Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Got 99 Problems But the Chick Ain't One!

A few from the Facebook page “That’s Not My God” have asked me for my thoughts regarding the whole “Chick-Fil-A” debate. I was hesitant to do such a blog because this can be a very touchy issue. What made me decide to do this blog however was the way people lump the Christian community together as a whole. This is a naive and ignorant approach. Personally I think both sides fighting over this issue is not very flattering. I am reminded of Proverbs 20:3(NIV) "It is to a man's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel." Lord knows I have looked like the "fool" plenty of times. On that note I have two opinions on the matter and with the prodding of quite a few people here they are.

1. One of the things I so enjoy hearing around election time is “Democracy is alive and well.” This comment usually circulates because the candidates (in this case the presidential ones) have very strong opinions about what they believe. Another interesting stance we see over and over, be it at our nations capital or in our own cities, is the right to exercise free speech. One of my favorite places to submit writings to is “EXpressions Journal.” This is a liberal underground newspaper that has come to welcome my writings. They post them and, in fact, are on file in the national archives. Out of all the articles I have submitted to them, only one person wrote me a nasty email. Guess what? It was from a fellow Christian. What makes us such a great nation is the right to have an opinion. What makes us unique is to have our own stance on what we believe in. If “Chick-Fil-A” wants to take a stance on a topic then I say go for it...this is the America we live in. Will it always be a popular stance? No. I would have to say from a business stand point it is a poor choice. However, if a person has strong personal/Christian convictions about something then I say go with it. Personally I do not see many restaurants, stores, etc. waving a rainbow flag on their building catching much flack from the rest of the community. Perhaps they do from some Christians but again...not the group I would want to be lumped in with. I would only ask this to the owner of Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy...who designed the clothes you are wearing?

2. I want to ask the question, how long will the church keep bashing the gay community? However, I quickly realize that would be pointless. Let’s be honest...it will never end. It would be great to say that Christians could/should love everyone with no agenda but once again...I would be living in a dream world. If in fact a person was to take the stance of the gay lifestyle being a sin issue...it would still not be right for a Christian to call that person out. We simply do not have that right as Jesus talks very plainly about taking the plank out of our own eye before removing the speck from someone else. Personally I do not think this should even be an issue. As Christians we are called to love people. If we are called to love people then why is there so much hate? Perhaps this is the age old question. I find it funny how many overweight people call the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans-Gender) community sinners. It is also interesting how many in the gay community teach/preach tolerance and yet can be some of the most intolerant people I know as it pertains to Christianity. Once again...NOT ALL CHRISTIANS OUGHT TO BE LUMPED IN TOGETHER (and I am positive the same can be said about the LGBT community). I find it much easier to take the stance that we are both flawed people. Neither one of us have a right to call each other out on anything, therefore, it is simply easier to love each other rather than try to prove who is right and who is wrong. I shared my viewpoint on this issue at Lifest a few weeks ago. I simply believe that IF anyone has something that needs to change...it will not happen by me or someone else forcing them. We simply must let the Holy Spirit do what we cannot.

At the end of the day perhaps the bigger issue at hand is how fast food is bad for a person. Maybe the topic ought to be how the chickens farmed out to Chick-Fil-A could be potentially mis-treated. There really could be an ongoing list. All that I know is that we have become a very politically correct society which is tearing apart our great nation of free speech and democracy. I honestly cannot understand why someone would want an apology from a business owner if they take a hard stance on a certain subject. This is the luxury you get being the president of a business. I am not saying his stance is the correct one but nonetheless this is a privilege he gets to have. It could help his business but it could also hurt his business. In the words of the great philosopher, Bobby Brown...”It’s my prerogative.”

In the words of Jay-Z (kind of)...I got 99 problems but the Chick ain't one. So...off to being more productive and move pas this petty debate. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Help Me Understand Something

Help me understand something. You do not have to look around very long to find groups of women that want equal rights. If you look around a little more you will find individual women that want equal rights as well. At any given time a group of moms will be fighting for the right to breast feed in public. There are so many women out there that are tough, it shows in the sports they participate in. From basketball to roller-derby it is safe to say there are some tough women around us. If you look back in history there has been hurdle after hurdle that women have had to jump. For a great detailed list I would suggest going to http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline1.html/. Let me clarify that I whole heartedly support women and their endeavors. We ought to be equal but please help me understand!
Undoubtedly you are wondering what exactly am I talking about? The issue at hand that I have been wondering about and am now letting ride in a blog is simply this. Why would a lady ever consider being a part of a church where they are required to dress or look a certain way? Why would any woman even consider going to a church where they are not allowed to preach, teach or serve on a board? This simply boggles my mind. Some of the strongest women I know will attend a church where they are “whipped into submission.” This simply does not make sense to me and reeks of the teen years when girls would date a guy that treated them like garbage and yet “I just love him.” All the rational thinkers are left scratching their head asking the simple question “why?” 
According to CBE International, they put together a list of denominations that do not affirm women. Here is that list.
Evangelical Free Church of America
Evangelical Mennonite Conference
Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches
Mennonite Brethren Churches
Anglican Catholic Church
Anglican Province of Christ the King
Christian Episcopal Church
Southern Episcopal Church
United Episcopal Church
American Baptist Association
Primitive Baptists
Apostolic Lutheran Church of America
Church of the Lutheran Confession
Concordia Lutheran Conference
Evangelical Community Church-Lutheran
Evangelical Lutheran Synod
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Lutheran Ministerium and Synod
Great Commission Association
Church of God Mountain Assembly
Pentecostal Church of God
Apostolic Christian Church of America
Christian & Missionary Alliance
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
Bible Presbyterian Church
Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Presbyterian Church in America
Presbyterian Reformed Church
Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
Now I must admit this seems very forgein to me as a kid raised in the Assemblies of God. It is a denomination that affirms women. Some of the best messages I have heard preached/teached came from women. I cannot imagine life any other way. 
Oh, I suppose we could go on a rant about the apostle Paul telling women to be quiet in church but there is no basis for that. It was a passage of scripture strictly for a cultural moment in time. 
So...onward we go in a world filled with paradoxes. Many thoughts I try to wrap my head around. If it ends up I cannot, then I move on. This one though I simply cannot let go. In a world filled with women that perhaps more so than at any point in history have a strong will, drive, personality (all of which are not a bad thing) I am left wondering...why would any of them subject themselves to a denomination that would either quiet them or not allow them to lead?
If you look at this list and simply do not believe it, I would simply ask you to consider this question. When is the last time you saw a female board member at your church? Why haven’t you heard any good teaching/preaching from the pulpit on a Sunday morning from a lady? You have to ask because this issue is not usually advertised within the denomination. This kind of issue is usually revealed when one of you women are “out of line” and try to “lead” in some kind of capacity. 
I think T.D. Jakes said it well when he wrote the book, “WOMAN THOU ARE LOOSED!” The Bible is the best book to go to and realize...wow...God used women ALL THE TIME.

Friday, July 13, 2012

From Royal Rangers to Lifest

Counsel Fire at Royal Rangers 50th Anniversary Summer Camp

Once again I find this summer being one of firsts. Have you ever gone through those seasons in life where you are experiencing new things over and over again? This can be good things or situations you would rather not have had to deal with. For me I can say it has been good...let me explain why. 
It was the spring of 2010 when I received an email asking me to be a guest speaker for a special event. It was an event that I was very familiar with and had a great passion for. This event was for the Royal Ranger 50th anniversary summer camp. Now back in the day it used to be called “Pow-Wow.” I was very interested in being the speaker but had to wait 2 years. It was scheduled for June of 2012 which has now passed. What a great time to be able to speak to hundreds of boys and show them exactly where I asked the Lord into my heart 29 years ago. It was a truly humbling experience but a very rewarding one as well as over 40 boys came up to ask Jesus into their hearts the first night. 
Yesterday, I experienced another first in my life as a pastor. I began a ministry two years ago called, “That’s Not My God.” This is a ministry for people to talk about all things Christianity. More and more I am finding out that there is a pool of people like myself that at one point or another have been hurt by the church or spiritually abused. This results in burn-out and no desire to return to an institutional church setting ever again. For these people it is my desire to show them that church really can be a beautiful thing if they are willing to give it a try once again using great discernment. For the others a part of this great forum...it is simply awesome to enjoy good conversation and hopefully grow from each other. 
The reason I bring that group up is that since I began “That’s Not My God” I have spoken twice at Cornerstone festival with week long series. Yesterday I got to teach at Lifest in the Life Promotions tent. What a great time with a little over half the tent full. It is my desire to bring a message of grace to people. What a refreshing time as people were coming up one after the other asking me how they can bring their friend/relative to church when they know they will not be accepted. There were many other deep questions. 
It really is exciting to see all that is going on which God is doing. I am on the brink of a new book coming out as well. This is going to be a very real writing on my experiences of the past as a youth pastor/pastor and how all situations can be redeemed. I share all of this because I simply am trying to be open to what God wants me to do. I would encourage you to do the same. You never know what will happen in your life unless you are willing to take a step of faith...go for it!