Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Hating Homosexuals and Hens

So today’s the “big day.” Today is the official Mike Huckabee-generated Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. Lines have been reported all over the place, many times out the door, in some cases even down the road (cars waiting to drive through or park, that is).
For those who may have tried to ignore it all, the fast-food chain’s president recently came “out of the closet” and proclaimed support of traditional marriage, i.e., one man and one woman (presumably both born that way).
Many have reacted to this so-called “hatred” with … well, hatred.
What hatred?
Apparently it’s OK to hate and be intolerant of those who disagree with you and your “love” and “tolerance.” But only if you agree with something the Bible says, and I agree with the world.
Consider †his: isn’t that what Jesus told us would happen anyhow, in John 15:12-25 and Mark 13:9-13?
The problem with, in this case, the supporters of same-gender marriage is the same problem that people who support any type of sin (and, yes, sorry, practicing homosexuality is just as much of a sin as adultery, fornication, lust, lying, murder, and — oh, yeah — hatred) have. They want to do something that God says isn’t a good thing to do.
That’s nothing new. John the Baptist told Herod that his marriage to his cousin-in-law, Herodias, was wrong. Herod locked John up (Luke 3:18-20), and Herodias’ hatred of John is what caused her to compel Herod to have him beheaded (Matthew 14:1-12 & Mark 6:17-29).
That was back then, though. Now we “know” that we are, at best, evolved animals. As the script for one old computer game said, “we are chemical processes, and nothing more.” So why shouldn’t we just let “love” (which is itself a chemical process for reproduction, so we can also call it “lust”) be “right?” That’s how we’re made, after all.
Hopefully everybody sees the sarcasm in the previous paragraph.
Now, I know all too well how body chemistry can mess up the mind. I have been diagnosed with depression, panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, and I have the symptoms of several other disorders that make the term “too blessed to be stressed” sound like an alien language to me. Does that mean that I claim anxiety is not a sin, even though passages such as Matthew 6:25-33, Matthew 10:19, Mark 13:11, Luke 12:22-31, and Philippians 4:4-7 seem to say otherwise?
Nope, I’m not claiming that my body doesn’t make me sin. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it’s not a sin if my physical body produces hormones that cause me to act a certain way. Maybe it is a sin, but grace covers those sins, too.
Whatever the case, my desires and my body do not determine what is sin. God alone does!
Both sides need to stop hating the messengers. The “tolerant” are deceived. Their father is the father of lies (John 8:43-45), and they proclaim his message. Some will turn and see the light, while others never will. Some follow Christ, yet still support those who claim to be homosexual.
I need to make one thing clear at this point. I just said that some claim to be homosexual. The claim often simply mean they are tempted with same-gender attraction, but do not take it beyond that, just as many are tempted to lust after the opposite gender. Temptation is not sin. I do not have the right to accuse anyone who claims to be homosexual of sin. I can tell them what the Bible says, but the choice is still theirs to make, just as it is my choice to fall where I am weak. Many are confused. Some want to throw their blatant sin into the face of anyone who disagrees with them, though, demanding acceptance their way. Sorry, no can do.
So how is all this going to play out? This will eventually die down, and the haters will seem to have a victory, then drag everyone through the mud with the next big thing that feels good with no true godliness. It’s in our nature. Just as chickens lay eggs, the unrepentant sinner will find something else to stir hatred. One day, though, the consistently unrepentant sinners will have egg on their faces as they discover that they don’t rule the roost after all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Gospel for the Middle: A Synchroblog

Today I’m taking a “synchroblog” challenge from Frank Viola. The idea is to repost his hypothetical, but quite realistic, scenario, then write your answer to the question at the end.
Before I do that, though, I should note that this scenario is anything but hypothetical to me. I was Fielding for the first 2 years of my life in Christ. My mother still is.
After I present my answer, I’d like to hear your own response to the question at the end.
So, here’s the scenario:

