2.16.13

“My Train Wreck Conversion” is the second article I’ve read this month written by a gay or lesbian. The first was Shane Windmeyer, leader of  LGBT, opening up about his friendship with Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-a. This article by Rosaria Butterfield is about how a pastor and his wife befriended her. What is something both these friendships had in common? The Christians, while never wavering in their convictions that homosexuality is a sin, did not start by mocking and condemning them. In fact, Rosaria tells us how Ken acted:

He did not mock. He engaged. So when his letter invited me to get together for dinner, I accepted. My motives at the time were straightforward: Surely this will be good for my research.

Something else happened. Ken and his wife, Floy, and I became friends. They entered my world. They met my friends. We did book exchanges. We talked openly about sexuality and politics. They did not act as if such conversations were polluting them. They did not treat me like a blank slate. When we ate together, Ken prayed in a way I had never heard before. His prayers were intimate. Vulnerable. He repented of his sin in front of me. He thanked God for all things. Ken’s God was holy and firm, yet full of mercy. And because Ken and Floy did not invite me to church, I knew it was safe to be friends.

Many Christians avoid homosexuals like the plague. There is very little kindness or generosity shown to them, only a direct confrontation of their sin. Perhaps, as these two individuals demonstrate, a much better witness to Christianity is to befriend them, set the foundation of a relationship, and through your actions and conversations show Christ-like love and forgiveness to them. Before calling them names and automatically sending them to Hell in your book, recall that it was not to the prostitutes that Jesus called names but to the Pharisees, those who considered themselves holy. (Matt 23:15-34 for anyone who wants to read up on that).

Read the rest of Rasaria Butterfield’s testimony here:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/january-february/my-train-wreck-conversion.html?start=1

 

And Shane Windmeyer’s here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shane-l-windmeyer/dan-cathy-chick-fil-a_b_2564379.html

 

 

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2.7.13

This is who we are as Christians: we are transformers of culture. If we suddenly discover that policies are beginning to be adopted and passed which battle against our deepest convictions, then we need to recognize that for what it is: a sign that we are losing our influence as transformers of culture. Should we not, then, rekindle our desire to be the church, to live as countercultural people of love? Should we not take a good, hard look at our Christian witness, and see what actually reflects the God we love? Should we not first look at ourselves and be convicted that we have become complacent and lazy, content to rest in a “Christian nation”, and failing to take seriously the call of Christ? Culture is not transformed by imposing political agendas; politics are transformed by an imposing culture.

40 Years Later: 3 Lessons Roe v Wade Teaches Us.

 

 

 

 

2.6.13

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  (Luke 18:16; NIV)

 

2.1.13

Salvation For All

It is often a very difficult thing for people far removed from a certain century to accurately understand the feelings and culture of that time. So it is, to those in the 21st century, a difficult task to place themselves in the atmosphere of the 18th century. However, ancestors often provide their posterity with windows into their lives through writings, letters, and official documents. Phillis Wheatley is just one of many individuals who found ways to pass on their beliefs and societal times through the composing of poems. One poem that particularly deals with the mindset of the middle 1700’s is “On Being Brought From Africa To America.”

Phillis Wheatley was brought to America on July 11, 1761 when she was only seven or eight years old. She was bought by Susanna Wheatley, the wife of a Boston merchant. Being frail, Phillis was more of a companion to Susanna than a household servant. She learned English, Latin and the Bible from the Wheatley daughter. She became a Christian and was baptized. Although Africans were not considered able to write poetry, she finally published her first compilation of poems in 1773, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. This was published in London, and upon her return to America she was set free. Phillis married John Peters in 1778 but was eventually deserted by him and died in 1784 in a Boston boarding house (Milne 222).

Among Phillis’ first published poems was “On Being Brought From Africa to America.” The poem can be divide into two distinct sections, 4 lines each. The first section talks about her journey from Africa to America and her personal salvation. The second half of the poem speaks about the salvation of her race as a whole.

In the very first line of the poem, “’Twas mercy brought me from my pagan land” (Wheatley 1), Wheatley wants to make it clear that it was mercy, not just a slave ship that brought her to America and exposed her to Christianity. Her “benighted” soul was brought into understanding, in contrast to the intellectual ignorance, or darkness, that had dominated the first years of her life. Although it was under lamentable circumstances that she came to America, as a result of her life with the Wheatleys Phillis became a Christian. In a letter to Arbour Tanner, a fellow slave, she express these sentiments: “’…let us rejoice in and adore the wonders of God’s infinite Love in bringing us from a land semblant of darkness itself, and where the divine light of revelation (being obscur’d) is as darkness. Here the knowledge of the true God and eternal life are made manifest; but there, profound ignorance overshadows the land’” (O’Neale 146). While Phillis was by no means rejoicing in her position as a slave, she was fully aware of the fact that it was slavery that saved her soul. The first half of the poem is her testimony and she is thankful that the Savior has redeemed her from her sins.

After remarking on her own personal salvation, Phillis uses the last 4 lines of the poem to address a rather controversial issue at that time. Were Africans worthy of salvation? To many Christians today, that is an absolutely absurd question. However, it was the general belief in those times – albeit a deplorable one – that people of black color were associated with Satan. This is what Phillis alludes to when she says “Some view our sable race with scornful eye. ‘Their color is a diabolic dye’” (Wheatley 5-6). It is believed that this view was drawn from the Old Testament where Cain’s descendants were ostracized and marked by God with a stain. This was coupled with the curse that was placed on Ham, that his children would be under perpetual servitude, and thus was born the misconception that Africans where the offspring of Cain and Ham and therefore exempt from God’s grace and subject to enslavement. This explains why so many people supported slavery. They judged salvation by the state of one’s skin, not by the state of their soul. In taking the Old Testament to its most literal sense, however, they missed the whole message of the New Testament: that salvation was for the Gentiles as well as the Jews. A passage in the Bible that proves the fallacy of the New World Christians’ belief is in Acts 8. This is the story of the Ethiopian eunuch who was the first Gentile convert and who took the gospel to Africa. The eunuch is the first example of the fact that whatever may have been the fate of Cain and Ham’s offspring, under the new law salvation is for all people. Phillis no doubt knew of this story and in the last two lines of the poem she reminds her readers that no matter what their physical appearance may be, all “May be refin’d and join th’ angelic train” (Wheatley 8).

Under the doctrine of original sin all people fall short of the glory of God, and it is not the pigmentation of skin that ranks individuals among the elect, but God’s supreme goodness. This was the liberating truth that Phillis Wheatley learned when she was brought to America, and it was this truth that she intended to share with her readers. But not only did she share it with 18th century contemporaries, she also succeeded in passing down her testimony to many future generations.

Death unto Life

As winter 2012 quickly turns into winter 2013, I seem to be constantly reminded of why Christ’s incarnation is so fittingly celebrated at this dreary time of year. For many parts of the world, winter is a time of death in nature. It is a time when things become ugly so that they may bud and grow again in the spring.

The past two Christmas seasons I have seen friends experience death in their families. Death comes to all, and winter is a reminder of this. Yet we celebrate life in the dead of winter, for this very reason: that death is not the end for those who are in Christ Jesus. Death is only a stepping stone into new life. All must die to live. We celebrate Christ’s coming in the winter because he brings life, and in this dismal time of year we need to be able to look at Christ’s birth and know that winter, death, is not the end. We need to know that there is hope, that we will grow and bloom in the spring, and one day there will be eternal spring. There will be no more death and tears and long winter nights.

As the death of winter wraps it’s icy fingers around you and chills you to the bone, remember that Christ was born to save us from our sins, to save us from death unto death. He came down to lead us to death unto life, and knowing this, we can endure a thousand winters with the hope of life in the spring.

10.21.12

So you have a dream that wasn’t fullfiled. But you look around you and see that other people are getting exactly what you want. Jealousy and discontent begin to set in.

 

Stop.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow do to change.”

 

God knows exactly what you need, and exactly when you need it.

“Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!”

 

He hasn’t given it to you yet because it is not time. Be patient, pray, and wait.

 

Your time will come. And when it does, it will be even more perfect than you could have ever imagined.

10.6.12

Mistakes made

Lessons learned

God has a great sense of irony

But far greater is his forgiveness and mercy