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Ferguson Mo

Yesterday coffee with the usual Wednesday morning guys. Rick brought up the stuff happening in Ferguson, Mo.: The agitators from outside the community, and even outside the state, stirring up trouble. The celebrities, like Al Sharpton, also feeding the anger. And the store owners, staying up all night guarding their shops, trying to protect their livelihood from looters. Then Rick asked a question that was hard to consider, especially since I had barely started drinking my coffee: “As Christians, what should be our response to all this?”

It would be so easy to get sucked into the anger, and lash out at one side or the other. But I really don’t think that’s what Jesus wants me to do. Look, everyone involved is just a normal, broken human being. We are all messed up, full of sin and selfishness. Things like compassion don’t seem to come naturally. It’s the ugly responses, the judgment and harsh words, that seem to naturally ooze out of us. What should be my Christian response? I choose compassion and love. For how could I judge those who are no different from me – a typical screwed up person?

Truth

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Oh, I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ.” It’s often Christians who push people away from Christianity. That’s why I stayed away for much of my life – what I saw didn’t appeal to me. I initially rejected Jesus because of Christians who were not a good reflection of His truth.

National surveys show Christianity declining in the United States. The published reasons are varied, but they all point to this: Christianity is crumbling because of a lack of truth. Truth is healthy and strong; untruth is sick and weak.

How much longer?

So I’m writing a book – Christian nonfiction – with a theme that matches most of my blog posts. I challenge false ideas about Christianity with the truth. I’ve be at this, part-time, for 6 years now. For the past 3 years I’ve been getting up at 4:00 am just so I can get in a couple of hours of writing before heading off to work. In addition to wondering if I will ever finish this book, I’m curious about something… Is 6 years (and counting) a bit extreme for a first-time book written on a part-time basis?

Yesterday I started working on revision 9 of the book I’m writing. I’m reminded of a line from a movie about Michelangelo, starring Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison; “The Agony and the Ecstasy.” In referring to the painting of the Sistine Chapel, Rex (playing the Pope), keeps pestering Michelangelo with, “When will it be finished?” And Michelangelo always has the same answer… “When it is done.” I’m feeling this way about the book I’m writing. When will it be finished? I have no idea.

healing the pain of sexual abuse

My first stepfather sexually abused me when I was 7 years old. A typical situation, I suppose – he threatened harm if I told anyone. Fortunately, there were other problems with the marriage, and my mom divorced him after only a year together. But we all had scars from that experience.

My scars fed my strong desire for revenge. As I grew older and came to understand what he had done to me, I grew angrier. In my late teens, I fantasized about running into him someday. I planned each move, the first being a fully energized kick square in the source of my suffering, sending him to his knees. There were times when I even dreamed of killing him. The hate was strong and painful.

About 20 years later, I met Jesus Christ and He started teaching me about love and forgiveness. It’s taken me a long time to learn the lesson, but I finally let go of the hate. I wholeheartedly forgive my stepfather. I feel sorry for him, for he was a very troubled person. And I’m now free of my own troubles – free from the pain of hate and memories, freed by forgiveness. Thanks to the love and forgiveness of Jesus.

My Father God

To me, God is my perfect parent. God, my Father, loves me unconditionally. He may not always like some of the things I do, and He may even get angry at me sometimes. But like all really good parents, there is nothing I can do that will affect the love He has for me. And like all loving parents, what He may desire most is a close, intimate relationship with His children. “Yet to all who did receive him (Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

I am so grateful to be a child of God.

Healing wounded

Sometimes I rant about the dealings of the Catholic Church. I truly apologize if I have offended anyone. But I have seen the effects of the shortcomings of the Catholic Church up close. I know many wounded Catholics, those who had belonged to the Catholic Church, maybe even since birth, yet left with bad experiences. My stepfather, stepbrother, and many close friends are among them.

Yet in the case of my stepfather, he didn’t leave by choice; he was kicked out because of the sin of his divorce from his first wife. It distresses me that though Jesus has forgiven my stepfather, the Catholic Church cannot.

My heart breaks for those wounded Catholics, like my stepfather, who are not able to find their way to another church. All his life my stepfather was told that the Catholic Church is the only one, true church. And when that church failed him, where can he go? He has gone nowhere, and remains lost.

If you are a “wounded” Catholic, having given up on the Catholic Church, please don’t give up on Jesus. He still loves you, and always will. God, as our ultimate and perfect Father, loves all His children, no matter what church they may go to.

 

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