Christ Still Stands


About 6 or 7 years ago I began seeing something…strange. I began seeing the shape of a cross in random places. It wasn’t just a typical “t” shaped cross. This cross had a squiggly line as it’s tail. I’ve tried to recreate it as best I can here.

I don’t think the shape is significant other than the fact that the tail made it notable. Two straight lines intersecting isn’t a rare thing to see, but this was and the places I was seeing it were strange. I can’t tell you when I first noticed it, as I did not know that sighting would be important. I do remember feeling a bit surprised one day when I saw that “cross” scribbled onto the back windshield of a dirty car I was following on the freeway. A few days later I was driving home late at night and as I approached a giant corporate tower comprised of many stories of glass windows, I found myself uttering an audible, “Oh!” as I saw the shape of my “cross” reflected in the glass. Was I going crazy?

 

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Later that week I again saw it scrawled in the dirt of a parked car, next to the obligatory “Wash Me!” humor. Another day, I was walking my daughter to school one morning when I happened to look down at my feet just in time to see two long, thin leaves had fallen to the ground and landed in that cross shape…and one of the leaves had the squiggly “tail”. It was at that point my heart skipped a beat. At first I thought it was some mental trick or some residual weirdness from a dream. But this could be no coincidence. Leaves don’t make this shape.

The final straw came when one day I was in my garage tightening the screws in the door handle of the back door. I bent down to inspect my work and sucked in a breath of shock as I noticed an ever-so-faintly carved “cross” with the squiggly line carved just beneath the door handle. It was nearly invisible, but I ran my finger over it. It was real. I felt the grooves. It existed.

Well, maybe I just saw this and then my brain started subliminally spotting it everywhere else. That makes sense, right? I moved on with my day but still felt uneasy. I went back later to look at the carving. It was not there. Was it ever there? I felt it with my fingers. I saw it with my eyes. And yet it no longer existed.

That was it. I was no longer curious, I was alarmed. These kind of things just don’t happen to me! I’m the practical sort of Christian…I don’t have visions or see signs of wonder! I analyze and weigh and measure…like a good intellectual.

Whenever I have questions of this sort I always turn to my father-in-law, who has been a pastor for over 40 years and is one of the most committed, self-sacrificing, wise men I’ve ever known. I told him about the cross I’d been seeing for weeks now. I told him, “I know this is Christ’s symbol, but where normally it would bring me peace I’m actually feeling frightened by it. It’s scaring me. Do you think it means something?”

His voice took on a higher pitch, always an indication he’s had a revelation. It’s his “now that I think about it…” voice.

“You know…” he started, ” I had this dream the other night and now it makes sense. I saw a city, and a large hill outside the city and the hill was teeming with people…thousands and thousands of people. They were packed shoulder to shoulder, all the way to the top of the hill. And they all had their hands in air, their heads looked up to the clouds and they shouted to the sky, “Why, Lord! Why have you let this happen to us? Where are you? Why do we suffer?”. They cried and shouted, some in self-pity and some in anger. It was so loud. In the middle of the crowd, standing on a giant pedestal stood Christ…adorned in light, arms extended over the whole crowd. He just stood there while everyone continued to cry out. He did not move or change. He was just there. I see now that your cross is pointing to this Jesus on the hilltop. A time is coming when our nation will cry out in outrage and anger. There will be mass confusion and pain and people will ask, “What does God think? Where is God in all this?!!” and the answer will be “Christ still stands.” This is what you’re seeing. This is a reminder to you that in times of turmoil, whatever that might look like, Christ will still be on the throne. He will still be the beacon, He will still stand even when we are looking right at Him and yet straight past Him. Christ still stands. I believe this is the meaning of what you’re seeing.”

At the time Obama was our president and while we were just beginning the social media era of hysteria, things didn’t yet seem that bad. I loathed Obama as a president and felt (and still feel) his policies were designed to ignore a large part of the country and to sow division. However, concerned as I was I certainly didn’t feel that this was the chaos my father-in-law was describing. I didn’t make the connection and tucked away the conversation.

I see now what it all meant. Now we are descending into chaos, into noise, into wailing and gnashing of teeth. Social media has amplified our “numbers” and amplified our complaints and lent legitimacy to illegitimate arguments. Like dad’s vision, social media has made us those people on that hill, squeezed in shoulder-to-shoulder, yelling and screaming in anger, self-righteousness and pain. We are looking straight at the Risen King and still somehow right through Him.

While that brings me pain and even fear the abiding truth of that vision is my greatest comfort…

Christ still stands.

While we are busy declaring our current racial tensions as the most important and pressing issue of our time…Christ still stands.

