A place to come, sit, pull up a chair and talk about what is going on with Salty Sidewalks.
In light of the tragedies this week, I find myself reading Job, the book of the Bible on suffering, I love The Message version of Chapter 35:
“When times get bad, people cry out for help.
They cry for relief from being kicked around,
Don’t you think that is true – as life becomes overwhelming, we tend to find our need for God. The most stoic non-believers ask for prayer when we look at our mortality or our failing finances, or impending tragedy. Cancer, chemo, bankruptcy, addictions, all have the potential to harbor despair. Our God is not a God of despair- but of eternal HOPE- the expectation of goodness.
In light of the San Bernadino shootings, the Daily News posted a cover that said, “God’s Not Fixing this”. This saddens my heart, as – like the men in Job – we are putting God on trial for the evil that lurks in Man’s heart.
I understand the implication that we need to do something about our nation’s state of affairs. I also understand the implication that our prayers are not the answer to the nations state of affairs. As a nation we continue to remove God from all of our systems, affairs and agencies. We strike God out of business and we remove Him from our courts and schools.
Let’s look at Christianity and relationship- let’s take God off of the trial seat and put ourselves on that seat. When we point fingers and judge, condemn and criticize…ostracize and treat church as a Country Club, hate and hurt in the name of God – we are not representing relationship- but RELIGION.
Religion is what got the Pharisees in trouble – they missed Jesus- God made flesh- standing in their midst. They found the legalistic adherence to rules as a focus, rather than God made flesh standing before them.
Christianity, when operating as a church – as the Bride of Christ- is one that accepts and loves, it is a relationship with God, and with the world- where the truth is held as non-negotiable and the love is reckless.
The state of affairs of our world is held in our hands, as we press into God, and press into the world with acts of compassion paired with truth and reckless love.
When Christianity is brought into parts of the world where it has never been before, love prevails. Swords and hatred are put aside. Revenge and murder are cast aside for forgiveness and repentance.
Children are valued.
Women are valued.
Living conditions are improved.
I know the world would say that we go into the world uninvited and share our faith. I would offer that we go into places in the world that need compassion and love, a heart and a hug. I have been to Romania and I have looked despair in the eyes and I have reacted with love and touch- and I have seen hope restored by this simple practice. Yes, I did share my love of Jesus with these people, because His presence in my life has made all the difference.
I have gone into jails and worked with addicts, sharing their value with them and that they were made to be loved – truths that are new to their hurting hearts and ears. I have seen value bloom in parched hearts.
His presence in my heart allows me to have peace, while my husband is unemployed and my daughter has a severe concussion. I don’t pretend that I am ok – I am ok, in this day, in this moment I know that He holds me- and, more importantly, He holds our tomorrows. I am not acting or putting on airs – I feel peace and a joy in my day- against all odds and all reason.
I get to share this faith with others – through simple acts of love.
I am Christian. I love God and that is not negotiable. If I am asked, I will share my faith – through love and excitement- not judgment, hate, offense and criticism.
My answer to the Daily News would be that God is my answer. When I line up with the principles and the doctrines of Christianity, I leave a gentler footstep. In the practice of loving God before all else – it puts things in perspective for me. Money, success, possessions do not take the center stage of my heart, and I think I am happier. I remember the “me” before Christianity – the pursuit of STUFF is relentless and never satisfying, always growing. The Corporate Ladder was a tough God to bend my knee to,
Me before Christianity was more aggressive and argumentative. I had to argue and win the arguments.
I was selfish before relationship overtook religion.
I know I have not arrived, nor ever will. I am a sick soul in need of an ever -present God in my day to day. This is a God who forever forgives and always presents opportunities for me to grow into Him more and more. He presents me with places and spaces to give over more of my fleshy practices – AND I AM HAPPIER FOR IT.
I share Jesus because He has made all the difference in my life.
Others share things that make them happy . Why has Christianity become a bad word? Why has God been put on the trial seat by an angry world that forsakes His presence?
We can blame Him, but we cant profess a belief in Him,
How frightening it is to me that the power if prayer is being put on trial by the Daily News. We denounce God and now we are denouncing communication and the power in prayer.
I think this state of affairs is more frightening that calling out to God when we are in terror. The flippancy and arrogance in thumbing our noses at the words, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you….”, saddens my heart. From the Daily News:
"As latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in pools of blood, cowards who could truly end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes," the cover reads. House Speaker Paul Ryan and GOP presidential hopefuls Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham all responded with "prayers" for the victims of San Bernardino, Calif.”
I won’t get into a debate on gun control. I will defend my God and say that there is nothing better than praying for the victims and their families. Prayer moves the heart of God. Prayer, and the presence of God, makes the darkness flee. I pray now, that all would feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in their midst. I don’t have answers to the big “Whys” of the world- but, I know that God is a personal God- a God that draws near to the broken hearted. This is not a simple platitude – I have lived this and I have experienced miracles. Prayer is not a platitude but a means of warfare. Prayer alters atmospheres- I speak from experience not generalized platitudes. Cut off prayer, ridicule prayer and you render us powerless in the face of adversary. A clever tactic by the enemy of our soul.
Will you join me in prayer for our world? Will you alter atmospheres by engaging the heart of the Father? Jesus intercedes for us---will you intercede for the world and our Nation?
In looking at Job, the text goes on:
But never give God a thought when things go well,
when God puts spontaneous songs in their hearts,
When God sets out the entire creation as a science classroom,
using birds and beasts to teach wisdom.
That is the God that I must sing from the rooftops and speak of unashamedly – the God that puts spontaneous songs deep in our hearts. His Joy is not dependent on circumstances or luck- JOY is found in salvation and the indwelling of Christ within us. Joy is present in the trials and a close companion when you walk with the Lord.
People are arrogantly indifferent to God--
until, of course, they’re in trouble,
and then God is indifferent to them.
There’s nothing behind such prayers except panic;
the Almighty pays them no mind.
So why would he notice you
just because you say you’re tired of waiting to be heard,
Or waiting for him to get good and angry
and do something about the world’s problems?
And there I must pause in light of today and where we find ourselves. Why do we think God has to “do something” about the worlds problems when we approach His throne of grace, dirty and sinful…James says that the prayers of the righteous man avail much. We approach a Holy God and we demand and we whine at the situations that we find ourselves in – and we demand answers.
The answers can be found in a transformed heart.
A transformed heart loves where there was once hatred.
A transformed heart offers grace and forgiveness rather than hatred and revenge.
A transformed heart bows its knees to Jesus, allowing something other than ourselves to occupy the throne of our hearts.
A transformed heart offers prayers and compassion, not argument and defense.
I know there are Christians that have made us look harsh and judgmental. I would say they have missed some of the basic precepts of Christianity, just as the Pharisees did. We are all broken and sinful---Christians as well as muslims, atheists and Jews, black and white – we all united in our sinful nature and the need of God. None of us have arrived or are perfect – we all make mistakes and we all find ourselves angry, upset, judgemental and arrogant. The Christian walk is a day to day, moment by moment walk- where we all slip and fall – but keep going on. Not a one of us is perfect- Christian or non- but, the worlds problems lay in the transformation of our hearts. It all starts with ME. I transform my vessel to become a presence carrier- and I get to love on someone else. That touch of the Holy begins a transformation within them- and so on and so on. James says that we must decrease so that He may increase. I would strongly disagree with the Daily News – that God isn’t going to fix this – because God is actively involved in “fixing” me, and through that – we can change the world.
A Gospel spreading, mixed media artist...out to love the world through the salt of creative expression