One Christian’s support of the Black Lives Matter fight against racism in America

By Snow

Before I begin today’s post, I want to point you to Wounded Butterflies. My collaborator, JC, is in progress over there on a brave series of posts, “Nobody Knew, Yet Everybody Knew,” chronicling her story as an abuse survivor. Check the first three posts out at the following links: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3.

I originally had a different topic in mind today, but Jesus has led me to write this one instead. It has been on my heart for some time, and today is the day.

To serve as the backbone of this post, I’m going to use a letter I wrote to a pastor back in June. However, I am going to both condense and expand it to better serve my purposes here. While I generally have tried to keep Beloved Walks free of politics, we are living in unusual times, and I feel burdened to speak. If not now, when?

Yes, I am compelled as a Christian to write this today, but I claim to speak for no one else other than myself.


“My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?”
James 2:1

Here in the United States, we are a country full of pain. In many ways, we are a country founded on pain. Wonderful ideals masked flaws right from the start because of sin’s infiltration. Harsh realities marred powerful words, like “All men are created equal,” in the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution went on to codify the disenfranchisement of entire groups of people. Yes, this document, touted as a beacon of democracy, is blemished in its very first article! The issue should have been resolved at the beginning, but instead, the founding fathers kicked it forward to a future generation.

The United States fought an entire war against itself decades later to free slaves, and, ostensibly, it did free them. Yet, African Americans still did not receive that promised equality. Oppression and disenfranchisement continued, but under other guises.

The losing side of the Civil War was later even able to erect statues of the traitors who chose the wrong side of morality. Why did losing generals in a failed secession get statues? “History” was the oft-repeated answer. No, those statues were meant to intimidate, plain and simple. They symbolize everything that is wrong with race relations in America. State and local governments have been slow to act to remove them, so the people have ultimately been compelled to do so on their own.

To be clear, I am definitely in favor of acknowledging and learning from history. What I strongly object to is the notion that this should be accomplished through maintaining statues of traitors portrayed falsely as heroes. No. Tear them down.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”
Proverb 31:8-9

A century after the Civil War, Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many other true heroes marched and shed their blood for civil rights, resulting in many advances. Because of their efforts, for example, I was blessed to have African American classmates and teachers – including my favorite teacher ever, who changed my life. As a white student, these gifts would have been impossible for me to receive before that movement. What a loss that would have been.

Yet, even after these civil rights victories, oppression and disenfranchisement continued, often in more subtle ways.

“‘Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.’ Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Joel 2:13

I am ashamed to admit, I was one of those naive enough to believe that this country’s racist history was finally behind us when the people elected President Barack Obama in 2008. Yet, he had barely taken the oath of office before I learned that racism was sadly alive. I remember the sinking feeling as I received multiple email forwards of supposed “humor” in the early days of his Presidency that was nothing more than racism.

Today, seemingly bereft of any leadership, this country is spiraling out of control at almost every level. Those we, the people, entrust with power are abusing that power to the point of murdering citizens. Only the prevalence of video cameras, thanks to smart phones, is finally making the rest of us see what some already knew far too well all along: There is still much work to do in the United States before we can truly be the “land of the free.”

Yes, I know many police officers are noble and put their lives on the line daily for just purposes. However, silence in the name of “brotherhood” only condones and emboldens those officers undeserving of our trust and the uniforms they wear.

Credit: JC

Dr. Tony Evans, in a moving sermon on September 6, stated, “The only reason why we have a ‘white Church’ and a ‘black Church’ is because one group of the Church decided that another set of Christians didn’t belong. […] We would not have a racial divide in America if it weren’t for the Church. The Church is the cause. The good news is, it’s also the cure for the racial divide creating havoc in our society.”

White evangelicals elected a blatantly racist, sexist, choose just about any horrible adjective, President in 2016, and that support appears sadly to continue. The conservative political machine has become expert at manipulating that group through the use of hot button, dog whistle talking points. Much like the noble police officers, I am aware there are noble conservatives. However, silence in the era of Donald Trump – no matter if he supposedly identifies as your party or even your faith – only condones and emboldens a man undeserving of our trust and the office he holds. It really is the same as the officers who look the other way.

