Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Psalm 73

This speaks to us all, for sure, but I post this today with all of the kids going back to school this week - Don't doubt your resolve, don't doubt God's goodness - 
This is Psalm 73 from The Message translation: 

1-5 No doubt about it! God is good— good to good people, good to the good-hearted. 
   But I nearly missed it, 
      missed seeing his goodness. 
   I was looking the other way, 
      looking up to the people 
   At the top, 
      envying the wicked who have it made, 
   Who have nothing to worry about, 
      not a care in the whole wide world. 

 6-10 Pretentious with arrogance, 
      they wear the latest fashions in violence, 
   Pampered and overfed, 
      decked out in silk bows of silliness. 
   They jeer, using words to kill; 
      they bully their way with words. 
   They're full of hot air, 
      loudmouths disturbing the peace. 
   People actually listen to them—can you believe it? 
      Like thirsty puppies, they lap up their words. 

 11-14 What's going on here? Is God out to lunch? 
      Nobody's tending the store. 
   The wicked get by with everything; 
      they have it made, piling up riches. 
   I've been stupid to play by the rules; 
      what has it gotten me? 
   A long run of bad luck, that's what— 
      a slap in the face every time I walk out the door. 

 15-20 If I'd have given in and talked like this, 
      I would have betrayed your dear children. 
   Still, when I tried to figure it out, 
      all I got was a splitting headache . . . 
   Until I entered the sanctuary of God. 
      Then I saw the whole picture: 
   The slippery road you've put them on, 
      with a final crash in a ditch of delusions. 
   In the blink of an eye, disaster! 
      A blind curve in the dark, and—nightmare! 
   We wake up and rub our eyes....Nothing. 
      There's nothing to them. And there never was. 

 21-24 When I was beleaguered and bitter, 
      totally consumed by envy, 
   I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox 
      in your very presence. 
   I'm still in your presence, 
      but you've taken my hand. 
   You wisely and tenderly lead me, 
      and then you bless me. 

 25-28 You're all I want in heaven! 
      You're all I want on earth! 
   When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, 
      God is rock-firm and faithful. 
   Look! Those who left you are falling apart! 
      Deserters, they'll never be heard from again. 
   But I'm in the very presence of God— 
      oh, how refreshing it is! 
   I've made Lord God my home. 
      God, I'm telling the world what you do!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chick-fil-a. and what it Really means.

*Please do not comment or form opinions one way or the other until you have read this entry in its entirety.  If you can not or will not commit to reading every word of this post fully, please don't start reading it at all.*

This is a hard post to write... I've honestly wrestled with whether it was better to respond at all or just let this one go.

We've all seen the news stories of the dreaded "Chick-fil-a" bigots, cast our votes one way or the other, seen the "Chick-fil-a appreciation day" and the counter "Kiss-a-chick" day.  But what does it all mean, where did it all come from, who was right, what was wrong, and what now?

First off, as a constitutionalist, if I separate all of my Christian feelings (which of course I couldn't completely) I stand behind Chick-fil-a's 1st Amendment right to free speech.  There's a reason why that was the FIRST Amendment.  I can't stand hate groups and wish they were all banished from the face of earth (I'm Not talking about Chick-fil-a here, I'm talking about venomous HATE groups), however, they are allowed to speak their minds, I use the term "mind" loosely here, despite how much I Hate what they spew, they are allowed to spew it.

Now that that's out of the way, let's take the next most simple step forward before we actually address the issues.  Chick-fil-a stated, and I quote (a novelty that most news sources have forgotten how to do):

1.  "“I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think we can try to define what marriage is all about.”"
2.  "“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. …“We are very much committed to that,” Cathy emphasized. “We intend to stay the course,” he said. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”"

Ok, let's look at these two quotes.  Despite what he did say, did Cathy ever say that gays weren't welcome at Chick-fil-a?  Did he ever say gay people couldn't work at Chick-fil-a?  Did he ever say he hated gay people?  Did he ever mention 'hate' anywhere, at all, ever?  no...
Secondly, and this wont matter to some because their passions are too high, but one must also consider the audience.  This would be more offensive and draw a larger attack (should have anyway) had Cathy posted these words on Chick-fil-a's corporate blog or had he hung a sign on every door publicly stating that he felt gay marriage was wrong.  But he didn't, he made the remarks to the Baptist Press, a like minded religious press of which he is a part of.
Also, this Can't Possibly be a newsflash (unless you're the Huffington Post) that Chick-fil-a is a deeply religious company that refuses under any circumstances to be open on Sundays, who operates with no debt, and who conducts vetting on their board to ensure they are all married to their first spouse (no divorcees and yes, all heterosexual marriages).

