Saturday, June 26, 2010

Loss: Understanding What You Can't Understand

If you have lost a friend or loved one to suicide, you've experienced the horrible feeling of your mind and heart twisting and pulling in so many different directionsWhy did she do this?  What made him make this decision?  Whose fault was it?  So many questions have entered your thoughts.  Questions that will always remain unanswered.

The truth is- and you've probably heard this before- but there is nothing you can do to change the past, so there is absolutely no use dwelling on the answers.  Suicide is such a shocking and hurtful thing, something that one can't understand unless they are put into that position.  You can't hope to be able to put yourself into the mind of your loved one before they made such a decision.  Most likely, you would regret knowing. 

When your loved one made the decision to end their own life, they were most likely in a place of great darkness and confusion.  Their death was inflicted by their own hand, which- as hard as it is to convince yourself- means that it ultimately was not your fault.  Even if other people's actions and harsh words played a part in bringing your loved one to their decision, they were still the one who made the decision to end their own life. 

In order to have healing and peace in your own life, you must accept that you can't change the past and that even though you can't understand, you can find peace in yourself and in Christ. 

Changing the Past
Obviously, this cannot be done.  While you can continuously look back and dwell on things that can't be changed, this will only keep you in a place of grief and mourning.  Instead of focusing on things that should have been changed- things that you should have noticed, seen, or done to prevent your loved one's death, try focusing on the good memories of the past.  Write down happy memories between you and your loved one, make a list of little things you loved about him or her, bring out the photos and cards... and when you're feeling angry and embittered, try to dwell on what is happy and peaceful rather than the painful memories.

Finding Peace
Peace is something often longed for after the death of a loved one, especially when the death is by suicide.  Romans 5:1 says that we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ.  John 14:27 says, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  The death of a loved one is a painful and heartbreaking experience.  You may feel like your world has shattered to pieces all around you.  When you are hurting especially, do not be afraid to pray to God and ask Him for deliverance.  Even if you are feeling angry towards Him for allowing your loved one to die, He understands your weakness and your hurt and He wants to give you peace.

If a friend of yours is struggling through the suicide of a loved one, don't be afraid to reach out to them and show them your support.  Your friend needs you now more than ever.  Send an encouraging note every so often, acknowledging that you understand their struggle.  Offer a listening ear.  Call or text your friend ever so often, simply offering a gesture of love.

If you are considering ending your own life, then please understand the emotional damage this will do to your friends, family, and even those who played small parts in your life.  Those around you will struggle from guilt, pain, and bitterness- even those who you don't want to feel that way.  If you've been planning to end your own life, then please talk to a friend.  They want to help you.  They want to be there for you.  There is an alternative to suicide, and that is life. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Dreamer

Reading a story in the dead of the night,
Hiding under her covers with a flashlight,
The little girl learns about legends of old-
Of exciting folktales a young girl should know-
Until thoughts begin to float to faraway times.
She falls into dreamland- the clock gently chimes.
She's a joyful part of the battles and fame,
And through many adventures, she earns a name-
The Princess of Dreams, Fine Lady of Stories.
The girl fights off monsters and enters the glory.
She rides a white horse and wears a gold crown,
And soars through the sky as the sun shines down.
She meets a good prince and she marries him too,
And she governs a kingdom in love and in truth,
But as the girl fights the battles that play in her head,
Her mother checks and finds her untucked in bed.
She laughs, "That silly girl at last fell asleep."
And she tucks the child in and kisses her cheek.

By Emily Whelchel

Thursday, June 10, 2010


A song/poem I wrote a few weeks ago when I was riding in the car.  It came to me all of a sudden.  What do you think?


Sometimes I do not know what to say anymore.
I'm vulnerable. I'm broken. My heart is on the floor.
I thought that you would catch me before I hit the ground...
But here I am.

Let me see, Jesus, where You are in this place.
Embrace me and love me and reveal to me Your face.
And when I start to fall into the depths of what I've been,
Let me see, Jesus, who You are.

I'm shattered, I'm broken, I'm tattered, I'm torn.
The world has crashed around me. I'm weary, I'm worn.
All I want is to catch a glimpse of who You are,
To keep me strong.

Let me see, Jesus, where You are in this place.
Embrace me and love me and reveal to me Your face.
And when I start to fall into the depths of what I've been,
Let me see, Jesus, who You are.

I know there are days when I will feel alone.
Right now, I'm longing for You to call me home.
But I trust You, God, and I will not turn away,
So I will close my eyes and blindly obey.

Let me see, Jesus, where You are in this place.
Embrace me and love me and reveal to me Your face.
And when I start to fall into the depths of what I've been,
Let me see, Jesus, who You are.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Where is God's Hatred?

