Friday, December 14, 2012

Why Do People Commit Murder: A Spiritual Perspective

 This post is in response to the Sandy Hook school murders that occurred just a short drive away from where my own loved ones and I live. So please bear with me, this will be a long commentary as I just don't feel it is fair to the victims or their families to try and abridge the content.

Murder is a horrible and tragic thing. It not only destroys the victims, but it also has within it the potential to destroy the lives of all the survivors left to try and wade through the deep waters of pain and senseless destruction. It is a stone dropped in a pool of water that will send ripples out for years to come. So what causes some people to cross the line and commit this vicious act that offers no chance of restoration for the victims? Well....I want to offer my thoughts on the matter from a spiritual perspective.
Webster's Dictionary defines murder as "to kill (a human being) unlawfully and with premeditated malice."
Hebrews 12:15
Webster's defines bitterness as "exhibiting intense animosity"
After a toxic foundation has been set the very next emotion to be birthed is Hatred. This is where the bitter person begins to systematically remove the offending person from their life. At first they remove them emotionally, but next come the steps of physical removal. 
The next to last progression of emotion is Violence. Violence is anger in motion because it's no longer just in the heart and mind as an emotion, and it's not just's now physical.
Bitterness is a systematic elimination of a human being or human beings that culminates in the final physical act. It is imperative that we realize the importance of why we must forgive. The world is filled with Murder, anarchy, division, Violence and Bitterness. It is in our nation, our churches, our families and it is in our personal lives. We must not allow bitterness to take root in our lives. We must take steps to actively recognize it, face it and put a stop to it by offering forgiveness even when we are justified in our pain.
Ephesians 6:12
Matthew 6:14-15
Please also remember one thing when dealing with your own issues. Although God wants you to have a heart towards resolution with the people you have Bitterness against, if they do not respond to you (because they have the root of Bitterness) then it is not your problem. You have to come before God personally and get your freedom. The resolution comes from God.

Ephesians 4:31 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) he banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of ay kind)
Murder is not a random act....even though we may label it that way. Murder is actually a symptom of something much deeper and much more prevalent....bitterness. The root of murder is in unresolved bitterness that has been allowed to fester and grow deeper and deeper into the heart, mind and spirit of the perpetrator. 
Picture it like the branches on a tree. Bitterness is the hidden root system that sucks it's nutrients out of its surroundings. Just like a baby tree....if the root system is fed and will grow deeper and stronger over time and the visible evidence will branch off into any number of directions. Some of those branches are anger/wrath, gossip/character assassination, hatred, unforgiveness, resentment, retaliation/revenge,violence, murder and even insanity.
When we come to grips with this basic understanding it will empower us to make better choices in our lives to prevent those branches from growing and thereby affecting not just ourselves, but many others who would be victims of our bitterness.
New Living Translation (NLT)
15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

You know when you've been around a person who is bitter because you can feel it. It doesn't mean that person is evil, it just means there is an unresolved hurt(s) that over time has been fed and watered with feelings of justification. If a wound was inflicted and the person wronged can't remember the incident without feeling a rush of anger, rage, disgust, slander, etc....that's a sure sign bitterness is at root.

So now that we understand what bitterness is, how does it progress into murder? I'm sure you're sitting there thinking..."well I've felt bitterness for something but I would NEVER murder anyone.." Well...let's dissect this step by step.

What's the first emotion you deal with when somebody hurts you? Unforgiveness
Unforgiveness comes when our thoughts replay a mental video of the offense over and over and over in our minds. It torments us the anger we feel as a result of that torment digs the root a little deeper.

The next emotion after unforgiveness is Resentment.
Resentment is the persistent nagging voice that anchors in the unforgiveness by reminding you that you were an innocent victim. It justifies the unforgiveness. The root grows deeper.

Next is Retaliation a.k.a. Revenge
This is when things start to get dangerous. They wronged me, so I'll make them feel what I felt. Coupled with unforgiveness and justified resentment it is now becoming easier to shut off the internal gauge of right and wrong. When acted numbs the senses and the root grows even deeper.

After these the process still isn't just continues to intensify and get worse. Now something needs to happen to re-inforce all of the previous emotions. Anger and Wrath. See, all of the others to this point can snake relatively unseen below the surface, but anger is very visible. You NEVER have anger without the other three, because it is birthed out of the other three and cannot exist without having them to fuel it. The root grows deeper.

The final stage in this horrible chain of bitterness is the one that brings the most destruction not just physically, but in the hearts of the person hosting it. Murder. 

