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Broken On the Cornerstone

Matthew 21:42-44

Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees when he quotes Psalm 118:22. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, or cornerstone. Jesus, though rejected by the religious, is the foundation from which God’s grace will be built in the world. He is the cornerstone. But then he says something interesting…in vs. 44 he says that those who fall on the cornerstone are broken to pieces, and those who it falls on are crushed. Admittedly, the story goes on and the Pharisees knew Jesus was talking about them. They plotted to have him arrested and killed.

But it got me thinking…why did Jesus say it two different ways? Broken and crushed? Maybe there is more to glean.

It’s obvious to me the part about being crushed. The stone falls on you, you are crushed. End of story. Those who reject Jesus will find judgement in the end. If he’s the cornerstone then you either build off of him or you end up crushed underneath the capstone.

But what about falling on the stone? It could be argued Jesus is double emphasizing the judgement, but maybe there’s more here. Maybe the point is to fall on the stone and be broken. We all carry pride, sin, selfishness, and the like. No one wants to believe they can’t do it on their own. But to begin this new life, we must be broken. We surrender our old life and build it upon the cornerstone. We break the old, shatter it, and allow the chief builder to rebuild us new on the cornerstone. The Pharisees couldn’t see that. They couldn’t hear anything but their own pride and power. Let us not make the same mistake as them.

Today I want to fall on the cornerstone, being broken, and allowing my Father to build me back up on that same stone…Jesus. I hope you will join me.

Repent for the kingdom has COME near

This morning I was reading Matthew 4.  A chapter I’ve read dozens of times and probably heard preached dozens more.  I came to verse 17, a verse I’ve read tons and heard, again, more times than I could count.  I’ve seen it on cardboard signs and heard it shouted into megaphones and at crowds.  Maybe you’ve heard it before…”Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  It may be one of the most abused passages in history after reading it this morning.  People use it now in a more condemning, harsh, “turn of burn” sense.

But I read the newest version of the NIV this morning, and they made a tiny, subtle, change.  That change, however, makes a big difference.  It says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  I looked at some other translations, and found come is used in the NRSV.  The NASB and KJV say “is at hand.”  Only the NIV 84 and NLT  use “is.” This is significant, and I think come or at hand are the most appropriate. Why, you ask?

Because Jesus is speaking.

He IS the kingdom, so therefore the kingdom had come. It WAS at hand. We use it in the form that it’s close, as in almost come, in today’s culture.  The truth is, however, that the kingdom has already come. Jesus Christ is the kingdom, the Messiah, the savior. And those who came to Jesus, I mean really came, repented and followed him.

This verse starts and ends with Jesus. We can scream till we are blue in the face for people to repent because the kingdom is near. But that would be false. What would be better is if we start living our lives like the kingdom has come…which it has. And people who see Jesus, who are exposed to his greatness, they repent because they can’t help to. No one has to tell them to do it. They just do because to be in the presence of Christ is to know what is holy. It is to taste the kingdom. And it will bring you to your knees and make you never want to turn away again.

Today I repent, and am thankful, that the kingdom has come near.

The Lost Message in the Duck Dynasty debate

This week has been a tough one.  I can’t help but feel, after all the reading, discussing, and social media uproar that the only person that won this week was Satan.  It saddens me and leaves me somewhat broken inside.  Once again the enemy was able to drive a bigger wedge between the Body of Christ and the culture in which it resides.  We’ve seen this week intolerance and hypocrisy reign on both sides of the issue.  And, it seems, that both sides of the issue are missing the bigger point…We are all being used.

News seems to be breaking this morning via the Huffington Post and WSB-TV in Atlanta that Phil Robertson is to return to filming Duck Dynasty after the holidays.  The show will air in January and it will continue to film.  This is a tremendous victory for 1st amendment rights in the United States, but I don’t feel it is a victory for us as Christians.  I also do not believe canceling the show would have been a victory for the LGBT community.

To be clear, (because I don’t want to be accused of being a coward), I have a tremendous amount of respect of Phil Robertson and his family.  I wish, more than anything, I had the courage and ability to live life the way that he does.  I think he is living the Gospel in ways many Christians, and maybe some non-Christians, wish to live.  I also agree with his stance.  While I would have said it much differently (and wish he would have to) I believe in the heart of the message.  ALL in this world are sinful, disorder, people in need of the grace Jesus Christ gives freely to all and repentance and realization of our sin is needed.  I am one of these sinful people, and it is an everyday occurrence I need to die to myself and the sinful nature within me.  Did he cross a line with his anatomical description in the interview?  I believe so.  But is that all that he said?  No.  Did he completely single out one group of people?  No.  I challenge you to read the article in its entirety and come to another conclusion.  There needs to be room in this culture for differing points of view and we should all be allowed to express them calmly, rationally, and maintain our relationships.  As I’ve heard Newspring pastor Perry Noble say recently, “You can win the argument but lose the relationships.”  That blog covers much better than I ever could the overarching argument in this debate.  This leads me to the real reason I am writing.  The fact of the matter is that Christians and the LGBT community are in the same boat.

We are being used.  By the media, by companies, and especially by Washington, DC.  We are seen as consumer groups.  We are seen as voting blocs.  We are commodities to be won over.  This is highlighted in no greater way than with what looks like A&E’s decision to air episodes in January and return Phil to the airwaves.  They are not concerned with free speech, feelings, insensitivity, morality, or anything of great importance.  Most companies, especially in Hollywood, are not concerned with these things.  Their allegiance belongs to ratings and dollar signs.  They will support and do, not what is right, but what furthers their interests of increasing the bottom line.  If A&E were a true supporter of LGBT rights, they would stand by their decision regardless of the backlash.  If they were a true supporter of Duck Dynasty and Christianity they would have stood by Phil Robertson or at least protected him from such an interview.  But they do not care.  Many politicians do not care.  Many companies do not really care.  They have no convictions or compasses…Their guide is the almighty dollar.  The sooner BOTH groups realize that the better.

My heart breaks for both my faith community and my brothers and sisters in the LGBT community.  There is so much more to a person and movement than their sexuality.  Gay and lesbian people are now, in this moment in time, only defined as such.  It’s like we don’t even realize there are people who deal with all of the other stuff we all deal with.  We’ve allowed the media to define this debate, and the media has ultimately dehumanized and manipulated it in such a way that makes for heated argumentation, rather than rational debate.  The media has defined the message.  It saddens me for the LGBT community, and I challenge you all to take back your message.

But now I want to speak to my fellow Christians.  We also have allowed the media to define our message. And there is SO MUCH MORE TO THE GOSPEL than sexuality.  It’s only a snap shot of what Jesus says and has to offer.  Is it important?  Yes!  Should we have convictions?  Absolutely!  But we cannot continue to allow the secular media (right and left) to be the voice and definition for what disciples of Jesus truly stand for.

I’m reminded of Louie Giglio’s predicament at the beginning of this year.  He was bestowed with the honor of praying at the Presidential Inauguration.  But, because of a sermon 20 years ago, people called him a bigot and demanded he not be allowed this privilege.  He could have screamed in front of every camera and mic about free speech, his rights, and demanded boycotts or petitions.  But his words rang loudly of grace as he respectfully withdrew his acceptance of the invitation.  He served a bigger purpose.  There is so much more to the Gospel than the issue of sexuality.  He wanted to serve that message and that Savior.  And he goes on about his life embodying the Gospel.

The truth is, our message and Gospel is not meant to be preached from the pulpit of Fox News or CNN.  It’s not meant for the masses.  That’s why, often times, when large crowds gathered to hear Jesus, he often said something that offended and made the mass majority not able to follow.  Disciples were made by those who saw him live, day in and day out, the truth of which he spoke (Read John 6).  We need to understand that our best tool Jesus gave us is community and relationships.  We can speak softly because we carry the biggest stick the enemy has ever seen…The power to love all, even those against us, and pursue community and relationships with them regardless of how they treat us.

A small movement of just over 100 people began a journey in this fashion.  It changed an entire empire.  The message lived out spoke louder than the message in words.  We need, no we must, rediscover this ability.

If we dare to take this challenge, if we begin to trust more in the Holy Spirit and our savior, this world and especially Satan’s reign in it do not stand even the slightest chance.

Glory after Catstrophe

Isaiah 4:5

“5 Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy.”

The book of Isaiah begins with the promise of destruction. There will be catastrophe. There will be blood. Life as Israel knows it will come to an end. All because of their on decisions. They turned their back on God. They broke every commandment. They longed to be like the other nations rather than rest in the holy, set apart nation God intended them to be. It’s a bleak beginning to this book. But Isaiah, knowing and understanding the glory and grace of God leaves this one verse. It provides a glimmer of hope. It recalls a time when Israel had no place to call home. They had no riches. No king. No direction. But they had Yahweh and that was all they needed. They had a guide, a protector, a provider…and even in the face of impending catastrophe that promise remains. God’s glory can always be seen after the catastrophe blows through and destroys all we had known.

We make bad decisions in our life. We will turn our back on God at times. We will deal with the consequences of our own sinful actions. But whenever the darkness closes in around us, we need only cry out for God who never turns his back and look up for the pillar of fire to guide us out. Israel needed it once. So do we. Today I want to rest in the fact that God has called me. He has set me apart. He has made me new. I can follow the smoke by day and the fire by night. I trust he is there and his glory is a canopy over my life. No matter what may come, that truth will always remain. You too are called. You are holy. You are set apart. Whatever you may be going through, your guide is ready it show you the way. Your protector wants to surround you with his grace. Your provider wants to give life and give it abundantly. Cry out. Look for the towering fire that can light up the darkest of darkness. The light will show the way.

Let’s all find our hope in that today.

The Manger and The Cross

Christmas time is most people’s favorite time of year. I feel like we all miss the point and too much emphasis is given. And not just because of the material nature of Christmas. While it’s true we have an unhealthy focus in this country on the gift giving side of Christmas, I think the major emphasis on the holiday itself is as big a deal. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe it is important and great. The hope Christ, as represents, the new beginning, God entering this world to begin his final act of salvation…these are great. But it needs to be understood in its proper place.  The truth is, without the cross, the manger would mean nothing.

The cross is the work of Jesus that gives Christmas significance. Otherwise it was just another miraculous birth. Unique in that a baby was born to a virgin, but there are plenty of miracle births in Scripture. Yes it is the cross that brings us Christmas and not the other way around. We must realize this. And it would do us we’ll to correct our understanding. We spend basically two months now (and move the date up every year) celebrating this event, yet barely spend a weekend remembering the single most important event history has ever known.

I just finished reading John’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion and it’s powerful. Jesus followed through with God’s will to the letter and redeemed this world. I’ve never read the crucifixion story at Christmas, but it’s powerful and brings new perspective to the season. This Christmas I want to celebrate Jesus’ coming in light of his death. I want to be focused on the reason that coming was important. I want to realize the reason God had to intervene in this world was because I was too sinful and He couldn’t just stand for that. I don’t want to celebrate Christmas (which was a pagan holiday to begin with anyway) but celebrate a Savior who died for me. I want to remember that Jesus was laid in a manger, but by the end of his life that manger was broken down and turned into cross. For that I am humbled, broken, and eternally grateful.

Fear and Fleeing…Lessons from a Difficult Scripture

2 Kings 3

I’m not sure what to think about this chapter. It’s hard to reconcile. At first glance it seems that a king sacrificed his son on a wall to another god and it worked. But how can that be? It took some wrestling, reading, and thinking, but I think I understand…Israel feared the wrath of Chemosh. They witnessed this last desperate act of a man at the end and believed it would work so they fled. This makes sense because it specifically says Israelites! not Judah. Israel had done evil, falling for the lies of other religions and people. They fled because they did not trust Yahweh more than this barbaric, sinful act. Thus Moab and it’s king survived.

We may trust God to a point, but sometimes we falter. We witness something that seems more powerful than our Savior and we run. In doing so we miss out on the complete victory that God has in store. God did what he had promised in this chapter. Moab was defeated and there for the taking. But they quit out of fear. There are things in this world that will cause us to fear and run from God. Often if we can weather the storm, however, complete victory is just over the horizon.

Thankful for a difficult passage and a God who reveals and sticks by his promises…Praying for a greater faith.

Under/Overreaction

It’s been a week since the tragedy in Newtown, CT.  I have spent a week thinking, praying, and listening.  In the process I have noticed a tendency of our culture…we will both overreact and under react to situations.  I have heard both over the last week.  “We need to ban all guns forever,” or “Ain’t nobody taking my guns.”  How about, “Adam Lanza was just mentally ill” to “Adam Lanza was pure evil.”  Another thing I’ve heard, “This was just an unavoidable tragedy,” to “this was a government conspiracy.”  And then the overreaction of some Christians, “This is what happens when God isn’t in schools.”  These are just a few of the phrases that have been bantered about in conversation over the last week.

Now let’s take a step back.  There is probably a kernel of truth in many of these statements.  None is entirely untrue.  However, none are statements that I believe we should start forming policy or thought around.  Why?  Because they are all vast over or under reactions to a situation.  They are based on emotion…either the emotion that naturally comes with such a heart-breaking tragedy or the emotion to holding fast to things we have always heard, known, and never really thought through.  It is never, in any circumstance, to react and make decisions purely on emotion.  Jeremiah tells us that our hearts are deceitful and sick.  We cannot depend on it, because emotions can cloud our good judgement.  Emotion, reactions, however do serve a purpose…they give us a spectrum.

Each of these statements are not and should not be absolute solutions.  They should, however, give us a spectrum to work within.  The truth lies somewhere in between and we should work now to find those answers.  These kind of statements are great because they give us a starting point to begin meaningful dialogue that will grow us, challenge us, and we would hope to make us better.

I believe this practice is deeply biblical and we as followers of Christ should model it.  Why do I think this?  Because we are given the truth above that our hearts are deceitful and we are also given a tool…prayer.  Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5 to pray continually, or pray without ceasing.  He also says to take all proclamations, test them, hold on to what is good, get rid of what is not.  In all things we are to seek God, in all circumstances we are to ask God, and in all situations we are to use the tools God has given us.  Prayer keeps us from reacting and allows us to discern.  That’s what we need now, discernment not reaction.

So please, I ask all who read this, resist the temptation to react.  If you read this and aren’t a believer in Jesus, at the very least join in dialogue.  Don’t just react, don’t just stick to your thoughts.  Bring them to the table and let’s discern.  If you are a Christian, don’t boil this down to some simple answer that further pulls us away from the table in culture.  Let’s model this.  Let’s be on our knees, praying for the families and our country, but also praying that God would take our humanity and pride out of the equation and help us to discern how to move forward.  Let’s end the cycle of over and under reaction that only leads to further retreat and devolves into a hate debate.  Let’s test, pray, discuss, and discern.  And maybe, just maybe, we will find a way forward that will make our schools, our country, and our world a better place.

Obedience

I was reading in the book of John last week Jesus’ prayer in the Garden.  I’ve read this prayer countless times.  I have always enjoyed it and feel it really gives us a peek into the heart and mind of Christ.  This time, something jumped out at me that never had before.  In John 17:6, Jesus, when praying for his disciples, says they obeyed God’s word.  Then, down in verse 8, says they knew Jesus came from God.  I can’t help but think back through the Gospel’s and think about this ragtag group of disciples and say to myself, “Really?”  They obeyed?  They believed?  These guys who, at multiple points, had no clue what Jesus meant when he spoke.  The same disciples who still expected Jesus, at some point, to lead a revolution against the Romans.  Peter, who just hours before this prayer tried to tell Jesus what to do, and then just hours after this would deny Jesus.  Peter, whom we often think of as aloof obeyed and believed?  Doubting Thomas?  James and John who were concerned about who would sit at Jesus right and left were obedient and believed?  These same disciples who couldn’t perform healings at times or cast out demons because of their lack of faith were obedient and believed?  This seems a strange thing for Jesus to say, considering the multiple recorded accounts of the disciples’ failings.

I believe this is something that can speak incredible grace into our lives today.  With all of those failings, Jesus still said they obeyed and believed.  Even with all of these moments where they clearly did not obey and did not believe, Jesus still said they were obedient and believers.  Moments of unbelief do not separate us from Christ.  Moments of disobedience do not disqualify us from the Kingdom.  They are just that, moments.  They are fleeting.  They pass.  We move on from them.  Clearly the disciples did, because we sit here today as believers.  Clearly we can as well.

I can be hard on myself and allow my moments of disbelief and disobedience separate me from Christ.  It is never Christ who does this, only me and my own guilt.  Christ still sees me as an obedient believer, even in those moments. Jesus still believes in me, still loves, and is still going to use me.  Jesus still believes in you, still loves, and is still going to use you.  Look no further than this moment of prayer, when despite the clear shortcomings of these first disciples, Jesus still had faith and love for them.  Obedience and belief are a journey.  They can’t be figured out in one moment, and neither can they be undone in one moment.  This is what Jesus believed about the first disciples, and what he believes about us today.

Re-Election

There is so much I want to write.  In the wake of last nights Presidential results, and the reactions I have seen to them, there are a lot of things that I could and would like to say.  However, I feel that much of what I would want to say would come across as political, and that’s not what this blog is about.  This blog is about encouraging the believers in faith.  And that’s what I want to speak to.

Church, God did not lose last night.  Contrary to what Franklin Graham and other vocal Christian leaders may think, voting for Governor Romney over President Obama last night would not have been repentance.  It  would have been a transfer of political power, which can happen every four years.  Plain and simple.

We have a divided nation, almost right down the middle.  We also have a tendency to tie Christianity to the political process.  We somehow think that by placing our efforts in fighting for the “right” candidate we are somehow taking up the cause of the Kingdom.  But the Kingdom is so much more than this.  The Gospel of Christ deserves so much more devotion than this.

Now we can lament, and rightfully so, about the moral decline of our nation.  Divorce is at an all time high.  Teen pregnancy is at an all time high.  Addictions ruin the lives of people.  We are confused on the definition of marriage.  I could go on and on about the negatives.  Many of us feel that we have completely turned our back on God as a nation.  But let’s pause before we jump off the cliff.

I would like to think that I know history, especially biblical history, fairly well.  Let’s go back to the first and second century, right as the Church was beginning.  Ancient Rome, the most powerful nation in the world, was the epitome of immorality.  Prostitution was not only legal, but it was an accepted form of worship.  There was open worship of multiple gods.  The “Pax Romana” was used to brutally keep people in line all in the name of peace.  Caesar’s, who thought themselves to be gods, ruled in the only interest of increasing their territory and power.  Many were far more inherently evil than our newly re-elected President and other politicians of our day.  And Christianity was not just despised but persecuted mercilessly.  To the point where, in his Roman palace, Nero burned Christians alive to light his garden parties.  I know we have our issues, but our world is nowhere near that.  But guess what happened?  The church THRIVED.  Christians won their neighbors over because the love of Christ was so compelling.  And this was done through living life as Jesus commanded, regardless of the law of the land, and it spoke to a nation.  It wasn’t done in the chamber of the Roman Senate or in Caesar’s court, but in the lives and hearts of the people.  Amidst that climate, the church exploded.  It can happen today, too.

I know many are angry, sick, upset, and feel like the world is going to end.  It may today, but not because President Obama was re-elected.  If it ends, it will be because the Sovereign God who knew the results of last night’s election long before we did says it is time.  I encourage you today though, followers of Christ, to take heart for He has already overcome all things of this world.  Maybe one day the moral fiber of this country will be woven back together stronger than it ever was.  That would be a great thing. But maybe it will continue to decline.  That will be fine also, because the darker the world gets the brighter the light of Jesus can shine.  Church we have done our best work in history when the world is at its darkest.  Today, the sun came up.  Let’s move together, taking the revolution of grace and love Jesus started, giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s, respecting the God-given authority of our leaders, and in doing so win this world.  Last night was not the end of anything, but only the beginning of continuing the good work of Jesus and his Gospel.  Let’s unite together and act like it.

The Chik-Fil-A Mess

The events that have transpired over the last week are messy, complicated, and I fear ultimately unhelpful. This will probably be an unusually long post, but it’s because there are so many angles to cover that led to Wednesday’s Chik-Fil-A day. A professor of mine once said, “seldom is the issue the issue,” and this definitely applies to yesterday. Chik-Fil-A is not the issue, but simply where a deeper issue came to a head. Let’s dive in.

Speaking as an American, I believe Dan Cathy had every right to say what he said. I believe every person who has spoken against him has every right to speak against him. I believe everyone who ate at Chik-Fil-A Wednesday had the right to do so and speak out, and those who refuse to patron the fast food chain have that right as well. I support the freedom for everyone to use the power of free speech to express their views on the issue at hand. But my view as an American is secondary, and ultimately unimportant because I am a believer in Jesus and thus believe I answer to a higher authority as does Dan Cathy and it is more important that I speak from this perspective.

Dan Cathy showed admirable conviction on a view of a subject. It really should not be a shock that he expressed this view. I wonder, however, how many people heard the entirety of the original interview from which this controversy began. It was a question on fatherhood and the importance of a two parent household. I took Cathy’s comments to mean that he supports the traditional family unit. I think he was encompassing the totality of the breakdown in the family, including divorce, out of marriage pregnancy, and yes same-sex marriage. His point was he thought kids are at a disadvantage when they are missing both a mother and a father. He even said that doesn’t mean people can’t overcome or that they are doomed, but just that they have the deck stacked against them. I believe this is the case and I believe it helps tremendously to have both a mother and father providing love, support, encouragement, and discipline (Yes, I realize he went further in another interview expressing his views, but this is the context of the original interview). In youth ministry I’ve seen this played out first hand. There are obviously exceptions on both sides of the rule, but by and large it holds true. He is not incorrect. So to those who think Mr. Cathy to be ignorant, bigoted, and out of touch please drop the rhetoric. He intended no hate, and if the church hadn’t failed for years to express our conviction without hate his comments wouldn’t have batted an eyelash. We have treated the LGBT community with disdain for so many years and have created this problem. I encourage you to look beyond this issue and see the good that Chik-Fil-A does in every community they are in. They do more than just serve chicken and stand against same-sex marriage. Between supporting schools, providing scholarships, providing jobs, their Winshape foundation, and their amazing customer service they do far more good than harm. If you wish to boycott based on one issue that is your right, your choice, and I support your freedom to do so but I also know that you are potentially hurting the schools, the college hopefuls, and the youth of your community. Please reconsider.

Now to Christians. We can admire Dan Cathy on his conviction. I also believe that we can express our conviction without creating controversy. While he did not ask for this to happen, it happened because of his comments and the situation was made more emotionally charged by Governor Huckabee. Wednesday was an error in judgment on his part. If we had all just gone about our business, supported Chik-Fil-A like normal, this would have been out of the news and the damage would not have been minimal. Even without Wednesday’s appreciation day Chik-Fil-A would still be a billion dollar company. And trust me, the world does not need to know what the church believes about same-sex marriage. They are well aware. What we engaged in Wednesday was purely political. It brought no change in the eyes of the world. We could have supported calmly, regularly, and maybe even used Cathy’s comments to create real conversation. Now all we have done is incited a counter protest. We could have handled this better and I would urge Governor Huckabee to realize the influence he has and use it to spur the church to share the love of Jesus.

Dan Cathy could have chosen better wording. The Apostle Paul urged us to live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18), Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Our goal is reconciliation of the world to God. When speaking in the public, knowing we will be heard by unbelievers, we need to be very careful of our wording. I know exactly what Dan Cathy meant when he said “we are inviting God’s judgement…” What unbelievers heard was, “gay and lesbians are going to hell,” or, “Christians think they are better than everyone.” You can say all you want that’s not what he meant but perception is reality. That’s what they heard and that’s what the world thinks of the church. We would do well to realize that in public we have to avoid at all costs anything that would cause people to stumble. We have to drop any emotionally charged rhetoric. We have to seek restoration with the world. With each other we should absolutely remind ourselves of God’s place as judge, live with a respect of that judgment, and align our lives according with God’s standard. An unbelieving world does not have that same expectation and we have to stop trying to force it and stop being shocked that they don’t agree with it.

So you may ask, “What then shall we do?” I’ll be honest and say I have debated for the better part of a year on this issue of homosexuality, same-sex marriage. I have wrestled with it. I have even considered as far on the spectrum as thinking about allowing it. It’s not an easy issue. There is no quick solution. I’ll start with what I have come to know. 1) I believe it is a sin. I say that now, after seriously wrestling and not blindly believing what I have always been taught. If I take Scripture seriously I don’t see anyway around it. I wish there was because it would make life simple, but there is not. Which leads me to my second fact…No Constitutional amendment or law will fix this issue. Sometimes I think many, if not most, Christians believe fighting for a Constitutional amendment solves the problem.  This is a sin that has existed forever and just because we pass a law outlawing it won’t change the fact that people struggle with it. Our goal is not behavior modification but reconciliation. God wants the hearts of everyone, wants to love and be in relationship with them, and wants to free us all from our fleshly desires (heterosexual and homosexual). We should not live our lives according to either, and there are far more people in this world sinning in a heterosexuality than homosexuality. We should never forget that.  I am not saying I support an amendment in favor of  same-sex marriage.  I would not support, have other reasons for that, but that’s not what this is about.  What this is about is remembering exactly why we are here and what the problem is.  The problem is sin which goes deeper than any American law or political issue.

The world needs the Church to stand on its convictions. However, we can stand on those convictions in a non-judgmental way that keeps the peace. This can be done by taking ALL sin seriously! We can call homosexuality a sin while also realizing that so is gluttony, greed, selfishness, hate, malice, divorce, and a whole host of other things that place us all in the same boat. If we think through every comment, are honest that we realize we don’t get it right, maybe we will be heard.  Christ is the great equalizer, because we are all equally in need of a savior. If we take and speak on all sin equally, calling it what it is, but helping people realize there is a better way, that Jesus can heal all wounds, we can make a difference. I encourage all who realize this to take action in this way. Let’s be convicted, let’s be loving, and let’s not be afraid of discussion and conversation. We may actually find common ground on the basis that we are all humans, therefore made and loved by God, and can work from that point on.

There is forever a tension between the church, faith, and the world. There is forever a tension between government and the church. I wouldn’t have it any other way. We absolutely should be different from the world but not at war with the world. We are at war with Satan, not our fellow human. He wants us to not talk, wants us to divide, both within the church and in the world. We need to stop this from happening. Ken Coleman, on whose show this interview originated, had the best response to the whole mess. We need to live in what he calls “the messy middle.” We need to follow his advice. Let’s drop the “pitchforks” and pick up “coffee cups” and join in conversation right in the middle. It’s the only way to show Jesus.  Be convicted but don’t be black and white.  Be firm but be loving.  Be ready to account for what you believe, who you believe in, and why but also be willing to sit, listen, and converse with the person across the table.  Then pay for the coffee!

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