Dear members of Westboro Baptist Church,

First of all, I would like you to know that I am writing this letter to you in love.  You can scoff at me and you can hate me, but I cannot bring myself to hate you back.  You don't have to read this letter that I am writing to you, but if you don't, it very well may be because you are afraid that my use of Biblical Scripture will prove much of your doctrine wrong... because I believe it will.  Will you read what I have to say?

You profess that God hates Jews, homosexuals, America, and... well... pretty much everyone except for those who attend your church.  You picket funerals and teach your children to hold up signs that display graphic images and words.  If this isn't correct, then please correct me.  You claim that the Scriptures say that God hates anyone who does not obey Him- anyone who disagrees with His law.  I hope you don't mind that I've intensely studied the Bible to find what the Word says about love and I've come up with a few conclusions that contradict your own beliefs.


Does God hate the world?
This one should be pretty obvious, considering that this question is answered in one of the most famous verses of all time, John 3:16"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."  That is Scripture.  God loves the world.  And this also shows that God does not only love the parts of the world that obey Him... He loves the entire world, including the sinful people (which is everyone, according to Romans 3:23).

Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  Because God loved us sinners so much, He sent His only Son to die and suffer for us.  If we were perfect, He would never have done this.  No, God loved the world despite our sin.  He is a loving and merciful God, according to Deuteronomy 4:31.

Psalm 33:5 says that the earth is full of God's unfailing love.  Psalm 13:5 talks about God's unfailing love.  If His love for the whole world is unfailing, that means that even when we sin, we will not lose His love.  Look at Isaiah 54:10.  It says, "'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord, who has compassion on you."

Nowhere in the Bible do I see a verse where God says that He has no compassion, that He has shakable, faltering love for His creation.  Lamentations 3:22 says, "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail."   

Do good works get you to heaven?  In the same way, do your sins keep you out of heaven?
It is considered boasting to say that you must be perfect and righteous to make it into heaven.  We go to heaven because of God's grace rather than our own works.  Look at Titus 3:5"He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy."  Philippians 3:9 says, "...not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ- the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith."  Try Ephesians 2:8-9, which states, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast." 

Nothing we can do can get us to heaven because everyone sins.  You have sinned since you became a 'Christian.'  When you curse and use swear words on your picket signs, you are sinning.  Ephesians 5:4 says, "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." 

You cannot damn others to hell because they sin.  That makes you the hypocrite.  Let God be the judge!  I'm going to show you Matthew 7:1-3"Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"  You do not make it to heaven by your own good deeds.  You make it to heaven by faith.  According to Acts 16:31, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved..."

Is God merciful or hateful?
God is a merciful God.  He is a just Judge, but He is also merciful.  Once we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and repent for our sins, He forgives us and takes away the judgment that we deserve.  Those who refuse to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior are separated from God for eternity and sent to hell.  But it is not our call to decide who has done this and who has not.  You don't believe me?  According to 1 Samuel 16:7, "...People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  Only God knows for sure who is going to hell.  You can't know this.  You can't judge which Americans and Jews and Christians and 'sinners' are headed to hell.  Only God can.  And God is merciful.  The Bible has a lot to say about this.

Joel 2:13 - "...for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity."
Nehemiah 9:17 - "...But You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love..."
Psalm 86:15 - "But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness."
Psalm 103:8 - "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love."
Psalm 145:8 - "The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love."

Does this not make it clear to you that God is loving, compassionate, merciful... and rich and abounding in love?  These are only a few of the many verses that talk about God's unconditional and abounding love for all people.

Does God want us to judge and condemn others?
You believe that you are doing God's work by judging others, but you have been deceived.  I am going to simply list several verses dealing with this subject.  If you go by the Scripture, then you must accept all that it says.  See for yourself whether or not it is God's plan for His people to hate and judge others.

Micah 6:8 - "...And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  
Matthew 5:7 - "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." 
Matthew 23:23 - "But you have neglected the more important matters of the law- justice, mercy, and faithfulness."
Luke 6:36 - "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
Ephesians 4:32 - "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."  
Colossians 3:12-13 - "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you." 
James 2:13 - "because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Mercy triumphs over judgment."

Are we to curse anyone?
You might believe that God wants you to curse everyone and tell them their supposed path to hell, but again, you are being deceived.  Romans 12:14 says, "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse."  As Christians, we are called to treat everyone with love, not with curses and judgment.  This is not reflecting the true nature of Jesus, the One who ate with sinners rather than the 'righteous' pharisees.  Luke 6:37 says "Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."  Because you refuse to do these things mentioned in Luke 6:37, it seems to me that you are very much in danger of being harshly judged, condemned, and not forgiven by God on Judgment Day.  Does that not frighten you?  