New Living Translation (NLT)
12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Amplified Bible (AMP)
14 For if you forgive people their trespasses [their [a]reckless and willful sins, [b]leaving them, letting them go, and [c]giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their [d]reckless and willful sins, [e]leaving them, letting them go, and [f]giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm Watcher

Well.....this is a familiar feeling. Sitting in the living room with a storm raging outside waiting for calmer weather on the flip side. Last year it was hurricane Irene....and then Winter storm Alfred....this year it's hurricane Sandy. No power outage so far.....thank you Lord! Although the candles are out and ready and I even dug out the infamous "Ho Phone" which you can read about HERE if you missed that story. Today didn't start out all that great.......but that will be for another post.....a more somber post.

For this entry though I was actually enjoying the weather today. That sounds odd I know....who could enjoy a hurricane? Well....truthfully...not being in the direct path of danger helps. However, there's an excitement that is inherent with being close to danger.....that moth to flame syndrome. The high flying Peter Pan always seeking the next adventure. I know not everyone feels that mother for one definitely does NOT feel that way. LOL My brother's and I all seem to have inherited that danger gene however, so I'm sure we've contributed to her gray hairs over the years. My older brother has of course settled down with a family of his own now so I think his danger years are probably past him. For my younger brother and myself however..... well....let's just say mom still prays a lot. LOL. There's something thrilling and invigorating about staring danger in the face and not backing down. Maybe it's the lineage.....but I would much rather be standing near the seashore smelling the air being swirled from thousands of miles away and feeling the sting of the salt water on my face than sitting safely in my living room.

 My whole life I've been like that a little girl I remember playing with my dolls all the time.....however unlike most girls who were content dressing them up and playing tea Barbie dolls were spies climbing down knotted rope ladders from the balcony of their Dream House  on cold war espionage excursions. My Barbies didn't drive a pink convertible.....that would have been too conspicuous....they drove a jeep bronco. Perfect for all terrain escapes and plenty of room in the back to pack enough evening gowns and shoes for every situation. Love interest? Sure I had a Ken doll...but he wasn't cool enough for my role was reserved for my Indiana Jones doll! Perfect for spying since he was not only buff....but he came with his own gun and holster!

Ok so enough about cloak and dagger Barbie and foolish adventures into violent windstorms. What's the point of this post? Ehhh....there is none....just enjoy the moment you're in.....maybe find a little adventure along the way.

On a separate, yet related side note.....I want to thank Lori Byerly from The Generous Wife Blog for the honor of winning her Thanksgiving and Gratitude contest. The prize was a copy of  "Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior" by Kimberly Wagner. I look forward to reading it! Thanks Lori! Please take a moment to visit her blog. It's always a good read and so I wholeheartedly recommend her to everyone.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sweet Victory

One year ago today I found myself unexpectedly dropped at the base of a spiritual mountain. It looked and felt insurmountable at the time.I had never been in that place before....never experienced what I was suddenly experiencing and several of the people I would normally have gone to for prayer and encouragement were no longer an option. I was in uncharted territory.
My immediate response was to forgive the people involved (Matthew 6:14-15)...I just could not afford to harbor bitterness. Hurt of course takes longer to heal...but I knew in order to get over the hurt later on I first had to forgive or I would get nowhere. So I did.
Next, I prayed....I immediately fell back on Luke 6:28....and I prayed blessings on all the people involved like I had never prayed blessings before.

Then I waited.............for three months I waited. I cried, I prayed....and I waited some more. Those closest to me like my husband and my friends and family prayed and encouraged me....and we ALL waited. There were times I wondered when God would show up....I never doubted that He WOULD act....I just didn't know when. I kept telling people that I knew there would come a time when I would be able to look back and say it was all worth it. I knew that no matter how much pain I was in...somewhere down the road it would be a war story that had a victorious ending....I just needed to stand firm and wait.

Let me tell you something....God showed up...just like the Bible says He will. Three months later, almost to the day, breakthrough showed up in a series of phone calls.  In little ways along the journey God reminded me that He had already fought the battle for me, but at the end of that three month period He SHOWED me. GOD ALWAYS KEEPS HIS PROMISES.
I'm telling you readers this because I don't know what you're going through....but I do know God keeps His promises. If you keep seeking God and keep obeying what His word says to do when the enemy WILL see victory...and I promise you, it will be better than anything you imagined...the blessings will be beyond words and all that you lost will be restored to greater than before. You may not have the same people in your life and the environment may have changed....but believe will make what you lost, pale in comparison to what you have gained. How long will it take? I don't know, but God knows. Mine only took 3 months, yours may take a few days, a few months or a few years, but GOD ALWAYS KEEPS HIS PROMISES. So hang in there....don't give up your victory is coming.

