A place for freedom of faith and hope. Although I myself, am a Christian, I believe we all have the right to our own spiritual beliefs.
In times like these, it doesn’t hurt to look to the Bible or whatever you reach for, for strength. Here Bible quotes as well as occasional spiritual pieces.
Things We Should Do to Connect With God
It’s important to understand that God loves all of us, no matter what we’ve done in our lives, however, we can’t just go on in life acting as if He’s not even there. We can’t close our eyes, ears, and hearts to the fact that He wants us to be part of His family in heaven one day. But, even with that love and grace present, He also isn’t going to demand that we pay attention to Him, this is because He gave man free will and it’s that free will that often helps to keep us unconnected with God.
God gave us free will so that we wouldn’t feel forced to show Him our love and appreciation. However, I don’t believe that we should take that free will and choose to not want to connect with Him. Unfortunately, that’s what a lot of people in this world have done and are doing.
There are quite a few things that we should do in order to reconnect with Him.
- Stop believing that we are strong enough to do things without asking Him for help or at least for His guidance. As Jesus once said, “You can do nothing without me.” There is no reason for Him to lie to us, there’s nothing for Him to gain, He already has everything.
- We need to be more vigilant in looking for God, looking for moments, or “God moments” when things happen that feel as if they couldn’t have happened without some divine intervention. Another way to look for God is to simply look at the beauty around you, the wonders of nature alone can point you on a path to God.
- Open up the Bible and read it. You might be surprised just how deeply you can feel the hand of God touching the most read book in the world. You can’t use the excuse that you can’t understand the words written in this book because there are plenty of versions out there that are written in plain modern day English!
- It’s important that we do our best to try and love as Christ loves. We are all called to be the Body of Christ so that we can continue to carry out His work on earth. In order to achieve this, we need to not only believe in Christ but we also need to truly believe in the Holy Spirit. We need to believe that the Holy Spirit is part of the “Holy Trinity”. The disciples of Christ didn’t truly understand a single thing that Christ tried to tell them and teach them until He breathed the Holy Spirit into them just prior to His ascension into heaven. But once they were touched by the Holy Spirit, everything became clear and they were able to continue Jesus’s work on earth and most of them went to their graves as martyrs without fear of losing their lives knowing that they had gained their eternal lives through the death and resurrection of Jesus. So just like the disciples, we too are called to be modern-day disciples and in order to do that, we need to believe in the power of His Holy Spirit! If we carry the light of Christ and His Holy Spirit within us, we can transform the world. Maybe we can’t single-handedly transform the entire world, but we can transform a little corner of it. If we can touch those around us, they, in turn, can touch others, so on and so on.
- We need to let other people around us know that Jesus is all that we need to succeed in life.
- If we want an insurance policy for our eternal life, we must adore Christ and put Him first. When we do that, all else will follow.
- Stop listening to the whispers in our ears by Satan telling us that it’s too much trouble to follow Jesus!
- Learn to say “Yes!” to God just like a young girl by the name of Mary did over 2,000 years ago. Even though she knew in her heart that accepting the challenge God offered her, could ruin her life or even end it, she still said “Yes!” without hesitation!
- To be able to unite with Christ we need to be willing to untie our hearts that tend to be bound with all the things society says we should and shouldn’t do. What does society know? Take a good look around you and see exactly where society is today! Ask yourself if society is fit enough to rule over your heart and what you know deep down to be the truth!
- We must take time out of all of our busyness and spend time with God. Whether that means once a week at church, a walk in nature, silent time in prayer, or singing worship music, whatever it is, in order to be able to connect with Him, you MUST do something, you can’t expect for Him to be able to communicate with you if you are too busy to even give Him the time of day!
- C.S. Lewis once said,, “Love is only possible with vulnerability.” we must be vulnerable when we’re in front of God. We need to be “real” about entering into a relationship with Him. If we can’t do that how can we really love each other if we don’t have a loving relationship with God?
I end with this prayer:
Lord, as we stand before You in all Your glory, let us always remember that no matter how big or small the job is, that You call us to do, we should revel in it.