While we are judging the value of our friends or family members or coworkers based on one opinion they hold on one issue, while we are summarizing the entirety of their lives – regardless of charity or service – based on what they DIDN’T say about race or Nazis or yo momma…Christ still stands.

While we are busy proving to the world that we’re not bad people, that we’re better than those bad people because we have the right opinion…Christ still stands.

While we’re busy ignoring the horrors of life pretty much everywhere else in the world so we can argue about statues…Christ still stands.

While we are busy deleting/unfriending longtime friends who have been with us through tough times and good times…Christ still stands

While we are busy demanding that people choose outrage over kindness and shame over grace…Christ still stands.

While we are myopically claiming that this time is the most turbulent time the world has ever seen…Christ still stands.

While we look straight through Him and the sharp and narrow path to peace He provides…Christ still stands.

Even as we cry out in confusion and beat each other over the head with self-righteous anger and hypocritical demands, Christ still stands.

In a world where Christ is becoming a very dangerous friend to have, and where people feel justified in forcing their definitions of “good” and “justice” on everyone else…Christ still stands.

In a world where I am overwhelmed not only by the sad divisions in our nation but my own life, my own responsibilities, and the mundane tasks that create so much stress day to day…Christ still stands.

We cannot look to each other for moral guidance. The only guiding star is Christ, and He stands firmly rooted even as we cry out to Him and at Him.

Do you choose to be one of those people on the hill, crying empty sentiments to the open sky? Or do you choose to look to the pillar standing right in the center of it all?

The world says, “Come together.”
Christ says, “Come to Me.” – Darrel B. Harrison

 

 

MSNBC’s Joan Walsh Doesn’t Understand the Power of Femininity…or High Fashion

In a recent appearance on MSNBC, Joan Walsh took Trump Derangement Syndrome to new heights when she complained to the host of MSNBC is Dying Live about Ivanka Trump momentarily sitting in for her father at the G20 Summit. Walsh- a feminist who who doesn’t think women should be judged or rated on their looks – was more offended by Ivanka Trump’s outfit than her seat-warming abilities, saying her “ornamental” dress represented “patriarchal, authoritarian societies” in which daughters are property.

 

“Right. With big bows on her sleeve. I mean, I don’t mean to sound sexist — it can be dangerous to comment on what women wear — but the fact that she sat in for her father in a dress that was so incredibly ornamental was such a contradiction in terms”, Walsh said. “And I think that what we see is that in patriarchal, authoritarian societies, daughters have great value — they are property. And the message that she is sending about her own value, about her place in the White House, and about the place of women in this administration, I think, are really frightening.”

One of Joan’s key concerns is bows.

Bows.

An educated, accomplished, free American woman sat in for the President of the United States at one of the most important conferences in the world and she’s nothing more than decoration because she has bows on her dress?

Please imagine for one moment that it was Michelle Obama who momentarily sat in for her husband while conservatives pitched hissy fits of Election Night 2016 proportions. Would Walsh be talking at all about what Mrs. Obama was wearing? Walsh’s hatred for Trump runs so deep that she can’t even see the ridiculousness of her complaints.

One might legitimately take issue with an unelected, unofficial “aid” temporarily taking the seat of the President at a meeting of world leaders, but that anyone would think the bows on the sleeve of a dress would indicate anything about that decision or that person’s fitness as a human being is beyond stunning. Walsh was sure to preface her comments with “I don’t mean to sound sexist…” before going on to denigrate a woman for how she looked.

Is it not empowering to see a woman so valued as a member of the White House that she is trusted above her own brothers to represent her father’s affairs? Would Walsh feel differently if she knew Ivanka was actually a Democrat and only switched parties to vote for her father in the primaries?

Her entire statement is tragically ridiculous, but above all it is indicative of the real problem with the entire modern feminist movement in America. Walsh and modern feminists think “women’s equality” is about being able to do all the same things men do, to act the way men act without judgment or being accused of “penis-envy”. She misses the advantage of womanhood entirely.

The power in being women is precisely that we are not men. Our equality is an equality of purpose, not circumstance. Yes, our lives and thoughts and deeds are and should be every bit as valuable as a man’s. This is why the Bible so clearly states that God created “them, male and female together”. Neither one could function properly without the other…each one unique in their provisions to each other, but each one equally as important in creation.

When a woman goes into the boardroom (or takes a seat at the G20 summit) her advantages don’t lie in matching manly quality for manly quality. It is the “girlie stuff” that not only sets a woman apart from her male counterparts, but elevates her. Ask any man what he finds most intimidating about a woman and nine times out of ten he will say a confidence and beauty.

