Maria Yeager

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Bible Study – The New Testament and Evangelical Beliefs – Part 6

I learned something after writing Part 5 of this Bible study.

I learned that the book of James is not accepted by all mainstream religions.

Why? Because James doesn’t talk as much about faith as in other books of the Bible. His focus is more on works. Remember that James said “faith without works is dead.”

Some people don’t like this. Some believe that faith alone will get us into heaven…that what we do here on earth doesn’t matter. I even read that some religious groups don’t accept the words of James because they contradict what Paul said in his letters.

But do they?

Since Christians in general accept the words of Paul, I decided to move to Romans in Part 6 of this Bible study. I wanted to see if Paul’s words contradict what James said. Let’s take a look.

“They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die – yet they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.” Romans 1:29-32

Let’s apply those verses to Trump and evangelical leaders today.

Trump is guilty of covetousness. One perfect example are his multiple affairs. Especially compelling today is the Stormy Daniels story.

Trump is full of deceit. He lies on average of 5 times per day. A recent example of his deceit are the lies he told to Justin Trudeau about the “trade deficit” with Canada. He even ADMITTED his deceit, and even laughed about it.

Trump is a slanderer. He calls people names on almost a daily basis. Just take a look at his Twitter feed.

Trump is haughty and boastful. How many times have you heard him brag about how he is the best President ever, that he has the largest crowds ever, and that we should feel lucky that he decided to run for President?

Now, let’s read Romans 1:32 again: “They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die – yet they not only do them, but EVEN APPLAUD OTHERS WHO PRACTICE THEM.”

Who applauds Trump even though he practices these sinful behaviors? That’s right – some evangelicals and even the preachers. Tony Perkins gave Trump a “mulligan” over the Stormy Daniels affair. Franklin Graham, even when confronted with all of Trump’s sinful behavior, says that Trump is “a good person.”

Moving on…

“For [God] will repay according to each one’s deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil.” Romans 2:6-9

It is very clear from those verses that Paul is saying that actions DO matter. This is in agreement with what is written in the book of James.

Now let me stop here and make it very clear that faith is extremely important. Belief in Jesus is very important. Our sins will be forgiven if we turn from sin and repent. His death on the cross will cover those sins. But some evangelicals want to believe that faith is the ONLY thing that matters, and it doesn’t matter what we do here on earth. Both James and Paul have said that by doing evil, we are sinning and we will be held accountable if we don’t turn from that sinful life – we have to leave it behind, pick up the cross and follow Jesus. That means turning away from sin. That doesn’t mean that we will be perfect – no one is. But we can’t do just anything willy nilly and not even try. That’s not going to work either.

Paul clarifies this even further:

“For it is NOT the HEARERS of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the DOERS of the law who will be justified.” Romans 2:13

Again, Paul drives home the point that the ones who will be justified will be those who ACT.

The last thing I would like to address today is the specific action of accepting Jesus as our Savior. Clearly this is very important as the Bible teaches us. But sometimes, I hear far-right evangelicals go as far as to say that those who have never heard about Jesus and who were never given an opportunity to accept Him will not go to heaven. I have always had a problem with this. God is love. Why then would God punish someone who was never told about Jesus? That just never seemed right to me.

Well, I found a passage in the gospel that refutes this thinking and I will share that at a later date. But today, I found yet another passage in Paul that refutes this idea.

A long time ago, my mom asked a priest about the fate of someone’s soul if they were never baptized. That priest told her not to worry – that there is something called the “baptism of desire”. He explained that if the person had a good heart and acted in a Christlike manner here on earth, God will take that into account, and just because he/she wasn’t baptized does not necessarily mean that they are not going to heaven. Well, when I read the following verse, it sounded like the “baptism of desire” that the priest explained to my mom all those years ago.

“When Gentiles who do not possess the law, do INSTINCTIVELY what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is WRITTEN ON THEIR HEARTS, to which their own conscience also bears witness.” Romans 2:14-15

Paul goes on to make it even clearer:

“Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but break the law.” Romans 2:27

Think about that for a moment, and then apply it to today. Paul is saying that those who have the Bible, know what it says, and goes to church but break the law will be condemned by those in who the law is “written on their hearts” but may not be able to go through all the rituals that people think need to be done in order to be fully Christian. Paul solidifies his point in Romans 2:29:

“Rather, a person is a Jew who is one INWARDLY, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart – it is spiritual and not literal.”

So what does this all mean? Well, it means first that we need to trust Jesus as our Savior. But it also means that when we accept Jesus, there will be an inward, spiritual transformation that will cause us to turn from our sinful ways. Our actions will change as a result. We will no longer go out and sin freely and then just ask for forgiveness that night. That is not the change that God wants or expects from us. He wants a spiritual transformation….one in which we turn from sin and try to live as Christ taught us to live according to the commandments.

Also, if people are not told about Jesus, that does not necessarily mean that they are doomed to hell. The law can be “written on the heart” even without the knowledge of Jesus. By saying that a person is going to hell just because they have never heard of Jesus is one of the reasons Jesus told us not to judge. We have to remember that we do not know what is in a person’s heart. The only one who has that information is God; therefore He is the ONLY ONE who can say whether or not someone is going to hell.

Have a great Saturday! God bless!

 

 

Bible Study – The New Testament and Evangelical Beliefs – Part 4

This weekend, I have been talking with some people on Franklin Graham’s Twitter feed. Graham’s support of Trump has been a big part of the discussion. So today, I want to once again look at Trump’s behavior and policies in relation to what Jesus tells us in the gospel of Matthew.

I will start with Matthew 15:

…”Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” Matthew 15:11

Think about Trump’s Twitter feed. In a previous blog, I listed some of the names that he has called people – Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, Liddle Bob Corker, Crooked Hillary. Someone on Graham’s Twitter feed says he just “tells it like it is”. Calling people names is “telling it like it is”? Jesus never said it was OK to call people names.

The New York Times published a comprehensive list of all the insults that Trump has lodged at people in the past year. It is pages long. In addition, it is known that Trump lies an average of five times per day. The New York Times also has a comprehensive list of all the lies Trump has told since taking office – over 2,000 proven untruths. Let’s also remember that Jesus tells us that Satan is the “father of lies.”

