LIVING IN A VIOLENT WORLD

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

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School has already been in session for over a month now, but perhaps some of you parents and grandparents have been sending your children and grandchildren off to school this year with more than the usual amount of anxiety. With all the violence in our world today, particularly as it relates to children, a new phobia has developed in our culture–a phobia that the young loved ones we send off to school in the morning may not come home in the afternoon.

Are you a victim of this phobia? Do you spend the entire day worried about the safety of your children? Perhaps some of you who are reading this post or listening to the podcast are, yourselves, students who arrive at school every morning wondering if you’ll leave there alive that afternoon. Certainly, this is no way to live, and, certainly, God does not want you to live this way.

But what can be done? Do we need tougher laws? Do we need more security in our schools? Do we need to screen students more carefully? While all of these measures may provide a small amount of improvement, they do not get to the root cause of the problem.

You see, no amount of external changes in policy will effect a lasting safety for our children, nor for ourselves. The reason is that the problem lies not in the external circumstances, but in the internal arena of the human heart. It is in the human heart that the battle against violence is waged.

In Proverbs chapter 23, verse 7, the Bible says that “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” This means that a person will respond to life based on what is in his heart.

Well, if we continually fill our hearts with evil, such as images of violence, hatred, and lust, then we will respond to life with violence, hatred, and lust. If, on the other hand, we fill our hearts with good images–such as kindness, peace, and love–then we will respond to life with kindness, peace, and love. To expect to change society without first changing the heart is futile, because in order to change the fruit, we first have to change the root. The root of a person is his heart.

So, how does all of this relate to the safety of our children in our schools? It relates very significantly because we now know that our major efforts in protecting our children must be directed not toward more social programs, but toward changing the human heart. 

Well, you may be thinking, that’s all well and good, but how can we change the human heart? The answer to that excellent question is, “We can’t! Only God can.” But there are some very important things we can do to get God to change the human heart. Let me share some of these things with you. They are found in 2 Chronicles chapter 7, verse 14. There God says, “If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

This Scripture passage gives us a formula for addressing the problems we face as a society and, more specifically, for ensuring our safety, both in our schools and in our country. Let’s look at this passage closely:

  1. “If My people who are called by My Name ….” God is speaking to those of us who belong to Him, those of us who have been born again and are part of the Kingdom of God. He is saying that we are the ones who are responsible for getting our country back on track, for we alone are the ones who know how to do so. We alone have the power and the authority through Jesus Christ to do so. And how do we do so? The rest of the passage tells us.
  2. “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves ….” (Italics mine). We are to humble ourselves before the Lord. What does this mean? It means that we are to acknowledge our helplessness without God. We are to admit our need for Him, our total dependence on Him. We are to give up all pride and self-sufficiency and realize that without God, we are nothing and we can do nothing. We are to confess our sins and the sins of our nation and repent of them.
  3. And seek My face  ….” We are to seek God’s face. This means that we are to look for Him first of all in His Word, in our time spent alone with Him in prayer, in our fellow believers throughout the world, and in creation. We are to make God number one in our lives. We are to desire Him above all else, to crave Him as a vital necessity.
  4. “And turn from their wicked ways ….” We are to turn from our wicked ways. It’s very interesting to do a study of the word “wicked.” Most of us know what wicker furniture is. It is furniture in which the wood is twisted to form interesting shapes in the finished product. Well, the word “wicked” means “twisted.” A person is wicked when he twists the truth to suit his own circumstances.

For instance, God’s Word commands us to tithe, to give the first ten percent of our income to the Lord’s work. But someone may say, “I don’t need to tithe because God understands that I don’t have enough money.” That person is twisting the truth of God’s Word and is, therefore, acting wickedly. He is following a wicked way.

These three steps–humbling ourselves, seeking God’s face, and turning from our wicked ways–are the conditions which, when fulfilled, will cause God to move on our behalf. Let’s see what God will do when we’ve humbled ourselves, sought His face, and turned from our wicked ways.

Verse 14 of the second chapter of Chronicles says that God will do three things:

___He will hear from Heaven. Have you ever prayed to God and felt as though your prayers were falling on deaf ears? Well, maybe they were! If so, ask yourself if you have fulfilled the conditions that gain God’s attention. Have you humbled yourself before him? Have you sought His face? Have you turned from your wicked ways? Now, these conditions apply to those who have already been born again because God makes it clear at the beginning of this verse that He is talking to His people.

A person who is not born again can cry out to God for forgiveness and God will always hear him. But God expects more from His children. He expects us to know better than to be proud, to neglect Him, and to act wickedly. He expects us to obey Him.

___The second thing God will do when we obey Him is He will forgive our sin. God is infinitely merciful, always ready and willing to forgive us. But we have to show Him that we sincerely desire His forgiveness and that we sincerely intend to turn from our sin and follow His way.

___Finally, the third thing God will do when we turn back to Him is He will heal our land. This is critical to the safety of our children, for when our land is healed, violence will give place to peace and danger will give place to safety. 

But how can all of this be accomplished? It will be accomplished through the changing of the human heart, one person at a time. It is up to those of us who are followers of Christ to allow ourselves to be used by God as He does the changing. It is up to us to tell others about the love of Christ and what He has done and desires to do for every human being.

The Word says in Romans 10: 14-15: “How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed, and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” How can people know about Christ unless they hear about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless you and I tell them about Him?

I thank God for the young woman named Margo who first told me about Jesus Christ. I shudder to think of what would have happened to me had she not had the courage to tell me of Christ’s love and saving grace. Because of Margo, not only will I spend eternity in heaven with Jesus Christ, but countless other people will as well because I told them about Jesus Christ.

So, if you want your children to be safe in school, pray for their safety. But also, tell others about Jesus Christ. Tell parents and teenagers, grandparents and single moms. Tell the person standing behind you in the checkout line, the person sitting beside you in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, the plumber who comes to repair your leaky faucet. When you do, God will do His part about changing hearts. And when enough hearts are changed, our country will once again become safe for our children and for us.

Perhaps some of you listening have never heard about the power of Jesus Christ to change your life. Perhaps you never heard the term “born again,” but you want to know more. You’re tired of living in fear, defeat, and depression. You’re hungry for change but don’t know where to turn. Well, let me introduce you to the most awesome friend you will ever know: Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. His title says it all. He came to save everyone. But in order to receive the salvation He earned on the Cross, you have to believe that He died for you personally, and then you have to accept His sacrifice for you.

I know in my spirit that there are many of you listening today who have tried every path to freedom but each one has led you to a dead end. You’ve reached the end of your rope. Some of you are even ready to end it all. But before you do, give yourself one more chance. Invite Jesus into your life today. You’ll discover that He is the One you’ve been looking for all along.

Just pray this simple prayer with me:

Lord Jesus, I come to You just as I am. I admit that I am a sinner in need of Your mercy and grace. I believe that You are the Son of God, that You died for me, and that You rose again on the third day. I invite You now to come into my life. I receive You as my personal Savior and as the Lord of my life. Make of me all that You created me to be. Amen.

If you sincerely prayed this prayer, you are now a born-again Christ-Follower. I invite you to write to me at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com. I would like to send you a little booklet that will help get you started in your Christian walk.  Also I invite you to visit me at my website at maryanndiorio.com

Now, it’s YOUR turn: What about you? Do you fear for your children’s safety? Please share your comments in the Comments Box below. Thank you!

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“Can endurance and faith sustain the love between a white woman and a black man as they are threatened by rejection, violence, and racial injustice? Can love alone reconcile their starkly different worlds, lighting the way to a bright future together? Find out in MaryAnn Diorio’s forthcoming novel, IN BLACK AND WHITE, soon to be released. Stay tuned!”

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Is the Apocalypse Near?” 

“Convergence: Clear Sign of the End Times”

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Copyright 20111-2019 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be published or printed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may contact her at info@maryanndiorio.com to request permission.

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FEAR NOT!

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, Your Virtual Life Coach

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4: 23

The recent and sudden explosion of terrorism both in our country and around the world has incited unprecedented fear in the hearts of countless people. Where once we lived in relative peace, now we face the possibility of being killed just by shopping at our local mall or by opening our daily mail.


Where once we walked freely, now we walk with guarded steps. Where once we trusted our neighbor, now we look on him as a potential enemy. Perhaps for the first time in our lives, we have been forced, both as a nation and as individuals, to come face to face not only with our vulnerability but also with our mortality.

In the midst of this mélange of pregnability and peril, God commands us not to fear. Indeed, the command, “Fear not!” appears at least 111 times in the Holy Bible. Obviously, God wants to make sure we get the message. But how can one obey this command when everything around us incites us to fear?

First of all, let us remember that God never commands us to do something that is impossible for us to do. If He did, He would be unjust and we would have reason to complain. Therefore, if God commands us not to fear, then we are able to obey His command.

How? you may be asking. Perhaps this explanation will give you insight. Fear is an emotion, and emotions can be controlled by the will. Resisting fear boils down to making a decision to resist fear.

For instance, when fear tries to keep you from venturing beyond your four walls, venture anyway. When fear tries to keep you from taking a trip, take the trip anyway. When fear tries to keep you from flying, fly anyway.

While fear is an emotion, courage is a choice. Choices are made by the will. When fear attacks your emotions, your will can override the fear by a simple and determined choice to refuse to fear. Bottom line, we must decide whether fear will control us or whether we will control fear.

Confronting fear and taking action against it will cure fear. The Bible tells us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). By this verse we know that fear does not come from God. If it doesn’t come from God, then it comes from Satan.

The opposite of fear is love. The Bible tells us that perfect, or mature, love casts outs fear (I John 4:18). The person who has learned to love is the person who walks free of fear. When you face fear, ask yourself “What is the loving thing to do right now?” Choosing the path of love will always dispel fear because love is more powerful than fear.

