Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Shame Never Won Anyone Over~ March 19, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 8:00 am
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Many years ago when I first decided I was going to start attending church with my young son, my first few encounters were rather unpleasant. I can remember being a nervous wreck walking through the ominous doors wondering if my son and I would be met with stares or welcoming arms. I was rather naïve at 22 years of age and believed what I’d always heard: church is for all people, a place of refuge for the broken. It didn’t occur to me that not all churches felt this way. Time after time, I left feeling worse than I did going on. I was met with disapproving eyes when ladies would ask where my husband was as I hung my head, suddenly ashamed that I was a single mother. I would try smaller churches only to feel that I had invaded someone’s family gathering rather than a church service. So then I tried larger churches only to feel like the shy girl who never got asked to dance. For the longest time I didn’t have that warm and fuzzy feeling that I had heard about church. Instead I felt alone, embarrassed, awkward and completely unwelcome.

Thankfully I found a church that was the polar opposite of every previous experience. Complete strangers welcomed me with warm smiles and open arms. My son was ushered into a class with kids his age and a teacher who respected his reluctance to join in for the first few weeks. Not once did someone ask me where my husband was. I was accepted for who I was with no hesitation, no third degree, no shaming glances….no judgment.

Some people are so quick to throw stones and cast judgment that they are driving people away from the church. How is it that one would think their church attendance affords them the right to scrutinize people’s lives? It’s a very poor representation of Christ, which is what we, the body, are supposed to be.

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matt7:1-5 The Message)

Some would say never judge another without knowing the whole story. I would say, don’t judge them even when you do have the facts! “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12 ESV) Thankfully, “judge” is not in our job description. We have sinned just as much as the next guy and our only job as a followers of Christ is to love others like Jesus. He cared for the sick, gave to the poor, provided for a widow and spoke with gentleness to a prostitute. As long as you or I busy ourselves with judging others, we will never be effective in bringing lost souls to Christ. If you are using the Word of God to humiliate or degrade another human being, you’re doing it wrong.mercy over judgment

 

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~Hate accomplishes nothing~ January 20, 2014

“But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. ”

-Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream” August 28th, 1963

While Dr. King was speaking about racial injustice, I feel that we could take his words of wisdom and apply them to any circumstances in which adversity is at the forefront.

We live in a diverse country where varying beliefs, values & opinions are in abundance.  I have seen time and time again when those variances cause people groups to pit themselves against one another.  There are no peaceful talks with mutual respect.  No.  It becomes a battle of who is right and who is wrong.  Ugly words are spewed.  Hate is spread like wildfire.  And just as in Dr. King’s time, nothing is accomplished.

If we are faced with a struggle of inequality or discrimination, what good will it do to engage in dishonest practices or bitter talk?  Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is remain dignified when someone is attacking who you are.  But there is something to be said about one’s character when you can lift your head high & hold your tongue during the fiercest of attacks and let your composure speak volumes.

When differing opinions present themselves, rather than allowing our differences to divide and cause hatred among us, can we not embrace one another in brotherly love?  Because we are in fact brothers and sisters.  We are all a part of the human race.  How you dress, whom you love, where you worship, the color of your skin should not dictate the treatment that you receive from others.  Respect should not be based on commonalities.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

(Romans 12:9-10 NLT)

 

~Black, White, Polka-Dotted or Striped~ August 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Valerie Rutledge @ 6:57 am
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If you ever wonder why there is racism in the world, take a look at how the media runs the headlines.

“Several black kids bully a little white girl.”

“An unarmed black male is shot down by a Hispanic.”

“A group of white teens brutally attack an Asian girl.”

(These are not actual headlines but are very similar to ones I have seen recently in the news.)

Why is there any reason to include the race, ethnicity, religious background, etc. in the headline?  Does it matter what the color of skin is?  Isn’t the issue that a child was bullied, an innocent person shot or that a girl was beaten?  Why make issue of the race of the individuals involved?  Shouldn’t we be outraged that a crime was committed and leave it at that?

When I read these type of news feeds, my stomach turns.  Not only because of the violence that is running rampant in our world, but because we are being fed hatred for one another based on skin tone.  It’s horrendous and shameful.  The media is using hate and discrimination to up their “numbers” all the while fueling the sickness that is tearing God’s people apart.  News stories such as these cause white children to fear their black classmates, or everyone who isn’t white to fear bald-headed, tatted-up men.  Does anyone else find this wildly offensive or is it just me?!  Those in positions of influence are using their “power” to create unwarranted, irrational fears between God’s family and this should not be!