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.” Matthew 15:18-20

Let’s remember what Trump said about women on that bus. Let’s also recall the multiple affairs that he had while he was married.  Jesus has made it very clear what defiles a man, and Trump’s behavior falls into that category.

Now let’s remember that Trump admitted that he does not ask for forgiveness. This means he has not repented. You can’t be forgiven if you don’t repent. Therefore, Trump is not in good standing with God. He will never be in good standing with God until he repents.

Let’s look at Matthew 18:4:

“Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Is Trump humble? Absolutely not. He is the opposite of humility. How many times have we seen Trump boast himself up as “the greatest President ever” or “how lucky are you that I ran for the Presidency?” or “We had the largest crowd ever”, etc. This is truly the least humble man that I have seen/heard in my 52 years on this earth.

Next, let’s look at Matthew 19:21-26:

“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.”

Instead of Trump giving up his possessions (billions), he gives a tax break to the upper 1% of the country. The middle class will eventually pay for this. He travels almost every weekend to Mar-a-Lago to play golf and spends millions on the tax-payers’ backs. He wants to throw poor people out of the country, he failed to help the poor people of Puerto Rico after the hurricane, and now they are looking at cutting Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Those on these federal programs are generally those with the least money, and this administration is looking to make it even harder for them. In addition, we see some in his administration that are using tax-payer money for extravagant flights and vacations. This behavior is the exact opposite of what Jesus calls us to do in the above passage.

Matthew 13:22 says it nicely: “As for what was sown among the thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of WEALTH choke the word, and it yields nothing.”

Jesus tells us in the gospels that a person cannot serve both God and money. He goes further in the above passage saying that a person may hear the Word, but the Word is choked out of him because of the lure of wealth. Trump falls into this category. We see him pray in public, but the lure of his wealth causes him to ignore what Jesus says. Remember also the passage that I talked about in a previous blog – some who say “Lord, Lord” will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, this goes back to ACTION. We must ACT on God’s Word, not just say the words. Just because Trump prays in public does not mean he is a true Christian.

The final passage I would like to discuss is Matthew 12:25. This weekend, some evangelicals said to me (and this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this) that God uses imperfect people to do His will, and they give the example of King David. Yes, that is true. None of us are perfect. However, there is a difference, and that difference is repentance. King David repented. St. Paul repented. We KNOW that Trump has NOT repented because he said so. These evangelicals don’t seem to comprehend the difference. Keep this in mind as you read the following verse:

“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?” Matthew 12:25-26

Jesus is basically saying here that He cannot use evil to advance the kingdom of God, and Satan cannot use a good person to promote evil. A kingdom divided against itself will fall. So, the idea that God will use Trump, a non-repentant, sinful man to do His will is nonsense. God only uses those who truly repent of their sins, accept Jesus as Lord and Savior and lives according to His Word by following the commandments and all that is taught in the Bible.

Hope everyone has a great week! God bless!

 

 

 

 

 

Bible Study – The New Testament and Evangelical Beliefs – Part 2

Well, today I was going to continue to examine evangelical beliefs and how they compare to the teachings of Jesus. But something happened. I heard Trump speak at CPAC, and one statement that he made stood out. I want to start with this since a majority of evangelicals support Trump.

The statement that he made goes against what Jesus taught us in the gospels. He said that if other nations are nice to us, we will be nice to them. If other nations are mean to us, we will return the favor. This is basically saying, “an eye for an eye”. Let’s remember that Jesus taught us otherwise:

“You have heard that is was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.” Matthew 5:38-41

So, basically, even though Trump wants to APPEAR as a good Christian, his own words don’t align with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

On that topic, I saw Mike Pence at the Olympics. I saw how he didn’t acknowledge the North Koreans. Yes, this regime has done some awful things. However, if you look at the above verse (Matthew 5:38-41), did Pence do the right thing according to the Bible? Not necessarily. Let me share this passage (spoken by Jesus), and think about how Pence ignored the North Koreans:

“And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Matthew 5:47

That’s not an easy one to follow, but Jesus did say it. This is what He taught. I have also heard some evangelicals and even other Christians in other religions say that they want a “purer” church…one in which members are only people who believe exactly as they do. This thought process also goes against biblical teaching as evidenced in the above passage (Matthew 5:47).

Let’s look at how some of the evangelicals pray around Trump. Have you seen the pictures of the evangelicals as they lay their hands on Trump as they pray? Have you heard evangelicals say that this man is a wonderful Christian because he prays like this? Let’s look at what Jesus says in the gospel of Matthew:

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them, for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

Jesus is teaching us here that just because someone tries to APPEAR good and righteous doesn’t necessarily mean that they are good and righteous. Beware of appearances.

Next, let’s take a look at the tweets that Trump puts out on a daily basis. How many times have you seen Trump call people names? Let’s look at some specific examples:

  1. “Cryin Chuck Schumer”
  2. “Lyin Ted Cruz”
  3. “Crooked Hillary”
  4. “Little Rocket Man”
  5. “Crazy Bernie Sanders”
  6. “Dicky Durbin”
  7. “Liddle Bob Corker”
  8. “Psycho Joe” (Scarborough)
  9. “Sneaky Diane Feinstein”
  10. “Jeff Flake(y)”
  11. “Dumbest man on television” (Don Lemon)
  12. “Pocahontas” (Elizabeth Warren)
  13. “Sleepy Eyes” (Chuck Todd)
  14. “Mentally deranged author” (Michael Wolff)

Then there are the constant insults that he uses over and over again on many different issues: “fake news”, “obstructionists”, “incompetent”, “clueless”, “dummy”, “false”, “phony”, “horrible”, “disaster”, etc.

Many people who support Trump, including some evangelicals, say that they like this because Trump is just “telling it like it is.” But is this the right thing to do according to the Bible? Let’s take a look:

“…for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgement you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37

“…every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” Matthew 7:17

I think it is very clear in these verses that Trump’s insults and “telling it like it is” is not the right thing to do.

Let me finish today by sharing the following passage. Again, this emphasizes the need to ACT in our attempt to become more Christ-like…not just say the words:

“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:50

Have a great day and God bless!