If fear has been threatening to rob you of your joy of living, don’t allow it to do so any longer. Face your fear and take the offensive against it. You will find that as you do the thing you fear, your fear will disappear. 

Now, it’s YOUR turn: Do you struggle with fear? If so, how do you deal with it?

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Matters of the Heart is a weekly blog that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart, the issues we all face but sometimes don’t want to talk about. The heart is the programming center of our lives. What is programmed into our heart will affect every area of our lives. Learn how to discover what is in your heart and how to program your heart for success.

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How to Make Sense of a World Gone Crazy

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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The world has gone crazy. The signs are all around us: terrorism, police shootings, politically-correct politicians, unruly college students, the brutal murdering through abortion of our future generations, the turning toward idolatry in all of its forms (witchcraft, psychics, goddess worship, etc.).  I could go on and on.

Closeup portrait of a young woman spending time in prayer on a wooden chair.

A recent headline on the cover of the New York Daily News said this: “God Isn’t Fixing This” (Thursday, December 3, 2015). My question is, “Why should God fix this?” As a nation, we have rebelled against Him and gone our own way. We have defied His commandments and deliberately chosen sin in the form of establishing laws in direct violation of His commands. For example, we have redefined marriage; we have not only approved of but also promoted homosexuality. Worst of all, we have killed innocent babies in the womb for our own selfish ambitions. Why should God fix this mess?

Scripture says this: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). We are fools if we think that we can disobey God and get away with it.  No way!  We have sown rebellion and are reaping rebellion. We have sown evil and are reaping evil. We have sown sin and are reaping the consequences of sin.

But the Good News is that, if we repent, God will fix this mess. But first, we must turn back to Him. We must cry out to Him for mercy for our sins. Yes, sins. Sin is a politically incorrect word these days, but let’s call a spade a spade. We have sinned before the Almighty, and we are now suffering the consequences of our sin.

The future course of our nation is up to us, not up to God. If we do things His way by obeying His commands, then He will bless us. If we do things our way by disobeying His commands, He will not bless us. Indeed, He cannot because it would violate His character.

It is not God Who has left us. It is we who have left God. It’s time, America, to turn back to Him. It’s time to fall to our knees in humble repentance for our wickedness.

Only this option makes sense.

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How NOT to Fear Terrorism

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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There is a place of peace where one can be free from fear.  That place is in the shelter of the Almighty. 

Under God’s protective wings, we can find rest no matter what is going on around us.  

Newborn baby and his father's hand - care and safety concept

Like a newborn safe in His Father’s care, so are we safe in the care of our Heavenly Father.

One can kill the body without our permission, but one can never touch the soul without our permission. It is in the soul that one is truly free.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High . . . will not fear the terror of the night” (Psalm 91: 1, 5 ESV).

Are you dwelling in the shelter of the Most High God?
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Are You Terrorized by Terror?

How to Protect Your Heart from Terrorism

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
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It’s in the air. This monstrous beast called terrorism. We sense it all around us. We feel it in our bones. We watch it every night on the evening news.

If we let it, it will paralyze us emotionally, psychologically, and physically.

Terror -  Red Color Text on Digital Background.

Fotolia.com File: #60891819 | Author: tashatuvango

And that’s precisely its goal.

The purpose of terrorism is to instill terror in the hearts of men. Whether it succeeds or not is up to us.

Terror is a form of control. But it is only outward control. Terror can never control your heart unless you allow it to do so. 

There is a place in you called the “inner sanctum”.  According to the Oxford Dictionary, the term derives its name from the same phrase which refers to “the most sacred place in a temple or church.”  In the human being, the inner sanctum is a place that no one can touch. It is the place where you and God meet and which no one else can penetrate without your permission.

The inner sanctum is your heart.

Outside forces can destroy your body without your permission, but no force in the universe can destroy your inner sanctum or heart without your permission.

Jesus said it best: “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body ;
they cannot touch your soul.” ~ Matthew 10:28

Terror is the opposite of love. Terror is a form of fear, and God has said this: “There is no fear in love” (I John 4:18). In other words, when love reigns in the heart, terror cannot overtake the heart.

Terror can overpower physically, but terror will never overpower love because terror is inferior to love.  Love is the greatest power of all. Terror and terrorism will one day fail, but love will never fail (I Corinthians 13:8).

Let, therefore, the love of Jesus Christ rule in your heart. When you do, there will be no room for terror.
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In my newest work of fiction, SURRENDER TO LOVE, young widow and life coach, Dr. Teresa LopezPicMonkeyFINAL061815416pm Gonzalez, regrets that she did not have more time with her dead husband. Join her as she struggles to overcome regret and move into the future God has ordained for her.

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Copyright 2015 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be published or printed in any form whatsoever without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may contact her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com to request permission.

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Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com  or via one of her social media venues below: