Sunday, June 28, 2015
It's been a pretty bad week for Christians. Just as I was being inspired by the strength, love, and forgiveness on display in Charleston, S.C. last week after that horrible tragedy....the Supreme Court made a decision just in time for Gay Pride Day across the globe.
My beloved FRIENDS that are NOT connected with a church/synagogue/mosque/temple of any kind are completely stunned by the response of Christians to the Supreme Courts ruling that declared homosexual marriage legal in all states. What's the problem? Why not join in the celebration with parades and rainbow flags?
They are puzzled as we struggle to explain and find ourselves absolutely speechless to remarks, such as: "What does it matter? This ruling is not going to affect you in any way! Get over it and get your nose out of everybody's business, live and let people live however they want"
And then there is the reminder to "Judge Not!" (Which is the MOST misused, misunderstood, and misquoted verse in the entire Bible.) That's a topic for another day.
Today I want to attempt to explain the reaction of Christians across the land. (I've been asked by several to write down my thoughts.)
I could list numerous scriptures to prove and explain a point but most folks simply dismiss those "ancient words" with a flip of the wrist. (At this point I must encourage you to forego the idea, "that book was written by men, not God, it is irrelevant." Instead, do some research and discover that the whole book was written by eyewitnesses over hundreds of years that had NOTHING to gain and their very life to lose by writing the words.) And the Christians I know that have studied for years, believe EVERY WORD OF IT, front to back, including the maps!
So....I'll draw your attention to just one section Christians believe down deep in the very marrow of their bones. It is Romans, Chapter 1, starting with verse 18. If you have a Bible, please turn there now, I'll wait.
When you make your way through those words you will quickly become aware that homosexuality is taken very seriously, but forge ahead anyway. Some very disturbing behaviors are listed as a result of depraved minds: every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, depravity, envy, murder, deceit and malice. People are described as gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, boastful and they even invent ways of doing evil. They disobey parents, they are senseless, faithless, heartless and ruthless.
They know better but they continue AND ALSO APPROVE OF THOSE WHO PRACTICE THEM.
Now if you review that list you'll probably be able to name a few folks that are described there. I can and in fact, I AM ONE! I am very aware that I am capable of any and every evil known to man given the right set of circumstances. In Christian lingo we call it sin. And we know that ALL have that tendency, no one is off the hook and no sin is worse than any other! Equal opportunity. We are ALL guilty.
So let's just list them all....make a list. There are several other items we could included as well, found elsewhere in the scriptures. We could add adultery, pride, haughty eyes, worry, etc... And then beside that list with a red marker write:
APPROVED! LEGAL! IN EVERY STATE!
And therein lies the source of DEEP, IMMEASUREABLE GRIEF for the Christian. You see, we KNOW that when elements of that list are accepted and embraced as a lifestyle, there is extreme pain for the individual. CHRISTIANS ARE grieving over the approval of inevitable pain, multiplied by millions that will accept the Courts ruling as OK! LEGAL! THE NEW NORMAL! OPEN-MINDED, & MODERN.
Unfair you cry! Where is the love and compassion for the individual that has decided he/she is homosexual?
It's where it's always been! In the heart of God AND in the people that love Him and desire to love others as He does. Have homosexuals been hurt, persecuted, and denied respect and dignity? You bet they have! BUT not by God! HE is the source of comfort, wholeness and unmeasurable love! For everyone!
Do Christians hate homosexuals? NO! NO! A thousand times NO! Not the true believers anyway!
If you believe that you've swallowed a pack of lies! (Maybe pretend Christians who are filled with hatred do!)
Do homosexuals deserve every right of every citizen? ABSOLUTELY! (Businesses, insurance companies have for years jumped through hoops to make sure domestic partners and civil unions are recognized and awarded all benefits available.)
Do Christians deny people the right to love whomever they choose? NO! Love is wonderful and good and holy. But, we understand the Biblical definition of sexuality to be far better than the raunchy display on TV, movies, pornographic films, and novels. Anything less is counterfeit.
Do Christians have a different definition of marriage? YES! The book that we believe tells us that it is the picture of the mysterious relationship between Christ and the Church. And NO, we will not back down, get over it, or change our views on this issue. We believe it is a holy covenant reserved for one man, one women for life.
Have some Christian marriages failed? YES! ( See list above!)
Do ALL Christians believe as I do? NO! Reliable polls tell us that most pew warmers don't bother reading the book for themselves and have no idea what it says. How can they possibly form an Biblically intelligent opinion? (No malicious judgment here, just fact.)
Are Christians judging people? NO! Not my friends, anyway. But we do take the responsibility of teaching the scriptures seriously. How else can the next generation know what it says? Is that judging?
We are weeping. We weep for any and everyone that is hurting because of their own choices or the choices of others. We weep as God weeps.
I've been doing a lot of weeping this week. I am weeping over the courts stamp of approval to what I believe will bring untold suffering to many lovely people.
I am weeping because this declaration will no doubt lull many to believe that there really is no NEED of a Savior.
Friday, June 19, 2015
I had a dear, dear co-worker once that complimented my handicap beautifully. I shared with her that I could only SEE the FOREST, she declared she could only SEE the LEAVES. We worked together fabulously. She took care of the details of the project and I spent time on the vision. It was a match made in heaven. Our time together was nothing but a well-oiled machine of productivity!
Because of the horrible murder of nine beautiful folks in Charleston, SC this week I'm finding myself in a daze, bumping into walls, and tripping over my feet as I try to see the big picture and process this heartbreaking event. An insane, drug addicted, racist, hateful young man committed a terrible murderous act. He's in jail and will be held accountable and his motives and actions will be studied by experts for a long time. Answers may or may not be found.
Charleston and the nation and I are reeling. There are SO many questions and confusion. Conclusions and resolves will be made for the future.
I want to write about the BIG picture that I see happening NOW.
I'm seeing something totally different than what we all witnessed just a few weeks ago in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD. And right or wrong, my brain is making a comparison.
Charleston is a beautiful city, steeped in history, beauty and spirituality. Many OLD, beautiful and revered churches can be spotted on the city tour. If you live in or move to Savannah, the first question you will be asked is, "Who is your family?" If you live in or move to Charleston, the first question you will need to answer is, "Where do you go to church?" Every southerner knows this about these two cities!
Charleston Southern Culture demands church attendance, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and any other time of the week when the doors are open. Church membership and attendance are as necessary as breathing! It's a given. One reporter on the scene this week declared that having lived there she could attest to the fact that, when growing up "it didn't matter what you did on Sat. night, on SUNDAY morning you were in church."
EVERYONE goes to their choice of church, temple, mosque, or synagogue. And it is there that deep relationships are made through the years. Ministers, priests, rabbi's, bishops and brothers have baptized, confirmed, married, and buried whole families. History, tradition and stability are found within those walls.
It doesn't surprise me, but evidently it is surprising our nation, that when tragedy occurs the people of Charleston run to their churches. Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Methodists and Church of Christ folks ALL ran to comfort their "sisters and brothers" of the AME church where 9 members of their "family" were gunned down. I can only imagine the flowers, casseroles, hugs and tears that were shared. The color of their skin, the amount in their bank accounts, where their church membership was, or the name of their granddaddy did not keep them away. We are watching the "church united." You know, "red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world."
These folks are the real deal. They KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that this week they are on this earth to "mourn with those who mourn." They are praying, weeping, and hugging together!
Are they perfect? Is Charleston a Christian Utopia? Absolutely not! They're all sinners just like the rest of us. They've just lived their faith together for a long time in the humdrums of life and are comfortable to call upon it when crisis hits. Those folks are going to rise above the hatred that took their friends lives. They are going to love each other into strength and future purpose. They are broken right now, but they will heal.
So....why didn't we see that response in Ferguson or Baltimore? (I'm positive it DID take place on a smaller scale by some and the media just didn't report it! Racial slurs, looting, burning and hatred made the headlines.)
Here comes my speculation.
Church IS critically important in Charleston, both kinds: the "big C" involving believers everywhere and the "little C," the local congregation. When nothing makes sense, God is our only hope. His plan to reveal Himself today is through the church, whether we like it or not, in spite of it's failings and struggles. It is there children and adults are taught the truth of God, where He is honored,and where great theology is infused through music and liturgy.
The church is the great equalizer. Somehow, by some miracle of God's grace the people of Charleston "got it." They're not going to burn down businesses, overturn cars or shoot at policemen even though racism was no doubt the cause of all the pain.
I'm reminded of the reaction of the Amish community a few years back when their precious little girls were murdered in their school house. The nation was in a panic, and those parents and friends quietly grieved with supernatural dignity and then bulldozed the school in the wee hours of the night. One parent visited the family of the murderer to make sure they knew they were forgiven. How did they do that?
They relied on God and leaned upon each other, helping each other cry, helping each other put one foot in front of the other. We were all amazed. They could do that because they'd spent hours getting to know Him obeying Him, loving Him during the peaceful times of life, when their hearts were NOT breaking. Running to Him was a natural response....just like breathing.
Little girls murdered, church members killed at their prayer meeting? Is it fair? Absolutely NOT?
It is horrendous and grievous. And Jesus said, "in this world, you will have trouble. But fear not, for I have overcome the world."
Should we attempt to help the mentally ill, work at dispelling racism, review gun laws? Absolutely, in any and every way possible.
BUT...when trouble comes....AND IT WILL....IN FACT IT IS PROMISED.....
I know where I'll be, surrounded by friends and family that know God and that know me, warts and all. We'll find strength together, just like those hurting folks in Charleston are doing today.
Without intending to and with no motive, The "big C" Church of Charleston is modeling for the nation a Godly, peaceful, loving, grace-filled response to unspeakable pain.
I'm hoping many will see it.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Yesterday I called my insurance company to locate a dr. in the area that would take my insurance plan. No big deal, right???
I was pleasantly surprised to get a young "whippersnapper" on the phone who was no doubt sitting at his desk, bored, frustrated, discouraged, ready to go home!
The conversation went like this: (AFTER I pushed all the right buttons to divulge my ID number, my SS number, my husbands SS number, my phone number, my drivers license number, my house number and my birthweight!)
Me: I'm calling to locate a dr. in my area that is "in network," just to make sure payment will be covered by my insurance plan.
Him: What is the name of the dr?
Me: I don't have a dr. yet...I'm calling to find one that participates in my plan.
Him: (Annoyed) I can't look up the dr. if you don't have the name of the dr.
Me: I'm calling to FIND the name of a dr. in my plan.
At this point everything changed!!
Him: (In a very slow and loud voice) I'm sorry MAMAM, DO. YOU. HAVE. ACCESS. TO. A. COMPUTER?
Me: (In my very high pitched, 95 year old voice) I sure do, sonny. Let me see if I can get that contraption turned on.
Him: (In a very slow and loud and condescending voice) YOU. TURN. IT. ON....I'LL. WALK. YOU. THROUGH. THE PROCESS.
After SEVERAL minutes of this back and forth, after several computer clicks, I (with the help of my young friend) located the list of drs.
Me: (In my very high pitched, 95 year old voice) Why, thank you sonny. You have been a tremendous help to me today. Why, if I were near, I'd bring you my famous chocolate chip cookies, just my way to say thanks.
Him: (In a very slow and loud voice) YOU. ARE. VERY. WELCOME. MADAM. IS. THERE. ANYTHING. ELSE. I. CAN. HELP. YOU. WITH. TODAY?
Me: (In my very high pitched, 95 year old voice) Not today sonny. I'm going back to bed now, it's naptime here at the home, you know.
Him: (In a very slow and loud voice) YOU. HAVE. A. GOOD. DAY. NOW.......GOOD-BY!
Me: (to myself) How did he think I got to his extension in the first place....positive thinking? voodoo? prayer??
Conclusion: I'm going to do this more often! It's fun...AND...I get what I want. No pride here.
He can tell his co-workers how he helped the 95 yr old Granny and feel good about himself.
(It is not beneath me to play the role of the helpless little old woman in need of a knight in shining armor. You can call it sexist, I'll call it WISDOM. AND it's entertaining!)