 

 

 

 

 

Judgement vs. Discernment

It’s funny how God works. He definitely works in mysterious ways.

During this past year, I have been so disturbed by what I have witnessed regarding the evangelical population and their support of Donald Trump. I have written my thoughts on both Facebook and Twitter, and some people understand what I am saying, but a lot of people don’t, and those that don’t are usually evangelicals. I moved during the holidays, so I stopped posting on these sites. However, I am still deeply troubled.

Last Sunday, I attended church, and the sermon was about the gifts that God has given to us. We were asked to consider what God has laid on our hearts to do with our lives. Immediately, writing came to mind, and I knew that God had laid this issue of the evangelicals’ support of Trump on my heart. The next day, I saw Martin Luther King’s quote: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” I knew it was time to once again address this issue through my writing.

Why do evangelicals support Trump – a man who lies on average 5 times per day, doesn’t welcome the stranger (his immigration policies), doesn’t help the poor (Puerto Rico is still without power), calls people names, attacks people on Twitter constantly, is neck-deep in adulterous activity, and who doesn’t have a humble bone in his body? Why are evangelicals saying that God put Trump in office? Why do they support this man when everything he does is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus Christ?

Let’s look at this closely.

Some (not all) evangelicals are quick to point the finger at the left using the terms “snowflakes”, “libtards”, “evil”, etc. They have attacked Barack Obama every chance they get saying that he “was the worst President in history”. But when the left points out all the immoral and unethical behavior of Trump, some evangelicals are quick to defend him, saying “Do not judge lest ye be judged.”

Merriam Webster defines hypocrisy as “behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel.” The above example is clear hypocrisy. Jesus warns us about this in Matthew 23:

“Woe to you, scribes ad Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth.” Matthew 23:27

Jesus is saying that many will “look” righteous, such like some evangelicals today, but inside, nothing is there except evil. This means that someone can “say” Jesus is their Savior, but they haven’t really truly accepted Jesus in their heart. Words without action mean nothing to God. Jesus even warned us about this:

“On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'” Matthew 7:22-23

I have heard evangelicals say that actions don’t matter. All that matters is that you say that Jesus is your Savior. This is a serious misunderstanding of scripture.

Yes, you must put your faith and trust in Jesus. However, as I already pointed out, actions do matter because your actions tell others what is truly in your heart. You can tell if someone has truly accepted Jesus by the way they act. Jesus said:

“By their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:20

This means that by a person’s actions, you will be able to tell if the person is good or evil. You will be able to tell if a person is ruled by God or by Satan.

Is this judgement? I like to describe it as discernment. Jesus is teaching us in this passage how to discern between good and evil. In another passage, Jesus tells us to “judge with right judgement”:

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.” John 7:24

We are meant to call out evil. We are meant to do our best to stay away from sin. By ignoring the immoral and unethical actions of Trump, we are ignoring Jesus’ command to “judge with right judgement”. We are ignoring Jesus’ direction to identify evil through their “fruits”. We are meant to discern between good and evil, and Jesus taught us how to do this.

Now, as for the claim that “God supports Trump” and “God put Trump in office” – let’s delve more deeply into scripture. Many evangelicals equate Trump to King David. There is one huge difference between King David and Trump. King David repented.

Now some will say that Trump has repented. This is not true. How do I know? First, look at the above verse: “By their fruits you will know them”. Trump’s “fruits” (actions) are antithetical to Jesus Christ’s teachings. Second, Trump himself has admitted that he never asks for forgiveness because he feels that he has no reason to ask for forgiveness. So, in essence, he feels like he has no sin. What does scripture say about this?

“If we say that we have not sinned, we make him (God) a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:10

So, we know for certain that Trump has not repented and he is not in the light. He is in darkness.

Can a man who hasn’t repented and is in darkness still do the work of God? Does God still support him? Let’s look at scripture:

“Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!…Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will become rotten, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the instruction of the Lord of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 5:20, 24

“It will save you from the way of evil, from those who speak perversely, who forsake the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil.” Proverbs 2:12-14

“Whoever says, ‘I have come to know him,’ but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist.” 1 John 2:4

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:11

“For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship is there between light and darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

The light of Christ and the darkness of Satan do not work together. They are separate. God does not use evil to do His will. He uses sinners who have repented by the power of grace, but he does not use those who are still in complete darkness – those who haven’t repented. In fact, those in darkness do not come to the light as Jesus tells us in the gospel of John:

“And this is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” John 2:19-21

In conclusion, there is a difference between judging someone and discerning between good and evil. We MUST call out evil when we see it according to Jesus’ instructions. If we turn a blind eye to the immorality and evil behavior of Trump or anyone for that matter, we will move to a society of complete immorality and lawlessness. The Bible warns us about lawlessness:

“Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness…Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” 1 John 3:4-8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Works in Mysterious Ways

Have you ever gone through something horrible and thought “Why me?” Have you ever wondered why God allows us to walk through the “valley of death”?

I’ve certainly been there. And I’m quite sure you have too.

But I have also learned that no matter what we go through, somehow good always seems to come from it. One example in my life is my ordeal with adenomyosis. While I cried my way through some of the most painful nights of my life, I questioned why God was putting me through it. But today, I can look back and see why He put me through it – to help other women who are suffering through adenomyosis today. I have written one book on the subject and am working on a second book. I sell about one book per day, and I get constant “thank you” messages from women desperate to find help for this terrible medical disorder.

As many of my readers know, I don’t like Trump. Since Trump took office, I have heard over and over again from some on the far-right that “God put Trump in office”. I don’t believe this. Why? Because God gave us free will. He doesn’t dictate what we are to do in this life. He invites us to follow Him, but He doesn’t dictate. If he put Trump into office, then He also put Obama in office, and those on the far-right aren’t going to like that much…haha! Also, if God puts someone in office, why would we have elections? The truth is that we, the American people, voted Trump into office, and God ALLOWED it to happen.