We are living in a time of change, yet this is barely reflected on the national ballot. It is one old, white man versus another old, white man for the Presidency. When it comes to racism and sexism, Joseph Biden has his own problems and only appears acceptable if contrasted to the mass chaos of an ignorant, power-hungry narcissist like Trump.

Should that really be our bar? Where are the real leaders?

No one is perfect, but surely we, as a nation, can do better than a choice between “Bad” and “Worse”? I used to think the United States was the greatest nation on Earth, but it’s hard to believe that anymore.

I, for one, am sad that for the second Presidential election in a row, I will be voting against someone, rather than for someone.

I can’t pretend to know what it is like to be an African American in this country. I don’t know what it’s like to have discrimination and hatred always lurking, always waiting to strike, always preparing to destroy. I don’t know what it’s like to be afraid for my life at a minor traffic stop or when jogging after dark. The small glimpses I have seen of these cruelties have been sickening, but I know I have experienced nothing compared to the reality.

What I do know is that black lives matter. What I do know is that white supremacy must end. What I do know is that police departments must make significant changes at a foundational level. What I do know is that we must seize this opportunity to correct the inherent flaws in American society.

What I do know, above anything else, is that we are all God’s children, created in His image.

Racism is not only a sin, but it is an attack against God Himself.


Father in Heaven,

May our hearts be torn. May our hearts be broken for what breaks Your heart.

In the blessed name of Jesus we pray.

Amen


“Anyone who loves a fellow believer is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.”
1 John 2:10-11

Like a shadow

By Snow

God provides such blessings, if you will only meet Him. I fail at this so often. I know there are so many gifts I miss out on because I get distracted by other activities.

I still struggle at work. I realize, ultimately, we all work for God – but I have a hard time reconciling what I do as really being His work. I do acknowledge it as God’s temporary plan, as He is providing until I make it to the next step on His path for me. Though I understand I have spiritual assignments there beyond my job-related tasks, work can sometimes feel like such a distraction.

Work was extremely busy this week. Hectic. I was working extra hours, sleeping little in order to sign in and start as early as 1:30 AM. Some of this is because we are in our busy season, and some of it is because I was not working very efficiently in the weeks leading up to these deadlines. So, I had to pay for being distracted away from work on previous weeks by allowing work to be my main distraction this week.

Finding balance has lately been difficult for me. My quiet time with the Lord suffered this week. I still spent time with Him each morning, but it was less than I would have wanted. I also did not get back to exercising, as I had planned to do. It feels like I can’t get everything back in balance again. I can get one part of my life going at a time, but not all of it.

On the plus side, I am writing again, which fills me. The challenge is that on a week like this, I want to be writing instead of working.

This is a mess of a post. Perhaps I’ll clean it up in editing. Or maybe not. This blog, after all, has always been about raw truth.

I also worry about how this new world the virus has forced upon all of us is affecting me. I am an introvert, but I had become stronger about dealing with all the rest of you humans over the last couple of years. I feel some of that slipping away, as I spend more and more time to myself.

And, to be clear, I love having time to myself. I love working remotely instead of in an office. But as I step my toe back out there in the world, it begins to feel scary all over again. Part of me never wants to go back to the old normal. So, I have to be careful not to let that kind of fear start to overwhelm me again as it once did.

For I have Jesus now, and no amount of social distancing will ever force Him away from me. He is always there, it is only that I need to stop and listen for Him. I need to stop and meet Him. I can’t ignore work or other responsibilities, but I must focus first on Him. He is the priority, for without Him, all of this is meaningless.

“Meaningless” — my above words remind me of Ecclesiastes. I believe “meaningless” must be used at least two dozen times in that book! That is one I struggle with, as it seems like such a downer. I see now, though, (and I mean, literally, right now), that it essentially points to Jesus. Everything really is meaningless without Him.

“I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.”
Ecclesiastes 1:13-14

“Chasing the wind” is a great turn-of-phrase. I definitely feel like I am doing that sometimes. Perhaps you do as well. At those times, we must remember to re-center ourselves and focus on Jesus.

Let us pray.


Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Jesus. Thank You for peace. Thank You for love.

Please forgive us our sins, including those we do not see.

When we are pulled too many directions, please help us bring balance back into our lives. Help us to see what really matters, spreading your Word and eternal energy to our sisters and brothers here on Earth.

