely offer “thoughts and prayers” but also reach out. Jesus talked a lot about “the least of these”. Go and find them! Even if they’re weird, strange or different. Be a neighbor, and love as you want to be loved.
On the political side – register to vote, review the proposals and policies of ALL the candidates regardless of party affiliation. Choose “employees” who speak to your interests, concerns and ideals. MAKE THE TIME AND EFFORT TO VOTE!

I’ll be back on Monday. If you have a comment or other ideas about how we can stop this ugliness, please share! If you would like to be a “guest poster” at Along the Way, let me know in the comments. That is what the comment section is for OR you can go over to the Abiding Ways Facebook group and leave it there!

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18 Nov

#MeToo and Shades of Gray..

I’ve been down with the bug that’s going around as has hubby so I’m way behind in many things around here. After I write this I will be prepping the latest in the series on ROMANS. AND… I have a special houseguest coming for the week so when able, I’ve been trying to tidy up the place and get ready for winter. As a result, I will be taking next week off, just too much going on! In December I’ll be resuming the Romans study with “Chapter by Chapter” study. I honestly AM trying to be more consistent in writing. In the meantime…

Today I did one of those Facebook “most words” things and realized how I’ve been more involved with the current political climate. In the past when I’ve done this my loved ones and my faith have been those BIG BOLD words but not this year. An issue that I haven’t yet talked about is the huge uptick in women coming out about the humiliation of various forms of sexual harassment to outright forcible rape. What seems apparent to me is the varying degrees of these claims and what it means not just to these women but to the men involved and the much bigger issue of the prevalence of it in our culture. And it disturbs me. It used to be worthy of expulsion to commit such acts and now well, it seems you can even be a president or maybe a senator! Have we become that uncaring?

A lot of what I’m going to say is personal opinion based on my experiences as a counselor as well as being female and a victim of many forms of abuse. First, I’d like to offer a few of my personal definitions for the varying degrees this abuse might take. While abuse is abuse, I am of the thought that some is more serious and harmful than others. I know there are some women out there who may disagree with me and that’s ok. Keep in mind I don’t think a single bit of it is ok! IT IS NEVER OK and NEVER THE VICTIMS FAULT!!!

First, there is harassment. This is strictly verbal by the perpetrator. Innuendo, out of line comments on anatomy( not to be confused with “I like your new hairstyle” etc), cat/wolf whistles, and stuff like that. You may be “sexually harassed” if something a colleague or other acquaintance says things that make you feel uncomfortable. This can happen on the job, in school, and yes, even in church! Best defense is a good offense-TELL SOMEONE as soon as possible.

The next is sexual assault. This IS a crime and should be reported immediately to someone in law enforcement and/or a rape crisis hotline!
The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent. Some forms of sexual assault include attempted rape
fondling or unwanted sexual touching, forced performing of sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body. While touching may not be involved, someone performing an act in front of you is also assault.

The last is rape. Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent. For its Uniform Crime Reports, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” Keep in mind that this includes what is often termed “date rape”.

Now that I’ve defined these terms, let’s talk about how we got here. Throughout history, especially ancient history, we gals were often considered valuable only as a means to end. Often more property than person. And yep, a “lesser” human being. This wasn’t always the way it was and definitely not what I believe God had in mind. Consider that woman was created to be a helper (Genesis 2:18 ) In Hebrew the term is עֵזֶֶר ˓êzer, ay’-zer;to aid:— help. Derived from another Hebrew word עָזַר ˓âzar, aw-zar’; to surround, i.e. protect or aid:— help, succor. OK you got the idea. And then came the fall! It seems that after that women started to be less regarded as helpers and more subject to the menfolk. ( see Gen. 3:16).

Sexual assault was also told of in scripture…
The gruesome story of how a woman traveler was sexually assaulted and murdered in the town of Gibeah is no doubt a typical example of what was going on during the time of the judges. (Judges 19:1–30). If you read on from there, you see the outcome. Consider also the rape of Tamar by her brother Amnon found in 2 Samuel 13:1–19 …. this is not only forcible assault, it’s incest. Other victims include Jacob’s daughter Dinah ( Gen. 34:2), and some may even say that Bathsheba was “ordered” to submit to David. Being summoned by your king can be pretty intimidating!!

On the other end, we must also mention that Potiphar’s wife wrongfully accused Joseph of assault which got him in prison. And therein lies an issue that can complicate the entire discussion!

In today’s political climate, many women feel that legislators are still trying to control our bodies. Some states are trying to criminalize legitimate forms of birth control under the guise of the “pro-life” movement. While I hate the NEED for abortion, there are reasons for the medical procedure (think rape, incest especially). Many states don’t allow needed education for our teens to learn not just how to prevent pregnancy, but also how to behave with and toward the opposite sex. Our culture, in general is highly sexualized especially in advertising. Body shaming is out there and too many young women think if they’re not a size 2 that they aren’t going to be “wanted” unless they acquiesce to the unwanted attention of co-workers or fellow students. While it is cheered when young men “get there”, women are maligned for the same behavior. It’s all part of the bigger issue!