Now, I don’t presume to know what God is thinking. But what I have witnessed this year personally is that those on the far-right are not nearly as Christian as they say. I see a lot of people (not all, but some) point their fingers at the left and calling them evil. However, the behavior of these same far-righters is not at all Christian. In fact, some of these far-righters turn around and do exactly what they tell others not to do. Hypocrisy has become blatantly clear in some on the far-right.

So, what if God allowed Trump to get into office in order to shine a light onto the hypocrisy in the far-right evangelical movement? What if He allowed Trump to become President in order to show the hypocrisy and non-Christian behavior in the Republican party? Like I said, I don’t presume to know what God is thinking. What I do know is that God works in mysterious ways, and many times, he will use something meant to hurt us for good. After all, in the Bible, it says “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

I used to be Republican, but I am now just completely embarrassed and disgusted by the Republicans. What I now see is some on the far-right that loves to point fingers at other while acting in a non-Christian manner. I see white-washed tombs. Jesus said “”Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” This means some love to talk all about Jesus but they live in continual sin, and this is hypocritical. These people are all talk, but there is nothing Christian inside them. That’s why I have always said that words aren’t enough. You have to truly believe in Jesus in your heart, and your actions will follow. If you truly believe in Jesus, you will turn away from sin…not to say that you won’t ever sin again (we are all human), but you won’t live in continual sin.

I don’t agree with some of what the Democrats believe, but I now see that the Democrats actually act on helping the poor and welcoming the stranger. The Democratic party welcomes immigrants and is outraged when Trump and his administration didn’t adequately respond to the disaster in Puerto Rico. The Democrats are ACTING in a Christian manner regarding these issues. Jesus said “By their fruits you will know them” meaning that by ACTIONS, you will know them. I see more Christian actions this year from Democrats than Republicans.

For me, God opened my eyes this year. He opened my eyes to hypocrisy. I now understand the meaning of “white-washed tombs”. I now know that I can’t vote for a candidate based only on one issue – by doing that, we can end up in the situation we are in today. I have learned that pro-life addresses life at ALL stages, not just the unborn. Those who voted for Trump based solely on the abortion issue are knee-deep in hypocrisy as well. Why? Because they fight for the unborn, but once they are born (and many will have disabilities because a lot of abortions are done because of medical issues), they want to take healthcare away, specifically by cutting coverage for pre-existing conditions. So, we bring these children into the world, but the Republicans don’t want to take care of them once they get here. See the hypocrisy?

I think we should look back on this rough year and listen to what God is trying to show us. I listened and learned. Will you?

A Letter to Christians Who Support Trump: Why?

To Christians Who Support Donald Trump:

Why?

Why do you support this man?

Do you not realize that by supporting him and not calling him out on his bad behavior hurts Christianity?

People who are watching, including children, are witnessing hypocrisy. Is this really what you want to teach your children? Do you not realize that others are leaving the church because of the hypocrisy?

I don’t understand. Being a Christian myself, I am befuddled as how to someone who is a true Christian can support this man. A lot of people are confused. Please explain it to us.

Explain how you can look past the remarks that were made on the bus when Trump said that he “grabs them by the p****. Jesus tells us to follow the commandments. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is one of them. Trump was a married man. He even said he “tried to **** her”, referring to Nancy O’Dell who was also married. This behavior is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught us.

Explain how you seem to be able to look past all the lies Trump has told since he has been in office. He has lied over 1000 times since he took office, starting with the size of the crowds at the inauguration. Here are some other Trump statements that have been proven false:

Trump: “And I have been on their cover 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine.”

Truth: Nixon beat him by a wide margin. Trump was on the cover 11 times, and Nixon was on it 55 times.

Trump: “So, look, when President Obama was there [Chicago] two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech. You can’t have that.”

Truth: On the day that Obama made this speech, there were no gun homicide victims in Chicago.

Trump: “Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage.”

Truth: 746 people were detained. The Delta outage occurred two days later.

Trump: “The failing @nytimes was forced to apologize to its subscribers for the poor reporting it did on my election win. Now they are worse!”

Truth: The New York Times never apologized.

Trump: “We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before so that’s the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.”

Truth: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush won by bigger margins in the Electoral College.

Trump: “You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?”

Truth: There was no terror attack in Sweden that night. The next day, confusion set in as no one knew what Trump was talking about.

Trump: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

Truth: There was no evidence that Trump Tower was ever wiretapped.

Trump: “On the airplanes, I saved $725 million. Probably took me a half an hour if you added up all of the times.”

Truth: The cost cuts were already planned before Trump ever became President.

Trump: “I like Steve [Bannon], but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve.”

Truth: Trump knew Steve Bannon since 2011.

Trump: “Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.”

Truth: The FBI was investigating Russian interference into the election before Trump ever took office (before Clinton’s loss).

Trump: On June 27, 2017, Trump, referring to CNN, said,“Ratings way down!”

Truth: At the time, CNN’s ratings were at a five-year high.

Trump: On July 17, 2017, Trump said, “We’ve signed more bills — and I’m talking about through the legislature — than any president, ever.”

Truth: Clinton, Carter, Truman and FDR had all signed more bills than Trump at the same point.

Trump: “It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem”

Truth: The NFL never made this demand.

These are just a few of over 1000 lies that Trump has told. Jesus told us that Satan is the father of lies:

“You are of your father the devil, and it is your will to practice the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar and the father of lies and half-truths.” John 8:44

So how do you justify Trump’s lies?

How about his lack of concern for others who are different? What about the botched immigration mess that occurred not long after he took office? All those poor people in distress because they couldn’t get back in the country? What about all the people in Puerto Rico who suffered without the basic necessities of life, having to wait a full week before Trump took any action to help them?

Let’s think about this. In the Bible, it says:

“The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:34

 “Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.'” Acts 10:34

How do you justify the hate that Trump spreads? What about the horrible comments that he made after the Charolottesville attacks? What about all the name-calling on his Twitter feed? Here are just a few examples:

“The Failing @nytimes set Liddle’ Bob Corker up by recording his conversation. Was made to sound a fool, and that’s what I am dealing with!”

“With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have “tanked,” in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!”

“Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now?”

“…Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”

There are so many more including the constant attacks on the media and on anyone who disagrees with him.