Help us to focus, Lord, on Your Son. Let us feel Him guiding us along His paths for us. Let Him shine His light through us.

Lord, pour us out and fill us up with You. Give us Your vision, Your strength, and Your wisdom.

Thank You, God.

In the blessed name of Jesus we pray.

Amen


“The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they? In the few days of our meaningless lives, who knows how our days can best be spent? Our lives are like a shadow. Who can tell what will happen on this earth after we are gone?”
Ecclesiastes 6:11-12

This verse speaks to me today as well, for it puts me in the mindset of, where is this post really going? The more I write, the less sense it makes. What is the purpose?

Anytime I write here, I do have a purpose, though. It may not always be clear, and I may not always achieve it, but I always have that purpose in mind.

Is my life meaningless, as the author of Ecclesiastes suggests above? No, I can’t agree with that. I have Jesus. I have true love. I know joy. I want others to experience those blessings, too. I love the way Paul says it:

“I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!”
1 Corinthians 9:23-24

I do agree with Ecclesiastes, though, in that our lives have few days. How many do we waste? We can’t have them back once they’re gone. Life here on Earth is fleeting.

I believe in eternal life. I believe when we die, it is only the beginning. Eternity awaits. For those of us who know Jesus, it is an eternity in Heaven, the Perfect Place.

However, there is something else I think about of late. Something I have been pondering during this strange time of COVID-19, when there has been more time to think (outside of this particular week, anyway).

While it is true that the blessing of eternity awaits, that is, obviously, a very different life than the ones we live now here on Earth. Our time on Earth is not even a blink compared to the eternity ahead of us.

That should make this time, this life all the more valuable to us.

This life, the one we have now, on this troubled, messed up planet that we know and love so well, this life is special because it is the only time we are here in this form.

This is it. This is our one chance.

What are we going to do with it?

Chase the wind or run to win?

Credit: JC

Saul and David: A pair of kings

By Snow

David is one of the most interesting figures of the Bible, and JC and I could (and, Lord willing, will) explore him in dozens of posts over the years. Today, I just want to take a brief look at an interesting parallel in the kingships of Saul and David.

In 1 Samuel 18, King Saul, out of jealousy, decides he wants David, his greatest and most loyal soldier, dead. The below verse describes one of the ways he tries to arrange this:

“One day Saul said to David, ‘I am ready to give you my older daughter, Merab, as your wife. But first you must prove yourself to be a real warrior by fighting the LORD’s battles.’ For Saul thought, ‘I’ll send him out against the Philistines and let them kill him rather than doing it myself.'”
1 Samuel 18:17

After initially declining the offer, David eventually agrees instead to marry King Saul’s younger daughter, Michal. King Saul decrees that David must kill 100 Philistines to earn her hand. The ploy fails, for David returns, having killed 200 Philistines (as described in 1 Samuel 18:18-27). King Saul’s behavior towards David becomes increasingly erratic until he is obsessed with pursuing and killing him.

David, for his part, still considers King Saul anointed by God. In the midst of being hunted, David twice has the opportunity to kill King Saul, yet chooses not to do so (as described in 1 Samuel 24:3-7 and 1 Samuel 26:7-9). These are remarkable acts of restraint.

David even kills the man who claims to have killed King Saul when bringing news of his death in a battle against, you guessed it, the very same Philistines that he hoped would kill David (as described in 2 Samuel 1:6-16).

Credit: JC

David becomes king, but many years later, he stumbles. He commits adultery with Bathsheba, who becomes pregnant. When he is unable to make it look as if the forthcoming child is of her husband, Uriah, King David then decides Uriah, a loyal solider, must die.

“So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. The letter instructed Joab, ‘Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.’ So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting.”
2 Samuel 11:14-16

King David has essentially ordered the same fate for Uriah as King Saul once planned against him. Except this time, because David’s version is more insidious than that of Saul, the plan succeeds, and Uriah indeed falls. King David has now added murder to adultery in his list of sins. I am leaving out a lot here, but things soon begin to fall apart for him. He takes Bathsheba as his wife, repents and asks forgiveness from God, and their baby dies.