The following exercise is from the synchroblog at
Fielding Melish and his wife Felicia have two children, ages 10 and 6. They live in a very remote part of Maine, USA. They are surrounded by extended family, none of whom are Christians. The nearest churches are one hour away, and by all evangelical standards, none of them are good. These churches are either highly legalistic, highly libertine, or just flat-out flaky.
One of Fielding’s cousins is a practicing Christian. They see each other once a year. Fielding’s cousin has shared Christ with Fielding many times over the years. Whenever they’ve talked about spiritual things, Fielding shows interest.
Felicia grew up in a Christian home. She’s received Christ, but she isn’t evangelistic and is overwhelmed with working long hours and raising two small children. She would love to find a church nearby for the spiritual support and instruction, but none exist.
Fielding has no college education. While he is capable of reading, he is not a reader. He doesn’t use the Web either. He’s a man who works with his hands, both for his career and for recreation. He’s an “outdoorsman.” He hunts, he builds, he does manual labor, etc. In his spare time, he helps his elderly parents with various building projects.
Fielding is not an atheist. Neither is he an agnostic. He believes in God. He believes Jesus is the Savior of the world who died for our sins and rose again from the dead. He hasn’t fully surrendered his life to Christ, but he is not sure what that looks like exactly. His children know a little about the Lord, mostly because of what their mother has taught them.
Recently Fielding asked this question:
When I’m with my cousin once a year, I want to learn more about God. But when I come back home, and I’m around everyone else, my mind is off of God, and I am back to working, raising my kids, and helping my parents. Someone needs to come up with a solution for people like me . . . people who are in the middle. (By “in the middle,” Fielding means someone who believes in Jesus, but who isn’t fully absorbed in the faith yet either. They simply don’t know enough nor do they have any spiritual support system around them.)
Relocating is not an option for Fielding and his wife. Even if they wanted to relocate, they don’t see a way they could do it financially.
Remember: Fielding and his wife don’t personally know any Christians. None of their extended family or coworkers are believers either. And the nearest churches (which are an hour away) aren’t recommended.
Question: If you were Fielding’s cousin, how would you instruct him and his wife the next time you saw them?

Before I answer, I have to make a few assumptions here (since I’m an engineer, I have to list them):
  • By “extended family,” I assume Fielding’s cousin is not among them, though his parents presumably are. The cousin isn’t close enough to see the Melish family more often than once a year.
  • Fielding doesn’t use the Web, and may resist using the Web.
OK, with that, here’s how I’d see the conversation between Fielding and his cousin going:

Cousin:You know, Fielding, I’ve been thinking a lot about something you said last time. You said you and Felicia would love to find a church in your area.
Fielding:Yeah, but you seem to like any of them near us. (laughing) Seriously, I see why you don’t. Felicia isn’t too thrilled with that idea, either.
Cousin:From what you’ve said about them, I don’t really think they’d do you much good. I know you don’t like the Internet…
Fielding:No way! Besides, our computer is so old, I don’t think anything new would work on it.
Cousin:It might, but you’re probably right. All the churches I can think of use stuff that your old machine won’t run well, if at all. They block folks like you who don’t want to upgrade, or can’t afford to.
Fielding:Yeah, have you seen the prices for the new models?
Cousin:Too often. But, hey, you can play CDs and DVDs on something, right?
Fielding:Well, yeah, but it’s hard to watch a DVD while I’m out in the workshop.
Cousin:How about an audio CD? Like an audio book?
Fielding:I don’t know. It can get pretty noisy when I’m out there, although I guess I could crank the volume up a bit.
Cousin:Here’s what I’m thinking. Our little church doesn’t record their services yet, but I’m thinking about asking them if they would let me do it. I’d like to tap into their sound board directly, but something with a microphone would work, too. I could record the pastor’s message each week, burn them onto a CD, and mail them to you for you to hear.
Fielding:That’s a little impersonal, isn’t it? I mean, what if I’ve got a question about what he says? Or what if I don’t agree with something he says?
Cousin:That’s a good point. Maybe you could write them down and mail them to me, or to my pastor, if he’s willing?
Fielding:I’d rather ask you. I don’t mean any offense to your pastor, but I don’t know him. You know I don’t have a college education, either. I wouldn’t want to look stupid to him.
Cousin:You wouldn’t, but I understand.
Fielding:The big problem is having the time to do all that. I’m so busy with Mom and Pop sometimes that I don’t even have time to be in my workshop. I guess I could listen to the CD in my car, but if the road’s noisy, or the kids are, I wouldn’t be able to pay attention.
Cousin:True. Some of the roads you have to take require undivided attention. How about you and Felicia take an hour once a week, like you would if you were in a nearby church, and listen to the CD?
Fielding:That would take care of that problem. I guess we could carve out some time like that. I could also watch some of those television preachers.
Cousin:Um, not all of them are that great. I can give you some suggestions for those to watch for, and those to watch out for.

For the record, this isn’t how my mother and I have handled it. God found us outside of a church setting (or, rather, in spite of a church setting), and that was that. She learned how to get by without any substantial “support system,” while God provided several through halfway-decent churches, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in college, and so forth. The area where we were all “born and raised,” though, sounds too much like the Maine setting of this scenario. Mom had tried to get a home study led by a Calvary Chapel pastor from 60 miles away, but there wasn’t enough local interest to make it worth his trip.
So how would you address Fielding’s situation?

Monday, July 09, 2012

Your Turn: Commands vs. Requests

One of the purposes of this blog has always been to make people think about what they believe, and where their assumptions about their faith come from. I’ve never wanted anyone to doubt their faith or their salvation, but I do want to encourage people to think for themselves, rather than rely on what some preacher or nutcase has said, or what they learned from their youth.
Sometimes, though, there are topics I have problems with myself. I don’t have the responsive readership of the “big-time blogs,” so I rarely get much discussion. That’s disappointing to me, because I don’t want anyone to think I’m always right. I don’t want to be the misleading nutcase!
From time to time, I want to put forth a question or topic I’d like to hear about from others.
Today’s topic for discussion: how does God treat a “command” to His children differently from a “request?” Also, does God make demands of those who are saved?
Now, in this, please note that I’m speaking strictly on those who are saved. I’m also assuming, contrary to what some churches teach, that God doesn’t toss us into the line for the direct bus to Hell if we have a lustful thought or request Him to condemn someone by accident. I assume that, though God “cannot look on sin,” that He sees Christ’s sacrifice instead of our sin. (Habbakuk 1:13 seems to be the main verse for that one, though in context it indicates that God cannot look on sin and not punish the guilty ones, which would be Christ for those who have accepted His sacrifice)
My problem is that I cannot see the essential difference between a “command” (as compared to a “commandment”) and a “request” or “desire” as far as the believer is concerned. If we are right with God, we will want to do what He wants. He shouldn’t have to command; a request should be sufficient.
Is there some sort of earthly “punishment” if we do not obey His commands? Do we lose our salvation?
I’d like some discussion on this. Please do support your comments from Scripture, and discuss the topic or comments, not the people making the comments.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Can “Willful Disobedience” Send You to Hell?

The following is a response to a Christian Post article by Dan Delzell, entitled Can Deliberate Sin Negate Your Conversion Experience? I put it here because (a) it's pertinent to the blog, and (b) my response is too long for CP's comment system. :)

Oh, boy, this is a big one for me, though not quite in the direction Dan takes it.

Consider This: there are plenty of people who have been told they are sinning willfully or deliberately who have lost hope.

I’ve been married for just over 18 years now. We cannot have children of our own. I was abused emotionally as a child, I believe. I hated my father for years, and still find bits of bitterness about some of the attitudes he had. That’s not the “deliberate sin,” though, that I want to address.

Several years ago the pastor of a large church I attended (which had no formal membership), someone I trusted to speak the truth, said something offhandedly at the end of a message. I don’t recall the message, nor the Scripture he used to support this, but he said, in effect, that it was a sin for a married couple to choose to be child-free. Adoption was an option, he noted, for those who could not have children of their own. After the service I went up & asked him about that particular detail. He back-pedaled a bit with comments about the matter of when one had children is personal, but he never retracted his statement. (For the record, there were times when I’d ask him about other things, and he did indeed retract what he said, or at least clarified it and made sure he would clarify it in later services.) From what I can gather, he did not make that same statement in the other two weekend services, but the damage was done for me.

I truly thought that I could not be headed for Heaven because I was willfully “disobeying” a “command” from God to be child-free.

I should also note here that I have clinical depression with anxiety, probably due to malfunctioning or fatigued glands, probably inherited from my mother’s side of the family. (We haven’t gone through the genetic testing to prove this; this is our best guess based on family knowledge of symptoms.) Anxiety attacks can manifest as anger attacks, since anger often is a secondary emotion arising from anxiety or stress — the “fight or flight” mechanism choosing the “fight” or “Hulk-out” mode. I have been, and continue to be, afraid of being around children at times. I have to leave the area if I can sense an attack about to happen. Their high-pitched squeals don’t help in that area, either, due to presumed hyperacusis.

Simply put: I do not feel safe around children.

To believe all that, and then be told by a trusted pastor that being child-free is a sin, led me to the conclusion that my continued choice in that area meant I was willfully disobeying a command from God. Is that not another way of saying “deliberate sin?”

The point here is that we must be absolutely careful about what we call “deliberate sin,” and recognize that God’s grace remains sufficient if our hearts are turned towards Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. So does His enemy and ours, Satan, who knows exactly where to poke us to make us think we are without hope.

The only one of us without hope is the one who has chosen to give up the source of hope.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Square Pegs, Round Holes, and Gaps

Have you ever tried to fit the proverbial square peg into a round hole? Yeah, with a jackhammer it can work, or after ruining peg and/or hole. Is it really worth doing, though?

That’s how I’ve felt lately with writing in general. Obviously I haven’t written a blog article for way too long. Most people would’ve written me off (and probably did). It hasn’t been for lack of trying. I could use a litany of reasons or excuses for the “break,” including the discovery of neuroendocrine carcinoid tumors in my wife’s liver, the “holidays,” stress at work, too much Facebook time, and so forth. Each one of those would have some validity to them, too.

The real reason is that I haven’t had anything to write about that is working for me.

I wanted to start a verse-by-verse study through Romans, especially since I learned that the Emerging/Emergent Church movement, which favors unity over truth, wishes that evangelicals “rip out” that book from the Bible. I also know that I need to get back to an in-depth personal study of the Bible. I’ve also considered a similar study in Colossians, since people like Kenneth Copeland quote copiously from it to support their own heresies.

So far, though, both of these have worked as well as square pegs in round holes. They don’t fit.

So I sit here and, as it may appear to others, let my blog languish, as if I don’t care about it. Sorry, but that’s simply not true. I do care about it. I care about those few readers who have made a commitment to follow it, either via Facebook, RSS, Google Friend Connect, or perhaps even through the Feedburner feed that I can no longer access. (Which reminds me, if anybody knows how to contact a real Google support person who might be able to figure out why the password & security question I recall and recorded do not work, I’d appreciate an email address.)

I care enough about this blog to let it sit, rather than to publish junk.

I care enough about this blog to sacrifice quantity for quality.

Sorry, no square pegs in round holes here.

There are numerous blogs out there that will deluge you with content, some of them breaking the rules in the opposite fashion by putting out numerous posts per day. Sometimes I think I’d like to have the quality content and time to do just that.

Right now, I do not.

Thanks to all reading this for bearing with me. Pray that this blog will be used by God as He intends, not as the “media experts” say it should.

If you want content, my blog roll on the side has numerous other reading sources that I personally like. Some of them may even flood your email box or RSS reader, if that’s how you like to read blogs.

Since the “experts” like to suggest “engaging” readers by asking a question, Consider †his closing question:

How would you deal with round holes and only square pegs?

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