Where in the Bible does it say that it’s OK to call people names? Where does it say that it’s OK to verbally attack anyone that disagrees or has a different opinion or view? Can’t find it? That’s because it isn’t in the Bible. Jesus said:

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

How do you justify all this behavior? Why would you say that Trump is a true Christian and that his behavior is OK with God? How can you say that? Have you read the Bible?

Please explain it to us.

I recently saw a post by Franklin Graham that said he was thankful that Trump was in office because he tells the truth. Truth?? Franklin Graham, hate to tell you this, but Trump has nothing to do with the truth. The fact is that Trump is the antithesis of Christianity. As Jesus told us, “Satan is the father of lies”. Trump has lied more than 1000 times since taking office.

That’s the truth.

 

 

 

 

What is True Christianity? Part III

Today, I want to address what my counselor refers to as “dichotomous thinking” or “black-and-white thinking”. This means that a person’s beliefs are absolute – there are no “gray areas”. Today, I talked to my counselor about Trump and how everything seems to be all-or-nothing with him. For example, he says that he’s drawn the biggest crowds ever at a certain event. Then he turns around and attacks someone saying that person is the worst ever. Nothing is ever in the middle. Nothing is ever mediocre in his mind. This is called “dichotomous thinking”.

I’ve seen this kind of thinking before…probably everyone has at one point.

I would like to look at a few examples of this kind of thinking in Christianity and how it does not fall in line with what Jesus taught us.  Many years ago, I took part in a discussion about how people get to heaven. This group insisted that the only way to heaven was to accept Jesus as their Savior. I asked the question, “What if a person lives somewhere that is desolate and never heard of Jesus? Say he is a really good person…lived a Christ-like life…but never accepted Jesus because he never heard of him?” Someone immediately responded: “He’s going to hell. Period. He didn’t accept Jesus.” That answer just tore at my soul. If God is love, then how could He turn His back on someone who never heard of Jesus?

During the last year of my marriage, my now ex-husband insisted that he was going to heaven. Period. No ifs, ands or butts. I don’t know where he came up with this…I suspect it was either his family or his mistress (he was having an affair at the time that I wasn’t aware of). When I suggested that Jesus was the judge and not us, he told me that I was wrong. Completely wrong. Later, after I found out about the affair and confronted him, I told him that he was breaking a commandment….a clear commandment that Jesus specifically addresses in the New Testament. His response was “that sounds too judgemental to me”.

Now there are several issues here. In the first case, “dichotomous thinking” is very clear.  Besides the fact that we are not the judge (see What is True Christianity, Part I, where I address that issue in detail), biblically, the person’s insistence that the man in question was going to hell can be rebutted. A few verses in John address both situations above. Let’s look at the first situation. Meditate on the following verse:

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause'”.” John 15:22-24

Think  about that for a minute. “If I had not come…they would not have sin.” Jesus makes it clear in that passage that if a person didn’t know about Him, they would not be held to the same standard as Christians who do know about Him.

Now, let’s look at the second situation where my ex did know about Jesus.

“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.'” John 15:22-24

As you can see, once you know about Jesus, you are held to a higher standard. Jesus expects us to turn our back on sin, not wallow in it. These two situations also show how dichotomous thinking can get people in trouble. There ARE gray areas in life.

Once we TRULY accept Jesus, our hearts and souls will change and we will not continue to live in sin. This is not to say that we won’t make mistakes…we will as we are human. But God’s mercy is not to be abused. God’s mercy does not mean that we can continue to live waist deep in sin. If you have proclaimed Jesus as your Savior but still are immersed in constant sin, you truly haven’t accepted Him. Examine your heart and soul and see if you have TRULY allowed Jesus into your heart.

What is True Christianity? Part II

Today, I would like to talk about all the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Wow, the pictures on the news are just awful and heartbreaking. I’m sure most of you have seen the picture of the nursing home residents as they sat in water up to their waists. There was some suspicion that the picture was fake, but Snopes.com has confirmed this picture and story to be true. Thankfully, these elderly victims of Hurricane Harvey have been rescued and are now clean, dry and safe in a new location.

I was completely dismayed when I read a news article this morning that Joel Osteen, the leader of  Lakewood Church in Houston, did NOT open the doors of his facility to refugees. This mega church can hold over 16,000 people. I was furious, but I wanted to get the entire true story before writing this blog. I once again checked Snopes.com.

The truth of this story is reported as a “Mixture” of true and false per Snopes. It is true that he did not open his church doors immediately citing flooding in the building. However, many different people went to the church to take pictures, and there was no flooding seen in and around the church. In addition, the police and other emergency personnel had not received any calls for help in that general area. Was there flooding in the building? We will never know for sure, but according to pictures, videos and reports from emergency personnel, there is no reason to think there was any problem at Lakewood Church.

Because Mr. Osteen didn’t open the doors to his church, he was hammered on social media. Hundreds of people went on the attack asking why a Christian preacher like himself wouldn’t open doors to the needy. Snopes attempted to contact the church, but as of the writing of this blog, there has been no response. Then things changed. This morning, days after the hurricane first hit and AFTER people spoke up about this issue, Joel Osteen sent out a message via his website that they would be opening the doors to Harvey refugees.

What took him so long? In my opinion, he only opened his doors because he was pressured by the public into doing so. That’s what it looks like to me. Am I impressed that Mr. Osteen opened the doors to his mega church this morning? Nope. I am thankful, but I am not impressed. Too little, too late.

We as Christians are supposed to help those in need. The Bible addresses this over and over again:

“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

“For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.” Hebrews 6:10

“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” Luke 6:38

“Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.” Matthew 5:42

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Proverbs 3:27

“Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” Romans 12:13

“Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

There are so many other verses just like these in the Bible – these are just a few. The lesson here is that Joel Osteen, in the spirit of true Christianity, should have opened the doors of Lakewood Church immediately…not waiting days and after mounting public pressure.

