Words

Remember this song from the Bee Gees about a man who relies on his words to win his sweetheart over?  Well this article has nothing to do about a sweetheart.  It deals instead with wording and spin.

We’re all familiar with advertising.  A winning ad campaign can send a company or a cause soaring into the stratosphere.  One would hope a solid strategy deals with facts, but that’s not always the case.  Let’s look at the adage; breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  How did that get started?  Some argue it was Dr. John Kellogg who wanted to sell his cereal product.  Others say it was the “father of public relations” Edward Bernays who was hired by a company to sell more bacon.  They as well as others convinced our parents that eating a hearty meal was essential to good health.  Is it fact or fiction?  That is still being debated today.

One of the best campaigns in recent times is the anti-smoking movement.  Everyone remembers the hundreds of people lying in the street, representing those who died from lung cancer.  To me, those were far more effective than the new campaign designed to shock you with cancer victims.

Where is this all leading?  If you read this blog on a regular basis you know where I stand on abortion. I watch the Walk for Life in Washington, DC every year and every year it grows in size—even last’s year’s blizzard couldn’t keep the people away.  This year, because I was off work, I watched the event more closely.  I read the banners held by the diverse groups who attended, naming their church, school, or organization.  Every one of them had the words Pro-Life on their signs and even their clothing.

There were, of course, some people protesting the Pro-Life March.  They made themselves heard and seen, as is their right.  It also gave me the opportunity to see what their signs read.  All had Pro-Choice, along with My Body—My choice.  It’s a women’s right to choose, etc.

Interesting.  Against abortion: Pro-Life.  For abortion: Pro-Choice.  Everyone is pro something.  This got me thinking about word association.  We’ve all played the game.  Someone shouts out a word and you have to say the first word that pops into your head.  Let’s play using the breakfast theme.  Bacon—eggs, morning—evening, hearty—light, toast—jam.  You get the idea.

Now let’s play using abortion as the theme.  Life—death, abortion—death, woman—person, baby—little person, choice—uh, um, property…cut?  OK.  If I say I’m against abortion I identify as pro-life but those who advocate for abortion should then be called pro-death or anti-life, but they’re not.  When I watched coverage of the March on local channels, at least those who covered it, people who are against abortion were labeled anti-abortion (negative) while those who advocate for abortion were identified as pro-choice (positive).  This is how wording can be manipulated to influence you.

There is no escaping it.  The opposite of life is death.  If a woman decides to have an abortion she is choosing the death of her unborn baby.  What “choice” does the baby have?  Couple all of this with the exposé on Planned Parenthood’s selling of baby organs to the highest bidder, and the latest outrage—rewarding their employees who perform the most abortions with pizza parties, along with suppressing stories of women and men who suffer psychologically throughout their lives, and tell me again where the choice is.  Why can’t mothers-to-be, be given the “choice” to undergo an ultrasound as opposed to them hearing the claim their child is nothing but a bunch of cells?  Isn’t that a choice?  If the baby could talk I’m betting he or she would be pro-life.

All this leads me back to the power of messaging.  The very successful advertising of the cigarette industry can work just as well for the Pro-Life movement, yet they don’t take advantage of it—and the media won’t help.  The same way young people dropped in Times Square representing people who died from lung cancer, young people can do the same, representing the millions who died at the hands of legal abortion.  Or how about those animal commercials that sneak up on you when you’re watching your favorite television show?  Just think if the sad talking lady was speaking about the millions and millions of innocent babies tortured and murdered every day at the hands of ruthless, money-making abortion mills.  They could show their torn, little bodies refrigerated until the evil biologics company purchases them for experiments; or worse, show them tossed into the garbage.  For just “insert the amount” a day you could save a child’s life… Yeah, you’ll never see that ad.

Being Pro-Life is not “just a religious thing”.  I saw several Atheists for Life signs in that March.  Where are the science and technology communities?   They should be front and center.  We’ve come a long way from “quickening” when doctors believed life began only when the mother could feel the baby kicking.  The ultrasound should have shut down the abortion industry—but it didn’t—probably because of the money it generates.  Just a couple of weeks ago, it was reported in an Atlantic Magazine article titled, “How Ultrasound Became Political” by Moira Weigel, stating there was “no heart to speak of” in a 6 week fetus.  They later removed it because it’s a lie.  It also states how couples view ultrasounds as their baby’s first picture.  Well isn’t it?  Most outrageous was the claim that “Ultrasound made it possible for the male doctor to evaluate the fetus without female interference.” Wow.  Pretty desperate.  Now do you see how words matter?

Late term abortion is flat out murder.  How can you say this is a blob of cells when babies the same age are alive and well?  There are nurses on record who say the child is born alive and they are forced to leave it alone in a closet to die.  Where will people draw the line?  Is infanticide the next step?  Will you be able to “abort” your child up to the age of 12?  If your teenager is getting to be a handful can you abort them too?  How about grandma?  Eugenics is making a comeback with some of the same people who call themselves Pro-Choice.

Technology makes stunning advances at lightning paced speed every day.  There is no doubt in my mind that someone will come up with an app to connect you with your growing baby in utero in real time.  I’m convinced that soon abortion will be exposed as one of the worst human atrocities of our time.  When that happens, no amount of words will ever be able to heal the wounds it afflicted, the losses suffered, or the violence and money it generated.

 

New Year

The group, This Beautiful Republic, recorded a song by the same name.  The song is about someone going through a lack of trust with a loved one.  The lyricist tells the person to put his or her trust in Jesus and begin a new life in the New Year.  Good advice!

The New Year exemplifies new beginnings and along with it comes the infamous New Year’s resolutions.  You can’t turn on your television without seeing countless commercials for weight loss systems or products to help you stop smoking.  Sale flyers are offering great deals on work out wear and exercise equipment.  Fitness centers and gyms across the US are signing up new customers by the droves.

Ads run non-stop to help you organize everything from your closet, your home, and your life. Last night I saw a commercial that floored me.  A client wrote a professional home organizer that she didn’t didn’t know what to do now that her whole house was organized. The home organizer told her they could remain friends.  The client’s solution, however, was to buy a new and larger home so the organizer could organize it. Wow!  Even the organizer was stunned.

Exercising, losing weight, stop smoking, removing clutter, among others are all wonderful resolutions and will definitely help with lowering stress levels and improving your physical health, but have you ever thought about your spiritual health?  I guarantee you’ll never see a celebrity pitching a spiritual diet of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and good works.  No special plans by Jenny or a pitch from Marie or Oprah on how a daily dose of talking to God will improve your overall wellbeing or how a daily act of simple human kindness can improve another’s life as well as your own.

There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people suffering from poor spiritual health, and I’m not talking about atheists.  There are many believers who know something is missing in their lives and they don’t know what it is or how to find it.  For many the cure is to keep buying and spending their way to happiness, yet that doesn’t seem to fill the void so they keep searching for the newest widget or trend (much like the woman who bought the bigger home so the professional organizer could keep coming).  For others it’s much worse.

So where to begin?  Believe it or not there are many people who do not know how to pray.  As with all resolutions it’s best to start simple.  Start with a daily Lord’s Prayer, add a Hail Mary or pray a daily Rosary.  They claim if you do something daily for a year you’ll keep with it.  Once you have a set routine add something new.  It doesn’t have to be a standard prayer.  Share your day with Jesus.  Tell Him your problems.  Share your dreams.  Ask for His help.  Pray for others.

Need help starting a prayer life?  Talk to your pastor.  I’m sure he has a starter plan for you.  Another recommendation, see the film The War Room.  No, it has nothing to do with traditional war but a great deal to do with spiritual warfare and the power of prayer.  Write down your prayers.  Go to your quiet place and talk to God about them.  You will be surprised how the stress of the day lifts away.

If you don’t attend Sunday service, start—this Sunday.  Excuses like I don’t have time, or I have to work, just don’t hold up anymore.  Catholics have services on Saturday afternoon or evening.  On Sunday you can attend very early morning, mid-morning, or late morning Mass and some parishes offer a late afternoon Sunday Mass for people who party hardy on Saturday nights.  You can usually find a Mass that meets your schedule.

If you feel like the parish you’re attending doesn’t suit your style, then perhaps your New Year’s resolution is to search for one that does.  Some of the best advice I received was if your priest is not teaching scripture and church doctrine, get up from the pew, walk out, and find one who does.  While the elements of the Mass are universal, every parish has its own character.   If you’re “old school” then search for a church that offers a weekly Tridentine High Mass or Latin Mass.  From huge pipe organs, pianos, and guitars to orchestral choirs to children’s choirs, music at Mass is the same yet diverse.  Traditional to modern—cathedral to tiny church on the prairie—God is present.

Another aspect to improving your spiritual health is connecting with others, and I don’t mean on Facebook.  There is nothing like interacting with real people.  Every parish is made up of parishioners.  The people in your community have much more to offer and they usually come from all walks of life.  Some may share interests with you while others do not—variety is the spice of life.  Chances are you could share a pew with a bank executive, a janitor, a school teacher, or a truck driver.  Everyone is equal in God’s eyes; and all agree that Jesus is their Lord and Savior and the parish is the heart of their community.

Along with connecting to other humans is the rewarding aspect of giving them a hand up when they’re down. This is not exclusive to folks in your church but to anyone in your community.  From buying a police officer walking the beat a cup of hot coffee to volunteering at a local food bank to shoveling snow or mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbor, or driving a cancer patient to their doctor appointment, it doesn’t cost much to do something nice for someone else.

All this takes me back to that client who felt a void after her home was completely organized.  Instead of checking her spiritual gauge to fill the gap, she bought another home just so the organizer could stay in her life.  That person is looking for something, somebody who doesn’t leave when one job is done.  That someone is Jesus.

Last Christmas, my daughter gave me a small box.  It wasn’t expensive but inscribed on the top it read, “Mom, Pray More—Worry Less”.  Inside the box was a tiny notepad and pencil.  The plan is to write down every worry I have on the notepad, leave it in the box, and pray on it.  What a great way to start a spiritual health plan.  The best thing about it is you don’t have to wait for anything to be delivered, no sweating or starving involved, and no monthly membership.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

Come Together

The Beatles released this song in 1969.  Some say John Lennon penned the song for Timothy Leary’s quest to become governor of California, while others insist he’s talking about all four of the Beatles.  Whomever he was talking about the message is clear.  Everyone has bad habits, quirks etc. but it’s time to get a grip and come together.

I thought about this as we prepare for Thanksgiving.  The first big Holiday of the year and the first time many families and friends will be getting together since summer.  It’s also the first time everyone will be around the table after this election cycle.  Holidays bring out the best and worst in us and the larger the family, the more assorted the characters.  This year could be a doozy.  With many Americans divided on several fronts you can guarantee more fireworks than Independence Day—and that’s just for Chicago White Sox and Cub fans!

I’ve been hearing from friends and acquaintances that some of their family members will not be attending Thanksgiving dinner under any circumstances because certain members of the family who will be present supported one presidential candidate and they cannot accept that.  Cannot accept is actually being kind.  The words and adjectives being used are repulsive.  If I can live through a Chicago Cubs World Series you can sit down and break bread with your family.

Here’s a newsflash.  We’ve been deciding the fate of our leader via elections in this country for over 200 years, and in each there was one winner and yes one loser.  In politics everyone doesn’t get a trophy.  If the President is doing a lousy job there are checks and balances in place to keep him or her on the straight and narrow.  For those who are educationally challenged in US government—elections happen every 4 years.  The greatest protest of all is silent and done in the privacy of the voting booth.  Well that’s true unless you live in Chicago and then all bets are off.

I brought up baseball and the World Series for a reason.  Baseball and voting in an election are not the same, although each year it seems like it is.  The fact is voting in an election is not like cheering for your favorite sports team.  In sports the winners get a trophy and lots of money.  Fans get boasting rights and in the case of the World Series, spend a fortune on team paraphernalia.  The country is at the heart of presidential elections.  It’s not my team is better than yours because whether your blue, red, green or in-between we’re all technically on the same team.  Team USA.  Or so I thought.  If Mary Matalin, a prominent Republic consultant, and James Carville, a prominent Democrat consultant, can be married for 23 years1 anyone can get along.

