So I know I said I'd be less depressing... But how can I avoid it when these are things that move my heart most? Before I get into it, know that there is hope sewn into the seams of this blog.
Read the parable of "The Rich Man and Lazarus" (Luke 16:19-31). See if you fit the shoes of the Rich Man.
I know I can't be the first person to suggest that we as Americans are the Rich Man, dressed in purple and fine linen, who refuses to extend his resources to help the poverty-stricken, homeless Lazarus. But reading through this parable, I can't help but see myself in it. We have so many resources. Let's share them.
This is not to say that the U.S. hasn't helped those in need. Sometimes we help when we aren't wanted, we all know that. I just want to bring to light the fact that we as individuals (especially those of us who claim Christ) have failed to help when we could have... and, perhaps, should have.
Yesterday in class, Dr. Mbugua mentioned something that I've thought about a lot lately. My memory escapes me as to exactly what she said, but this is the quote she reminded me of:
"Now we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men." I've also heard it said this way: "Complacency kills."
What are we doing to make a difference? Do we care?
Let me explore a tangent: music. I've blogged about it before - why do we listen to music that drags us, kicking and screaming (or maybe not... maybe willingly on occasion), to experiences and memories of events that brought only pain? In my opinion, once we've fully submitted our pasts to God, He is working, and He is healing, and He is changing us. We have to face the pain to overcome it, yes. But there comes a point when obsession over the past and over our pain becomes the devil's handiwork. Satan loves to bring us down, cause us to doubt, scare the crap out of us. And we give in, time and time again.
The other night, I had (yet another) dream that I was being attacked by a demon. All of them are the same, but I'll skip the details because they aren't important. What struck me was how easily Satan freaked me out. Here I am, a Christian, being attacked by the devil because I'm a threat to him. I feel a little bit like Job, but I'm crossing my fingers that God won't give Satan permission to kill my family and friends and take all my stuff and hit me with disease. Anyway, once I woke up from my dream, I was too afraid to stay in my room alone... so I went down the hall to some friends. The past two nights, I've been afraid to fall asleep. One night I left the door open so I wouldn't feel alone... and both nights, I've fallen asleep offering up desperate prayers that God protect me - mind, heart, soul, and body. And He has.
I trust God, but do I really? ... I'm learning to.
When it comes to my own past, I've learned to recognize Satan's attacks. Here's an example: I know that I've made the right choices in terms of the doors that I've closed. In blatant terms, I needed to end both of the relationships I've been in. The first relationship has been much, much more difficult for me to let go, overcome, heal and move on from. I don't know why that is (well, yes I do), but it's my reality. I know that I have surrendered my pain, faced my struggles, and allowed God to do some major healing in my heart. I've moved on with my life.
But even to this day, Satan tempts me to question it. And I do... I doubt whether I'll ever be able to love someone like I loved him. I question my ability to have a healthy relationship. I compare people I meet to him. I wonder when it will stop. Needless to say, I'd love a chance to raise my middle finger at Satan. Oh, how he pisses me off.
Back to music, I think Satan uses our music to revisit situations in our lives that we've long since let go. So I've been trying to stay away from music that does that to me. In the last few months, I've listened to a lot of music that is both positive and well-made. Today I found Dustin Kensrue. The biggest attraction I have to him is this quote I found: "I try to be an artist who aspires to find hope even in dark places: If I’m down, I don’t want to bring people down to that place with me. I’m looking for a way out."
I love when I can see Christ in people without them shoving it down my throat. It's refreshing.
Another example of that is To Write Love On Her Arms... They are an organization that is using its resources to help those in need. Their vision for reaching out is something close to my heart; if I could do anything I wanted with my life to help people, it would be through TWLOHA. You should read the blog from last night about the fires in southern California. They just care... and really, isn't that all we want? For someone to care?
This is mostly unrelated, but I read about something today that I think is really really cool. In the October 29, 2007, Time magazine, there's an article by Scott Macleod titled, "Postcard: Saudi Arabia." It's about a government detention camp outside of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, where jihadis are rethinking their radical Muslim beliefs fueled by Osama bin Laden. These particular jihadis in the detention camp are young Saudis who were caught waging holy war against the American infidels in Iraq. Through an interview in prison, they've been given the chance to reexamine their beliefs at the Care Rehabilitation Center. The Saudi government has developed an experiment to destruct what bin Laden has taught these men, and reconstruct a true understanding of the Muslim religion. The detainees spend their time at the Center in vocational training, psychological counseling, and academic lectures, which are taught mostly by religious scholars from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. All of their questions are answered through the Koran and the overall message of Islam.
Just think about that for a minute. No, Islam is not the truth. But look at what the Saudi government is doing for these men. A Muslim nation by law and by faith, Saudi Arabia can be a lesson for us... Christians and Americans.
And so my heart grieves for America. But have hope... I do. Pray for God's mercy.
Isaiah 14:24, 26-27
The Lord Almighty has sworn, "Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen." ... This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?
In that day you will say: "I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation." With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: "Give praise to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.