Keep Reading, Don't stop now!

Now, let's go a little further:
I don't know what Cathy was thinking.  No, really, I simply don't know.  Neither do you, neither does the news, neither does the Christian community or the LGBT community.  We just don't.  We don't know his heart of hearts so I can't decisively speak to his thoughts or motives.  I can only look at facts and expound on what I think
(on a side note - the New's job is to report NEWS FACTS and let viewers on all sides decide what those facts mean - somehow all 'news' anchors are now are dressed up talkshow hosts, and we all know what happens when you put lipstick on a pig...)

Do I love gay people?  Emphatically Yes.
Does God condone homosexuality?  no.  Does he love homosexuals?  Deeply, madly, gracefully - so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for them (and you, and me, and Everyone else - He didn't exclude who He died for so who in the world are we to exclude who He died for?).

Does the Bible say that homosexuality is wrong?  yes, it does.  It also says sex before marriage is wrong, adultery is wrong, cursing is wrong, watching porn is wrong, flipping off the guy who just cut you off in traffic is wrong... cast the first stone.
So wait, does that mean I'm saying it's ok to be gay?  nope, but it's also not ok to have sex in high school, run around on your husband, not be a virgin when you get married, and cuss out referees at the ball game.  Cast the first stone.

Don't stop reading.  You promised.

What I keep coming back to is not the verses in the Bible about homosexuality that everyone keeps quoting, I keep coming up with the adulterous woman who was brought before Jesus (Jesus Christ, you know, the whole Author, Alpha-Omega, the One, He who died, He who decided all the stuff that's said in the Bible?  Yeah, Him).  Let me refresh your memory:

John chapter 8.  The Pharisees and Keepers of the Law (ie, the religious people, the scholars, the pastors) brought a woman to Jesus and said that she had been adulterous.  That the Law of Moses (the first covenant-of which the world had previously been under, BC) commanded that she be stoned to death - what did He (Jesus) have to say about that?  Jesus ignored them.  As they continued to yell and holler about her sins and her 'deserved' punishment (sounding familiar yet?) Jesus replied:  fine, whichever one of you is sinless and without blame, start things off, throw the first stone.  Well, as you know, there wasn't a single one of those who had brought her there who was without sin, so 1 by 1 they all left.  Soon, Jesus and the woman were all that remained.  Jesus looked at the woman and said:  hey, what happened?  Where is everybody?  Is no one going to condemn you?
She hesitantly looked around and sheepishly responds, "no one..."
Jesus replies:  Neither do I.  Go on your way and sin no more.

This is so profound, so insightful, so mind blowing, and so deep!
Here's what we need to understand:  everyone in the crowd who wanted to condemn the woman for her sin was guilty, they were all sinners, and Jesus told them only whoever in their midst was blameless should throw the 1st rock.  They all left.  But who was still there?  Jesus.  Who actually was completely blameless and without sin?  Jesus.  So who actually Could cast the first stone?  Jesus.  And he didn't.

You see, the crowd (us...) wanted to condemn, but couldn't  -  Jesus could have condemned, but didn't.  Did Jesus tell her "don't worry about your adultery honey, you go right ahead, I'm good with whatever you do!"  no.  He didn't.  He said "go on your way, and sin no more".  Jesus knew she was guilty, but He didn't condemn her:  He condemned her sin, but not her.

A much better way to put it comes from Rick Warren:

"Our culture has accepted two huge lies: 

The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. 

The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.

Both are nonsense.You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate"