Am I Missing Something

I have always considered myself as fairly intuitive and insightful. That has often found, me more often than I like to admit, tending more in the direction of being judgmental rather than taking a believing the best posture in spite of appearances. The past 2 or 3 weeks find me being tempted in the direction of judgment rather than simply taking some recent announcements at face value.

On January 4, 2013 the Church of England announced their decision to permit gay male clergy to become bishops if they promise to remain celibate while at the same time allowing them to remain in their civil partnerships. Anglican bishop of Norwich, Graham James, was quoted as saying “The House (of Bishops) believed it would be unjust to exclude from consideration for the episcopate anyone seeking to live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics”

Additionally, this week the Boy Scouts of America suggested an announcement would most likely be forthcoming as early as February 6, 2013 indicating a change in policy to allow gay members (the scouts themselves) as well as allowing gay adult scout leaders. Partial indication of their motives was the scout honor code which includes honesty.

“Live fully in conformity with the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics” & honesty! Honestly? I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest conforming to sexual ethics and honesty have little to do with these announcements or at least not in the way you and I might think.

I don’t believe I will go as far as to conduct a poll, but does the Church of England really expect us to believe that the partners in a gay civil partnership will actually cease sexual contact while continuing in the relationship simply because one of them got a promotion? Wouldn’t that be tantamount to allowing a Bishop to continue to live at his nudist colony as long as he stops looking? Or believing all those people who say they buy Playboy for the great articles. This appears to be nothing less than the Church of England bowing to pop culture, political correctness and the disproportionate influence the gay lobby carries in society.

And on the subject of gay men and young boys (regardless of orientation), there is not a good track record for gay adults being able keep their hands to themselves. We have way too many examples of spiritual leaders (yes the church must and hopefully has taken responsibility for many abuses in this area) abusing their position of leadership by taking advantage of impressionable young boys. It is disingenuous for them to try and get us to think that things will be any different in the Boy Scouts just because they are committed to honesty and other attributes of character. Add to the adult gay men impressionable young gay boys and you have a recipe for disaster. And, being the chronic skeptic I am, I believe this recipe is nothing less than by design. No self-respecting leader would put two volatile elements together in the same setting (gay adult leaders and young gay boys) and ignore any thought that anything but the obvious and inevitable would happen.

In similar fashion, there are other leaders out there who want us to believe that outlawing certain guns will be some form of insurance to keep them out of the hands criminals. This kind of thinking is no different than to suggest that if we were to have a law on the books prohibiting all of society from robbing banks that it would have any effect at all on those planning to rob banks already.

But then again, maybe I’m missing something???

Life on Mars

A few weeks ago I penned a rant contrasting the Sandy Hook shootings with the daily carnage that abortion leaves in waste baskets in all corners of this country. I received many public “likes” and several positive comments. I also received a few private reservations which if distilled down would amount to a rebuke suggesting it was too soon and insensitive to the memory of those children. And while I think I understand those thoughts (with the help of numerous conversations with my devoted wife), I was left still wanting to ask the question as to which group of children’s memory was I being insensitive to. I fully admit my intent was to shock and offend our sense of what is proper. I wanted to highlight the stark contrast of wall to wall reporting on 20 deaths while totally ignoring the thousands of abortions which occurred that day, the next day and every day since Sandy hook to the tune of something north of 160,000 deaths by abortion since that day to the day of this writing (just a mere 45 days).

In the mean time Planned Parenthood on January 7, 2013 announced in celebratory fashion that the 2012 season was a banner year for abortions as if one was describing the success of a hunting trip. To top that, this week as many of us hopefully mourned the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Center for Reproductive Rights put out a video entitled “Happy 40th Anniversary, Baby”. In the video Mehcad Brooks is sitting in a comfortable leather chair holding a rose and talking to the camera. He addresses the camera as “baby” as if the camera is the victorious Roe v Wade decision with comments like “hey baby, did you think I forgot”. He jesters, laughs and grunts in a seductive fashion as he promises to keep fighting for you “baby”. I have included the link if you want to watch it. And actually I encourage you to watch and perhaps gain a fresh perspective on what should offend.

The horrible irony here is to have a black man expressing his commitment to fight for abortion rights. In his movie “Life Happens”, among other things dealing with the history of abortion rights, Ash Greyson exposes the origins of Planned Parenthood as being intentionally planted in the inner city communities to help control the population growth among blacks.

I must say that after watching this vile 40th anniversary video, which is nothing short of demonic in its flagrantly offensive content and delivery, I felt a little better about the abrasive nature of my writing on the day of the Sandy Hook shootings as having ruffled some feathers. Feathers need to be ruffled in a society that walks in absolute hypocrisy where we can spend billions and billions of dollars sending SUVs to Mars hoping to find evidence or existence of even one single living cell. And having found that single cell the headlines in papers and news outlets worldwide would declare the discovery of “Life on Mars”. All the while denying that label to the beating heart of a growing baby in its mother’s womb simply out of a choice of convenience. Does the depravity of our society know no limit? Are you offended?