King David and Bathsheba have another child, Solomon, who goes on not only to succeed him as king, but to be in the bloodline of Joseph (see Matthew 1:6-16), adopted father of Jesus – fulfilling prophecy of the Messiah being from the line of David (Ezekiel 37:24).

What to make of all this?

One of the misconceptions I had about the Bible before I was saved was that most of the people in it were perfect and led exemplary lives. Of course, this myth was shattered early on in my journey. In the Bible, there is only one perfect human, Jesus Christ. The rest are flawed, like us.

The Lord considered David a “man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), yet even David went on to break multiple of His commandments. Those of us who follow Jesus also aspire to be after His own heart. We want to be Christlike, but we all sin.

Every day we make mistakes, yet every day God still loves us and still uses us to fulfill His plan and His glory. This is not because we are deserving, but because of His grace and because of His Son, who died for our sins such that we be made right with God.


“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28


One last thing before I go. I want to point you over to a beautiful post by JC over on Wounded Butterflies, where she begins telling more of her story as a survivor of abuse. Please read what she has to say: Nobody Knew, Yet Everybody Knew.

Thank you, may Jesus bless you, and goodnight.

What should your loved ones know?

Credit: JC

By Snow

Though I don’t plan to die anytime soon, I also acknowledge that is ultimately up to the Lord. Therefore, I recently assembled a document of information my loved ones need to know. Loosely based on a printed workbook JC gave me a couple of years ago (yes, I procrastinate), I had to type mine in Microsoft Word because I enjoy constantly reanalyzing and changing things, which a handwritten version would not really accommodate very well.

I am not sure what I expected it to be like, but it turned into a very emotional process at times for me. This type of document essentially represents your last communications, in this world anyway, to your family and friends. Many cold but necessary things are captured. Bank accounts, life insurance policies, and the like.

I sprinkled other things throughout mine, though. Little notes here and there. Some to whoever happened to be reading, others to specific people. I also added some of my favorite Bible verses. Much prayer went into my document.

Near the end of the exercise, I decided to add some concluding thoughts. I considered as I wrote, what if I really did die today? The emotions flooded me as I realized what a blessed life I have led. I found Jesus (or, rather, He found me). I experienced true love. And so many other wonderful aspects.

I also know where I am going when I die, thanks to Jesus. The fear of the unknown future after death or, as William Shakespeare so eloquently called it, “the undiscovered country” (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1), no longer has a grip on me. I am going to the Perfect Place, Heaven, to be with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Whether I go in five minutes or fifty years, He has a place for me.

On a more practical side, I discovered a number of things while gathering the material. First, it took me far longer than I expected to pull together the information. Which, to me, completely justifies the exercise. If it took me 30 hours to find all of this stuff while knowing, in general, where to look and how to access it, I imagine it would take loved ones at least ten times that long if I did not provide them this kind of assistance. And some things they would never find or even know to seek.

I also learned that I had failed properly to fill out paperwork when updating one of my old retirement plans, so beneficiaries I thought I named earlier this year were actually not present. I also found I had failed to name beneficiaries at all on my life insurance policy through my new job. On that one, I thought for sure I did – but apparently my mind wrongly checked off this task as “done” when I named beneficiaries on my new retirement plan. I still get a headache now thinking about it. Fortunately, this exercise helped uncover these discrepancies, as it is much easier to resolve such things while living – or so I am told.

If you do not already have a document like this in place, I highly recommend you do so. Be sure to store your document in a secure location and let at least a couple of trusted people in your life know how to access it.

You can find various forms online (I enjoy creating my own documents, one of my quirks), but here are the kinds of information you might want to include (some may not apply):

  • Your Personal Information (legal name, aliases, date of birth, place of birth, social security number [if applicable], home address, phone numbers, email addresses, marital status, citizenship, and organ donor status)
  • Family & Friends to Contact (name, relationship, contact info, comments)
  • Other Entities to Contact (e.g., employer, bank, insurance company)
  • Memorial Instructions
  • Bank Accounts (bank, type, account #, name on the account, automatic deposits, automatic withdrawals)
  • Debt (entity, rate, type, balance, minimum monthly payment, data as of, payment method)
  • Other Monthly Bills (entity, approximate payment, payment method)
  • Charitable Concerns (listing of churches and other charities/ministries you support)
  • Other Credit Cards (zero balances/not in use)
  • Life Insurance Policies (insurer, policy #, address, phone, type, death benefit amount, primary beneficiary, contingent beneficiary)
  • Instructions About Life Insurance Proceeds (e.g., tithe)
  • Vehicle(s) [description, title holder, amount owed (if any)]
  • Location of Important Papers
  • Medical (doctors, dentist, known diseases/medical history, etc.)
  • Retirement/Investment Accounts (entity, type, from, balance, data as of, beneficiary, contingent)
  • Business Interests
  • Real Estate Owned
  • Individual Stocks
  • Annuities
  • Distribution of Personal Items (item, current location, for)
  • Notes About Borrowed Items You Have
  • Notes About Items or Money You Have Loaned
  • User Names & Passwords (or how to find them)
  • Final Comments
  • Signature

While a will is more appropriate for substantial items, the “Distribution of Personal Items” section is useful for articles of more sentimental than financial value. I made sure to add at least one little note per recipient in this section. Once completing this exercise, you may want to consider even writing full letters to each of your loved ones and including them in the same location.

Completing the above for the first time is surely the hardest part. Be sure to brush it off every six months or so, though, so that it doesn’t slowly become uselessly outdated.

Think of this document as a gift to your loved ones. They will be grieving you. Make the administrative aspects of your death as easy on them as possible so that they can concentrate on the emotional aspects and healing.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.


“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”
John 14:1-4

More than conquerors

By Snow

In my post last week, I mentioned that I, like many other believers, have been watching video sermons during the COVID-19 crisis. I want to point you to one such sermon that live-streamed earlier today.

This video is Bishop Wayne I. Welch, Sr., pastoring at Cool Spring Missionary Baptist Church’s first in-person gathering since mid-March. For social distancing purposes, the service is outside, and the vast majority of the parishioners are actually listening from their cars. The sounds of the horns honking affirmations throughout gives me chills. This is not a fancy production, nor does it need to be. This is all about sharing the Word and coming together as His church.

Please click here to watch Bishop Welch’s sermon on YouTube. If you are led to do so, I ask you to give a thumbs-up or make a positive comment over on the video itself, as it is always important to encourage fellow believers.

Here are verses that Bishop Welch covers:

“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:37-39 KJV

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
Romans 8:5-7 KJV

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
John 10:10 KJV

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16 KJV

“And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”
Luke 23:46 KJV

Credit: JC

And so, another Sunday night is here. I must admit, I did not do too well coping with the end of the weekend last week – despite my attempts to the contrary in my post earlier that evening. I allowed darkness to overshadow me for much of the week, a mixture of negativity and guilt.

The negativity was resentment of work, and the guilt was for not being more grateful that I have a job in these times. I feel like I’m no longer allowed to dislike my job – which, of course, is a provision from God and according to His plan.

While I generally consider myself a positive person these days, when I am being negative, I excel at it. For instance, my proficiency for writing can be wielded in negative ways. I can write words that sting as I try to explain why my negative position is a logical one.

No matter my internal reasoning, though, being negative and carrying around guilt did me no good. JC was the one who recognized I was under spiritual attack, pointing me right to one of the verses above, actually – John 10:10.

We must never give up to the enemy the life of abundance that Jesus provides us. A lesson I needed this week, and one that I must keep in mind for the weeks ahead.


Before a brief prayer, I want to close this disjointed post with a video by Elvis Presley, who passed away 43 years ago today. While not gospel per se, this song is certainly inspirational. Elvis recorded it in 1968 as a tribute to Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who were assassinated only weeks before. Written by W. Earl Brown, the song is called, “If I Can Dream,” and it is as relevant today as ever. The video presents the conclusion of the singer’s 1968 television special, ELVIS.

Credit: Elvis Presley (YouTube)


Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus, who has made us more than conquerors. May everyone feel Your love, especially those facing uncertainty in these times. May You end this virus, and, more importantly, heal our hearts. May all Your children walk together, hand-in-hand. More than conquerors, living a life abundant.

In the blessed name of Jesus we pray.

