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Posts Tagged ‘love’

Guns, Games & Cold Love: What Happened to the Golden Rule?

In Children, hate, love, plots, terror on May 25, 2013 at 8:57 am

A booking photo of Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes is shown in this handout supplied by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office in Centennial, Colorado

The lights were off and people of all ages sat innocently in their seats, eyes riveted to a silver screen. Twelve of them did not leave the theater. Fifty-eight left in ambulances.

It was midnight and a mother and three of her children were sound asleep. They would never wake to greet the morning. By dawn, her husband, too, would be dead.

She was still asleep when her dreams ended. It was dark when four bullets sunk into her head; she will never know that her son used her own guns to murder her and 26 others at the elementary school nearby.

My heart aches for the victims and loved ones of these heinous crimes. James, Nehemiah and Adam, once young men with families, talents and promising futures, are now suspects in three of the most unconscionable murderous rampages in our nation’s history.

What made them do it? What were they thinking? Where was their love for others? What made their love grow so cold?

Many are weighing in with answers to all of these questions from every angle. Do a Google search and you will find a plethora of speculative articles that place the blame for these mass shootings on bad parenting, guns, parents with guns, inadequate gun control laws, illegal drug use, mental illness, psychotic breakdowns, lack of security in our schools, violent video games, bullying, and more.

If you read my column on a regular basis, however, you know that I prefer to do a Bible search. No, I do not find answers in my Bible to why specific people in my country are shooting each other, but I do find specific causes for the current condition of our society.

For instance, in Matthew 24, Jesus describes what the world will be like just before he returns. After delivering a mind-numbing list of cataclysmic natural disasters, international revolutions, economic collapse, religious persecution, deception and betrayal, he reveals the answer to my question above: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” Matthew 24:12 NKJV

Lawlessness, adjective. 1. contrary to or without regard for the law: lawless violence 2. Being without law; uncontrolled by a law; unbridled; unruly; unrestrained: lawless passion 3. Illegal:  bootleggers’ lawless activity

Notice this word, lawlessness, is an adjective. Pardon the English lesson, but that means that it modifies a noun or pronoun. People are nouns. People are modified by lawlessness; their behavior changes, and it isn’t pretty.

Forgive me if it sounds like I am over-simplifying the dark complexities behind the motives of mass murderers, only God is able to do a thorough root cause analysis on such heinous offenders. But knowing our human struggle with evil, he graciously established a legal system to govern societies – to keep the peace, foster goodwill and nurture love – all the things that reflect his myriad attributes.

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Again, my heart is broken for the traumatized survivors and victim’s families and loved ones of these terrible crimes. I don’t pretend to understand why young people find assault rifles glamorous or how they can aim them at their own parents, brothers, sisters, or grade school children and pull the trigger over and over. What I do understand is that love won’t grow cold when society collectively protects the laws of the land and we love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Top Photo: "A booking photo of Colorado shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes is shown in this handout supplied by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office (Handout) (Handout/Reuters)"
Bottom Photo: Susan Montoya Bryan/AP Photo; "A bouquet of flowers adorns the entrance to a home on Jan. 21, 2013, where a couple and their three young children were found shot to death south of Albuquerque, N.M. The couple's 15-year-old son, Nehemiah Griego, is facing counts of murder and child abuse in connection with the shootings.

The Unlived Life of Russell Stone, Part 7

In choices, death, divorce, fear, fiction, help, judging, love, marriage, obedience, relationships on October 3, 2011 at 9:41 pm

A Novelette

 by Cheryl Courtney Semick

Mrs. Stone’s story of the late Russell Stone hit a nerve in Rachel. It is 8:30 AM.

The anger rising in me was shocking. I wanted to run like villagers do when the volcano they live by day-in-and-day out starts rumbling. Mrs. Stone could see the eruption forming on my face. Still, she calmly continued.

“People judge these unlived lives as actors, manipulators or lazy bums, having no idea that they are starving for an ounce of acceptance and love in any form. They remain children in their mind with no definition for what drives them or what was stolen from them; they just know they are different from everyone else.”

I felt punched in the stomach and filled with shame. I held her gaze so she couldn’t see that I am one of those judges; that I am only an hour away from dumping such a soul.

“But why did you marry him, knowing he could never be a real husband to you?” I asked. She took in a deep breath; a strange peace engulfed me as she exhaled, something I still can’t explain, though I’ve rolled it over and over in my mind ever since.

“I didn’t know all this when I married him. He seemed as normal as any man,” said Mrs. Stone through tears. “At first I felt deceived, but to honor my vows, I had to love him unconditionally as I am loved by my Creator; that is only fair, don’t you think?”

I shrugged, non-committed. I wasn’t a religious person, but I had to agree that if the Creator loves me unconditionally, I should give my fellow man the same courtesy. I mean, that made sense, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a moral, good, considerate person. I obey the law and all, but her take on it seemed unrealistic.

“But how could you play along with it all? It doesn’t seem fair to you,” I said, my voice now pleading, my mind oblivious to the clock.

“Over time I learned that his feigned normalcy was more than just an act—it was a desperate cry for help,” she said. “I knew that my love for Russell had to be bigger than me. It had to reach beyond my romantic dreams, beyond my rights as a woman, as a wife. I had to love him more than he could ever love me.”

I choked. Shaking my head I pushed all these super woman ideals as far away from me as I could. She had no idea that Steve and Mr. Stone were one and the same and I wasn’t about to tell her. I needed to extricate myself from the Stone’s upside-down world and focus on my court date. I glanced up at the clock. It’s 8:40 AM.

“I’m sorry Mrs. Stone. With all due respect, I have a 9AM meeting I can’t miss. Please forgive me for rushing off like this. The staff will help you with the paperwork we need you to complete before Mr. Stone’s burial. I will call you later today.”

Mrs. Stone smiled serenely and looked down at the journal in her hands. My hand was on the door handle when she called my name. I turned around.

“Please take this and read it before you go to court.”

I gave her a sideways look as I took the journal from her trembling hand. How did she know my ‘meeting’ was in court?

To be continued….

________________

Read from the beginning…

Why Travel this Christmas?

In Bible, Christ, Christmas, faith, Jesus, love, plots, Scripture on November 27, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Thanks to the underwear bomber who ruined Christmas, the friendly skies have turned dark. Travelers over this past Thanksgiving took to the highways in record numbers in order to avoid scanners and strips searches at airports. But travel they did and, regardless of the obstacles and inconveniences, nothing stops travelers at Christmas.

Little is known about the Wise Men who traveled from the east to find the Christ Child. Their appearance, barely a few sentences on the pages of Scripture, dissolves so quickly, it begs the question as to why they have commanded such prominence in the telling of the Christmas story.

Like a side plot, the Wise Men weave into the narrative, unwittingly stir up trouble, present their gifts then sneak out of the country in fear of their lives. That’s it. But why? They were astrologers! Sure, there was one star that was brighter than the others, but what drove them to lay extravagant gifts at the feet of a two-year-old in a faraway land? Why travel if the star was the prize? They could study the sky and its heavenly bodies from their own rooftop.

Clearly, it wasn’t about the star. If that’s all they were seeking, why bring gifts? No, it was the One the star pointed to that drew them to Judea. They knew from their studies of ancient Hebrew writings that this star heralded the birth of a king—a very special king—and they were driven to worship Him no matter what that journey entailed.

Their quest, hardly a passing curiosity, undoubtedly absorbed years of their attention prior to the arduous journey. It was a quest that has inspired millions, including me—souls who will not rest until they find the Christ Child of Christmas.

Fortunately, we don’t need to travel to a physical location to find Him. Our pursuit is one of faith. Believing that God is Who He says He is, that Jesus is Who He said He was, that the Bible is God’s inspired Word and that the story is not over until He says it’s over.

Yes, finding the Christ Child involves travel, but the land we must traverse to reach Him is that of our own heart: the mountains of lies and false doctrines, the valleys of pain and past hurts; the rivers of tears and misunderstandings and the deserts of loneliness and discouragement.

Why travel through such horrible conditions? Why leave the comfort of our habits and familiar surroundings to pay homage to an ancient character in a story that could possibly just be a fable perpetuated by religious fanatics? There is only one reason, and it throbs ceaselessly in every human heart from birth to deathbed: Love.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

That verse, John 3:16, like the Christmas story itself, is still to this day, the simple, uncomplicated reason why millions still travel to places of worship on a silent night in December.

It is the reason we stand in long lines of impatient shoppers to possess gifts for our loved ones—a reenactment of the extraordinary lengths to which God went when He wrapped His precious Son in human flesh—the perfect gift.