We must realize that even the smallest of things You ask any of us to do is glorious in Your eyes.
Remind us that we need to sing out the beauty of the Gospel of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ and without shame or embarrassment.
Help us to see that everything is part of Your greater vision for all of us.
Important Things to Remember
It’s important to remember some key things about Christ, especially if you find yourself struggling.
- As we unite with Christ He will untie our hearts to be open to Him and the life He wants us to live.
- We need to let others know that Jesus is all we need.
- Adoring Christ is a must for our eternity.
- We mess up over and over again, but Christ never stops loving us. We need to be the same with our friends.
- Remember, Jesus did not come for the perfect.
- We have nothing of value to offer anyone if Christ isn’t in us.
- We must take time to be with Him. If we give it time He will reveal Himself to us.
- Love is only possible with vulnerability. We must be vulnerable in front of God. We need to get real about our relationship with Him. We can’t really love each other truly without having a loving relationship with Him.
- We must pray to get rid of the preying in our lives.
- We CAN change, we CAN get better. We can change what we do and say to become more beautiful.
Prayers for Blessings
“Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.
“Lord, you are mine! I promise to obey your words! With all my heart I want your blessings. Be merciful as you promised. I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws. I will hurry, without delay, to obey your commands. Evil people try to drag me into sin, but I am firmly anchored to your instructions. I am a friend to anyone who fears you, anyone who obeys your commandments. O Lord, your unfailing love fills the earth; teach me your decrees.”
Psalm 119:57-61, 63-64
“I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
“May the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen.”
-1 Thessalonians 3: 12-13
“Peace be with you, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.”
-Ephesians 6: 23-24
“May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”
-Colossians 1: 11-14
Why the Violence?
Two thousand plus years have passed since Christ walked the earth. You would think by now, in what some proclaim to be a civilized culture or “enlightened” age, that violence would be on the decline. Sadly, it seems to be just the opposite.
The Peace We Had Hoped For
When we entered the 20th century, there was great hope and promise with the rise of the industrial West. They saw unbounded progress and hope of great peace to come. Science looked as if it were poised to conquer nature once and for all and to bring disease, poverty, and hunger to an end. The churches were filled with optimism which also reflected in the popularity of the post-millennial viewpoint. It was a belief that everything was going to continue to keep on getting better as they waited for the return of Christ.
The Violence We Got
However, just as with the so-called “unsinkable” Titanic failed to live up to its billing, so did the dreams of that Victorian era. The dreams they held were no match for the awful violent capacity of our own human nature. Not only did the 20th century fail to be the start of a new age of endless peace and prosperity, but it would also be marked by human violence and atrocity on a scale far worse than anything the world has ever seen before.
It’s approximated that during the 20th century there were around 175 million lives that were deliberately extinguished by politically motivated carnage.
In the United States alone, the murder rate by the end of the 20th century was ten times higher than it was at the start of the century. The suicide rate and violent crime by teens had tripled in the last 25 years of the 20th century. A quarter of American households were victimized by crime each year.
All types of child abuse were on the rise and continue to be which include: physical, sexual, and emotional. Even a drive from home to work can involve a risk of violence because the incidents of serious “road rage” rose 51% from 1990-1997.
Why Does Violence Happen?
What are some of the factors that contribute to the increase in violence all around us?
- Loss of Identity – Just 200 years ago, a person’s identity was more closely tied to family, God, and community. More people tended to work on their own farms, ran their own businesses, and carried on their own trades. More laborers had personal relationships with their employers. In contrast, people today are strangers without any identities.
- Loss of Healthy Family Relationships – Healthy family relationships are foundational to a stable society. By 1998, one in every three births in the U.S. alone were out of wedlock.
According to a recent study, the relationship between family structure and child abuse is:
- Six times higher in a family where a divorced mother has remarried.
- Fourteen times higher for children living alone with their biological mother.
- Twenty times higher for children living alone with their biological father.
- Twenty times higher for children living with cohabiting but unmarried biological parents.
- Thirty-three times higher for children living with a biological mother who is cohabiting with a man who isn’t their father.
