Over the past week, the Chik-Fil-A controversy reached a fever pitch. Fox News Mike Huckabee suggested to his audience that those who like the embroiled chain should support them on Wednesday. In one astonishing day, the restaurant broke all sales records as people endured long lines for hours to express their appreciation to someone, really anyone in our culture, that would voice conviction and stand by it. CEO Dan Cathey’s “explosive” interview is here. I’d encourage you to read it.
The media were beside themselves with frustration, but it wasn’t that one day of sales that we should wonder about. There’s another day we should pay more attention to in reference to Chik-Fil-A. That day is Sunday. And if you want to eat a chicken sandwich combo then, you’ll have to go somewhere else, because CFA is closed on Sundays.
People know that.
What they may not know is that “in 2010 Chick-fil-A took the industry lead in average sales per restaurant, making an average of $2.7 million per restaurant in 2010.” (Source) Another profoundly powerful thought is the reality that CFA will be debt free by the end of 2012. (Source)
Just as a reminder: CFA has is open one day less a week than all its competitors. That’s 52 days a year that they’re closed. Almost two months less to make money than other restaurants. And yet, they’re leading their industry? They’re doing something right.
Wherever you stand on the hype of the past week, let us not pretend that CFA hasn’t operated all along by its values. From the beginning the Cathey family has communicated that CFA values are not morally neutral; rather, they are biblically grounded. CFA has been grilled this past week in a court of chickens. Their real beef is with their Creator, not Cathey. Because He will not bend or break, critics have attempted to turn up the heat on a restaurant owner.
On a more somber note, I’m greatly concerned with evangelical Christians in America who would buy a chicken sandwich rather than share the gospel of Christ’s love with someone verbally. One tweet I saw that spoke volumes: “Only in America would a culture war be fought over chicken sandwiches.”
Before you “Eat Mor Chikin” this week, consider whether you are willing to share and show the love of Jesus to your neighbor. It may reveal whether your faith is worth more than $4.99.
I don’t know how Andy Stanley consistently communicates with such simplicity and power. Every time I read something by him or listen to him preach or give a talk at a conference, I find myself thinking, “That’s pretty self-evident.” Yet, then I realize how deep the topic or principle he shares with such clarity actually is. That’s one of his gifts. He is able to take complexity and transform it to simplicity.
Previously, I’ve reviewed three other books by him:
I picked up The Principle of the Path on sale, and after reading it, I wonder why it hasn’t been more talked about. The book is shaped around one very basic analogy – what path you’re on will determine your ultimate destination. Andy elaborates on that in a few very simple thoughts, including:
Direction, not intention, determines destination.
So many people wonder how in the world they “wound up” in their current situation. The answer is clear to their family and friends. They “wound up” where they are based on the decisions they made on the path they were heading. It’s an age-old problem. It’s hard to see above the walls of a rut. When you are doing life, day after day, you are making decisions, and every decision has a directional quality about them. Put together, those decisions that you make will put you one day in a destination.
Rationalizations for decisions have a radical power to determine your destination, as in:
- Zero percent financing and no money down…
- She makes me feel like I used to feel…
- But he’s rich…
- That’s how business is done here…
If you don’t want to wind up there, you need to start making decisions here. You can’t put off taking a u-turn. The longer you head in the same direction, the sooner you’ll wind up in a place you may not want to be. You must quit assuming you’ll always have time to change things.
Choosing the right path begins with submission, not information.
This particular reality is so glaringly obvious. A good example is doctors who smoke cigarettes. They have the information about what such an activity will do to their health. That information can’t change them. They must submit to the truth and adjust their lifestyle in order for it to change their path.
Andy has a great chapter about the importance of seeking counsel that relates to this principle that is powerful. In it, he urges us to quit seeking input from people in our same season of life.
Taking cues from people who share your season of life is the equivalent of asking for and following the directions of someone who’s never been where you want to go.
Using the example of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, in the Old Testament, Andy shows how the nation of Israel was fractured because Rehoboam listened to his peers rather than those older and wiser.
What gets our attention determines our direction, and ultimately, our destination.
Whatever we focus on, we will head toward. After all, it’s a principle in racing, archery, etc. You aim at something, and you’re most likely to hit it. Andy asks hard questions about what is it that you’re currently paying attention to? It has the power to determine your direction. He also points out that what we give our attention to will also capture our affection.
More from the Book
Perhaps you’ve heard someone make the argument that experience is the best teacher. That may be true, but that’s only half the truth. Experience is often a brutal teacher. Experience eats up your most valuable commodity: time. Learning from experience can eat up years. It can steal an entire stage of life. Experience can leave scars, inescapable memories, and regret. Sure, we all live and learn. But living and learning don’t erase regret. And regret is more than memory. It is more than cerebral. It’s emotional. Regret has the potential to create powerful emotions – emotions with the potential to drive a person right back to the behavior that created the regret to begin with. If regret can be avoided, it should be. (p7)
I live in a world of nodding heads and note takers who walk right out the door every Sunday and do very little with what they’ve heard. (p48)
We would do well to abandon the adage, trust your heart. Apparently, the heart can’t be trusted… If our hearts are deceitful by nature (Jeremiah 17.9), then it is no wonder we are so prone to deceive ourselves. (p69)
Your decision making environments are not emotionally neutral.. Emotionally driven decision making rarely leads us down the right path. (p103-104)
It is next to impossible to hear the voice of wisdom if we are not really listening for it to begin with. The best counsel in the world is wasted counsel if our minds are already made up… Pride is hard to see in the bathroom mirror. But it is awfully easy to see in the rearview mirror. (p129)
Asking for help doesn’t mean you lack wisdom – it’s evidence of wisdom. (p134)
The Principle of the Path is a great resource for anyone. I’d especially recommend it to graduating high school seniors and college students. It’s one of those powerfully practical books that can help shape your life wisely. Because it shares biblical counsel and connects it with 21st century living, its proactive message can save you a lot of time, hurt and wasted resources.
I received David Horner’s book to preview, and I’m glad I got around to reading it. David is the pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC. His book, When Missions Shapes the Mission, is a deeply challenging book addressed to pastors and leaders in the church, but any mature or growing Christian should digest its message.
Expect a full review of the book here on the blog when I conclude it, but for now, I wanted to share this passage with you from the chapter The Value of Missions Models from the Past:
When the motive for missions arises from a sense of guilt that we ought to do more to help people in need, that may suffice for a while as long as our compassion holds steady. When the motive is gratitude to do something for God as a way to “pay Him back” for His mercy on us, all we are demonstrating is that we do not really understand grace. When the motive is to impress others with the depth of our commitment to Christ, the superficiality of that needs no comment. When the motive is to produce humanitarian change through a better way of living, the success will only be temporal and not eternal.
The only impetus that will sustain a missions movement is an overwhelming love for Christ and a passion for His glory to be made known as widely as possible. Until He is our most valued treasure, as He was for Paul, His message will be no more than a logical explanation of how people can escape God’s judgment, not an impassioned introduction to the infinitely radiant splendor of seeing, loving and knowing Jesus Christ.
Until Christ is our priceless treasure and His beauty fills our souls, all efforts to worship or serve or obey Him will be like half-filled cups trying hard to overflow. Obeying His commands to make disciples of all nations flows freely only when our love for Christ overflows fully. Therefore, sending churches must be savoring churches that adore Christ as most previous. As we learn to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34.8), the delight we find will lead us to savor and be satisfied with all that He is. The impact on missions, then, is substantial. People will not rally to action until they have learned how to rest in adoration. (p98-99)
I’ve been doing Beth Moore’s discipleship study called Believing God the last few weeks. If you struggle at just that point – believing God – I highly recommend the material to you. Make sure to get the interactive workbook. You’ll learn more as you engage with the scriptures and questions, writing your responses rather than just reading a book.
In week 5, day 2, she makes some profound observations about how as Christians we tend to make the you in scripture apply to us. That’s not necessarily wrong unless it’s clear from context that the you can’t possible be you. In these cases, it would have been more helpful to have a southern translation of the Bible available, for in many places you is y’all. Remember to be aware that you can also be plural or collective.
Her point is that we are myopic and selfish when we read the scriptures, but that God is hugely broad in His love for all His people.