I point this out because, as I said in the first blog of this series, I see a section of so-called Christianity that is being misled. Is Mr. Osteen a terrible Christian? I can’t say that. Like I said yesterday, we are not the judge. We don’t know Mr. Osteen’s heart – only God knows that. But I can point out instances where pastors don’t live up to true Christian values that are taught to us by God. Watch for behavioral patterns in these pastors. If they say something or act in a way that is inconsistent with biblical teaching, question it. Satan is very sly and will use tactics that many people will miss. This is why it is so important to pick up the Bible and read it yourself. Get immersed in God’s Word. Know the truth. Then and only then will you be able to see the real truth in others. Remember, too, that false prophets are out there. Meditate on this verse:

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘There he is!’ – do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24

Christian Extremism

The idea for this blog came last weekend after I read an article that was shared on Facebook. I was disturbed by what I read, but I wanted to confirm the information first, so in the last few days, I have been researching. Then yesterday, the horrible shooting of Republicans in Virginia occurred. As I watched the events play out on television, my heart hurt. What in the world has happened to this country?

Personally, I strongly condemn what this guy did yesterday. Violence should never be condoned in any circumstance no matter how much you disagree with another individual or group. My sincere thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims of this horrendous attack on innocent civilians.

There is so much hate right now in the United States. In my lifetime, I have never seen so much hate, and it saddens me greatly.  For me, I have seen the hate from both sides – Democrats and Republicans. We are ALL guilty of it.

This morning, I was extremely disturbed to see that some of the far-right were quick to point out all of the anti-Trump rhetoric as the cause of this guy actions. I had posted a funny meme about Trump on my page about a week ago (and BTW, it did not promote violence of any kind), and last night, I received some harsh words about it by a far-right individual. She blamed this shooting on anti-Trump rhetoric from the left. I reminded her of the time Trump encouraged his followers to beat up people at one of his rallies in my attempt to show her that hate is coming from both sides.

I am glad that I delayed writing this blog because this will show that hate is prevalent on both sides, not just one. Both the far-right and the far-left concern me greatly. One example of the far-left crossing the line is the Kathy Griffin incident. I was completely disgusted by what she did and do not condone it in any way. I state this fact so that readers will understand that I am against all forms of extremism. Since Trump took office, I realized that I am definitely a moderate, and I really feel like the majority of Americans fall into this group. But today, I want to specifically address the issues with the far-right.

The article that I referred to above referenced some quotes by Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell and Dave Daubenmire. I have to admit that I had never heard of Dave Daubenmire, so I looked him up and found his website. A former coach turned pastor, he is the founder of Pass the Salt Ministries. I decided to look through his blogs and videos and was dumbfounded by what I read. Below I give actual quotes from him followed by my responses:

“The virus known as multiculturalism is eating away in an attempt to exterminate the WASP (White Anglo-Saxon protestants).”

Here, it appears as if Mr. Daubenmire is promoting division, racism and hate. Clearly he doesn’t want different cultures to intermingle. Jesus does not teach us to do this. In fact, Jesus himself said: “Go therefore and make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19

“We may pick apart Trump, but look at who hates him still. The left, Democrats, satanists.”

Again, he is promoting hate against a particular group of people. He cannot speak for the entire group. He is judging a large group of people based on the actions of a few. Jesus said: “Do not judge lest ye be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” Matthew 7:1-2

“As Christian men, we are called to take the Kingdom of God by force…so when we just sit back and pray, without action, what good is it?”

There are a couple of problems here. First, I know of nowhere in the Bible where it says that we, as Christians, need to take the Kingdom of God by force. In fact, by saying this, he is coming dangerously close to radical Christian extremism. The far right opposes radical Islamic extremism because suicide bombers will kill anyone who is not Muslim. But here, Daubenmire is promoting violence in order to convert people to Christianity. This is a dangerous line to cross and is not in line with what is in the Bible. Jesus said: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31 Note that he didn’t say to “love your Christian neighbor” or “love your Republican neighbor”. He said to love your neighbor. This means everyone…ALL people. The second problem is that he basically said that prayer doesn’t work! “…if we just sit back and pray, without action, what good is it?” He clearly doesn’t believe in the power of prayer. As it is written in the book of James: “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

“The only thing that is going to save Western civilization is a more aggressive Christianity.”

Again, Daubenmire is suggesting forceful conversion. This again is coming dangerously close to the line of Christian extremism.

“Trump has dealt a huge blow to the religion of environmentalism…He is taking care of American taxpayers, not environmental globalists. Not the religion of nature. He is taking care of people because PEOPLE are God’s greatest creation, not “Mother Earth”.

One verse in Revelation clearly discounts Daubenmire’s statement here: “The nations raged, but your wrath has come, and the time for judging the dead, for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints and all who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” Revelation 11:18  Everything here on earth is God’s creation. It all belongs to God and we have absolutely no right to destroy it.

“Those who care the most are harsh…when you love someone, you do the hard thing for them. That means telling them the truth, so they can correct their ways.”

If you read this statement alone, it doesn’t seem too bad. But taken in context with Daubenmire’s extreme views, it becomes problematic. When I read this, it immediately reminded me of an eerily similar statement that someone in the church of Scientology said to a member on Leah Remini’s show, Scientology and the Aftermath. I just recently told someone that the thinking of some of the people on the far-right seems almost cult-like. Then I read above statement which, sadly, solidified my concerns. Another example of a cult-like statement by Daubenmire is below:

“Wake up, get your kids out of public schools, and realize this battle is between God and Satan…”

One of the ways cults operate is through isolation. It is really important to remember this and be able to identify it when confronted with this kind of rhetoric.

“The tolerant crowd believes you should tolerate all beliefs, except if it’s a belief they don’t agree with. They only want tolerated what they believe.”

Um, yeah. All you have to do is go back and re-read all of Daubenmire’s statements above. Hypocrisy? Yes!

“Jesus is the least tolerant person to have ever lived.”

Nonsense. Let’s not forget about the woman who was about to be stoned for committing adultery: “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7  Remember, Jesus interacted with the sinners. As he said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32 I would say that is pretty tolerant.

Now I am probably going to really step on some toes as I am going to address some of Franklin Graham’s comments.

Graham said that there’s “no question” God is supporting Trump.