Matthew 6:14-15

Amplified Bible (AMP)
14 For if you forgive people their trespasses [their [a]reckless and willful sins, [b]leaving them, letting them go, and [c]giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their [d]reckless and willful sins, [e]leaving them, letting them go, and [f]giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.

Luke 6:28

Amplified Bible (AMP)
28 Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God’s blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach, disparage, and high-handedly misuse you].


Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)

“Bless those who curse you, and pray over those who take you away by force.”

Ephesians 6:13

New Living Translation (NLT)
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

 Romans 8:28

Amplified Bible (AMP)
28 We are assured and know that [[a]God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.

 1 Corinthians 2:9

New Living Translation (NLT)
That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
    and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
    for those who love him.”[a]

1 Corinthians 15:57

Amplified Bible (AMP)
57 But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Cor. 2:14

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Lesson In Silence

"It's good to shut up sometimes."
Marcel Marceau

A rather interesting quote from a man who was made famous because of his silence, don't you think? Makes me wonder about the lessons he must have learned from being so silent and just watching and listening as he mimed his way through a career and life. As I read that quote I was reminded of an experience we had at our street ministry a few years ago.

On this particular Saturday, I was behind the table serving soup and one of our volunteers at that time was standing near me serving the drinks. This was a beautiful warm day so the water was especially in demand. As I waited for the next person in line to reach me, I glanced over to see one of our regular ladies approaching the drinks. She has a very sweet and childlike spirit due to mental illness, but heavy medication tends to make her twitch with nervous laughter and talk to herself.....a lot....and loudly. Usually though, the things she says make us laugh because they are the things a 5 year old would say, blunt and yet, innocent. She has very curly blonde hair, which she usually lets go wild and bushy. She wears almost every piece of jewelry she has ever owned and odd clothing combinations on her wisp thin frame as well as about five layers of nail polish, all of which are chipped and peeling.

  I personally find her crazy irreverence completely endearing...she makes me smile, and I always look forward to seeing her, however not everyone feels the way I do. This particular day I watched as she approached the table quietly muttering to herself, and then I suddenly felt a twinge in my stomach because I knew who would be handing her the water. Now the particular volunteer who was handing out the water that day is a very kind man who loves the Lord and is always looking for ways and place to serve the church and God. A man of honor and a man of deep faith, but a man who sometimes struggles with the "unlovely" nature of street people. I quickly looked at him just in time to see him scanning her up and down and curling his lip at her current state. I was so hurt inside I wanted to lash out at him and tell him to get off the serving line if he couldn't treat her with respect. However, inside my heart I heard God tell me to keep quiet and watch what would happen next.

Just then as I saw her reach for a cup and he quickly pulled his hand away, then suddenly her previously inaudible muttering became loud enough for those listening to hear. I watched in amazement as she looked him square in the eye and in a solid and non-medicated voice she quoted him the Bible verse, "..And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Just then she took a sip and walked away and was gone for the day.

I wanted to start crying as I watched that volunteer's eyes get big and follow her as she disappeared into the crowd. God is sooooooooo GOOD, and He always gets His point across far better than we ever could. Had I lashed out at him, I would have set a bad example for all the people around me, both behind and in front of the table. I wouldn't have gained anything, but instead, would have lost the trust and respect of so many who need us to be gentle with them, and learn from our example. I also wouldn't have made the point to this young man as well as God was able to, through the vessel of a rambling street woman, the very one who should have been offended by his actions the most.

At times pride and lack of understanding can cause all of us to struggle with an intense aversion towards a lot of the very people we are called to minister to. It doesn't mean we're bad people or even bad Christians, it just means that's an area where we need to grow. Let's face it....these people are glaringly different than what we're used to, they don't speak the way we speak, they don't act the way we act, and they don't dress or smell the way we do. However, they need someone, anyone, to show them love and acceptance in a wounded lonely life where they have had little to no genuine kindness or affection. They are in fact, the entire reason we are out there...and to the heart of God...the smells of urine, sweat, dirt, cigarette smoke and alcohol are the sweet perfume of a hungry heart.....sweet enough that He gave His son for them.

I'm glad I kept my mouth shut that day, and let God work, He really does handle those situations so much better than we would.
Exodus 14:14 English Standard Version (©2001)
The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.