Should we show hatred towards our enemies?
Absolutely not.  Matthew 5:43-46 says, "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?  Are not even the tax collectors doing that?"  Part of being a disciple of Christ is our radical love for everyone, even the people who don't 'deserve' to be loved.

Proverbs 14:21 is pretty clear on what the Lord thinks about this issue, when it says, "It is a sin to despise one's neighbor."  When you show hatred towards someone, you're sinning


I hope that my letter has made some impact on what you believe about hatred and love.  You are being deceived by your pastor.  You're being deceived by Satan.  Hatred is never a part of God's plan.  God loves homosexuals and heterosexuals, despite our sins.  God loves the soldiers.  God loves the Jews.  And God loves you and me.

I would like to show you 1 John 4:8, which says, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."  You have not shown love to the world as God has.  You do not have love.  According to the Bible, that means that you don't know God... at the very least, you don't come close to understanding His purpose for you.

I don't agree with what you do and say when you go out and picket others and tell them that they are headed straight to hell.   Our job as Christians is to love the lost and preach the gospel to all the world (Matthew 28:18-20).  We're supposed to win believers for God's kingdom, and when you spew hatred and condemnation, you're only turning people away.

I am praying that one day you will see and understand the true love and forgiveness that comes from believing in Jesus Christ.  Maybe one day you will apologize to the world for your cruel words and hateful signs and songs, but until then, I am praying for you.  I love you.  I am pleading to God that He will show you the full extent of His unfailing love.  When you hurt others with your words, you hurt God, but that doesn't diminish His love for you.

You are welcome to respond to my letter.  You can comment below.  You can even email me at  You can write a paragraph or two, send them to me, and I will post your response in another blog article (with all profanity and crude language bleeped out) if that is what you want.  I would even interview you and allow my readers to see your side of the story, what you believe, and the Scriptures that you use to form your opinions.  I am trying my hardest to show you respect, even if you don't show respect to others.  I love you as Jesus still loves you.

in Him,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

When Sparrows Fall

I intern at an inner city ministry that serves the needy in my community.  This week, I've helped with a VBS for some of the kids in one of the poorer areas of my city.  We have a climbing wall, a Slip 'n' Slide, bouncers, and more.  The kids have a blast, get a free lunch, and are able to learn about Jesus at the same time.

During the Bible lesson, some of the kids in the back of the group began to gasp and whisper.  The small commotion was distracting everyone away from the lesson, so I attempted to sneak over and see what the problem was.  A small bird had fallen from its nest above right onto the shoe of one of the girls.  The bird was tiny, weak, and helpless.   Its eyes were sealed shut, its fragile wings had not yet developed, and it had only a few tufts of feathers.  It looked as if it had just hatched from its egg.  It was pitiful. 

This incident obviously distracted the children.  They crowded around the tiny bird, moaning and murmuring until we managed to gather everyone back up to finish the lesson.  After the kids got their daily dose of Jesus, they returned to examine the pitiful bird.  It was so small, obviously unable to survive for very long without its mother.  The fact that the bird would die was frightening to the children.  They prayed over the bird.  They shaded the bird.  They temporarily abandoned their lunches on a picnic table to care for the bird... kids who need food because they don't have any at home abandoned their lunches to take care of this bird. 

A helper for the week saw the distress on the faces of these children and stepped up to the plate.  He propped a ladder against the ceiling of the lean-to where the little bird's nest was.  While everyone watched, this man climbed up the wobbly ladder, risked his safety and well-being, and gently placed the baby bird back into its nest, safe and sound.

The relief that spread across the tiny group of children was heartwarming.  Once everyone knew that the bird would (hopefully) be okay, they could return to their lunches without worry.

This story reminded me of Matthew 10:29.  "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care." 

The inner city kids in this group have been through a lot.  Many of them have faced hunger, abandonment, and abuse from their own families.  These kids are forgotten by everyone around them, left to fend for themselves in a harsh world.  And yet these kids who carry the weight of the world on their shoulders wanted nothing more than for a baby bird to be safe once again in its cozy nest.

In some ways, the inner city children can relate to that tiny bird.  They're neglected and forgotten... voiceless in a world that never seems to care.  Many are considered to be doomed from the start, left to die a spiritual death while living in poverty and hopelessness.  That will never be God's plan for them.   

The Lord took a part in this situation.  He was able to use the story of the baby bird- fallen to the ground, but carried back to safety- to teach these kids that He does care.  Many of the little girls knelt to pray for the bird, pleading with God for the little creature's life, and God showed these kids that He hears their prayers.  He cares about that tiny bird... and if God cares about a newly hatched bird, then He must care so much more for the kids who wanted to save it.  And so many of those kids believe they're unlovable. 

God loves those children more than words can express.  God has a specific purpose for each of them, no matter their circumstances at home.  And God showed them that today through the fate of one tiny bird.

Matthew 10:31
So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.