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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Did Jeffrey Meet Jesus?

The man slumped to the floor, his glasses crushed, his head bleeding profusely. He looked up at his attacker, the man wielding the blood-soiled, solid-metal weight bar and said, "I don't care if I live or die. Go ahead and kill me."

The man with the metal bar gladly met the bleeding man's demand and administered a vicious adrenalin-infused blow to the man's head. The bleeding man was rendered unconscious as his attacker countinued bludgeoning until he had pulverized the man's head. The man's body survived long enough to make it into the ambulance where he was pronounced dead from severe head trauma.

What do you feel for this bleeding man as he is experiencing this attack? Pain? Sympathy? Anger at his attacker?

What if I tell you both men were prisoners and the bleeding man was serving a life sentence for murder? Do you still feel pain? sympathy? anger? Do you feel less of it because this man was a murderer?

Witnesses say that guards walked away from the attack, closing the doors behind them, allowing the attack to happen. Some say it was planned and that even the guards allowed the plans to play out. Witnesses also say that despite the bloody, gruesome scene, some time passed before the guards called for medical help.

What do you feel now? Anger? Apathy?

What if I tell you the bleeding man with the pulverized head was Jeffrey Dahmer? In 1991 Dahmer confessed to raping, torturing, killing, and dismembering 15 men and boys and murdering 2 other men. He also confessed to committing post mortem rapes and cannibalism on his victims.

What do you feel about this vicious attack now? Anything?

In the early 90's I was in my early 20's. I remember I couldn't turn on the news for months it seemed without being inundated with Dahmer details. We learned more than we needed to know about what this guy did, and the details were so disgusting and shocking that as time went on and more details emerged, the schock drifted into a complacency. Not because we didn't care but because the recent week's horrid revelation just didn't seem to out-disgust the one they shared the week before.

I probably should have been a psychiatrist because I've always been interested in what makes the darkest of the dark in humanity tick. And I truly thought I could never hear a another detail that would surprise me about Jeffrey Dahmer.

But this past Saturday, I did.

I wandered across an old prime time news program that consisted of a 1994 interview with Dahmer shortly before his death. The interview shocked me - not because of any of the horrid things I already knew about him but because of one shocking thing I'd never heard.

Dahmer who had believed in the theory of evolution and felt that it made him his own god - Dahmer who also believed he was the devil - had prayed for the salvation that only Jesus Christ offers and was baptized - both while incarcerated. Dahmer's father had shared creationism and Jesus with Dahmer after he went to prison, and according to Dahmer, his heart accepted it.

If his heart truly was right with God and if there are no unforgivable sins, this means Dahmer slipped out of his flesh and into the arms of Jesus.

Now, what do you feel?

I leave you with these questions:

1. Are there any unforgivable sins?

2. Do you think when Dahmer slipped out of his flesh that he landed in the arms of Jesus?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Evil Is God's Megaphone"

Question: Why does God allow His children to be the object of evil?

I usually leave my conversations with God with answers. Today, however, I left with this deep and troubling question. Evil was not on my mind in the least when I snuggled in close to God this morning. But when He released me to face the world, I was left unsettled by the concept of evil.

I don't mean evil like ghosts and goblins and witches and other make-believe fantasies. I mean REAL evil. Someone who kidnaps and murders a 7-year-old girl and dumps her in a landfill. A mother who gets liquored and doped up and kills a carload full of children driving the wrong way on a highway. A man who kidnaps an 11-year-old girl, rapes her, gets her pregnant twice, and holds her and her two girls hostage in a shed in the back yard for 18 years. Teenagers who douse a fellow teen in alcohol and set him on fire.

This is the real evil that exists in our world today, and I haven't even scratched the surface.

John 3 was on my reading list today which is what led me to start thinking about evil in the first place. Around verse 19 or 20, Jesus talks a little about evil. He says that evil men do not come to the Light for fear that their evil deeds will be known. And those who do evil hate the Light. Jesus, of course, is the Light.

So today's Bible reading collided with recent news and I was left with: Why does God allow his children to be the object of evil?

I can honestly say I've never asked the question if God is so good, why does he let bad things happen? Partly because I've just always trusted that He knows what He's doing and partly because I read the C.S. Lewis book The Problem of Pain early in my Christian walk. It answered that question before I even knew to ask it. Another great book that explores good and evil, also by C.S. Lewis is The Great Divorce which takes the reader on a fictional journey through Heaven and Hell. Read both of these if you grapple with the question of evil in the world.

As I meditated on today's question throughout the rest of my day, answers came to me. I am not a theologian in any way, so this is a commoners thoughts.

Question: Why does God allow His children to be the object of evil?

  • It solidifies our connection to Him.
  • The result is feeding a larger plan.
  • To prove to the devil that unconditional love of God does exist.
  • Evil is God's megaphone to a sick and dying world. His children have security in Heaven regardless of the result.
  • Because eliminating evil would mean eliminating choice. Eliminating choice would mean eliminating free will. Eliminating free will means eliminating good and evil. If there is no evil, what would we consider good? If there is no good, what would we consider evil?

And why evil specifically on His children? What is the solution? Segregate the evil people from the good? God could not do that and still allow us free will could He?

A day will come when He will segregate us and when the result of our choice to love Him, possible because of our free will, will be made pure and complete. Are you ready?

"Evil is God's megaphone to an unbelieving world." - C.S. Lewis

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Caught in a "Web" of Confusion

I have a confession to make. I love Halloween. I love dressing up in silly costumes -- yes, I still do that (last year, I was "woman covered in spiders"). I love looking through my kids' candy scores. I love carving jack-o-lanterns. I love haunted houses. I love those CDs with scary laughter and music. I love pretend ghosts and bats and witches and vampires.

It's the one day of the year when I can just be goofy and no one questions my sanity.

I don't know much about the reason for Halloween. Why it exists. What it symbolizes. How it came to be. Sure, I could Google it, but I'm afraid I may read something that will make me feel guilty for enjoying it. So, I free myself from inaccurate resolution by choosing to remain unstudied in this area.

Besides, sure enough, if I find something incriminating on one "Web" page, I will find something acquitting on the next. Then I have to determine which "Web" sites are credible and which are unreliable. And by then, I'm really confused, I have a searing headache, and I'm dwelling on my guilty feelings over the really bad thing I read even though I have no idea if it's true or not.

Are you "Caught in a 'Web' of Confusion," too?

Last year, I went with my son's first-grade class to the book fair at his school. My son loves Pokemon, so as we were looking through the Pokemon books, one of the girls in his class came up to us and said, "I love Pokemon, but my mom won't let me have Pokemon stuff."

I said, "why?"

She said, "Because she says it's of the devil."

It wasn't the response I was expecting, and all I could squeak out was, "Oh."

After watching lots and lots and lots of Pokemon, "of the devil" is not something I would have used to describe the show.

Good versus bad - yes.

Dark versus light - yes.

Happy versus angry - yes.

"Of the devil" - NEVER crossed my mind.

And the puzzling thing is, on Pokemon, the good guys always win. Similar to superhero programs, there is usually a lesson in the battles portrayed. Sometimes, Pokemon can be so shiny and happy, it almost makes me gag just a little.

So, what was up with this mom? My guess -- she Googled it.

Then, she believed only the incriminating stuff she read without actually viewing the program and forming her own opinion.


She allowed the poorly-researched, incriminating stuff to weave itself into her judgement-making capabilities and then viewed the program through the tunnel of someone else's bad opinions.

I never Googled Pokemon and never will. I would rather form my own opinions of the show. There are many many cartoons I do not let my kids watch due to content I have observed. So far, Pokemon has not raised a red flag in my head.

NOTE: While searching for appropriate Pokemon videos on YouTube for my kids to watch, I encountered some Pokemon videos that individuals turned into ugly things that children should not be viewing. PARENTS - ALWAYS BE AWARE OF WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE VIEWING IF THEY BROWSE YOUTUBE or any other site that individuals can add their own creations to.

"Web" confusion doesn't just happen with things that are supposedly evil, it happens in the Christian world, too. Probably especially in the Christian world. Have you all seen this video that is going around that asks "Did Jesus give us the name of the antichrist?" It claims that Luke 10:18 which states "And he said unto them, I beheld Satan falling as lightning from the heavens" when spoken by Jesus in His language actually said the antichrist's name. According to the videomaker, in Jesus' language, "lightning from the heavens" is translated as "Baraq U Bam Maw."

Okay, you see where the video is going with this right?

Because I recalled something in the Bible saying something about not knowing who the antichrist is until the time of tribulation, I had to Google this one -- not to form my own opinion (I already had that), but to see what others thought. Of course, I found arguments on both sides. Although I see signs in this world that "Baraq U Bam Maw" is playing a key role in Biblical prophecy, I seriously doubted that Jesus would flat-out name the antichrist. So, I have to say, I'm not buying the video (which is why I'm not posting it here - but I'm sure you can find it if you - you guessed it - Google it). It doesn't mean I believe "U Bam Maw" is, and it doesn't mean I believe he isn't. It just means, as a pre-trib Christian, I do not believe I will know who the antichrist is while I'm here on this earth.

So here are my questions:

1. Is it okay for a Christian to enjoy Halloween?

2. Pokemon (if you've seen it) -- innocent fun or evil intentions?

3. The antichrist video (if you've seen it) -- bold reporting or baloney?

4. "Web" searching -- fact finder, entertainment tool, or simply a "Web" of confusion?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Death

My death occurred on a mild April day in 1997. I knew I was dying. I had been cleaving to the earth for a long time, but suddenly something was peeling me, pore by pore, off of the sludge and grime of this vicious world. And in the process, something good and pure was digging under my skin and eating at my flesh. As my filthy, sour flesh sunk beneath the water's surface and died, it was good. It was very very good.

But the world, you see, loved the influence my wickedness had on others and wasn't the least bit happy about my death. So it pulled me back, and it didn't take much effort. In fact, we had a deal, the world and I -- I could go to that place that brought about my death for a couple of hours on Sunday mornings, but when I escaped its doors, I belonged to the world again.

Ah, but when the world has hold of you, it can be wildly jealous and the flesh uncontrollably stubborn.

"Saturday night is fun night," World said. "You'll be back in time to do that thing on Sunday morning. Let's go party."

In my flesh, I was weak, so I agreed with World and went along.

But World was still unsettled, "You're having too much fun tonight. You can't go home now. You can miss one Sunday."

World is right, I thought, I can't possibly go home now. What's one Sunday?

Before long, one Sunday became two and two became four, and four became eight -- and before I knew it, I only occassionally went through those doors on Sunday morning.

When my flesh began to feel guilty for the things I did outside of those Sunday morning doors, World was always there to hand me the things that would make it all feel better -- the things that gripped my connection to the pleasures of my past -- the things that helped me forget about my death on that beautiful April morning just a few months earlier.

And suddenly, it was all good again - but for all the wrong reasons.

Soon I began to wonder if I had really died at all beneath that water's surface.

In the years since, I have learned that I indeed died that day -- that even though I let go of Him in those early years, He never let go of me. In the moment of my death, His arms opened wide. Even when I do something stupid, like fall under the spell of the world, all I have to do is turn my face toward Him, and He is there loving me and giving me the strength to resist the world's next attack.

And thanks to His love and His sacrifice, I grow stronger every day.

Thank you, God, for fighting for me and never letting go even when the world fights back.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Beware of the Writer Who Isn't Writing

I didn't make it out of the library parking lot before gently cracking the cover of The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come and absorbing page one and two. I had to crack it gently because it is a very old book -- written in 1903. This particular edition, published in 1931, is probably a second edition. Nevertheless, it's very old, and the crispy, yellowed pages are fragile. I was so enthralled by the first two pages, I probably would have finished the first chapter, sitting right there in my car, had I not been on my way to pick up my son at school.

First of all -- no, this is not a book review, so read on.

Just by reading the first two pages, I already knew some special things about this book. I knew it was going to be visually rich and stunning. I knew it was going to weave historical truths into fictional beauty. I knew it would flow with a poetic rhythm that would make me feel like I was dancing from word to word, sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, and chapter to chapter. And I also knew that I would need to go to the online library catalog tonight and order another book by John Fox Jr. and have it delivered to my local library -- afterall, this one will only last a few days.

As I drove, the book laying in the seat next to me, I was thinking about a friend from my writers group who just lost her husband, whose visitation I had just attended earlier in the day. It occurred to me that as I was leaving the visitation and telling her goodbye, she had said she'd be coming back to our writing meetings soon.

Well, of course, I thought as I drove along. Because that's what writers do. We write no matter what. We write in spite of everything else and probably because of everything else. We write because what else would we do?

I've read that people who truly love to write, especially those of us who who love to write fiction, must have some degree of schizophrenia. Well, I say BEWARE OF A WRITER WHO LOVES TO WRITE WHO ISN'T WRITING. Has your husband or wife, who loves to write, been irritable, short tempered, or moody lately? Ask them what they have written lately - I bet the answer will be, "nothing." A true writer must write because it balances our psyche and keeps our pseudo schizophrenia under wraps.

Back to John Fox Jr. -- from The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come:

"The days of that April had been days of mist and rain. Sometimes, for hours, there would come a miracle of blue sky, white cloud, and yellow light, but always between dark and dark the rain would fall and the mist creep up the mountains and steam from the tops -- only to roll together from either range, drip back into the valleys, and lift, straightway, as mist again. So that, all the while Nature was trying to give lustier life to every living thing in the lowland Bluegrass, all the while a gaunt skeleton was stalking down the Cumberland -- tapping with fleshless knuckles, now at some unlovely cottage of faded white and green, and now at a log cabin, stark and gray."

Ahhh... as I stand between the mountain ranges in the lifting mist and steam, I relax but only for a moment as the author shatters my calm with the sense of brewing conflict. If it does that to me as a reader, imagine what a release it must have been for John Fox Jr. as he wrote it and twiddled with it until it was just right. When you have something like that inside you, it has to come out because if it stagnates inside you, God help anyone who comes into contact with you. In those first two pages that began with the quoted passage above, I knew why John Fox Jr. had to write.

And I questioned -- why do I write?

My answer:

I write because it helps me remember -- and I write because it helps me forget. I write because sometimes, oftentimes, this wretched world just doesn't make sense, and writing relieves my agitation. I write because it allows me to let go -- and I write because it forces me to grab on. I write so I can sleep at night -- and I write when I can't sleep at night. I write to protect my sanity -- and I write when I need to be a little nutty. I write to reclaim something, anything -- innocence, love, anger, security, fear, pain.

And most of all, I write because God makes me -- and I write because the devil dissuades me.

Why do you write?