Getting down to brass tacks, the multitude of revelations of sexual abuse have brought the issue to the forefront. And yes there ARE degrees of this kind of abuse. It’s one thing to have one accuser and a disgusting act photographed, no matter the reason. BUT when there are more than one, A pattern is developed. Many of these men are the same that seem to want to rule over women and indeed common belief says that men who abuse are all about power and not sex at all. Yes, I know men can be vulnerable also, but in recent months it’s women who are coming forward, raising their voices to make us all aware that it is more common than just political candidates and movie stars. Just think – how many have suffered that don’t garner headlines? (Just search on “#MeToo on Twitter)

I am one of the #MeToo folks. I’ve been harassed, assaulted and worse! Strangers aren’t the only offenders. Our husbands, boyfriends, brothers, uncles, fathers may also victimize. Our bosses, teachers, superiors and co-workers too! So, ladies, speak up, speak out, stand tall! Talk about it with someone!! Let’s stop it!

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.

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06 Nov

Counting the Cost of Freedom…

Living here in the United States is a blessing. Living in the freedom provided by God through Jesus Christ even more so!

I was in the process of researching for one of many other things on my mind this day when I learned of the latest mass MURDER in a small town near San Antonio, Texas. I don’t know about you but I’m somewhere between complete outrage and total numbness. Wasn’t it less than a month ago that 50+ people died when another human, for reasons not yet determined, took his private arsenal to a hotel room and killed people???

Earlier this week, right here in my neck of the woods, a self-described supporter of ISIS ( a supposedly ‘religion oriented” terror group), rented a truck and mowed down a crowd of people enjoying the afternoon on a bike path. The victims of today’s shooting spree were in CHURCH!

As I have written before, I’m not against owning guns. Our Bill of Rights says that is one of the many freedoms we have. per a few different interpretations. However others may disagree. That is neither here nor there in this discussion. I get that in many parts of the U.S. a gun may be necessary for protection. This is especially so in a small town like Sutherland Springs, TX. Rural areas, including much of the Midwest are also likely to need a form of protection as properties are often very far apart. Farms need to protect themselves and their livestock from wild critters whether they have four legs or two. (I just finished re-reading “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote where an entire family was murdered by two small time ex-cons in very rural Kansas)

All that being said, over the history of the country, our governing leaders have provided conditions to protect us from ourselves while still able to exercise the freedoms we have. Keeping in mind that our governing document, The Constitution, was written before television, the internet, social media etc. so forth and so on. As technology and innovation brought us the current marvels, so too did our elected government create legislation to regulate these things as well as commerce, the food we eat, and how we travel. These acts are/were created to keep us safe from dangerous things. We need a license to drive a car, just as a doctor needs one to practice medicine. There are laws about the criteria needed to sell beef, chicken, and other livestock. Regulations about what a business can and can’t do and yes, different states have different laws about the types of guns allowed and who and what it takes to get that freedom. Sadly, abuse of these laws as well as any kind of common sense safety-minded regulation has gone by the wayside.

Personally, I blame our Congress who has chosen to serve the gun lobby instead of the people they were elected to protect. The lobby-aka the NRA and gun manufacturers- make sure to contribute to politicians who are more concerned about keeping their jobs than actually doing what they were hired for. What’s really sad to me is so called “Christian leaders” support this dereliction of duty. These have chosen a Master other than Jesus to serve and THAT is sin in my book. It’s in THE BOOK as well. Jesus said “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:13 ) He also warned us about those who profess to be believers and followers of Jesus in word but not in deed. In Matthew 7:15–23 Jesus warned us about false prophets ( think Falwell, Franklin Graham, Huckabee, etc) who are more interested in schmoozing with political leaders than they are in preaching God’s Word. In my view they are just as bad, if not worse than the hypocritical leaders in Jesus day. They, more than any other, were singled out by Jesus! No less than 18 verses (NIV ) in the Gospels he points to them as part of Israel’s biggest problem! (Chart Bible Search for hypocrite)

I’ll be honest… I’m not sure exactly what to do. Unlike the leaders of Jesus’ day, we choose our leaders by voting. This coming Tuesday many states are holding an election of some kind whether its for a federal position (Senate) or other legislative or executive office. Whether state, county or local-get out and vote for someone who is willing to be courageous enough, who has enough moral and personal integrity to say NO to all the lobbyists and to perhaps even take a chance on being replaced and turning their back on the mammon that it seems is inherent in government “service”. If you don’t have an election (and even if you do) call your Congress person and Senators in Washington and tell them you’re tired of the insanity which is senseless mass murder.

Again, I’m not calling for banning guns. But how about FEDERAL extensive background checks, fixing the loopholes in gun sales by private sellers and gun shows. RESPONSIBE and SENSIBLE universal federal regulations for EVERY gun owner. And maybe – even limiting the number and type of guns one person can own. These are just suggestions. Other countries do it and it seems to work. I don’t want my America to be known as “The MURDER CAPITOL of the world”.

As I leave you with these thoughts, here is a very old song that still has much meaning. I know, my age is showing 😉.Hope you’ll take the time to digest the thoughts in this post and the words and music here.

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