*By the way, a beautiful woman doesn’t have to look like a Victoria’s Secret model. Beauty is in how a woman cares for and presents herself, not the actual physical qualities. Beauty is a package, not a dress size.

I can only assume that Walsh’s comments mean she thinks that the opposite of “girlie” is the only legitimate look for a powerful woman. So…masculine? Non-girlie? Frumpy? Ironically, Walsh doesn’t see at all how her point of view sets back women and feminism. In her view, a woman shouldn’t dress to attract attention when dealing with men in professional settings (I’m sure she could find a few Imams who share her views in this case). However, eschewing the physical aspect of our interactions with men puts us at a distinct disadvantage. We can never “out-man” a man. If we try to relate to men using the standards of masculine interaction we will lose that game every time.

Indeed, this is a man’s world but God’s gift to us to navigate that world is our feminine instinct (often called women’s intuition) and our physicality.  These are things men don’t have. Instead of muting those qualities we should be leveraging them. The “feminine mystique” has confounded and subdued men since the beginning of time. Why wouldn’t an ambitious woman want to take full advantage of the confusion their confident presence can create in men?

Instead, Joan thinks we should all just be the Muszak version of our male counterparts.

There is also a special irony in the fact that Walsh has criticism for Ivanka’s killer fashion sense but then expresses shock and outrage at the discover that the House of Representatives has “no-sleeves” rule for women.

Were we dealing with anyone but Trump, Walsh would be singing the praises of a president who trusted his daughter to run his affairs above anyone else around him. She would be hailing the President as a champion of women’s empowerment.

But this is 2017 and this is MSNBC and this is Joan Walsh and why let common sense get in the way of a good rage boner?

I’ve Been Called the Worst Thing You Can Call Someone, I Support the Right to Say It Anyway

I was called a n***er nearly every weekday of my life from my first day of school until my last.

This might seem hard to believe in this day and age, but it is true. I grew up on a tiny rural island in eastern Canada. Prince Edward Island has always been known for its beautiful beaches, Anne of Green Gables and potatoes.

But before the internet made the world much smaller, before mass immigration to North America from many regions across the world, before anyone had even heard of the term ‘hate speech’ – before all these things PEI was isolated and white. In the ‘70s and ‘80s most Islanders had never seen a black person in real life, and their entertainment certainly contained very few black faces. I was an anomaly. I was odd and too many people felt too free to let me know on a regular basis.

It wasn’t the n-word that was even the worst of it. The worst was when people would make up derogatory terms. When I would forget my sneakers for gym class and have to go bare foot they’d call me “Blackie toes!”. When The Terminator was breaking box office records I was “Ahhhhnold Swartzani**er”. There were endless “jokes” about shiny black people, sticky black people, black black people. It was the “creativity” that stung the most.

I left PEI just as soon as I was legally able and emigrated to the United States for good.

I’m a writer and it is my job to share personal stories to illustrate larger points, but I have to admit that even as a woman in my 40s it brings me inexplicable embarrassment to share this portion of my life. I don’t know why. Maybe it is the same kind of shame victims of terrible crimes feel…like somehow some choice they made led such treatment. I loathe the thought of anyone pitying me. That would be embarrassing too. I don’t want to be anyone’s symbol and I don’t want to denigrate the good and kind people who live in my birthplace either.

I’m telling you this story because today the Supreme Court ruled that the 1st Amendment contains no exceptions for hate speech.

As someone who has regularly been called one of the most horrible things one person can call another human being, I whole-heartedly support this decision and I couldn’t agree more.

The crux of our constitution is that no human rights come from man. If man can grant rights then man can take rights away. Our Founding Fathers were deliberate in asserting that rights come only from God. No man may tear them asunder.

Of course growing up I often wished for a “Superman” to come to my rescue and punch out the bullies. Of course my feelings were hurt often and deeply. Of course I wish someone could have just shut up all those a-holes.

But I could never and would never support the deliberate suppression of their right to speak hateful things. In fact, it could be said that “hate speech” is free speech, since no one would ever seek to ban speech that they agree with. If we want the right to speak our mind when it counts, then we must tolerate  it when others speak their own feeble minds. Free speech is dead the second we start deciding that some of us are more free than others.

Justice Kennedy summed up the decision thusly…

A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.

The irony of my experiences with hate and racism is that they have served to solidify my belief that it is our absolute God-given right to speak freely, even if those words are hurtful. As Justice Kennedy pointed out, there is no guarantee that the tables of censorship won’t be turned on me or others who think like me one day. Our only protection is to protect those we are disgusted by.

Someday I’ll write a book about what it was like to experience what I did. It is only recently that I’ve come to realize how unique my life experience has been. When it’s your everyday reality it doesn’t seem that weird. It just…is. For now, dear reader please know two things:

I harbor no hate, for just as Christ has forgiven me so do I extend that same grace to others who are no less the recipients of His grace than I am. God is so much bigger than our pain.

And…

If we are not free to hate then we can never really be free to love, for it is only when we get to choose between the two that Love can be fully realized.

Cosmopolitan Magazine Doesn’t Know the Difference Between a Muslim and a Sikh

We don’t expect Cosmo magazine to be the bastion of journalism and accuracy and today Cosmopolitan lived all the way down to those expectations.

In a tweet covering the Manchester bombing, the fashion and lifestyle magazine made a kindly attempt to highlight the charity of Muslim Manchester citizens. Unfortunately whomever approved the headline and the featured photo neglected to notice the man in the picture is Sikh…not Muslim.

The article itself does mention Sikh drivers, but the theme is centered around Muslim response. Cosmo either couldn’t actually find a Muslim taxi driver to go with their narrative or this is what happens when you let a college intern run your social media.

Either way this is a fail. Seems to happening a lot on Twitter lately.

FL Man Kills Roommates in Bizarre Islam/Neo-Nazi Twist

A Florida man was arrested for murdering his two roommates after holding up a smoke shop and admitting his crime to three hostages. While the murders themselves are shocking it is the motivation that provides a bizarre, stunning twist.

Devon Arthurs, 18 told police he shot and killed Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18 because he was angry about Islamophobia. Arthurs had originally moved in with Himmelman and Oneschuk because he shared their neo-Nazi views. At some point, Arthurs converted to Islam and decided his roommates were too disrespectful of his faith.

In an interview with investigators, Arthurs provided specific details about the shooting, including the rifle he used, the order in which he killed the men and which part of their bodies he targeted.

 

Arthurs stated that, prior to the killings, “he had been privy to neo-Nazi internet sites threatening to kill people, and he had developed a thinking that he should take some of the neo-Nazis with him.”

 

The police report obtained by the Tampa Bay Times says after the murders Arthurs held up a local smoke shop. He threatened 2 employees and a customer with a semiautomatic pistol.

Arthurs, 18, entered the smoke shop at 15325 Amberly Drive about 5:30 p.m. and removed a semiautomatic pistol from his waistband.

 

“Do me a favor and get the f— on the ground!” he yelled to a female employee and male customer, the report states. Arthurs asked the customer, “Why shouldn’t I kill you?”

 

A few minutes later, another customer entered the store and Arthurs ordered him to get on the ground. He told all three people in the store that he had already killed someone.

 

“He further informed all three victims that he was upset due to America bombing his Muslim countries,” the report by police Detective Kenneth Nightlinger.

 

Two Tampa police officers arrived about five minutes after the second customer entered the store. One of the hostages ran out of the store, and the officers were able to persuade Arthurs to let the other two leave. After several more minutes of negotiating, he surrendered and allowed the officers to place him in handcuffs.

 

Radical Islam and neo-Nazism are definitely kissin’ cousins but it truly a bizarre twist to see a nazi convert to Islam only to murder his former compatriots. It seems doubtful many tears will be shed for either the alleged murderer or his victims.

To All the Mothers Who Glue Things Back Together

When I was in the 4th grade our teacher offered incentives for reading and writing. Students who reached certain milestones were allowed to pick out a small ceramic object from the arts and crafts cabinet and paint it during class.

As and avid reader and writer I earned several, but it was a ceramic teddy bear that I had my eye on and I was beyond thrilled the day I was able to paint it and take it home. I couldn’t wait to show my mother. I was proud of my prize and even prouder of my paint job – an adorable, brown teddy bear with a green neck scarf and blue eyes, holding a heart. I worked really hard to make sure it was just right.

I rushed off the school bus that evening with the ceramic teddy bear in hand. I was so desperate to show my mother that as I sprinted up the steps to the house I tripped and fell, dropping the teddy bear. It smashed into dozens of pieces, as did my heart. I wept loudly as my mother rushed out to see what had happened. I showed her my broken prize, now just a mess of shards. I was devastated.

“Don’t worry,” my mother comforted me. “I can glue this back together.”

With that she gathered all the pieces and ushered me inside for a snack to soothe my angst.

That day she glued that whole thing back together, just like she said she would. It had cracks and chips but was good enough to make me feel proud once again.

And that’s what mothers do. We comfort, we soothe, and we put things back together. We are glue. We create bonds to repair the damage done by forces we can’t control. When our children hurt their pain sticks to us and we carry it as if it were our own.

We couch bad news, fix scrapes, hug away anger. We pick up the broken pieces of our children’s problems probably more often than we should and we painstakingly glue them back together. Our patch-up jobs may have cracks and fissures and chips, but they are completed with love and complete devotion.

I don’t remember if I thanked my mother. I probably didn’t. Now that I’m a mother the gravity of what she did that day strikes me in a way it could not have at nine years old. I’m quite sure she would have rather been doing anything else than hunching over piece of cheap ceramic, fitting the pieces back together until her eyes went blurry and her fingers went numb. I know that that is last thing I’d want to be doing any day of the week.

Yet, she did it. She did it because she’s my mother, and her heart could not be whole until mine was. So she labored, thanklessly. That’s what we mothers do.

Recently my mother lost her own mother. This is sad but this is also the destination of every one of us…if we are lucky. Parents are not meant to outlive their children and it is a privilege to be able to exit this world before them. However, we still miss who our parents are to us, who they were and how they sacrificed. As my mother grieves for her own mother, I would just like to use the space afforded to me in this column to say this:

Thank you, Mom. Thank you for all the days you hunched over impossible tasks just to soothe my broken spirit.

And to all the mothers out there who put things back together on a regular basis…Happy Mother’s Day.

Watch This Good Samaritan Save a Cat After It Falls Off Docks

Not everyone wants to be outraged on a Sunday. If that’s you, maybe you’ll enjoy this video of a man saving a cat after it falls off a dock into the icy ocean.

ITV News in London tweeted out video of the Sunday morning fantastic feline grab. Two cats were having a disagreement of some kind when a chase broke out, with one cat chasing the other to the edge of the dock. The second cat skidded off the dock and into the water before it could stop itself.

Luckily, a man nearby saw the fall and leapt to action.

The cat responsible for the accident doesn’t stick around to see if his victim is okay. Like any smart cat he high-tails out of there to leave the blame and work for someone else.

No word yet on what initially sparked the cat confrontation but rumors say some curiosity may have been involved.

We concur with ITV when they say “Someone buy this man a cup of tea!”

‘Blue Whale’ Internet Suicide Game Causing International Concern

The internet is known as the “great equalizer” and has been responsible for much advancement in knowledge and wealth. It also has a dark side which has been thrust into the spotlight again after a rash of injuries and suicides prompted by a popular internet suicide game called ‘Blue Whale’. The name may be meant to reflect the act of whale “suicide” via beaching.

The internet game is believed to have originated in Russia and involves teens signing up for a “challenge” that involves progressive levels of risky activity that are meant to culminate in suicide.

The Blue Whale challenge allegedly involves vulnerable teenagers being contacted by the game’s ‘curator’ on social media and provoked into completing a number of tasks over the course of 50 days.

These involve watching horror videos all day, cutting all relationships with family and friends, and various forms of self-harm that must be filmed and sent to the curator for confirmation that the challenge is completed.

The game supposedly culminates in supervisors asking participants to commit suicide.

Teens were also threatened if they refused to comply with the requests, as their curators use IP trackers to identify where the victims actually live.

Three suicides in Russia have been linked to the game, along with another in Portugal and a serious injury in Spain. Russian police are believed to be investigating up to 130 other suicides possibly connected to ‘Blue Whale’. British police are taking the stories seriously enough to issue a warning to parents.

Devon and Cornwall Police PSCO Kirsty Down posted on Twitter: ‘Whoever created this horrible game is sick. Parents: Please be aware of this ‘game’. Talk to your children about it if concerned.’

The game may or may  not an urban legend but Reuters has compiled a list of stories related to the twisted game, which you can see below.

On an editorial not, while this could be nothing more than a series of typical teen tragedies being related by a viral urban legend, I first heard the story from my teenage son and his friends. Even if it doesn’t exist, the concept has now gone viral and vulnerable teens could still be targeted by copycats or decide to take up the idea themselves. In any case, it is always important to communicate with your children about things like this, even if it feels silly. The darkest presences on the internet frequently target those who feel disconnected and disenfranchised. It is important for us to make sure our children know we are deeply about what they see and hear.

From Reuters:

The Daily Mail reports that a Spanish teenager was recently hospitalised allegedly after participating in the Blue Whale challenge.

If you are contemplating suicide, RT UK urges you to seek help from one of the following services:

Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you’d prefer to write how you are feeling, or are worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at [email protected]

Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.

PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organization supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.

Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.

Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.

Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.