Thursday, December 31, 2015

Love Affair with "1"

If you follow me on social media, you'll know I love, "1." Not one person. The number, "1." Each and every month I get to schmooze with, "1."

After 30, sometimes 31, even the rare 28 days, we get to start over with, "1!" It's a most fantastic thing! We grind, and toil, and sweat, and labor... We go two-steps-forward, one-step-back. We berate ourselves. We kick ourselves back into gear. All along, while we are striving to do our best, the month's digits develops hooks, like those of "3." "5" even develops a spear-like line at its head, ready to hook and stab! Have you ever seen a more scary-looking number than "5?!" But the onslaught of the numeric army isn't done. Those terrorist numbers recruit numbers, and at exactly ten days all digits double-up on us! But just when the month is about to swallow us in a suffocating black hole...

That beautiful, simple, single line, with his fedora-clad head-nod, (we will forgive his feet that are too large) comes swooping in, like superman, to rescue. And I swoon.

Bringing his magic cape to give me a clean slate. Hollering to all the powers that be, "I call doooo overrrrrr!" The atmosphere reverberates with titilating excitement as "1" pulls out his magic wand and draws me a brand new starting line! He's so kind, he even escorts me through some of those double-digit daunting days. Stoically standing there beside the "2," and "5," even "7," saying, "Come on through. I'm here with and for you. You can get through this."

And my crush's powers are never so great and magical as they are every New Year's Eve. Not only does "1" declare a brand new month, but a BRAND NEW YEAR! 

As I delight in my sweetheart, "1," I ask that we remember to never, never, never give up, regardless of where we are in the month, or year. In fact (in case you were about to Baker Act me) "1" is a figment of my imagination. I made him up to better enjoy my conveyance of this certain truth: YOU are the master of "do over." God makes it possible. But YOU have to do it. 

As I complete this fun essay at 2:09pm, 12/31/2015, I have already read about the New Year occurance that is past tense in Asia. I felt no vibrations in the atmosphere as they began their new year. There's literally NOTHING magical about it. It's an act of faith to declare the new year better than the last. An act we should exhibit. 

Let Christ guide you this new year. Make falling at his feet in prayer your reaction to every difficulty. Prioritize living life according to His game plane in scripture.

In Him we have newness of life, and a happy new year. 

Welcome, 2016!
(And I joyfully welcome all appearances of my hero, "1.") 

Friday, December 25, 2015

God Does Gifts Even Better Than You

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

It's never easier to understand the good intentions and plans God has for you, than at Christmas time.

The efforts we each go to in order to see, hear, and experience a recipient's glee is remarkable. As soon as a gift idea comes to mind for someone, our focus becomes very narrow & intense, like a lioness stalking prey. All other projects are handled out of duty, but the search and preparations to make "that" item someone's gift is the source joy, dread, and frustrations. Yet, we are determined to make it happen.  Each morning the first thing on our mind is how and where to get that present. We shop online. We go from store to store. We brave the congested traffic, and the cranky fellow-shoppers. Even WE become cranky in our exhaustive search.

We want to experience that shriek of surprise from a recipient. We want to see that you-shouldn't-have look flood someone's eyes. It's so rewarding to incite surprise tears of joy in someone because we gave them the perfect gift. 

There is nothing so personally fulfilling as being a gifter.

I ask that today you recognize THAT IS HOW GOD FEELS ABOUT YOU! 

God doesn't spend time contemplating your punishment because you've been so sinful. He has eternally contemplated how to swoop in and rescue you from the wages of sin!

God doesn't sit on the throne in a resentful stew over how you've ignored him. He sits on his throne continually sending you love tokens that might catch your eye.

God doesn't allow his mind to be consumed with what you deserve. God's mind is like an eternal Christmas-mind; his thoughts toward you are CONSUMED with providing you with every good and perfect gift. 

There is a "trick" to being on the receiving end of God's gifts; it is that we ASK. In the passage where Jesus is comparing his ability to provide good gifts, to a dad's provision abilities, he points out that the child ASKS for bread and fish. 

Even though God knows the desires of our hearts, he also knows that part of the "purchase" of a gift comes through the power of the tongue. Therefore, Jesus said, "ASK!"

God doesn't think you're being selfish if you ask for your specific desires. He sees your request as a level of trust that is shared between only the closest of companions. I don't tell just anyone what I truly want for a gift. They may see me as "cheap," or as "haughty," or as "ridiculous," if they knew what I really, really want. But if I believe someone loves me, I can trust them to know what the desires of my heart are.

There is great creative-power is speaking out your desires. And there is a sign of great trust in who you reveal your desires to. 

God has repeatedly tried to convince humanity that he delights in relationship. He will play whatever role you need him to play, JUST to be near you. He'll be your father, your husband, your friend, your teacher, your master, your servant. He craves your love and trust. 

So, approach him with the insight that he wants you to trust him enough that you ASK for what you want and need.

You're the child of The KING of kings!

Matthew 7:11
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My Help

When will I learn to stop seeking solace in physical sources; my family, friends, nature... ?

"I lift my eyes to the hills..."
Why? Why do I seek help from the hills? 

Why do I spin my wheels trying to complete myself with the hills? My ultimate rest and contentment can't be found in the hills.

My help comes from the Lord.
My help comes from the molder and craftsman of the hills. 
My help comes from The Almighty who brings every high place low, and every low place high. 

It is my folly to seek solace in the beauty that surrounds me. My help will come from the Lord. 

Patiently In Place

I like to be used of God. I like to be a blessing to people. Giving of oneself is a high. Acknowledging this is important to humility. I've seen (& have personally experienced) givers excuse their exhaustion, their rudeness, under the guise of Servanthood. In fact, they're (we're) fulfilling an addiction, we're getting our fix. 

It certainly isn't "wrong" or "sinful" to experience the high of ministering to others' needs. It's a natural release God wove into our biological system to encourage us to continue to be good and kind. The problem comes in not recognizing when one has taken on too much, and then lording our "ministry" over others, insisting they get in-line, in-sync to serve OUR need for the high. Each person knows their own heart, and their own spirit. The key is to be very prayerful, and not be self-deceptive.

With that said, over the last few weeks I've been extremely needy of a "hit." I've come to learn the signs about myself, so I recognize when it's come. I lift the veil to show you that it's not easy keeping oneself within the bounds of patience and self-control. 

The Lord has had me of use lately in ways I'm not used to. The newness is difficult. My voice has recently become silently loud. You're reading my voice right now. Writing is a new platform and I'm trying to get used to the "mic."

In the newness and transition I feel hyper-extended. Part of me knows I am safe in God's hands and plan, but another part of me feels nervous, anxious, and desperate to be heard. Part of me sees His hand answering me and intervening for me, but another part of me feels like I'm suffocating in the yet-unanswered prayers. Consequently, much of my energy of the last few weeks have been spent on stillness and sanity. Plus, I've been physically ill on top of the spiritual and emotional imbalance. 

The point of this reveal is certainly not to garner sympathy. (Don't you dare. Don't you dare. Don't you dare.) The point is to share the fact that YOU'RE NOT ALONE in your unrest. You're not the only one who wonders where God is. You, and me, and King David, and Elisha, and thousands of others have experienced moments where they've felt like they were coming out of their skin... But they waited on the Lord, and He REALLY DID complete the work. 

Philippians 1:6 (KJV)
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ:

It's not an easy thing for me, but I've learned while "waiting" on the Lord to pursue a peaceful behavior. My advice to others sharing my boat is to not make your home miserable with your personal torment. Do not stir fear and unrest in those around you. Seek peace, and pursue it. 

Yesterday, in my efforts to keep the spinning of my mind from aggravating my home, I went for a walk. I spoke to the Lord as I walked. I cried and told him of my frustrations in NEEDING to feel that "hit" of being used of him.

I reminded him of how I'd been contagiously sick and unable to engage in my normal leadership activities.
He reminded me that he's been giving me multiple scriptural topics a day to write about, and how that was going to be a blessing to people.

"GOING TO...?!" 
I whined to God how it "might" be a blessing... "If" they "happen upon" the writing. 
I'm pretty sure I heard him chuckle at my small-mindedness.

"Do you know how LONG it's been since I've done any projects I've always loved to do?!"
He said, "You've GOT to let the past go. Forget those things which are behind. I've made you into a new vessel. If you try to do those old jobs you'll fail miserably."

Oh, the mourning that ensued right out on the public sidewalk of my neighborhood!
*AND I had forgotten to hold my mobile to my head so people would assume I was talking to someone on the phone! 

