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    Tuesday
    Apr302013

    How to Tame a Viper

    Available May 1, 2013 on Amazon Kindle. .99 for the first week! How does a brood of vipers act?  They are coiled tight and ready to strike with blinding speed.

    There’s this mentality right now of hot words, labels, generalizations, and assumptions that vilify and alienate.  Problem is, I have precious loved ones on all sides of the political, religious and lifestyle lines and walk a razor’s edge in order to avoid alienating anybody.

    Ideologies are great and I never want to be so open-minded that my brain is falling out, but in the grand scheme of things, when compared to the preciousness of people, ideologies aren’t worth a rat’s ass.  Besides, if our aim is to help people see things the way we do, alienating them sure as heck isn’t going to aid communication. 

    But we're coiled tight and ready to strike

    Pro-life?  Bam!  Alternate lifestyle?  Bam!  Pro-choice? Bam!  Religious? Bam! White? Bam! Muslim? Bam! 

    But in all the venomous knee-jerk reactions, we’ve become the “clanging gongs and sounding cymbols” with no love to soothe the savage beast. 

    In my early twenties I was part of a street ministry in Arlington, TX.  One of the guys in our group was a bit of a hothead, a new Christian who, shall we say, lacked a bit in the maturity department.  When some passing kid ridiculed him, he yelled something nasty back at the kid and threw a tract at their head.  Hmmm, not quite the desired effect. We had a chat with him about, “Look, you’re representing Christ now.  Ya can’t do that.” Much of the rest of that night was spent undoing the damage. 

    If we try, we can find something about everybody to hate. Here's some ammo in regards to me. 

    I’m “politically conservative” yet would freak if I had to decide who is worthy of government aid and who isn’t. 

    I’m white and would never think of myself as racist but I really have no concept of what it’s like to have my life options limited due to skin color. 

    I’m Christian but struggle with the command to love my enemies on a daily basis. 

    I’m heterosexual and monogamous but don’t have a clue about the path that has lead someone else to an alternate lifestyle.

    I’m pro-life but have never faced the fear of an unplanned pregnancy and haven’t offered to adopt someone’s baby who is in that situation.

    I jabber about the harm petroleum products have caused on our environment as I zip around town in my minivan.

    I’m shocked by the statistics on human trafficking yet I still buy things at ridiculously cheap prices that could only be possible if someone back down the line was getting shafted in a major way.

    There ya go all you internet trolls ready to strike.  I’m a hypocrite.  (And slip into “viper mode” when I think of internet trolls.) 

    We become vipers because that is what life has taught us—to be defensive in an offensive way.  Besides, it’s so much easier to justify our strategy by painting the enemy in large, two-dimensional strokes since caricatures don’t have a heart, right? 

    But we end up getting what we give and the circle of hatred continues.  As Bono says in the U2 song “Peace on Earth,” “We become a monster so the monster will not break us.”

    But there’s so much more to people than the labels we pin on them.  Jesus treated the outcasts of His day with the utmost courtesy and love.  Prostitutes, government stooges, thieves, demon-possessed; didn’t matter.  He reached toward the labeled ones.  He had no fear of vipers.  And he didn’t become one when He was attacked by them. All were offered freedom from their personal prisons.

     

    Bottom line; we’re not going to make any headway by yelling back.  People just thicken their armor, close their ears, dig deeper trenches and aim bigger guns.

     

    To disarm a viper, we’ve gotta change how we react. Reactions come from what’s inside. 

     

    If venom spews, what’s the source of that poison?  Fear?  Betrayal?  Hatred?  Bitterness?  Rejection? If we’ll deal with that stuff first, we won’t live life coiled and ready to strike. 

    I’ve had a great example of how to disarm a viper. 

     

    My son, Micah, is a reptile whisperer.  A few summers ago, he rescued a king snake in our neighborhood during a drought.  The first day or so, the snake coiled up tight in the corner of his habitat and struck any time Micah came close.  But soon, when Micah had proven himself careful, persistent, and trustworthy, the snake calmed.  By day three, the beautiful butter yellow and dark brown snake was curled around my son’s arm, as restful and cuddly as any puppy.  And he has never struck at anyone (other than dinner) since. 

    This morning I had an interesting conversation.

    Me: God, I trust you and love you so much. All I am is yours. What do you want? Name it. Anything.

    God: Give me your pride and fear.

    Me: Pride and fear? That seems a shabby gift.

    God: But I take it and transform it, turning your sin and weakness into strength. I make your shabby gift into treasure. That's what brings me joy.

    As I pondered this exchange, I thought of what would bring me joy if my kids were going into battle. Would I be more thrilled by the gift of a diamond or by the gift of sealing up points of weakness in their armor?

    Selfless love in me would want to see them whole, released from painful wounds.

    That's God's selfless love for me. What does he want? He wants me to trust him enough that I will allow him to touch my pain. I give him hurt, betrayal, fear, insecurity, self-hatred, etc. He returns love and healing.

    He came to set the captives free.

    Chana is a wife, mom of four and author. Her first novel, The Fall (Rapha Chronicles #1) is a hit on Amazon's Science & Religion bestseller list. Her second, One Night With a Rock Star, releases May 1, 2013 to Amazon Kindle.

    One Night With a Rock Star will be .99 for the first week. Thank you friends and family for your patient, amazing support. Please share this with all your friends and family.

    Monday
    Apr152013

    I Get Community Service. They Get Death Row.

    I've recently been introduced to the wonderful world of community service. Not too bad, actually. I love animals so I chose to work off the hours at the Castaic Animal Shelter. Not sure that it will affect my driving habits, but it is changing my point-of-view.

    These beautiful animals just have a few days. In the meantime they are well cared for: food, shelter, a clean blanket. But I can only imagine many of these pets wonder where their owners have gone.

    Click to read more ...

    Tuesday
    Apr022013

    Were You Raised in a Barn?

    Ever wondered about Heaven? How about that mansion the Bible says Christ is preparing for you? According to scripture “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, the mind cannot even conceive what the Lord has prepared for those who love Him.” Well, in the last couple days, I feel I’ve been getting a glimpse of my ultimate Heavenly mansion--at least as close to heaven as this earth will allow.

    Click to read more ...

    Wednesday
    Mar132013

    Didn't Expect THIS to Affect My Gun-Control Views

    I didn't go through metal detectors this morning and sit with sweaty palms like a kid waiting outside the Principal's office with my views on gun control in mind. But after a relatively sucky morning, that's the case.

    It was a simple traffic ticket from a speed trap. I'm from Texas. I know a speed trap when I see one and I watch it catch drivers like butterflies in a net every day right outside the Starbucks where I write each morning. It's downhill. There's a convenient spot for the officers to sit and wait. You get the picture.

    I'd never fought a traffic ticket before but when it was my turn in said speed trap I took the intimidating road toward traffic court. Things did not go as planned. I was very close to my goal but, since I'm a courtroom novice, I blew it.

    Intimidation. I'm ashamed to say I fell for it. With a sick kid at home and a court officer droning on about how long the trials might take, I changed my plea to "No Contest" to get home to my miserable ten-year-old. But ah! It was another trap for the unwary. Giving in to intimidation gets more waiting in more lines and more paperwork. It doesn't end the fiasco. It extends it.

    But it's funny how miserable circumstances can bring moments of clarity. It went something like this. "If I was a habitual law-breaker, I would know how things work. I would know Mr. Court Officer intimidates because he's the deal-closer, the one to wring the last possible revenue out of those held captive in his court." Therefore, it was my gullibility and ignorance that made me susceptible to intimidation. A true criminal would have navigated the situation much better due to experience. Intimidation? Water off the ol' duck's back.

    But what does all this have to do with gun-control? Think about it. If there comes a time when citizens are commanded by law to disarm, who will not be intimidated by those commands? Right. Habitual criminals jaded by experience. Call me crazy, but I would rather not be in a society where the only ones bearing arms are those with no conscience. Also, with citizens at the mercy of armed criminals, how in the heck would civil servants be able to be everywhere at once? Plus, as evidenced today, armed, overworked civil servants are only human. When jaded, they too can become the bullies.

    Bottom line: We have been given the right to bear arms. Our founding fathers knew what it was like to be at the mercy of tyrants. They knew it would be law-abiding citizens who would lose if this right was revoked.

    Chana is a wife, mother of four and author. Her novel THE FALL (Rapha Chronicles #1) recently topped Amazon's Scifi/fantasy, OT/Hebrew & Science/Religion categories.

    Look for her novel, One Night With a Rock Star, in April 2013. Daydreams are easy. Real life? That gets complicated.