Unity in the midst of Diversity

Why is unity in the midst of diversity so important amongst all the different Christian denominations? If we look carefully at Jesus’ prayer for the church, it is through that unity the world is going to know that Christ has come. It doesn’t say anything about evangelism, great programs, beautiful buildings or even inner city outreaches and mercy ministries. My family and I have experienced or been involved extensively in all the above listed examples our whole lives with varying degrees of success. But by far the hardest attitude to breach amongst a skeptical world is the entrenched cynicism exhibited worldwide towards a divided church, its arguing congregants and all that follows in wake of disunity. Divide and conquer the age old adage goes and I suggest the church is beating itself at Satan’s own game at the expense of the lost and dying in this world.

Satan knew all too well how disunity would be his best shot at victory over the efficacy of the church. It was his divisive attempt to overthrow heaven, which got us in this predicament in the first place. Jesus however, in His great wisdom in dealing with division, laid the foundation for victory over Satan in His prayer for unity in the church. Is it any surprise then that Satan’s work of disunity began in earnest mere moments after Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17? In John 18, Jesus and His disciples had only the hour or so it took to walk across the Kidron valley before one of His own (Judas), who didn’t agree with the way Jesus was doing things, came in betrayal with the soldiers for His arrest and crucifixion.

On that cross, Jesus experienced immeasurable physical pain at the expense of crucifixion and the sins of the world. Yet, I believe, far greater pain resulted from being forsaken of the Father. Imagine, the eternal union of the Godhead ripped apart as Jesus is separated from the Father. We diminish Jesus’ work on the cross if we limit it only to sacrifice for our sins. Jesus’ victory over death and the grave, most importantly, gave rise the greatest reconciliation of all time, the reunion of the Godhead.

Just how powerful is unity? How about worldly unity? How about Spirit empowered unity? In Genesis 11 when the Lord visited the tower of Babel, He said,

“If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

Just imagine what power awaits the church, walking in Godly unity, if nothing was impossible for an unredeemed world that walked in unity.

What is it going to take for us to “get it”? What is it going to take for the sacrifice of Christ to have its fully desired effect on the church? I offer a short illustration to further illuminate this point. Imagine standing before the Father on that glorious day to give an account of your life. A glorified and yet nail scarred Jesus is seated at His right hand. The Father turns towards you with an inquisitive look on His face. He ask “now remind me why was it you wouldn’t fellowship with the congregation down the street”? You humbly step forward and declare “as you well know, they didn’t do church the right way”. It’s at this point you insert your particular theological stronghold (baptism style, views about communion, election vs free will, worship style, pre/mid/post tribulation, tongues, etc.). You glance at Jesus for approval of your well studied position only to see the pain of the cross returning to His tear stained face. At first you are confused, you begin to rehearse in your mind your doctrinal rational but all too soon, as Jesus reaches out to you with those nail scared hands, you finally “get it”. All of a sudden your particular theologically insignificant monuments crumble at the feet of our significant Savior.

Why are you singing?

In his book How Do You Kill 11 Million People, Andy Andrews describes an eye witness report from an elderly Christian who attended a church alongside a set of railroad tracks in Germany in the early 1940’s. After several weeks of hearing a particular train leave out on Sunday morning for what they came to understand were the death camps, they began singing hymns. But they were not singing hymns for the reason you might normally think, but rather, because they could hear the cries of the Jews from inside those cattle cars, they would sing their hymns more loudly in order to not be able to hear the pleas for help from those trapped and headed off to die. While being interviewed on a nationally syndicated talk show about his book, the radio host, not particularly known as a Christian, made a scathing comment about Christians in America and their lack of seeming to take their faith seriously. He said “either they are asleep at the switch or they are simply singing too loudly.”

11 million

So here we are some 70 years later, just a couple of generations separated from the WWII genocide which cost so many their lives. And the church today seems more distracted than ever. Those in the world, and perhaps many in the church, are chugging along on tracks, not all that different from the train tracks in the story above. The cries that can be heard are a mix of anguish, revelry and loneliness. There are so many lost souls, so many deceived or indifferent spectators in church, chugging along to an inevitable end – a life without the fullness of Christ or death.

What has the call of Christ become for you? Is it a deep felt joy, understanding of the value of the cross and the call to serve and rescue the lost and in doing so derailing Satan’s plan? Or has it become some far away sound, much like a train whistle you might hear at night sounding so inspirational and soothing yet at a safe distance? Perhaps it has become all too easy to avert one’s eyes, disengage from the mission, enjoy fellowship and just sing hymns, really great and meaningful hymns. But the time has come for us to check ourselves and the motives of our hearts. Are we making the right decisions in response to the call of Christ on our lives or masking our individual and corporate responsibility by simply singing louder.

Excert from the book “Whose Side are you on Anyway” by Milton Odom