Prayer Isn't Useless, A Response To The Florida School Shooting

Prayer Isn't Useless, A Response To The Florida School Shooting

It's not just another shooting and another debate on gun-control.
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Wednesday, February 14th, Valentines Day, Ash Wednesday, middle of the week, initially an average day at school but then, it ended with seventeen deaths and a young man forever being known as a monster.

Some fear that our country is becoming numb to these events. People have this idea in their minds that no one feels shocked when they hear of another school shooting. I’m only a young college student who has no idea how public policy is carried out, how the government works, or frankly, how the world works.

But, when I turn on the news, all I hear is a gun-control debate. News channels quickly bring politics into the crime scene. I turn on Fox News and then CNN and hear different things. I listen to a sound bite on the radio and hear a young girl say, “Thoughts and prayers do nothing”. And what do we gain from this? What do I feel as a result of this tragedy?

Disappointment. Within hours of hearing of the school shooting, news outlets already chose sides. Some labeled this a result of Republican negligence to stricter gun laws while others chose to mock the statements released by the President and others. Media took the opportunity to call for government action which forced it to become a political issue. Media handling of this issue only resulted in frustration. And this frustration leads to people believing that prayer is useless, government is the answer.

But, prayer isn’t useless and government isn’t the answer. Who gave the leaders of our government their power? God did. Who aligned everything perfectly so that they would be elected into their position? God. He is sovereign. He is in control, Psalms 103:19 says, “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.”

It’s hard to tell someone about Jesus because everyone has already made their minds up about Him. Whether you think you have or not. Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God? If your answer is anything other than yes absolutely, then you haven’t placed your faith in God.

The bible says, “For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow” Lamentations 3:31-33. God’s word promises that he will never leave us, nor forsake us. You have to trust that.

Look at Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, three Jewish men who did not bow down to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue, in the book of Daniel.

They refused to worship anything or anyone other than the God of Israel causing King Nebuchadnezzar to order them to be thrown into the fire. Faced with their imminent, painful, death they said, “‘If our God—the one we serve—is able to rescue us from the furnace of flaming fire and from your power, Your Majesty, then let him rescue us. But if he doesn’t, know this for certain, Your Majesty: we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you’ve set up’” Daniel 3:17-8.

What happened next? They were tied up and thrown into the furnace. But then, something weird happened. When people looked into the fire, they saw four men walking around. They weren’t alone and they weren’t in pain. Jesus was with them in the fire.

They were ordered to come out and “Nebuchadnezzar declared: “May the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be praised! He sent his messenger to rescue his servants who trusted him. They ignored the king’s order, sacrificing their bodies, because they wouldn’t serve or worship any god but their God” Daniel 3:28.

These men refused to worship anything other than the Lord. They placed their faith and trust in God, and when faced with peril, they remained steadfast. This isn’t just a bible story to read aloud when bad things happen. It’s a real event, these things happened.

This was a miracle. These men were saved from the fire by the grace of God.

We need to be more like Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego when tragedy is knocking. Because, “As God’s household, you are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone” Ephesians 2:20.

Place your faith in Jesus, in Christ alone our lives are saved. Believe when you read from the Old Testament, “Therefore, the Lord God says: Look! I’m laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a valuable cornerstone, a sure foundation: the one who trusts won’t tremble” Isaiah 28:16.

Prayer isn’t useless, it’s how we communicate with God and how we put our faith in Him. Go to Him in prayer, asking for help, asking for Him to fix the mess our world is in. Put your trust in God, not in men. Jesus is our savior, He can do so much more than you can possibly imagine, but only if you ask.

Cover Image Credit: Yahoo

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The Husband I'm Praying For

My future husband should be a mirror of the Lord.
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Growing up, we have all probably wondered about the man we will marry - what he looks like, what his voice sounds like, what color his eyes are etc. We have all watched Disney's fairy tale movies like "Cinderella," "The Little Mermaid" and "Sleeping Beauty." The love stories that Disney creates can be merely fiction. Knowing this leads many people to believe that kind of love does not exist. As a kid, I always wanted to be Ariel and find my Prince Eric. The older I got, I realized that that kind of man does not exist without God. The Disney love story only exists through God. God writes a love story that we can not imagine. That is why we should be confident in His will for our lives. We should be confident in the love story God is writing for us.

I woke up this morning thinking about relationships and how hard it is to be in one at the age of 20. I'm not looking for a husband or a significant other right now, but I am praying for that special someone that God has planned for my life. Whether God places this special man in my life next week or in 20 years, I am going to be praying for him. I pray for the man that seeks God and His guidance. I just can't imagine being with someone who doesn't love God as much as I do. Honestly, I've decided that from this point on, I am going to let God guide my footsteps. I refuse to worry about all that is wrong with me when I should just be praying for the man God has in store for me.

Girls my age have been blinded to what a good boyfriend is and what a potential husband really looks like. I pray for the man who prays before each meal and thanks God for his simple blessings. I don't want to end up settling for less-I know what I deserve and I know that God has a plan. The husband I pray for is the man I want my daughters looking up to and being proud to have as a father. I want my children to know that their father loves Jesus and is not ashamed of it. A man who is ashamed of Jesus or only loves Jesus on Sundays is not husband material. I want my husband to be the man people associate Jesus with.

I pray that my husband is humble. I pray that my husband makes strangers feel his loving presence and know that Jesus is present in his life. I pray that my husband wants the same things I do, like 15 children-- just kidding. But, I do pray that he has a sense of humor and that he understands my need for laughter and sunshine in my life. I pray that my husband seeks Jesus during hard times and understands when the answer to his prayers are no. I hope my husband understands that no matter what, God has a plan and an answer, even if it isn't what he wants. I want my husband to be understanding of my needs and what I want out of life. I want my husband to encourage me and my decisions. I want my husband to be the man that my children know is praying for them. I want my husband to be the man who cries the first time he sees me in my wedding dress walking down the aisle. I want my husband to be the man our kids can run to at 3:00 A.M because they had a bad dream and need him to hold them. I want my husband to have a loving and sincere heart. I pray that the man I am going to marry is praying for me, just like I'm praying for him.


Cover Image Credit: Alec Vanderboom

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The Separation Between Church And Political Affiliation

My religion should not define my political affiliation, and vice versa.

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I was raised Catholic, but time and political awareness raised me to be a passionate feminist, social justice advocate, and progressive Democrat. While the Catholic church and its followers have historically aligned with conservative political stances, I have continued to remain Catholic despite my own liberal opinions. And I'm sick of people telling me I can't be both.

I am pro-choice and pro-same-sex marriage, and yes, I know this flagrantly violates the Church's teachings. But I believe Catholicism is about faith and not politics. I believe God would want me to live my life, in memory of Him and the sacrifice He made so that I could sin and be forgiven. I believe that if I were to get pregnant through rape or an irresponsible mistake, God would not want me to sit around, telling myself this was His plan for me, but to take control of my life so that His son's crucifixion was not in vain.

I believe God loves all His children, no matter their gender, ethnicity, race, or sexual orientation. And above all, I know that there is not a sin in the world for which God would not have mercy and grant forgiveness and understanding. I believe in the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. I believe God's son, Jesus Christ, is our savior. I believe in Heaven, Hell, and the Holy Spirit. And I believe God's teachings can be interpreted in more ways than one. The Bible contains arcane stories with lessons and guidelines to live a Catholic life, but the "rules" of the Church are created by the believer, Democratic or Republican.

My parents were married in a Catholic church by a Catholic priest. I was baptized in the Catholic church. I attended a Catholic school of religion once a week for eight years. I received my First Communion, and five years later I was confirmed and became a full member of the Catholic church. I have always bubbled in "Roman Catholic" as my religion on standardized tests. I know all the Ten Commandments. I attend Mass as often as I can. I pray in times of gratitude and hardship. And I attempt to follow God and his teachings every day.

Identifying as Catholic is ingrained in my person, and it is as second nature to me as identifying as Asian. And although I believe Catholicism has become stuck in a regressive past which prohibits change, the old opinions of the Catholic church do not change my faith. I have had friends, with the same political and social views as I, denounce their Catholic upbringing or convert to more progressive branches of Christianity, but I could not imagine ignoring the religion I was raised with.

Catholicism has history, holidays, traditions, and stories and lessons that are perceived by every follower differently. But that does not overshadow the brother and sisterhood we are bound together by. My liberal Democratic beliefs do not make me any less of a Catholic, and it's time we recognize that, with the right attitude, harmony can be found between religion and politics.

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