These statistics apply to a broad cross-section of society. They don’t say what will happen in all single-parent and blended families. They do, however, show trends that need to be counteracted by conscious parental care and consideration.
But research has shown that abuse is less likely to happen in a healthy home environment. But the pattern is reversed when children are denied the model of a loving mom and dad. The FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime concludes that “the three most frequent factors in the history of a killer are physical or sexual abuse, a failure in emotional attachment to the mother, and a failure to use parents as role models.”
Current trends for the future are not good. Criminologists predict a wave of “super-criminals” who are raised without positive male role models, proper guidance, or affection.
- Loss of Innocence – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). The experiences of infancy and childhood have a huge influence on adult behavior. Culture has changed from nurturing children to providing them with early exposure to experience in the hope of preparing them for the challenges of life. This shift has brought a relentless assault on children’s innocence by the media. Popular musicians and movie stars model increasingly violent and promiscuous behavior before ever-younger audiences.
Even with the knowledge that children are exposed far too early and far too often to adult situations, we as a collective act as if we can’t do anything about it. We seem too often allow ourselves to be guided by the lowest common moral denominator of our culture.
- Loss of Community – The Bible emphasizes our responsibility to our neighbors. This isn’t surprising. It is in the context of relationships with neighbors, people we know well, that good character is nurtured.
In our culture today, like other modern cultures, has taken a decidedly un-neighborly turn. Fewer and fewer Americans are living in the same place for more than a few years. Most move hundreds or thousands of miles from their childhood community to just get employment. In fact, sad to say, few people today even seem to consider established friendships as a factor when given an opportunity to move to a new house in a nicer community.
But for us to have roots in a community is civilizing. A person is less likely to steal from a neighbor if he is a friend at the same time. For example, a husband will be less likely to cheat on his wife if everyone he knows will be indignant at the harm he’s done to his wife and family. But, in an impersonal culture, sin is anonymous. Our loss of social moral restraints leads to antisocial attitudes and an illusion of independence from moral law.
Because of all of this, feelings of resentment and entitlement grow stronger as a sense of personal and community responsibility diminish. It’s easier to feel resentment and hatred in isolation. If we don’t know or care about our neighbor, it is easier to covet his house, his wife, and his possessions. It’s far easier to act violently toward those we don’t know and don’t want to know.
- Loss of Satisfaction – Historically, most people were once too occupied with the struggle to survive to even think of comparing themselves with the wealthy. Today food, shelter, and clothing are a birthright. Those who have less have the leisure to resent those who have more. Adding to the passion of their envy, our culture offers people the demoralizing values of crass materialism and consumerism.
- Loss of Responsibility – There was a driver once who had a gun and got cut off in traffic. After which he started a wild chase after the other driver and the chase ended when he took his gun and shot the other driver. He actually waited for the police and while doing so, he actually asked the onlookers “Did you see what he did?!” That was a true story. It seems people today often tend to feel they aren’t responsible for what they do, that they are the victims of circumstances or “irresistible impulses.” This type of mindset often results in violence. “Wrath kills a foolish man, and envy slays a simple one.” (Job 5:2)
- Loss of Authority – A majority of our universities have reinforced the cynicism and despair that are at the core of today’s modern values. They are taught that there is no absolute truth or reliable authority, they maintain that what is important is political power only.
- When all spiritual and moral authority is denied, important social restraints are lost. Truth then is replaced by “spin,” and “spin” is condemned only if it doesn’t work. If it continues, this denial of objective truth will continue to produce disunity, hatred, and violence.
- Loss of Control – A lot of us are deeply disturbed by these dangerous cultural trends. Knowing that our freedom depends on personal responsibility, we view our society’s drift with great alarm, or at least we should. We find ourselves acting contrary to our deepest convictions and sometimes may even respond violently. But violent reactions only lead to more violence.
These losses and others all contribute to the violent spirit we are seeing in this century. But, they’re just symptoms of a more profound underlying problem. The most important explanation for violence is found in a loss of peace at the deepest levels of our existence.