Amen

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

By Snow

Sundays have meant different things to me at different times of my life. As a kid, the day began with Sunday breakfast. Mom, often with help from me and my little sister, would prepare a big meal for our family of six. Some weeks she made pancakes, some weeks she made French toast. I can also remember other weeks just standing at the toaster making a huge plate of toast to go with whatever else we were having. Toast specifically made for my father had to have the little adjustment lever all the way to the far right, resulting in a charred brick no one else would eat.

Bread of some sort was always involved in Mom’s Sunday breakfasts. To complement the main course of starchiness, there would be delicacies like bacon, sausage, eggs, and grits.

Oh yes, grits. To eat grits right requires stirring in at least a teaspoon of sugar to your bowl (we used three teaspoons when I was growing up, but I have scaled back), adding a pat of butter until it starts melting, and then splashing in just a drop or two of milk so it mixes up with the melted butter. Break apart a piece of toast, and add it to the mix if you are ready to take your grits to the next level (optional – for advanced connoisseurs of grits only).

Sunday breakfast would normally hold us until an early dinner, which was often big, too – though the specific courses weren’t as consistent. While Sunday breakfast was always at the big round dinner table, dinner was sometimes allowed in front of the TV in the living room. I can remember watching a movie called Shenandoah, one of my father’s favorites, one Sunday afternoon while eating pork chops and jelly biscuits.

Now, that’s not to say we avoided the occasional nod to healthy eating in our house. For instance, we quite often ate a salad – iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, deli ham and Kraft American cheese cut into little squares – doused in French dressing prior to the main course of a huge plate of angel hair spaghetti covered in Prego sauce with added ground beef. On the side, plenty of warm French or Italian bread on which butter would quickly melt away into nothingness. For drink, you had your choice between a pitcher of sweet iced tea or ice cold Coca-Cola.

Okay, maybe I was stretching it a bit with the “healthy eating” claim. But there was a salad buried somewhere in there. And we did, for a time, substitute Diet Coke for the real thing.

By middle school, I had grown an appreciation for football, so Sunday afternoons during that season consisted of sitting in the living room while my father and brother screamed at the TV in attempts to motivate our team. Their combined yelling apparently catapulted the team to multiple Super Bowl wins, for the team began a perennial losing streak soon after my father left the scene that continues to this day nearly three decades later.

As middle school wore on and then on into high school, Sunday nights became a time of anxiety for me. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t do any of my homework (though often true), it was the knowledge that I had to face another full week at that place – dealing with people, not being myself, and other assorted problems.

My first job was at an amusement park, so Sunday then became a key working day for me as I entered adulthood. No more big breakfasts or football games. This lasted a couple of years before I moved on to more typical Monday through Friday work – though, admittedly, never quite as fun as the park.

Sunday night anxiety became a fixture, except the dread of the forthcoming school week was soon replaced with the dread of the forthcoming work week. During my marriage, I went through a long period of time where my inner dialogue often consisted of statements like, “I wish I was dead. I wish I was dead. I wish I was dead.” Sunday nights into Monday mornings were the peak for these kinds of thoughts. By Monday mornings, my stomach was ripped to pieces. But this post is about Sundays. Fortunately for you.

Sundays during my marriage consisted of a blaring TV. Actually, so did all of the other days of my marriage, but on Sundays, it would specifically blare either football games or NASCAR races – both of which I had lost interest in by the time I was married, oddly enough. Sometimes I would sit there with my former spouse and endure this audio and video assault. Other times, I would go hide in my office to try to have a moment to just think, knowing full well I would be guilt tripped later for my retreat.

I find it difficult to concentrate when a TV is blaring all the time, and my former spouse required the TV to be on at all times – even while sleeping. My only opportunities for audio peace were those few times she wasn’t home. Anyway, I am getting off track here. We can dissect my marriage some other time.

In general, I saw Sunday as a lesser version of Saturday. Lesser because Saturday morning was full of promise with the entire weekend ahead, while Sunday was an inevitable march into Monday, collapsing hopes that the new week would never come.

Credit: JC

In June 2018, JC led me to Jesus and, as evidenced by just about every post I’ve ever made on this blog, my entire life changed. Including, of course, Sundays.