Love and hope, and the promise of an eternity of peace and goodwill, is that not the quest that calls to your heart every day of the year?

Travel to see the King this Christmas, He is worthy of your most extravagant gifts.

Lost for Good

In believe, fear, focus, God, lessons, love, trust on September 26, 2009 at 11:46 am

They are quite a pair – deep red rubies nestled with shimmering diamond marquises in golden snowflakes.  The earrings were a special gift of love from my Mother, but soon became an object lesson of my Heavenly Father’s love.

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One morning, a few weeks after I received them, I woke to a nagging alarm clock and pushed myself through another morning routine.  Rattling off my mental list – lipstick, heels, lunch, jewelry – I grabbed the new earrings, tossed them into my suit jacket pocket and bolted down the 21 stairs from my apartment atop a restaurant in an old building.

I had managed to put one of the earrings in my left ear as I descended, but when I got out to the gravel parking lot, I reached in for the other and my finger slipped through a hole.

My racing heart smacked into a wall of fear. No way! I did not just lose that earring!  Where is it?! Is it in the gravel? I’ll never find it there!  Maybe on the staircase, I’ll go back…how stupid I am! Why did I put them in my pocket before checking for holes?! I have got to find that earring – I’ll break my Mother’s heart!

Hyperventilating, I ran to my car, stuffed my bags inside and quickly retraced my steps. Like a crazed madwoman I hunted for the missing jewels, scouring all 21 steps three times over. I went all the way back to the beginning of my day, mimicking my every move prior to the realization that my precious earring was gone.  Between screams at myself for being so foolish, I choked out, God! You can see it!  You can see everything! Please show me where it is! You know where it is God, please, please show me!

Every day for the next three months I begged and pleaded with God for its return. I even went so far as to suggest that He dispatch an angel for a swifter delivery!

The summer of ’94 cooled into a painful winter and my prayers became focused on a much bigger loss; another divorce. Crying myself to sleep one night I asked,  God, do You hear my prayers? Do you hear me? Do you care that my life is falling apart again?

His answer arrived unmistakably the next morning as I placed my bags in my car.  There on the freshly vacuumed carpet behind the driver’s seat was the missing earring.  I have never doubted his love and attention again.

I knew my earring had been lost for good.

Love Smells.

In Christ, fragrance, garden, God, Jesus, love, marriage on May 1, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Breathe.

That’s the one-word advice I give to newly engaged couples.

Breathe when things get tense.  Breathe when everything around you stinks. Breathe when the inevitable storms of life threaten your dreams.

Catch wind of her scent when everything she says and does confuses you.  Take a deep whiff of those roses he brings home when everything he doesn’t say and doesn’t do hurts you.

I’m sure God had couples in mind when he planted the first flowers.  He knew, as we now know, that marriage gets challenging after the honeymoon.  He also knew that the simple act of breathing can harness the tongue and allow love’s aroma to prevail when all else reeks.

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God knew that the force of fragrance could penetrate the heart even when the curtains are drawn on the windows of the eye and the passageway of the ear is plugged by stubborn selfishness.

It is no wonder then, that God began his plans for the first couple’s wedding in a garden.  In fact, he spent five days designing their first home (with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, 2 Peter 3:8 NIV).

After laying the foundation and installing the plumbing; after making sure everything was in good working order and all was mathematically correct, God became frivolous. When it was time to decorate, he flamboyantly carpeted and dressed their home with exquisite trimmings of every kind – crowning it with an endless array of breathtaking blossoms.

But God doesn’t get frivolous without a purpose.  His flowers were to play a vital role in love’s timeless message.  There, hidden in the frail and vulnerable petals, God placed power – power that could force the stench of hate and bitterness out of our cities, our homes and our hearts.

Shortly after their wedding, the first couple made a devastating choice.  Though that choice separated them from the Lover of their soul, God knew love was not in danger of extinction.  His fragrant presence was restored through a flower – the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley – Jesus Christ, his only Son.

Love took on the fragrance of death, he shed his blood and though the stench of the world’s sins hung on his flesh and God had to look away, Death’s decay gave way to the sweetest smell on earth – redemption.

So breathe.

Breathe God’s frivolous love when you can’t see a way out.  Breathe when your hearing is impaired by lies from the god of self.  Breathe his salvation into your soul by saying, “I do” to him at the altar of your heart – and may the fragrance of his love always fill your home.