- Loss of Relationship With God – According to the Bible, in the beginning, there was peace. According to the Bible, our “first parents” lived in a perfect world. They were innocent with nothing to hide. They walked and talked with God in the Garden of Eden. As long as they enjoyed peace with Him, they had peace with each other and everything they needed was granted to them.
- The Hebrew word for this type of peace is “shalom”. Shalom is for more than just the mere absence of violence, but it pictures life in harmony with God, the presence of spiritual well-being, material provision, righteousness, wholeness, and victory over evil.
Very early in the earth’s history, something dark and sinister broke this peace, something that wanted to establish its own authority against the God it hated, something that would shatter the garden’s peace. This rebel spirit spoke through the mouth of a serpent and told our “first parents” that their Creator could not be trusted. He told them the Creator was holding out on the couple by denying them access to the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Of course, we all know this rebel spirit by the name of Satan.
Once they trusted the rebel instead of God, they did get what they wanted and more. With a firsthand taste of the difference between good and evil, our “first parents” experienced the death of their innocence. Their thoughts would never be the same. From that point on they would experience anger, anxiety, pride, jealousy, hatred, lust, and much more. From that moment on there was something that was disconnected from God.
Their peace with God was shattered, and they were infected with the germ of violence and death.
Even though God patiently offered to restore His relationship with the fallen Adam and Eve, He didn’t exempt them from the consequences of their distrust of Him. So, as we all know, they were exiled from Eden into a world prone to violence. Immediately for them, life began to be filled with struggles and in the growing darkness of sin outside of the garden, our “first parents” came face to face with the forces of the violence they themselves were responsible for unleashing. In a fallen world of their own choosing, Adam and Even discovered that the enemy had won a large part of their own hearts.
Violent Results of a Lost Relationship With God
The decision that was made by Adam and Eve sacrificed our own legacy of peace. Instead of relying on the generosity of a providing God, they tried to look after their own interests. By stealing that bite from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they ended up with a lot more knowledge than they could afford or handle. In time they discovered firsthand, and to their deep regret, that evil and violence are the twin consequences of a lost relationship with God.
Only relying on God can we be secure enough to care for each other out of the generous provision He makes for us. Those who lack this confidence are more inclined to believe that if they don’t look out for themselves, no one else will. This kind of mindset causes self-protecting persons to try to provide for themselves at the expense of others, often in violent ways.
Envy and Unrestrained Desire
When people have no fear of God and no reliance on Him, they have no internal boundaries. Greed turns a plentiful world, which God created to provide abundance to all, into a battleground. Alienated from God self-reliant people often become like hungry animals competing for prey. People who become envious of their neighbors can become dangerous.
Seeking a Scapegoat
Without peace and purposefulness that come from a relationship with God, people are fearful and angry. There is uncertainty and meaninglessness in their lives and it fills them with anxiety. Their futile search for satisfaction only fills them with rage and frustration. The pressure of these bad emotions will keep growing within them.
Since it is extremely difficult to live with bottled-up emotions, such people will often look for someone else to blame things on. That someone will become the lightning rod for their built-up fear and rage. When separated from God and unwilling to take any responsibility for their own bad feelings, those who are seething beneath the surface of forced civility will seek out a scapegoat to blame and attack.
Governments exist to try and restrain negative tendencies and to assure a social order that can resist anarchy and uncontrolled violence. However, without any foundation in truth, which requires a relationship with God, all social systems are destined to develop their own lies and threats to try to hold the masses in check.
The practice of blaming someone else for our own sins isn’t new. It all started at the beginning of time with Adam and Eve. Adam turned and blamed Eve for all of it, Eve turned and blamed the serpent, and even Cain blamed Abel. Once a right relationship with God is broken, people will become totally obsessed with trying to protect their own “self-righteousness” in order to avoid the pain and shame of their own guilt and accountability to God. Truth becomes the victim when people deny their own culpability.
Violence Begins in a Rebellious Heart
The very first recorded human bloodshed was fratricide when Cain killed his own brother because of envy and a previous dispute with God.
From the very start, it has been the same. When people don’t have a right relationship with God, they envy and resent the spiritual legitimacy of anyone who continues to seek Him.
