Thursday, May 27, 2010


Memories of Memorial Day festivities have been flittering through my mind: picnics, playing in the park, splashing in the lake, and endless games of baseball with siblings and cousin. However, before any of that took place, we always made trips to several cemeteries. Although we barely had enough money for groceries, Momma always made sure that the grave sites of loved ones were nicely decorated.

I have pictures of my siblings, cousins and me standing in our Sunday best at the cemetery biting at the bit to change our clothes and get to the park! Walking through the cemetery searching for the family graves was like walking on egg shells and it wasn’t because momma allowed high-heels for Sunday attire! Instead, if it looked like we were even close to stepping on a grave; our arm was nearly pulled out of socket!

Many practices people preserve such as placing flowers, lights, epitaphs and pictures on frequently elaborate tomb stones remind me of a story about a young new wife who planned to fix a roast for her beloved husband. Prior to placing the roast in the pan, she cut the end of it off. When her husband questioned her about why, she responded, “I don’t know. That’s what mom always did.” When she inquired, her mother responded, “I don’t know. That’s what Gramma always did.” When the mother inquired, Gramma’s response was, “Because I didn’t have a pan big enough for the roast!”

A Sunday drive past a cemetery shortly after Memorial Day reminds us that these grave yard traditions are still held in high regard by many. In fact, the over-flowing bags of decorations my friend collects before mowing cemeteries is only a small sample of what people spend on decorating grave sites!

Please understand that I’m not criticizing the deep emotional pain and grief experienced when someone we love dies. Even Jesus experienced this (John 11:33, 35). I’m also not suggesting that it is wrong to cherish the memory of a loved one. However, referring to such practices as building elaborate monuments and decorating graves, Jesus said:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you build the tombs of the prophets
decorate the graves of the righteous, ….”
(Matt. 23:29).

I want to understand why Jesus made such a reference. We need to be careful that we do not practice traditional coping mechanisms which go beyond what pleases God.

In my efforts to learn more, I have spent several hours researching this topic and have discovered that, at least in part, “decorating graves with flowers and wreaths, alms and good deeds, were intended to shorten the time of suffering of the souls of the deceased in purgatory.” I have found that these customs have developed out of ancient pagan practices including those of the Cult of the Dead. This concerns me! I don’t want to be upholding and perpetuating anything that does not glorify my Lord, Jesus!

If you enjoy doing research or have reliable information about the history of these practices, I’d love to hear from you! Maybe the Lord will encourage me to write about this again once I’ve developed a clearer understanding.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


Expressing frustration and hurt regarding broken relationships, a young lady recently shared, “Everytime I finally reach solid ground, there’s an earthquake and I fall right back to the dark bottomless pit. I’m so angry with myself!” My heart went out to her because I understand her pain and confusion. Because she reported that my response to her “hit the nail on the head,” I thought it might be helpful to others who find themselves in a similar situation.

I want to share a memory with you that has come to mind several times while praying for you.

One day when I was grieving yet another failing relationship, I cried out to the Lord, "What is it about me that attracts such messed-up people?" His immediate response, "Bonnie, have you ever considered that the reason you repeatedly get into these kinds of relationships is because you never ask My opinion about them." I froze in my tracks. I hadn't even considered this! How could I expect relationships to be fulfilling if they weren’t relationships that God desired for me in the first place?

It was at this point when I realized, “There are hurting, ‘messed-up’ people no matter where I go and if I don’t deal with the issues in my own heart that attract me to them in the first place, I’ll get connected with them no matter where I go! Unless I want to repeat the painful process, I must start seeking God’s guidance and direction in relationships.”

I was beginning to realize that there are “healthier” people out there, but unhealthy people don’t attract healthy people! Consequently, I found myself asking, “What causes me to be attracted to these people to begin with?”

I often connected with wounded people because I could identify with their pain and I wanted to help them. I sense you have a similar heart. In some ways I did help them. Yet, I would end up getting hurt because they weren’t meeting my needs. I expected unhealthy people to respond in a healthy way. They can’t!

I realize now that I was also placing too much emphasis on trying to get my needs met through people. I need a dad, but…other men can’t fill that void. I need unconditional love, but… wounded family and friends aren’t capable of that. In fact, if people could fulfill those needs, we wouldn’t need God! Do you suppose that He may have designed things that way?

The only way that our relationships will come even close to being fulfilling is if we seek intimacy with Jesus first.

I realize that this may sound kind of trite, but in my efforts to deal with the hurt and disappointments of relationships, I have found that this is true. When we place our relationship with Jesus in its proper order, we will find that we begin to seek out relationships with others who certainly won’t be perfect, but who also desire and are working toward getting their lives on the “right track.” This doesn’t mean that we won’t connect with “unhealthy” people. If we walk in the footsteps of Jesus, we certainly will. However, our motives for doing so and our response to their unhealthiness will be changed.

I freely admit that I don’t have all the answers, but… if I can help others by exposing my mistakes and sharing the lessons I’ve learned along the way, it makes the struggles all worth it. Be assured that I’d be willing to go through it all over again to see both your and other’s lives filled with genuine peace and joy.


Thursday, May 13, 2010


The theme for this year’s U.S. celebration of Armed Forces Day is “United in Strength.” We have the:

• second largest military in the world (1,454,515 active and 848,000 reserve soldiers).
• largest annual budget in the world ($692 billion), 42 percent of world military expenditures.

"The support of an informed American people is increasingly important to the Armed Forces …. I, therefore, encourage members of the DoD to observe Armed Forces Day by informing the American people of our 'Power for Peace' and by confirming their faith that in our strength we will remain free." - former Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara.

However, according to this unnamed military sergeant, most soldiers aren’t able to accurately inform Americans,

"My thoughts and beliefs are somewhat confused these days. But, I want to express some feelings I've kept inside for some time. I'm a Sergeant in the U.S. Many soldiers feel something is wrong with some of our missions and some of the things we are being commanded to do, so few actually know what is going on in the military and the world today.

"As did most, I entered the military to serve and protect the freedoms and property of the people of my own nation against communism…. Several of us, including the Lieutenant, understand that we are once again being used to undermine the present government of this non-communist dictatorship and prepare it to become another asset of the United Nations. Understanding this, puts us in a shameful and stressful situation. It's difficult to change one's job description from one of guarantor of freedom to one of facilitator of world slavery.

"... Soldiers and 'the folks back home' are told that we're helping the poor and oppressed people in other countries. I could live with that, but it's not true. It's like we are mercenaries for the highest bidder, not American soldiers…

"...We have been instructed that any U.S. individuals or groups that espouse …'patriotic activism', 'constitutional violations' or government conspiracies are subversives and it will do our careers severe damage to express interest... That speaks volumes, since some in the military are members of anti-American movements. …Having a leftist world view is somewhat beneficial at promotion time. …it does seem the day may come when we will all have to decide whom and what we will serve.

"…Many …are misled to believe that a one-world system is going to be our answer to total equality and freedom. ...Under the United Nations' world government plan… rich Marxists in America and around the world are no respecters of persons. …All non-wealthy …peoples of the world, will be enslaved …to serve the masters of a 'world plantation'."

If we would only remove our distorted lenses, we would see the evidence supporting this soldier’s concerns. Subjection to a despotic government is not freedom! My guts wrench and my heart aches considering such deception and manipulation! How can we help the precious men and women who, in “good conscience” committed their lives to “serving the people of their nation?”

Many suggest that the only answer is to “reclaim our American roots.” I wonder if these soldiers consider such “solutions” or… do they recognize the roots as having set the stage for the culmination of that which was determined all along?

In spite of 1, 194,198+ American military fatalities, according to economist and historian Robert Higgs, “the U.S. government’s economic and military interventions have reduced the civil and economic liberties, prosperity, and genuine security of Americans. Although …on the winning side of World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, Americans ended up with fewer liberties than they had before the wars. Every year, orators declare that our leaders have gone to war to preserve our freedoms and have done so with glorious success, but the truth is just the opposite. War—the quintessential government activity—has been the mother’s milk for the nourishment of a growing tyranny in this country, and it remains so today.”