At that time, for various reasons, I began attending my local church through streaming. Combined with the daily quiet time of reading and prayer that JC instilled into me right from the start, I began to learn and absorb so much about Jesus, God, and myself. Over time, Jesus and JC helped me with my anxiety. While I still have my anxious moments from time-to-time, they are nothing like the prison I had built and constantly refined for myself before I knew Jesus.

As my marriage disintegrated, I began attending the church in person. Outside of JC and a couple of her friends, I never did become fully comfortable there, though. While I was learning, the environment never felt quite right. The mostly monochromatic parishioners left me cold, for one thing. Everyone looked like me, which wasn’t what I wanted. And there were other issues.

JC and I did a few times drive about 70 miles to a small church that I absolutely love (another long story). Locally, we began trying to find a more diverse church. This proved a bigger challenge than anticipated.

Then, COVID-19 hit. My Sundays changed again, as did everyone else’s on the planet – no matter their belief system. At first, it felt like I had come full circle. I was streaming the local church again, but that church just wasn’t for me anymore.

Instead, I began to seek out other streaming alternatives to hear the Word. Dr. Tony Evans and Pastor T.D. Jakes have really risen to the challenge of these times, and I have felt so enriched experiencing their web sermons. The little church 70 miles down the road even added video sermons, which allowed me to stay spiritually in touch with them as well.

Whereas Sundays had become about dutifully going to a church for an hour where I never quite belonged, it has evolved in COVID times for me into a day of worship, learning, reflection, and writing. My three most recent Sundays began with reading, prayer, a big breakfast (in honor of Mom, though never quite as big as those days gone by), followed by whichever video sermon I am led to watch, followed by lunch, blogging, another video sermon, some reading, dinner, and blogging again. And some praise music mixed up in all of that, too.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t admit I usually sneak a nap or two in there as well. After all, it is supposed to be a day of rest, right?

I just noticed the time. My heart still sinks when I realize Sunday is almost over. Anxiety is always on the other side of the door, waiting to come in. No. This time, I won’t open that door. Jesus will hold it closed for me.

Thank you for reading these rambles. May Jesus bless you.


“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

“Pray without ceasing.” . . . Huh?

By JC

“Pray without ceasing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17

This verse has always burdened me, as I do not know how to pray without ceasing. Sure, there are “popcorn prayers” – quick two or three second prayers you offer up while at red lights or in traffic or on elevators. “Lord, please help” or “Lord, I need you.” And those are great! Any prayer you offer up, no matter how short or befuddled it may be – is an offering of incense to God: “When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5:8).

Credit: Snow

Even though I offered up popcorn prayers and, of course, had focused, quiet time with God daily in prayer for longer than my knees would like, I still was not sure I was living out this verse.

Then, this morning, it came to me that in the Old Testament times, there was the Temple. This was the physical, designated place to worship and pray to God. If you wanted to be close to God, you went to the Temple. This could mean several days’ trip for some, depending on where they lived in proximity to the Temple. In fact, there were so many people trekking to the Temple that there were entire songs written for their journeys (see Psalms 120–134). But the key in the Old Testament is that God had a designated physical place for worship and prayer.

The concept of the Holy Spirit indwelling in human beings was not yet pervasive. Note that David mentions it in Psalm 51:11, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” However, in this verse, we see the concern he has of losing the Spirit like Saul did – a passage I covered several months ago in my “Why did God let me down?” post.

With the Old Testament context in mind, we now return to 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” Praying without ceasing no longer seems so difficult to achieve because we do not have to journey to a physical place, He is always with us. The Holy Spirit indwelling in us has made us the Temple, so we can pray literally wherever we are, whenever we want, and there is no required physical place. Praying without ceasing also helps us to walk in the Spirit versus the flesh.

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”
Romans 8:5-8

The more we are plugging into the Holy Spirit through prayer, the more likely we are to live in a way that pleases God. When we remember that we are the Temple, we have the Holy Spirit, that makes it much easier to “pray without ceasing.”

Pray whenever, pray wherever – there is no long trek to take. You are already there.


Father God,

We lift up everyone who has come across this page for any reason and reads these words. If they already know Your Son, Jesus, may they feel the power of the Holy Spirit within them and pray without ceasing. If they do not yet know Jesus, then make today the day, Lord.

In the powerful name of Jesus we pray.

Amen