Listen…God doesn’t support sin. Jesus never said it was OK to insult people on a daily basis by calling them names. Jesus never said that it was OK for Trump to lie. Jesus never said it was OK for Trump to say all those vulgar things about women. Jesus doesn’t condone sin! I’ve heard the argument that King David, although he sinned, was a “man after God’s own heart”. Yes, that is true, but some on the far-right seem to forget that David REPENTED. The concept of repentance is missing. God even used Paul for good after all the bad things that he did…but again, he REPENTED. Donald Trump continues to lie. He continues to call people names. Remember what Jesus said: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:19-20

“No president in my lifetime…can I remember…speaking about God as Donald Trump does.”

First, the only time I have ever heard Trump talk about God is when he is at some kind of Christian event. Second, speaking about God means nothing. Again, “you will know them by their fruits”. Also Jesus said the following: “So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:28

“I want the school boards of America in the hands of evangelical Christians within the next 4-6 years…And it can happen and that will have a huge impact because so many school districts are now controlled by wicked, evil people, and the gays and lesbians, and I keep bringing their name up, but they are at the forefront of this attack against Christianity in America.”

First of all, this kind of statement promotes hate. Some people will read this and think it is OK to go out and hurt gays and lesbians, just like what we saw in Orlando. That is NEVER OK, just like what happened yesterday in Virginia is NEVER OK. Second, when I read this statement by Franklin Graham, I thought about Ellen Degeneres. I watch her show because I find her incredibly funny. I thought about the tremendous amount of good that she does on her show. She gives people who are struggling so much help and makes them smile…each and every day. I do not understand how the far-right thinks that someone like this is evil. I don’t believe it is that simple. It’s not black and white. Remember, Jesus said: “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

Jesus called us to love one another. We are not the judge. No one knows who is doomed to hell, not even Franklin Graham. He is just a man…he is not God. Neither is Dave Daubenmire. Jesus said that the two most important commandments are to love God with all your heart and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself…not just Christians, but everyone…even the sinners. It is not up for us to judge. Our understanding is limited…we do not see things as God sees them.

I hope that this blog will demonstrate that some on the far-right are spewing hate and are just as guilty as those on the far-left. This idea that the shooting was entirely based on anti-Trump rhetoric is simply not true. We have to remember that this guy does not represent all Democrats, and just as much hate is coming from the far-right Christians that are spreading “facts” about Christianity that are not biblically based and which borders on Christian extremism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heavenly Mourning Doves Bring Peace

“I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” John 1:32-34

What a wonderful passage from the gospel of John! Today, the dove is widely regarded as a symbol of peace and reminds us of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When I see a dove, either in a picture or in nature, it always brings me comfort.

Red cardinals also bring me comfort. I have written a blog about these birds as they are widely believed to represent a loved one who visits us from heaven. Victoria McGovern says it perfectly in her quote:

“May you come to find comfort in and remember cardinals appear when angels are near. So go now, sit outside and drink your tea. Keep a look out for the little red bird – it is there, your loved one will be.”

If you want to read about my experiences with red cardinals, just read my post, The Red Cardinal – Love From Heaven.

A couple of weeks ago, I posed a question on my Facebook page regarding Christianity and the hypocrisy that I have been noticing regarding Donald Trump. Here is the actual post:

OK, after thinking about this, I want to put this out there. I am asking for help from my Christian friends. For several months, I haven’t been attending church (except when I am with my mom – we attend Catholic church together). There is a reason for this that I haven’t shared with anyone until today. I have chosen to spend time with God on Sundays by myself. Here’s why – this whole thing with Trump has caused me to have bad feelings toward going to church. You see, I have seen hypocrisy like I’ve never seen before in my lifetime. I’ve seen Christians who post something religious every day but then support Trump unconditionally. I cannot understand how a Christian can support him after all the lies, the remarks about women, the lack of compassion, making fun of the disabled reporter, his constant attacks on anyone who disagrees with him, the name-calling, etc. I don’t get it. It is causing major depression, frustration, and incredible disappointment in those who are Christian yet still support Trump. I have had many long talks with God about this and how I am feeling, many times bringing me to tears. I don’t want to be part of any church right now. I just want to spend time alone with God. I feel alone. I know there are good people in the church who don’t support what Trump has done, and I keep telling myself that. But I have this strong urge to stay away right now. I have just seen so much hypocrisy. Who can help me out on this?

I did receive replies, some of them more helpful than others. I decided to continue with my alone time with God on Sundays, but a family member also gave me the idea to attend church during the week when there were fewer people there. She had done this, and she found it to be a source of Christian “nourishment”. I liked this idea, so I decided attend Catholic Mass during the week. She was right. I am also finding this to be a source of Christian “nourishment”.

During my first visit to Catholic Mass during the week, I prayed hard. I begged God for direction. I told Him once again of my concern over Christian hypocrisy and how it seems like some in the faith are being led in the wrong direction. I prayed for Donald Trump and his administration even though I don’t like what they are doing. I told God that I wanted to write with His direction, not my own. I begged Him to save our country and told Him that there were good people “down here”. I asked for His divine mercy on us, and by the end of the prayer, tears were filling me eyes. I looked up at the crucifix at the front of the church as a tear streamed down my face.

I struggled to go to Mass because one of the problems that I see currently, mostly in the Catholic church, is the pro-life issue. In politics, many Catholics are focusing solely on this one issue without thinking about anything else. I have heard people say that they MUST vote Republican because they are pro-life. There is even a priest out in California who has stated that it was a mortal sin to vote for anyone but Trump. However, these same people support cuts to disability that is in Trump’s current budget proposal. So here is something to think about: A child is born disabled, and according to these pro-lifers, this is a good thing. The child wasn’t terminated. OK, fine…but what now? He/she will need medical care for the rest of his/her life, but he/she can’t get that help because disability benefits are cut. That makes absolutely no sense. Pro-life should mean pro-life for everyone, not just the unborn.

Back to the Mass…when the prayers were said for others, I was really encouraged as they prayed for “all life, from the unborn to the elderly”. I smiled and thanked God for this small but very important change in this particular Catholic church. I hope that this change will take place in all Catholic churches.

After church, I went home and continued on with my daily chores. A few hours later, as I walked in my kitchen, movement outside caught my eye. I looked through my patio door only to see two beautiful mourning doves, one of which was digging in my flower-pot that hung off the side of my patio railing. As I walked closer, I watched as one of the doves stepped on the back of the other one who was digging between my begonia and verbena. I realized at that point that they were making a nest. I couldn’t believe it!! I thought back on my visit to church and my prayer. Was this a sign from God?

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I felt so comforted. What are the chances that two mourning doves would nest just outside my patio door right after I begged God for help and mercy at Mass?

In the Bible, there are passages where doves are mentioned when people are in despair:

“My heart is in anguish within me, the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelm me. And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; truly, I would flee far away, I would lodge in the wilderness.” Psalms 55:4-7

“I cry for help until morning, like a lion he breaks all my bones; from day to night you bring me to an end. Like a swallow or a crane I clamor, I moan like a dove. My eyes are weary with looking upward. O Lord, I am oppressed, be my security!” Isaiah 38:13-14

“We all growl like bears; like doves we moan mournfully. We wait for justice, but there is none; for salvation,, but it is far from us.” Isaiah 59:11

I again thought back on my tearful prayer that day. I knew God was telling me that he had heard my prayer. As I watched the doves work, I once again remembered how the Spirit came upon Jesus like a dove when he was baptized:

“And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were  opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved with whom I am well pleased.'” Matthew 3:16-17

“And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on Him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.'” Mark 1:10-11

“Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized, and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.'” Luke 3:21-22

I continued to watch the doves work as I felt a sense of peace come over me. At one point, they saw both me and my cat, and I was afraid that they would abandon the nest since we were probably about 4 feet away from them.

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But they didn’t. They stopped and looked for a minute, but then kept working. Several times, I saw one of them with a bunch of debris hanging out of its mouth. I was mesmerized as I watched them prepare the nest for their young.

I did some research on the behavior of mourning doves. The male will get twigs and debris for the nest, and when he brings it to the female, he will stand on her back and give it to her as she makes the nest. I saw this exact behavior. It was so much fun to watch. Next, I learned how to tell the difference between the male and female as it is quite subtle. The male is larger, and he has a little bit of blue on his head with some pink on his throat. Each time I checked on the dove that was sitting on the nest, she was all brown so I assumed it was the female. Then one day, I realized that the male was sitting on the nest. He had a very light blue on his head and very light pink on his throat, just as described in my research.

I also noticed that these birds have a beautiful teal color that surround their eyes. I can’t seem to get a good picture that actually shows how gorgeous this color is around their eyes, but it can be seen on other pictures of these birds on the internet. When I saw the male close up, I realized that I could now tell the difference between the two birds just by their eyes. The female has the teal color that surrounds the entire eye, whereas the male has the teal under his eye while his upper eyelid covers the rest of the teal color.

Later that night, I slowly went over to the patio door to close the shades, hoping once again that I wouldn’t scare them off. Amazingly, they stayed.

The next morning, I slowly opened the shades, and both doves were there – mama on the nest and papa with debris in his mouth.

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A few seconds later, two other birds flew up and landed on the patio rail right next to the two doves. I immediately recognized them as cardinals – one of them (the male) had a bright red chest. I could not believe it! Two mourning doves and two red cardinals standing just feet from me, doves signifying peace and the cardinals signifying a visitor from heaven!

The next day, as I worked in the house, I noticed that the dove was not on the nest. I walked to the door and looked out to see one big white egg. I was so excited! The mama bird came back to the nest within about ten minutes and sat on her egg for the rest of the day.

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Still so happy about the one big white egg, I went to my mailbox to pick up my mail. I was so happy to receive a card from my aunt as she knew I was struggling with Christian hypocrisy. Inside the card, there was a bookmark with a quote by Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.”  Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

This added to my sense of peace. The statement, “I believe the desire to please You does in fact please You” gave me great comfort. I realized that for me, I was doing the right thing by going to church during the week when it was quieter and spending alone time with God on Sunday. I knew that since I desire to please Him and only Him, that is enough. I believe that God sent those doves to me as a sign of peace and as His way of telling me that He will lead me down the right road.

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

A couple of days later, I noticed once again that the dove had left the nest, so I went to look at it. This time there were two eggs! It is just so amazing to watch. I learned through research that mourning doves typically lay two eggs.

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Each day, I walk up to the patio door and talk to the doves, telling them that they are safe here. When I talk to them (not sure they can hear me…haha!), they just look at me, but they don’t seem to get upset at all that I am so close to the nest. I’m pretty sure they know now that I won’t hurt them. I don’t go out on my patio because I think I may scare them off. I don’t want them to abandon the nest.

I have since looked up many passages in the Bible that mention doves. As I read the following passage, I remembered when, in my prayer at church, I asked God to direct my writing:

“See I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves…When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:16-20

I knew that God would help me in my writing. I want to write what is true according to His word. I know he heard my request.

The dove as a sign of the Holy Spirit is so incredibly comforting. These birds are so peaceful, and they bring a great sense of serenity. God tells us in the Bible to live by the Spirit, not by the flesh:

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-14

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control….If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” Galatians 5:22-25

As I read more passages about doves in the Bible, I realize that they are also a great sign of hope:

“For the palace will be forsaken, the populous city deserted, the hill and the watchtower will become dens forever, the joy of wild asses, a pasture for flocks, until a spirit from on high is poured out on us, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.” Isaiah 32:14-15

“For now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” Song of Solomon 2:11-14

This brings to mind another great quote from St. Teresa of Avila:

“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you. All things are passing. God only is changeless. Patience obtains all things. One who has God wants nothing. God alone suffices.”

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Even though it is tough to do, God tells us not to worry. There are terrible things going on in this world, and it is so hard to not get mad or irritated. It is also incredibly difficult, at least for me, to see all this Christian hypocrisy. I believe that these doves are a way of telling all of us that only God is necessary for peace and that things will eventually change for the better. In the Catholic church that I attend, it appears that things are already changing. The things that happen in this world are passing, but God never changes. Hold on to Him and stay in His Word. As he sent those doves to me, he will also send peace to those who truly believe in Him and who ask Him for it. So I will leave you with this:

“Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

 

The Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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