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." -James Madison

Are we truly honoring “those who serve” by ignoring the deceptive claims made by national leaders? Are we willing to help them see that it has never been nor will it ever be an earthly military with “'Power for Peace' and in who’s strength we will remain free?" Are we willing to stand by them as they face the shame and struggle to decide whom and what they will serve?

The only genuine comfort to offer them is the assurance that Jesus is the true source of power, peace and freedom! Confirming our faith in any other will always lead to deception! “No one can serve two masters.”


Thursday, May 6, 2010


Considering last week’s discussion:

1) What is the Biblical image of honoring our parents?

We are to credit our parents for being used by God to give us the physical birth necessary to accomplish His will in and through us. It seems that in every Scriptural case, honoring parents refers to obeying them when we are young children, helping them when they are in need and not cursing/speaking badly about them [Leviticus 19:3, 20:9, John 19:26, Ephesians 6:1, 1 Timothy 5:8]. No more and no less is described.

2) How do we respond to “negative family relationships?”

When Jesus’ earthly family sought to pull Him away
from His Father’s work,
He set a boundary with them because
His focus had to be on His Kingdom.
He encourages us to do the same:

Obscenity, foolish talk and coarse joking - God’s people are warned, “You must keep so far from it that it is not even suspected! …You can be assured that no one – (who commits such sin) - has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ…” [Ephesians 5: 3-5]. This is not a laughing matter!

Ungodly activity – God’s people are commanded to “say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions” [Titus 2:12] and “flee every kind of evil” [1 Thessalonians 5:22].

Gossip - Gossipers “are people who give out information, whether true or false, which is detrimental to the character or welfare of others…. Those who do such things deserve death” [Romans 1:29, 32. The Source]. If you have ever experienced or witnessed the damage in relationships that gossip creates [Proverbs 16:28], you will understand why God speaks so strongly against this and will separate yourself from it.

We have a responsibility to lovingly draw the damaging effects of these depravities to our family’s attention. If this is done to no avail, the next step is to separate ourselves by ending a phone conversation, leaving the room or even the premises, if necessary.

Establishing boundaries may cause family members to think that you are unforgiving and unloving. However, there is a big difference between establishing boundaries with those who are untrustworthy vs. unforgiveness. Boundary-setting can and should be done without resentment. Although it doesn’t always feel like it, setting healthy boundaries is often the most loving thing to do. Until a person demonstrates that they have become trustworthy in a particular regard, the boundary must remain in place.

Expect that boundary setting may lead to disconnection with your family members. They may choose to distance themselves or you may have to distance yourself in order to not be drawn into their ungodly behavior. This often leads to feeling isolated from those you love. Yet, God frequently uses this disconnection to draw us nearer to Him and our Kingdom family. As difficult as it can be, keep in mind that this is His greater concern.

Once you have established solid boundaries, family members may speak badly about you. As tempting as it may be, there is no need to defend yourself. Wait upon the Lord! Yes, this is very difficult! However, as the years go by, those who have thought, spoken or heard poorly about you will begin to see the truth rise to the surface and the one who slandered you will be exposed [Luke 8:17].

A dangerous trap that is often set before us when we begin to walk in the light of God’s truth is to become hypocritical. We have no business setting boundaries regarding others when we are not diligently purifying our own lives. We must act carefully to set an example by not allowing any unwholesome talk or slander come from our own lips, indulging in impure acts and by protecting our minds from things which are an abomination to God [Ephesians 4:23, 29, 31, 5:15]. Those whom we love will only become more resentful of us and our boundaries if we are not “practicing what we preach!”

As followers of Jesus,
He holds us accountable to demonstrating
His purity, love and grace
in order to bring salvation to those He has chosen

[Acts 13:47].