Individual Violence Leads to Societal Violence and Anarchy
The global spread of violence was temporarily put in check after God decided to wipe the earth of all the evil with his flood. But the reality of the rebellion in the hearts of people remained. Given enough time, the disease of an individual’s sinful heart will always spread outward and will infect society and civilizations. This is a recurring theme in the Bible and it continues on today. Time after time, people follow a predictable pattern. Every time God stepped in, people would repent and things would be fine, but it would only take a short period of time before people would be back at it again.
Violence Will Continue to be Rooted In Personal Evil
It’s important that we remember that the evil against which we struggle in this world is not just outside of ourselves. It also isn’t random or accidental. This evil can’t be rightly attributed only to defective systems of religion, education, community, or government.The evil seeds of violence have been and will always be found in our own personal opposition to the rule and kingdom of God. We will always be at the mercy of the “Evil One” if we do not set right our relationship with God.
Violence Rooted in Rejection of Truth
Violence doesn’t just happen. It’s a symptom of rejecting the truth. Whether that truth resides in the world of nature, in the words of prophets, or in the basic understanding of the Bible, the principle is the same, violence follows in the steps of evil that rejects the knowledge and the rule of God.
There is Hope
This violent world may seem beyond hope, but so did the lifeless body of a little girl that Christ breathed life into. Christ didn’t call for us to just be spectators of the world’s self-destruction. He gave all of us the task to carry on His work of healing and redemption. We are the heirs of His kingdom. The darker the world, the more powerful the kingdom’s light is. Remember these words from Jesus:
“You are the light of the world…Let your light so shine before men, that they may…glorify your Father in heaven.”
A wonderful prayer for all times but especially now was written by St. Francis of Assisi:
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; Whre there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; It is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”
His Heart Must Be Breaking
Whether you believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah or just a great prophet, it’s a fact that He was a real person of great wisdom and power who walked this earth over 2,000 years ago. He brought a message of love, peace, and salvation, that lives on today. He died for those beliefs in the hope that He could save all of mankind.
Living in a country that was originally founded on the Judeo/Christian beliefs of Christ, it’s sad to see where this country has come to and where it might be headed. I suppose that is the same truth for many other countries around the world. It’s simply heartbreaking. But can you imagine the pain that it brings to the Sacred Heart of Christ Himself?
What society as a whole has become is not what Christ intended for all of us. He didn’t want to see so many turn away from His Father, He didn’t want to see so many of us turn against one another in the ways that we see each and every day.
As so many turn towards a more dark side of humanity, one that is far less tolerant than it has been in years, it must burden His heart with all this darkness. It’s as if all his teachings about tolerance, peace, and love were all in vain, wasted on silent ears. It’s hard to imagine that He could be pleased with where the world is heading and neither should we be.
Even though Christ teaches us to be people of peace and love, He doesn’t teach us to sit back and ignore the evils around us. He also doesn’t teach us to stay silent or hide in a corner when it comes to defending Him or His Father in heaven. In fact, He tells us not to hide the “Light” but to let it shine bright and keep it shining.
Christ also tells us that a life following Him would never be easy but that it would be difficult, however, He would be with us at every bump in the road. This is something that those who believe in Him, need to remember as we face the things that seem to be coming our way, especially in this country.
To be strong and have the ability to fight against the slings and arrows that keep coming from all directions, we either have to put our faith in Christ, or at least in His teachings, so that we can rise above the darkness and fight for our God-given freedoms!
O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me, and set me free. Be my rock of safety where I can always hide. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked, from the clutches of cruel oppressors. O Lord, rescue me from evil people. Protect me from those who are violent, those who plot evil in their hearts and stir up trouble all day long. Their tongues sting like a snake; the venom of a viper drips from their lips.
Psalm 71:1-4, 140:1-3
You have done many good things for me, Lord, just as you promised. I believe in your commands; now teach me good judgment and knowledge. I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word. You are good and do only good; teach me your decrees. My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees. Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver.
Psalm 119:65-68, 71-71