My sweet Jesus stepped right up beside me and said, "Hey, you said you wanted to be a vessel, right?"
"Yes!" I answered. "But I want to be a USED vessel!"
He asked, "Didn't you write all of those ideas and encouragements you found in scripture?"
I sighed, "Yes."
Jesus kindly said, "See? You're a useful vessel."
My voice quivered as I said, "But I want to be a loved vessel."
He answered with an affirmation I already knew, "You ARE a loved vessel."
"But, I want to be always in your hand being used."
I looked around for an example of how often I wanted to be in-play. I held the answer in my hand.
"Like my phone is always in my hand being used. That's how I want to be in use."
He laughed. Even I laughed at my exasperation. 
We felt close & comforted in our walk together now. He had calmed my anxiety with his presence. 
He shook his head and said, "I don't have a smart phone, Denee."
We laughed some more. Because, of course he wouldn't have, need, or use a smart phone. 

He has earthen vessels. 
Cracked, chipped, broken, re-glued, repaired, renewed earthen vessels. And I have absolutely no clue as to what shape of a vessel he's made me into. All I care about, ultimately, is being used of God. And if he finds me of best use sitting on a shelf, so be it. If he grabs me to use as a cup to pour into, I say, "Fill me up." If he uses me as a pitcher and pours out all that is within, I say, "Empty me utterly."

In this place I want to patiently be EXACTLY what he needs me to be.

*Yes. I do that. :) 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

I Guard the Tree

My 1st college semester of not going to college has been an important experience. I'd like to share why...

I've always told my kids that they were going to college within driving distance of home. Family is foundational to our lives. Yes. Each of us are talented enough, confident enough, strong enough, intuitive enough to do whatever we want to do independent of each other. But WHY?! If God called us to situations that required it, we could each do it. But we have found great fulfillment in the strength that ONLY togetherness as a family can provide. That unity has been tried and has experienced some fairly severe blows. During these times of pain and fresh wounds we've experienced thoughts and ideas that getting away from the family nucleus may be the best thing after all. But, those were thoughts birthed out of pain and confusion. So, our habit is to WAIT until health comes to redetermine those kinds of plans. And thus far, it's always been best to stay put and work on in our unique family-state. 

Besides, as difficult as it can be to work and abide as such a tight-knit family, I have friends without family. And they listen to my periodic complaints and want to smack me upside my forehead for making a mountain out of a molehill. They find my worst difficulties pleasant and worthy of postcard beauty. So, I appreciate the shoulder they've provided, then shut up. 

My kids were always told, "You're going to college within driving distance of home." So, when my daughter was awarded a combined $40k a year scholarship to a private college within driving distance, we were thrilled and thankful. The school had a rule that would force an experience I had never in a million years considered. The rule was that the student had to live in the dorms, or with parents within 50 miles of the school. Our house is 70 miles from the school. 

For her to live in the dorms just wasn't an option for us. Through my experiences in campus ministry, there was NO WAY I would release my prized possession into such a shark tank. There is no policy so strict (even in church camp dorms!) that can circumvent human nature. It's just the nature of dorm life. My nature and that nature shall never cohabitate. 

I've heard Bible scholars teach that Adam was suppose to protect Eve from the experience at the Tree of The Knowledge of Good And Evil. They've said, "Where was Adam? He was her protector. He was the one to whom God gave instruction. Why was Eve at that tree alone?!", And since we all know that a woman will do what a woman wants to do, if he'd at least have been present and close enough to be a voice to warn her, that may have made a huge difference in the outcome. Regardless, that's a lesson I've taken to heart. As a mother, it's always been my job to protect my children. I will stand guard at this tree. 

I'm aware that a child can be bad right under the noses of their parents. I'm aware spouses can cheat in direct sight of their spouse. I'm aware addicts can get their fix within arms reach of their protector. People do what they want. But, I'm not of an opinion that I should make it EASY for someone in my life to self-destruct. I've experienced being saved from a dark place. I am so exceedingly grateful those people didn't give up on me. It's far easier to keep someone from stumbling into that hole, than it is to dig them out. In fact, in my experience, once someone falls into that hole, all the rescue in the world is nothing if they do not also attempt to dig themselves out. 

College dorms were not a possibility in my world. So, for the first time in my forty-two years of life, I went to college. Not as a student, but as a mom. I rented a one bedroom, one bath duplex. The kitchen is the size of my walk-in closet. My SMALL walk-in closet. I'm from the country where my water was free. Now I'm paying for every little drop. I sleep on a trundle bed beneath my child. I pack to come home every week and am pretty good at living out of my suitcase. It's a most uncomfortable, expensive way of life. But I'm the voice she hears in the morning telling her I love her and I'm praying for her. EVERY DAY. I'm in the house when she walks in and chucks her heavy backpack on the couch. I'm smiling and asking how her day was. Stability. Accountability. 

It is in no way "the same" as when she was in high school. I'm definitely less of the authority and more of a partner. It's a unique setting. She called me "mom" all through middle and high school. It was who I was. I loved it. But she literally calls me "mommy" in the tenderest tones now. It seems as though her maturity has erased whatever stigma a child feels in using the more elementary term. I love it even more. I feel my role is more of a "Jiminy Cricket conscience," than the because-I-said-so mom role. I try to think of myself as her mentor with more words and counsel than as the Queen on the throne with the power to pronounce, "Off with her head!" She KNOWS the bottomline is truly, "because I said." But it's not the environment of our college life. 

We talk about her classes and projects. I hear about ideas and philosophies that are contrary to God's Word. She knows quickly the topics that concern me. We don't have to wait until the weekend to discuss seeds that were sown into her thinking in class. These conversations naturally put us in a setting that causes her to reassure me of her knowledge of truth. I LOVE that out of her own mouth, within hours of classes, she gets to counter philosophy with knowledge and wisdom. 

But the decision for me to go to college with my daughter actually goes beyond salvation of soul. Half of college scholarships are lost at winter break, tied to "homesickness." People may think it's expensive to go to college with their kid, but it seems to me that the loss of a scholarship is even more costly. You see, an "age" is not a magic wand making a person's need for the stability & accountability of family and friends non-existent. That 17, 18, or 19 year old doesn't suddenly not need the comforts of home because society has an educational system we have to function within. (A system, by the way, that is NOT bible-based, NOT family-based, NOT morally-based.) These scholarships are lost because the emotional strain on a person fresh out of high school, plunged into a strange new world is intense. So intense that listening and retaining in class is far more difficult than it was in high school. Studying is attempted under the weight of depression and anxiety. Nervousness ALL triggered by the simple loss of rigid parents, annoying siblings, and the drama of friends. Everybody assumes getting away from these home-pressures makes college life easier. But it's rarely the case. These elements, though weights, were routines which anchored the soul and mind more than is realized.

Imagine how nervous you are when you get a new job. The routines of the workplace are all different. And yes, the annoying people from the past workplace are out of your way, but now there is a whole new batch of people to get to know. After that kind of stressful day at your new job, imagine that you don't have the comfort of home to return to. You're returning to a bunch more strangers, and not only do you have a new social structure to fit into at the new job, but now you do at "home" as well. 

There's a powerful refuge found in smells, and sounds, and even the familiar textures your skin is used to feeling. "Home" is more than the building, but it IS the building too. And the comfort of the same-old junk drawer, and the same-old stain on a carpet. The voices, the textiles, the smells; all of these (and more) make returning to the difficulties of the outside world tolerable. When we remove this place of refuge from the equation, we've tremendously jacked-up the stress levels of what happens in the wide-world.

I've been pecking away at pieces of this blog here and there for a few weeks now. But I awoke this morning to an article in the Orlando Sentinal that prompted me to wrap this up. It was a story about how diligent colleges and police departments must be at this time of year. Due to final exams, and kids going home to face parents, the suicide rate goes up. Police officers have the very unpleasant duty of Baker Act-ing students who've attempted suicide. These bright students who earned scholarships were shell-shocked by their inability to focus on learning in their fish-out-of-water environment. 

Can kids suck it up and just do college on their own? Of course. But sometimes the brightest of them falter. When they can't, yet another slam to their dreams and self-confidence is endured. Some kids never get over the "failure," and every job interview, every relationship, every dream is tempered by the "college failure," experience. I've told Morgan over, & over that giving up the scholarship, & taking time off from school IS NOT FAILURE. It's wisdom & courage when it's a thought-through decision. But internally I know she'd have a far more difficult time regathering her self-confidence if emotions, moods, or friendships derailed her. We've experienced a few hiccups. Situations that I KNOW my presence made all the difference in the world.

In essence, the college is paying my 18 year old $40k a year to attend their school. That's a serious income for such a young person! OF COURSE I'm going to be the first & last voice she hears each day. And I'm not going to give the enemy of her soul a chance to slip in during this vulnerable time-period either. This operation takes all-hands-on-deck. I've not gotten a child off my plate by sending her off to college, I've upped my responsibility. If THEY see $40k worth of potential in my child, I will not cease to realize MY impact in this person's life as well. 

Is living out of a suitcase, and paying rent on a second home the only way to accomplish this? No. If they didn't have that "dorm rule," I woudn't be. But she WOULD BE driving back and forth, and the fuel costs, not to mention time on the road taking from study, would be costly. It all comes out fairly even. I'm super thankful for the opportunity to be present when warning signs have popped up. I don't think I'm doing all of this perfectly, I seek prayer and counsel often. But, I want to do the best that I can to provide the stability and accountability for her to properly handle this "Tree Of the Knowledge Of Good And Evil."

My child does not have a choice in this matter.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Punishment Is Not My Job

I've just finished the book of Leviticus where so much law is written. God gave the children of Israel dietary laws, hygiene laws, community-care laws. He gets really detailed about the cleanest, most effective way humans can live their lives. And, after all, as the Creator of humans, He'd certainly know best! 

As I write, we are in the midst of suffering the atrocities of those who practice extreme-Islam, and believe they are carrying out God's judgment on infidels by beheading, exploding, stabbing, and whatever other means they deem equivalent to the "crime" of not converting to Islam. Not to mention, in the news this past week, a man claiming to be a Christian took lives at a Planned Parenthood location in Colorado Springs, CA. It's all despicable and extreme nonsense!

In the last many years I've heard various journalists and interviewees make reference to the Bible in comparison to the Quran. In their ignorance, they try to tell an ignorant-of-scripture audience that the Bible is as bloody as the Quran. They reference the Old Testament's Levitical law of stoning for adultery, incest, homosexuality, working on the Sabbath. They spotlight the eye-for-an-eye judgement, or the tooth-for-a-tooth.

It's equally disturbing when Christian's actually believe they are suppose to take on the ancient role of the long-deceased Hebrews, and indeed take these punishments into their own hands. 

So, are the journalists correct to assume the Bible actually does endorse the punishment of death for those who have broken any law of God? Are those Christians who take up arms to take a life-for-a-life at abortion clinics pleasing God? 

A thousand times, "No!"

It is ignorance, and folly, perhaps even an act of hatred of Christianity on the part of the media to report that the Bible endorses such hideous acts.

It is insanity and indeed more hatred for so-called "Christians" to take up a sword to destroy those who are breaking a moral law. 

In the Old Testament we do find the death penalty being practiced by God's ordination. But NOT in the New Testament. For those ignorant of the Bible, they do not realize that the scripture is broken up into two parts. In today's order of God-seekers we Christians understand that the Old Testament is no longer the rule book. It now serves us as a gauge of God's likes and dislikes, and it's stories are symbolic examples of relationship with God. The majority of Christians, of all branches of Christianity, understand that the Old Testament is not our guide, it is our gauge. The New Testament is our guide. My pastor taught me that we only tie Old Testament laws to New Testament living if the writers of the New Testament refer us to it. For instance, Paul clearly taught the God-seekers after the resurrection of Christ that the dietary laws were no longer required. But he clearly told us to continue to observe the sexual abstinences such as adultery, homosexuality, cross-dressing, etc. There are some core-laws that we continue to carry out (Thou shall not kill, being one.) But they are taught to be observed between God and man. Not between God and "a people." This is why we believe pastor's should TELL the people what the scripture says, but not go house to house policing and insuring each person is obeying. It's not the minister's job to make sure people obey. It's the preacher's job to "blow the trumpet" of truth. It's each individual's job to please God through adherence. 

Here's an example of a way the Old Testament is helpful to God-seekers: When I was a teenager and a boy would ask me to be his date to a school function, or a banquet, or something, he would do something very smart; he'd ask my friends about me. He wanted to know what color I liked, and what my favorite flower was. And those friends of mine would give him some advice he didn't even know to ask about, "Do NOT eat ice around her. The crunching drives her CRAZY."

This is akin to what the Old Testament is to us today. The Word was with God, and is, in fact, GOD. So when you are reading the Bible, you're not reading just another book. It's a spiritual experience. The book is alive! It is God's longest running friendship. The Old Testament is a friend that tells us, "He loves such-and-such. He hates this-or-that."

The Old Testament is certainly NOT a present day instructional for judgment and punishment.

In the New Testament we find TWO attempts to reenact the Old Testament Levitical law. One was of stoning for adultery. They brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in the compromising position. But Jesus refused to be pushed around by their manipulation. As God-robed-in-flesh he had every right to stone her. As the only sinless human on earth he had every right to stone her. But as Jesus-the-citizen he did not have the right to stone her. The Old Testament did not require the citizens to take the death penalty into their own hands. The law didn't release a socialistic vigilante system of government. The Old Testament required the citizens to take the matter to the governing body and to then have a fair trial. Jesus absolutely REFUSED to be the hand of punishment.

The second time we see people in the New Testament reaching back to the Old Testament law is in the stoning of the preacher, Stephen, for the crime of blasphemy. But the scripture points this out as an act of violent sin. This was not an approved-of-God judgment and punishment.

In the Old Testament we are given a window into what God (who is the same yesterday, today, & forever) like, dislikes, and utterly loathes. This unique window of what God approves or disapproves of is very clear. And is not necessarily in sync with any of our personal opinions about whether or not he's "a little overboard" in HIS approval or disapproval. For instance, I would personally deem stoning for working on the Sabbath an extreme reaction to a lightweight offense. But, [ahem] I am not God. And in the same way that you and I differ on what we find acceptable within our own house-rules, God is as unique an individual. And just as if I want to enjoy your company, I would need to make sure my scent, habits, & ticks do not repel you. So, those of us who seek to be in God's presence make sure to be enticing and enjoyable to be around to Him. The point of thenOld Testament today is for those who want to have a relationship with God.

It's NOT to tell us what offenses we should punish.

James 4:12 (KJV) There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?


The one who made the law is the one who judges. The one who made the law carries out punishment.

We use the scripture to judge our OWN life. We use the scripture to see what God likes and dislikes. He has the SAME likes and dislikes today, yesterday, and forever. But when a fellow human does something God finds dispicable, YOU are not ordained to punish them for it. 

That you choose to tolerate your spouse consistently leaving the milk on the table instead of them putting it away doesn't mean you APPROVE of your spouse's behavior. 
That you choose to tolerate your friend's choice of food doesn't mean you APPROVE it. 
That you choose to tolerate your kid not making their bed doesn't mean you APPROVE of their leaving it unmade.
Your tolerance simply means you're being graceful, and that you're loving them in spite of their rule breaking. You'll even clean up after them! 

Though it's hard for people to understand, God has this same kind of tolerance. It doesn't mean he approves of law-breaking, it just means he's full of grace and mercy. 

We DO NOT kill abortion clinic workers. 
We DO NOT kill homosexuals or adulterers. 
We DO NOT take matters of eye-for-an-eye into our own hands.

We see that Jesus obeyed the law of the land when we read about him paying taxes. Even in his utter righteousness he did not take matters of the government in his own hands. He was being an example to us. 

You and I should each strive to do what is right. We should not ignore examples in scripture. But it's not my place to judge and punish you for displeasing God. I am your spiritual sibling, not your parent. It's none of my business if you get a "spanking" for breaking one of God's rules. I'm not going to approve of your behavior that is contrary to God's desires and instructions for mankind. But I'm not going to be your executioner either. 

The Word will guide you into what pleases God, if you will obey it.
God himself, as the lawmaker, will take care of you to whatever degree he deems appropriate and best.

The Bible does NOT condone or approve of Christians taking matters of justice into their own hands. Jesus clearly taught us to live within the boundaries of the laws of the land. If we want a matter changed, we do it STRICTLY through legal means. PERIOD.

The whole foundation of Christianity is FAITH. We believe in Christ's virgin birth. We believe in the miracles he performed. We have faith that he truly rose from the dead. Faith is no less a vital element then in feeling panged at society's blatant disregard for laws we know to be sacred. Like abortion, gender-acceptance, and so on. If someone somewhere is doing something inappropriate; "Be not deceived, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, THAT shall he also reap."

FAITH is what you must exhibit in these matters, not judgement or punishment.