Yesterday I shared a Scripture with my facebook friends:

“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:28 NLT

Either you believe this, or you don’t.  We were all created in God’s image, every last one of us.  We were placed on this earth for a purpose and I can assure you that not one of us was created to spread racial discord.  In Romans 2 verse 11 it says, “God shows no favoritism.”  Then in James 2 verse 9 we are told “if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.”  If the Lord who created the heavens & earth and everything in them is not interested in giving preferential treatment of any one people group over another, than who are we to do just that?

racism

**If I may add, I can’t stand referring to human-beings as a color!  This entire post was meant to make a point that we are not defined by the color of our skin nor should we pass judgment based on the same.**

 

~Teach Love~ June 28, 2013

When my daughter was in first grade, she had her first encounter with hate.  They were doing an exercise to help the children develop their reading and writing skills.  Each day, the students would take turns writing whatever they liked on a giant notepad in front of the class.  Obviously the spelling and grammar was less than perfect so they would then “read” what they had written and make corrections together as a class. On this particular day, a little girl had her turn at the board.  She finished her writing and turned to the class and said, “My mom and dad said I can’t be friends with Autumn anymore because she is white.”  My then six year old started to cry.  The girls went to the office but this momma wasn’t made aware until my daughter came home and told me herself, (that’s another story in itself).

I can still remember the tears in her eyes when she told her daddy & I what had happened.  She was clueless as to why this little girl who had been one of her best friends would say something so hurtful.  Both girls were terrified going into the office.  After all, the little girl simply repeated what her parents told her.

The best explanation we could give our daughter was that the other girls parents were wrong.  We shared with her that the Bible says we are to love one another with no restrictions based on the color of our skin.

Even now my heart breaks for children who are being taught to hate for no other reason than someone’s skin tone.  We are all made in the image of God therefore we are of one race.  As Galatians 3:28 says, discrimination in any form is wrong because “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ.”  You can’t argue with ignorance but you can educate against it.  Teach your children to love without limitations as Christ loves us.  If you were raised with hate in your heart, it’s never too late to abandon your old ways.  Embrace the truth that if Jesus died for us all, who are we to determine that one is better than another based on ethnicity?teach_love

 

~Love is Stronger than Hate~ May 13, 2013

boyinstripedpjsI recently watched the movie, “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.”  Let me start with saying this may be a spoiler alert for those of you who have not yet watched it.  So go do it.  Right now.  Then come back and read this!

The setting is Germany during Nazi rule when Hell was literally a place on earth known as the Concentration Camps.  The storyline revolves around a German family where the patriarch is one of the head-honchos in the military.  His job…to oversee the camps.

When the movie begins, the mother seems content with their move in order for her husband to carry out his new assignment.  She thinks they will be a good distance from the “farm” so that it really won’t affect their lives.  What remains unseen can be ignored.  Then she is suddenly made aware of just how horrific a tragedy is taking place just across the fields.  She can no longer sit silent.

The young girl in the family is quite impressionable.  While living amongst the soldiers, she loses the innocence of her childhood.  Her dollies are replaced with war posters and thoughts of hatred for the “filth” that is ruining their world.  She wasn’t born with this prejudice, but it has been shoved in her face at a sensitive age when children mirror their parent’s behavior.

Then there is the sweet boy, Bruno, who stumbles upon the camps and meets another boy his age through the electric barb-wire fence.  Neither boy understands what is happening around them, they simply want to be friends.  So they develop that connection on opposite sides of the barrier.

Daddy-dearest rules with an iron fist.  The prisoners aren’t actually people, they’re Jews.  How easy it was to order mass murders when it could be done from the comfort of his office chair.  Then tragedy strikes and his eyes are open to the level of inhumanity he has caused.

There are three things that I felt God revealed to me while watching this film.  And yes, I believe God can speak to us at any time, in many forms through all sorts of avenues.

  1. It is easy to ignore the war torn areas of this world when we don’t see them first hand every day.  By looking the other way, you can choose to not allow it to affect your comfortable lifestyle.  Feigning ignorance does not make it any less real.  It will, however, desensitize you to the plight of the human spirit.
  2. Our children are not born with hate in their hearts for any one nationality, race or religion.  It is taught by those they trust the most, their families, primarily “Mom & Dad.”  When your children are faced with the same discriminating injustices that still happen today, do you point them in the right direction or add fuel to the fire?
  3. Lastly, the government doesn’t always know what is right.  Our leaders can plant seeds of hatred from the power of their authority but we have a choice to obey what the Lord God Almighty says.  Although popular opinion in today’s society teaches distrust, hatred & intolerance, this is what the Word says:

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

(Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV)

I think it’s time that we as a nation wake up.  Ignoring the cries of the innocent is no better than being the attacker.  We should defend one another and act in brotherly love to all peoples.  Teach your children love & respect for their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin or what their native tongue is.  Do not let the government think for you.  Just because “they” say so-n-so is public enemy number one, don’t use that as your excuse to hate everyone who falls into a stereo-typical category.

We serve a God whose second commandment is that we love our neighbors as ourselves; second only to love Him above all else.  I’m fairly certain that we don’t plot evil, spew lies or seek fault against ourselves.  In closing, never forget the simple verse from 1st Corinthians chapter 13

“Three things will last forever-faith, hope and love-and the greatest of these is love.”

(vs. 13)