Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Joy in Sadness

Dear one,

Sadness. Joyfulness.

Two extremes that are not meant to dwell together...yet often do.

They exist when I receive news of how you are doing.

Sadness because you are not here. Sadness because I am selfish and want to see you, hear you, speak with you. I want to watch you in the midst of my family. I want to hear you laugh, see your smile, know you are safe. Sadness because I no longer know when I might see you again. Be able to hold you as the daughter I consider you to be. Sadness because the world is big, mean at times, unpredictable, and not as it should be. Sadness because I am not needed as I once was. Sadness because I can't see you becoming who you are supposed to be because the miles separating us are too great.


and yet...

joy comes in the morning.

Joyfulness because you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Joyfulness because it isn't about me, it's about those who can see you, can hear you, can speak with you. Joyfulness because you are in the midst of a new family. They want to hear you laugh, see your smile, know that you are safe. Joyfulness because I know that One Day I will indeed see you again. I will be able to hold you as the sister you now are. Joyfulness because the world is small in the hands of the One who holds it together, it's meanness is petty compared to the goodness of its maker, what seems unpredictable to us is happening exactly as it should according to a plan set from eternity, and all will one day be exactly as it should be. Joyfulness because you have found the One who you need every second of every day. Joyfulness because faith doesn't rely on what we can see...but on the One who sees all.

It must be morning.

You are loved soooo much,


Friday, October 10, 2014

Reinventing the Wheel

I'm not sure when it happened.

In fact, I'm not sure anyone knows when it happened.

But it has happened.

The wheel isn't what it used to be. Its been changed. Altered. Distorted. In fact, I'm not sure it is even a wheel anymore.

What am I talking about? Well, let me try and explain. I don't know how to create cool images so I found this one and you will just have to bear with me as I use words to label it.

There used to be a day when the people understood that the very core of who they were was defined by their person-hood. The very core of their being was their true self. Not a habit. Not a fault. Not a vice. Not an ability. Sure we were people that did or didn't do certain things. Believed or didn't believe certain things. But those things did not define us. We were persons. Individual, unique persons.

So, in the image above, imagine the word personhood or self in the middle of the wagon wheel. Now imagine various words coming out of that center written on the spokes: loving, athletic, kind, alcoholic, loyal, prone to anger, etc.

An endless number of spokes coming out of one center, one core, one given truth for all people. So each wagon wheel of a person had the same core, but we were distinguished by our spokes.

Within the Christian worldview, that center is either sinful or righteous depending on our understanding of and relationship with Jesus Christ. The center and very core of our person-hood is either tainted and corrupted by sin or redeemed and reborn through Christ. And yet, as sharp as a distinction as those two opposites are, they both are descriptors of the same thing: person-hood or self.

But that is how it used to be. That's no longer the case anymore. The wheel has changed.

Changed to what?

Well, if you take that same image and put person-hood on a spoke and change what is in the middle, then, it fundamentally changes the wheel.

Imagine with me that at the center of this different wheel is the word sexuality. This change changes everything. Because we know that the very center of us is the person we really are and if we become convinced that the thing that defines us as individuals, persons, and humans is our sexuality, then we lose sight of the need for our whole person to be redeemed. We lose sight of the concept of sin. We lose sight of the Biblical truth that we were made in the image of God.

Sexuality becomes our god.

Somehow, this has already taken place. We as a culture have adopted this new wheel. We now define people and accept people based on this false identity of sexuality.

It is important that the church wake up to this reality because, when we have discussions about homosexuality, Scripture uses the wheel of person-hood while our culture uses and the homosexual agenda pushes the wheel of sexuality. When we say sin defines a person at the very core of who they are, our society no longer hears that the whole person is sinful from the center on out. They hear us say that the churches view of a person's sexuality determines if they are sinful from the core on out.

So, when we say rightly that homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle, we say it as a way to identify a spoke on the person-hood wheel which is an indication to the deeper person-hood problem, but when a gay person hears us say that their lifestyle is sinful they hear it as an attack on their very person-hood (core) not a symptom (spoke) of their person-hood.

So, the next time you have a conversation about homosexuality (and you will) remember that we are not all coming from the same starting place. The wheel has changed and the only way we can move the discussion forward is to reinvent the wheel.

Author's Note*** After finally writing this down instead of carrying it around in my head, it occurs to me that there may be many different corruptions of that original wheel out there in society today. Maybe once we lost the person-hood of the unborn we opened the door to many alternate cores for many different wheels. I know people who would define who they are by an ability (athletic, musical, creative). I know other that would define themselves by their jobs. Deep down inside I believe we know that it is not an ability or an occupation or even our sexuality that defines us, yet they are the false gods that have moved to the center of the wheel.Those of us whose core person-hood has been redeemed by Christ and His work on the cross would do well to remember that many of those we encounter do not use the same wheel we use. May we indeed seek to reinvent the wheel.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Gay Conversation

Hello World!

Sorry for the long delay again. It seems blogging is not something I have figured out how to fit into my schedule yet...but hey! My wife has inspired me with her blogging. :-)

I wanted to write this for two reasons: 1) To get me own thoughts in order and 2) because I would like to know your thoughts.

Below is a conversation that hasn't happened but very well could in the next two weeks. Since moving back to Goldsboro, I have met a man who I am beginning to get to know. He seems not only willing but interested in discussing his views on faith and as a follower of Jesus who also happens to be a pastor, I am super excited and willing to join in such a discussion. So, I wanted to lay out for you how I see the conversation going.

My next blog post, which I hope to write on Friday, will detail a bit more of the theology and thinking behind this conversation and what I believe to be the major hurdle in how the church needs to respond to those struggling with sexuality in our society.

But for now....a conversation.

C (Me): Hey Bob. How ya doin'.
B (the guy): Fine. How are you? How is the job search going?
C: Ok, I suppose. It takes a long time to get matched up at a new church.
B: Well, that is kinda how I feel too.
C: What do you mean?
B: Well, it's just that I don't really fit in at churches. I mean...I already know I'm going to hell (said in a mocking voice).
C: Why are you going to hell? Did someone tell you that?
B: Well, because I am gay. Lots of people have told me that..especially Christians.
C: I'm sorry people have hurt you, Bob.
B: Don't you think I am going to hell. I mean...isn't that what you preach on Sundays?
C: (laughing softly) Well, not normally. Of course I do preach about hell on occasion but let me level with you, Bob, about what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that everyone is going to hell. You, me, the lunch lady, the little ol' sweet lady down the street, everyone...unless we have been awakened to our sinfulness and have found the only one who can deal with that sinfulness. That's where Jesus fits in.
B: But I'm gay.
C: And I'm not. But I've stolen things, I've cussed people up one side and down another, I've yelled at my kids, I've hated people, I've lied. So, you're gay. Why does that make you go to hell any more than someone like me?
B: But I thought all gay people are going to hell...?
C: They are. Just like alcoholics are. Just like thieves are. Just like murders are. Just like super nice people who help the little old ladies across the street are. And just like I am or was.
B: ummmm?
C: Bob, the wonder of Christianity is that God saves any of us from hell. We all deserve it. You gayness doesn't make you more bound for hell than me. Because you and I we both have the same problem. Sin. Not gayness. Sin is the problem not our sexuality.
B: But I can't separate my gayness from who I am! That's like saying you're not white. You just are. And I just am...gay.
C: Bob, that is where you are wrong. I mean, I am white, you're right about that, but being white doesn't define me. Just like being gay doesn't define you. You and I, Bob, under my whiteness and regardless of your gayness and born the same. Sinful. Our sin is what defines us Lost. Rebellious. Defiant. We come into this world with one objective to get what we want, as much as we want, as quick as we want because we are sinfully selfish. Me, you, everyone is in the same boat. A boat that will sink. A boat that will wreck. But, Bob, the wonder of it all is that Jesus says, "I can change you. I can transform all that sinfulness. I can make you into something you could never hope to be on your own. Righteous...or in more common language...clean. I can clean you from all that sin. I can change you from the very core of who you are all the way out." That is what Jesus can do, Bob. And that is what Jesus has done and is continuing to do for me. I am not who I once was. I have been made new. I am still being made new.
B: I'm not really sure what to think about all this...
C: Bob, listen to me. All have sinned. All deserve hell. But Jesus can step in and change all of that for those who have been given the gift to wake up from their sinfulness, see it for what it is, cry out for help, and call on Jesus to rescue them from their sin. He can do that for you...but you need to let go of who you think you are. Jesus isn't interested in some of you. He demands all of who you truly are. All of Bob. Not Bob as defined by his sexuality. But Bob defined by your sinfulness. All of you. And what do you get in exchange? Life. Life like you never knew it existed. All of your sinfulness which leads to death for true life. That is the offer Jesus makes.
B: Well, that isn't what I've heard. That sounds...well, I'm not sure how that sounds but giving up who I am because you say I'm in a sinking boat seems a bit...well, childish. I'm gay. It's who I am.
C: Fair enough. But childish or not...it is rock solid truth. I'm changed because I made the trade. My sinfulness for Jesus' righteousness. Death for Life.