Whether you are a Cub fan or White Sox fan, a Democrat or Republican, this is the time to come together.  Some people will not be able to be home with their families and others are completely alone or hospitalized.  Others have lost a family member and don’t know how to “celebrate”.  I’m sure all these Americans would give anything to celebrate Thanksgiving with their missing or lost loved one.

If you are lucky enough to live in this country you have much to be thankful for.  So please leave your politics at home.  Celebrate that you can spend another Thanksgiving with your family and friends.  Thank God that you live in a country where you can change your leader every 4 years, speak freely for or against it, and it doesn’t lead to bloody revolutions as it does in other countries.

And to my friends who are White Sox fans—sit next to your relative or relatives who happen to be Cub fans and let them gloat.  We did it in 2005.  Give thanks to God for all you’ve received this year.  Everything is better with turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie—even a Cubs World Series.  And remember, baseball season starts in just 4 short months!

1 Matalin and Carville were actually married on Thanksgiving Day, 1993

 

Lola

If you were of age in the early 1970’s, chances are you know this classic song by the Kinks.  The lyricist writes he couldn’t understand why Lola walked like a woman but talked like a man.  Lola was transgender.  This was extremely controversial in the 70’s and in some places the song was banned.  Not in Chicago.  I can still sing every line from memory.

In my lifetime I have only met one transgender person.  I met her at a 2009 forum sponsored by our local Congressman.  I approached her after the forum because I admired her bravery.  She was born a Muslim man in a Muslim country. She immigrated to the US because she could no longer risk the threat of death at the hands of her family or the theocratic government.  Under Islamic Sharia Law she would have been stoned to death for identifying as a woman.

I thought of her today while reading about the controversy over North Carolina House Bill 2, otherwise known as the bathroom law.  The law basically states if you are biologically a man you use the men’s bathroom or locker room and if you are biologically a woman you use the women’s bathroom or locker room in all government buildings, including public schools.  You think this would be common sense—but you would be wrong.

The governors of these states are making these laws to counter other laws stating bathrooms and locker rooms in public places should not be restricted to your biological sex as it discriminates against the LGBT community.  It’s my understanding that lesbians are women and gay men are men.  Bi-sexuals are also either a man or woman.  The small population of transgender people in the US, much like the woman I met at the forum, has been able to figure out which bathroom they feel most comfortable in for years.  This leaves the transfluid or genderfluid population. According to dictionary.com the term means, noting or relating to a person whose gender identity or gender expression is not fixed and shifts over time or depending on the situation.  Does anyone else see a potential problem here?

Celebrities have already taken sides and are canceling performances in states passing men and women only bathroom laws.  Not to be outdone, the White House is planning on cutting funds to these states while governors in states who promote non-discrimination bathrooms are banning travel to states that don’t, all in the name of equal rights.  White House press secretary Josh Earnest stated, “This is a good illustration that the fight for civil rights is not over”.  Hmmm, back in the 1960’s when African Americans were fighting for their civil rights; I don’t recall any of them being able to change their skin color over time or depending on the situation.

I thought of that brave transgender woman who I met those 7 years ago.  The last thing on her mind was which bathroom she should use.  She was just grateful to be alive and live as she pleased.  She put her life on the line to identify as a woman.  This was no game.  She dressed and conducted herself like a woman and if she used the women’s bathroom at the event that day nobody paid much notice, but that was way back in 2009.

What are we doing in April, 2016?  Why are we making laws without thinking about the consequences?  The non-discrimination ordinances give rapists, pedophiles, and voyeurs the greenlight to perpetrate crimes against women and children.  Any one of these can claim he feels like a woman, thus making him genderfluid by law, and enter a women’s bathroom or locker room with a hidden camera.  A registered sex offender can do the same, enter a women’s bathroom or locker room and rape a woman or a child.  These potential victims can be your wife, your sister, your daughter or your son.  What about their rights?  Why make it easier for criminals to prey on the innocent?

Now let’s look at a theory nobody’s talking about.  Why are these laws being enacted now?  Does the government really care about the LGBT community or are they using them?  We are a country of laws, not men, governed by a Constitution that states all people are equal and while we have freedom of religion, we are not ruled by one.  This is not the case in other parts of the world where corrupt governments, ruled by drug and organized crime, look the other way at rape and murder.  Or theocratic countries that state women and children do not have the same rights as men.  Under Islamic Sharia Law for example, for Muslim women to be found innocent of rape the rapist must either confess or there must be four male witnesses1 since women’s testimony is worth only half that of a man’s in court2.  In many rape culture countries pedophilia is also legal. The New York Times reported that U.S. Soldiers are told to ignore the rape of young boys by Afghan allies because it’s their culture3. Could this be the politically correct way to force multiculturalism on the US and pander to this section of our population for their vote?

Let’s look at Europe. Multiculturalism has made Sweden the rape capital of Europe. It’s estimated one in every four Swedish women will be sexually assaulted 4.  Swedish courts are sympathetic to the rapists and often acquit, even in the case of gang rape. We are hearing these types of atrocities throughout Europe with the influx of Middle Eastern refugees.  These criminals also prey on the LGBT community.  In Germany this January, two transgender women were allegedly stoned by a gang of migrants after they first tried to sexually assault the women and then learned they were transgender.  The migrants felt their “honor was hurt” and stoned them because “such people” should be killed5.   If we let a rape culture trump our culture we all suffer.  Is this what we want in the United States of America?

For transgender teenagers in public schools, who are bullied and threatened, other accommodations must be made for them, but not by violating the privacy rights of other children.  We cannot allow certain groups of people to have more rights over others because it’s their culture—that’s called breaking the law.  Nor can we allow criminals to hide behind a law and prey on women and children.  If “non-discrimination” ordinances are enacted, and the rights of millions of innocent people are ignored, the consequences could be devastating.

 

1  Quran (24:4)

2  Quran (2:282)

3  New York Times 9/21/2015

4 Gatestone Institute International Policy Council, Sweden: Rape Capital of the West, Ingrid Calrqvist & Lars Hedegaard, February 14, 2015

5 Adam Salandra, 1/17/2016

Hush

1968 Deep Purple, right?  Also a traditional gospel song, Hush, hush, somebody’s calling my name.  The kind of hushing I’m writing about is in regard to the clergy.  I can’t tell you how many times, over the course of the years, I’ve witnessed confused parishioners approach their parish priest and ask them, “Father, which candidate promotes our values and beliefs?” only to be told that they can’t give an opinion.

When did priests and pastors lose their 1st Amendment right to free speech and why?  The Founders were clear that everyone, including religious, have the right to free speech.  If it wasn’t for the Black Robe Regiment during the Revolutionary War, which consisted of clergy who gave inspired sermons that the American Revolution was a righteous cause, to some even leading their congregations into battle, we would probably still be English subjects1.

Civil War researchers acknowledge the importance of the clergy as well.  The war made it acceptable, if not obligatory, to speak out against slavery.  Churches, both clergy and congregations, played a major role in the Underground Railroad.  So what happened?

Is it because of separation of church and state?  Thomas Jefferson, credited with these words, was referring to the separation of church and State, (emphasis on the capital S).  He was easing the fears of religious clergy that the newly formed government would not inflict a State-sponsored religion on the country, as there was in England.   That’s what the Pilgrims ran from.  It was what our country was built on; freedom to practice and live out the religion of your choice wherever you live and whenever you want with no restrictions.

It’s no accident that our first civil right states:  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech…  (emphasis on prohibiting the free exercise thereof.)  It means no man can stop you from practicing, speaking, or living out your religion.  So how can Congress or any agency in government curtail a member of the clergy’s 1st Amendment, God-given right?  The answer is they can’t—not as long as the Constitution is the law of the land.

Silencing of churches begin in 1954 when then Senator Lyndon B. Johnson (D-TX) decided that tax-exempt entities (mostly consisting of houses of worship) should not be allowed to speak out on politics or lose their tax-exempt status.  Why would he do this and why did Congress go along with it when it states clearly in the 1st Amendment that Congress shall make no law…  Hmmm, let’s think.  Could it have anything to do with Johnson’s re-election campaign that faced stiff opposition from conservative Christians?  Or perhaps it was about silencing pastors, especially black pastors, during the civil rights movement?  It’s certainly strange that from 1788, when the Constitution was ratified, until 1954, preachers, pastors, and priests were free to exercise their right to free speech when speaking directly to their congregations.  Coincidence?

The Johnson Amendment, which many contest is unconstitutional, has been facing significant push-back the past few years from pastors who are willing to challenge the law and participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday2, an event that takes place on a date leading up to Election Day.  The movement began with only 33 clergy members participating and has now swelled to 1,800 members and counting.  Priests and pastors that pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor are no longer bowing down to man and giving up their God-given right.

It’s our obligation, as American citizens, to be educated and defend our way of life.  This includes the clergy, as so many in the congregation are thirsting for truth and guidance especially since government-run schools are no longer teaching US history.  Since it’s not learned in schools, it’s up to everyone to educate themselves on both our history (good and bad) and the Constitution.

Freedom doesn’t come free, just take a trip to Arlington National Cemetery and look around.  We as a nation and as a people are in trouble.  We can no longer close our eyes to the attacks on life, privacy, free speech, and religious freedom.  It’s time to wake up those who either can’t or don’t want to see. It’s time to take a stand.  This is especially true for the clergy.  It’s that Moses moment.  This election year I will not violate my conscience.  I’ll stand by my principles and beliefs.  It’s that MLK moment.  I will not give in to misplaced anger or give in to violence to push an agenda conceived by man.  I will not call out for a king3, because he alone can’t make a nation great.  I will put my trust in God and not man.4   It’s time.  To quote John Adams, “Liberty once lost, is lost forever.”  To everything there is a season.  A time to keep silent, and a time to speak.5  Now is the time to speak.

 

1Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, Religion and the American Revolution, Library of Congress. www.locgov/exhibits/religion/rel03.html

2 An event sponsored by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) a Christian legal group based in Arizona.  Visit www.adflegal.org for more information

3 1 Samuel 8

4 Galatians 1:6-10

5Ecclesiastes 3:7

It’s Good to Be the King

Who doesn’t love Mel Brooks?  This particular song was from the soundtrack of History of the World: Part I.  The idea of a king ruling over us is not particularly well received here in the US, or is it?  Our nation was built on Judeo-Christian principles.  We were firm believers that our rights come from God, not man.  However, over the past few years many of our citizens either have forgotten or no longer believe that.

History teaches us when you have a ruler who controls the population it never ends well, which is why the Founders gave us a Republic so that man could rule himself with as little government interference as possible.  To quote Abraham Lincoln, “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  So what happens when these people decide they want a king or queen?

I’m reminded time and time again of 1 Samuel 8, when Israel rejects God as their king and demands a man to rule over them.  Even when God, through Samuel, tells them they will relinquish many of their freedoms, they still demand a king.  They want to have what other nations have—a false sense of security at the price of oppression and loss of liberty in service to the king.

As a serf in a kingdom you are entitled to what the king or queen bestows upon you.  However, many don’t realize what the king or queen gives you—the king or queen can take away.  If you’re a friend of the ruler it means a lofty position, land, money, all on the backs of said serfs (you).  Serfs get to work for low wages and pay high taxes to the ruling family to provide their “free stuff” but more importantly to provide a lifestyle fitting for a king and his royal friends. Sounds familiar?  Yeah, but this ruler will be different.  This ruler will take care of us.  He or she will protect us from the bad people who say mean things, or want us to follow the Constitution, or want to do us harm.  So we give up our God-given rights in the false belief that the ruler will bring us security.  After all, he’s going to build a huge wall around the castle!

What images appear in your mind when you think of a king? A  crown, huge castle, opulence, greed, trumpets and great fanfare, a dungeon to jail those who speak out against the monarchy? You think huge, you think loud, and you think extravagant.  There is no question the boisterous voice is heard over the quiet, but does that mean what comes out of the loudmouth is always correct?

Let’s take a trip in the time machine back to 1960’s.  We all remember the riots, the days of rage, Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, as well as the civil rights movement—Malcolm X and MLK.  Did the violent win over the peacemaker?  Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, a man of God, stood for the rights of Black Americans.  Was he vulgar, ostentatious, or violent?  No, he was the exact opposite; actually making his followers pledge an oath of nonviolence.  Did he promise African-Americans free stuff?  No.  He looked to a day when people would not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.  Did he say rise up and demand the rich pay their fair share?  No, he said whatever you become, become the best at it. If you want to be a garbage man, be the best garbage man. And yet he won.  Why? He had truth on his side—God’s truth.

Unfortunately, the history revisionists have left out the religious side of Rev. King.  It’s quite remarkable since almost all his speeches and writings were steeped in scripture.  Was he perfect? No.  None of us are.  He will be remembered as a modern day Moses.  How many rulers or overlords can you say will be remembered as such?

As America turns further and further away from God and instead turns to a king for a false sense of security, there are days I feel like the prophet Jeremiah, reluctant to speak yet compelled to do so.  Feeling I am not qualified to state the obvious yet I hear Him whisper in my ear, ‘Fear none of them, for I am with you and will keep you safe’ Jeremiah 1:8.

I have quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer so many times but never before has his words had more meaning than they do now.  “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us innocent. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”  I know when I meet Jesus face to face I can tell him I spoke out.  I did my part.  I tried to be a good watcher on the wall (Ezekiel 33:6).  Jesus told us, “I am the truth, the light, and the way,” (John 14:6) “and you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).

As we approach Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, it’s good to remember that the King of Kings entered the world not as a flamboyant king, but as a humble, defenseless child.  He didn’t live in a castle; He was born in a stable.  His parents were not wealthy aristocrats.  We do know He never condemned or threatened those who spoke out against Him or those who even plotted His death.  He didn’t join the local Occupy Jerusalem movement or support Jewish Lives Matter.  Instead of a gold crown He was given a crown of thorns. He stood in silence as His own people mocked Him, spat on Him, and humiliated Him.  He did not raise a hand against those who tortured and crucified Him.  Instead, He forgave them all.

Jesus accepted everyone, even tax collectors and prostitutes.  He also cured a Roman Centurion’s servant and offered life giving waters to a Samaritan woman.  You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to know prostitutes, repentant thieves, tax collectors, outsiders, and a soldier from a conquering empire not your own would not be welcome in a king’s court.

Where we go as a nation I have no idea.  I can tell you if we stay as divided as we are now it will only bring about disaster.  “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” Matthew 12:25.  However, I have hope.  “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Who would you proclaim as your king and savior?  A man, or the King of Kings?

 

Going To the Chapel of Love

Everyone knows this song made famous by The Shirelles.  It’s iconic.  I don’t know how many countless brides have sung this song to themselves or have had it played at their rehearsal dinner or reception.

With all the disturbing stories out there I had to write something uplifting and I think I found it.  Last week I visited the campus of Notre Dame at South Bend, Indiana in the hopes of touring the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.  However, two weddings were scheduled that day so all tours were canceled.  As we were leaving the campus, the bridal party from the first wedding was just starting to leave the basilica.  Instinctively my girlfriend and I walked back to get a look at the bride.

As a mom, I’m patiently waiting for one of my daughters to get married.  There is just something about a wedding.  Every bride is radiant in her gown.  Some have long trains.  Some wear a veil while others do not.  The groom, always handsome in a tux or suit, and the bridal party is also equally beautiful in the color of choice.  Flowers are everywhere and the priest is forever waiting for them at the front of the church.  I never miss an episode of TLC’s Say Yes To The Dress.  I know exactly what kind of wedding gown each of my daughter’s would choose.  We all remember our own wedding.  It’s the one day we look like and are treated like royalty.  For the record—I cry at every wedding.

They say you can’t stop love.  Well this story proves it.  Nothing could stop Fadi and Rana from getting married at their local church.  I wish you could see the pictures.  The bride is gorgeous in her pure white, beaded, ball gown.  Her white rose bouquet is cradled in the crook of her left arm and with her right she holds on to her tall, dark and handsome groom in his dark suit.  The church is packed with guests (standing room only) and white flowers dot each aisle.  The maid of honor is striking in hot pink.  It was a traditional Orthodox Christian wedding, complete with crowns for the bride and groom.  The priest’s garments were robin egg blue and trimmed in gold and he donned the traditional tall, gold, domed crown in the orthodox style.

Sounds like any wedding.  So what is so special about this one?  I said nothing can stop love and nothing could stop this bride and groom from getting married in their local church.  Not a 4-year civil war.  Not the fact that they are a Christian couple in the Christian community of Hamidiyah in Homs, Syria, under attack by Islamist fighters.  Not that they were forced to flee their home town, but returned to get married in their church. Not even the fact that their church was destroyed.  Ah, now I have your attention.

St. George Church in Hamidieh Homs, Syria was among 10 churches destroyed in May 2014.  The church was reduced to rubble after countless airstrikes had destroyed it.  Although there is no longer a roof, there are partial walls and an intact foundation.  A folding table with a white tablecloth substitutes for an altar and that was good enough for Fadi and Rana.

Their wedding photos were featured on the church’s website and later picked up by several people on Twitter and shared around the world as a sign of strength and resilience.  One tweet from Bassem states, “U can destroy their church but u won’t destroy their spirit.  First wedding at St. George church Hamidieh Homs #Syria.”  Several people from around the world tweeted back, including The Christian Yahwist who tweeted “The church buildings might have been destroyed but it was in Syria that home churches were born 2,000 years ago.”  I’m sure this story is very inspirational for those Christians still living in Syria and other parts of the Middle East.  It’s also heartening for Christians in the US where religious persecution has not yet begun.

Love is indeed astounding.  Especially the love God has for us.  There is no doubt He was present at that wedding and for that matter, all of our weddings.  Many couples today choose 1 Corinthians 13 read at their wedding.  I also know that spousal love is not the same love that St. Paul speaks of.  For that we need to go to the root of the word.  The original word is the Greek – agape.  It was translated into Latin and kind of came out charity, but it doesn’t mean charity either.  Agape has no equal word in the English language, in fact it was a word that was not used much in Greek-speaking communities, however it is used 320 in the New Testament.  That tells you something right there.  This love is more like the love of God.  Think John 3:16.

Today while you’re sorting through all the evil and gut wrenching stories in the news, remember that God loves us like no other.  No matter what comes our way He will always be there.  They can destroy our churches, burn our homes, ridicule and ban our traditions and beliefs, even take our lives, but they can never take Him away.  They can never conquer the Spirit.  And one other thing—I’ve read the book, including the last page.  I know how it ends.

Congratulations Fadi and Rana on your wedding.  I hope you have a blessed and glorious life together that includes several children.  Thank you for sharing your joy with the rest of the world.  You prove God cannot be confined to one place.  He cannot be compartmentalized.   He is the great I AM.  He is everywhere and everything.  You also prove as Christians we don’t need decorative domes, roofs, or ornate walls.  All we need is a solid, intact foundation of faith—just like St. George Church.

From the USA to Syria with love.

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If you’d like to view some of the pictures from the wedding go to:  http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/07/19/syrian-combatants-may-have-thought-a-churchs-destruction-would-stop-christian-worship-these-newlyweds-proved-them-so-wrong/

Sources:

Albawaba, The Loop, A Couple in Syria’s Homs Got Married In A Church Turned To Rubble.

Daily Mail UK by Caroline McGuire for MailOnLine, ‘Life Continues Despite Destruction and Death’ July 30, 2015

The Blaze, Syrian Combatants May Have Thought a Church’s Destruction Would Stop Christian Worship. These Newleyweds Proved Them So Wrong, by Sharona Schwartz, July 19, 2015

Patheos Christian Crier, What is Agape Love by Jack Wellman, May 2, 2014

Catholic Answers to Explain & Defend The Faith, 1 Corinthians13: Charity or Love? February 17, 2013

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