Students in God’s classroom should realize the desire to make God’s every you mean me alone arises from an ego that says, “I prefer me to we.” I don’t think we can begin to grasp God’s encompassing love for Israel, His nation, and the body of Christ as a whole. Our human affections and interests are so narrowing comparison that we cannot comprehend the depth, length and breadth of God’s. Our tendency is to think that if He loves us all the same and has a corporate plan as important as the individual, He must be spread pretty thin. God’s love is measureless. His plans are infinite. He loves each of us and plans for us with limitless extravagance. (p100-101)
I’ll be first to confess that I too often selfishly apply God’s promises to me instead of y’all. When the Christian begins to think broadly, with the world and future generations on his/her heart, they have begun to grasp the extent of God’s heart for all nations at all times.
How can we expand our own application of God’s promises? How can we broaden our reading of scripture and accept God’s love for all people must pass through each one of us?
Next time you read a passage of scripture and are tempted to apply it only to yourself (or even to that person who you wish would change), ask how the passage was meant to be understood. Ask yourself if the you means y’all. Ask God to help you see His heart that He wants to extend through you to the world and its future generations.
After all, it’s not all about you.
If you use Instagram, here’s a pretty cool little feature from signing up for Statigram:
There are some great ways to view and interact with your Instagram account and followers on the web. Here are a few:
Which one do you like?
I’ve been going through Beth Moore’s study Believing God, and the entry for day 5 of week 3 inspired this post.
I should that think no praise is quite as lovely to God as that from a disappointed heart.
For it is in such that they powerful beauty of sheer trust is manifest. In those times where one exalts God through tears that the prism of His radiance is clearly seen. It’s after a storm, when eyes are lifted up, that one sees a rainbow. Those who praise the wisdom of God in Christ from the remnants of a shattered dream or hop experience His grace more deeply. God’s wakefulness and watchfulness over us give Him clearer views on the intricacies of reality’s tapestry than our tunnel vision affords.
And so, let us remember Jesus’ words to His disappointed cousin who from a prison asked in sidelined anxiety, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” In other words, John the Baptist was saying, “Did I get it wrong?” You see, he had been proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah. Yet he sat in prison while Jesus increased in popularity. Was he forgotten? Was he cast aside?
We might not know this side of heaven if John asked his piercing question for himself or for his disciples’ benefit. But we are certain that Jesus’ answer applies to all disappointed and confused hearts:
“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Matthew 11.6)
The Greek for “offended” is transliterated skandalidzo – where we get our words for scandal or scandalized. It’s the idea of losing trust in someone that you have heard bad things about or losing confidence in another’s authority due to their actions or words. Perhaps that’s why Jesus corrected the perception when He responded to John’s disciples, “Go and tell John what you see and hear…” (v4)
It’s not just that Jesus was eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners while John’s ministry was one of austerity and repentance. Jesus was calling people to faith, and He was changing the very order and fabric of mankind’s brokenness.
That’s why praise from a disappointed heart is so precious. It resolves the unexpected circumstances with the expected Sovereignty of God. It chooses to submit disappointment to a determined faith in the person of Jesus. It’s honest. It’s raw. It’s real. It doesn’t pretend to be unaffected. Rather, it chooses to exalt God and allow your expectations to be transformed into endurance, experience and confidence.
The Noble family takes few “vacations.” We do get numerous opportunities to get away and spend time with family. We love heading to Hobbs or Carolyn’s family’s lakehouse in San Angelo, TX or to Little Rock or to Monticello. When we do those things, we have a blast because we’re with family and friends.
However, as far as vacations go, we take few of them. Part of that is because of finances, and another part is simply because of schedule. The kids are at ages now that they have transformed me and Caro into glorified carpools. Summer is not slow because both are so involved in sports, activities and even jobs (Sam is umping and mowing this summer.).
We were happily stunned a few months ago when some friends of ours informed us that they wanted us to get out and go on a vacation. Their intentions were serious, because they also gave us a dollar amount to demonstrate their commitment to our getting out of Dodge. We were so overwhelmed. It immediately brought to my mind the verse in James:
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 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 due to change.” (James 1:16-17 ESV)
Having resources for a vacation meant we actually had to choose a vacation. That was an unusual luxury. There were several suggestions – the kids and I rejected a vacation with certain bodily injury involved (Caro wanted to go skiing); and though we all were interested in DisneyWorld, we decided we wanted to do something new.
We opted for Williamsburg. With Busch Gardens and historic downtown, we felt we couldn’t go wrong. Then Carolyn discovered there was a Great Wolf Lodge. Deal was done. While I had occasionally heard about GWL, I truly had no idea what was involved. I know we’ve have several friends who have been to a location before, but I had no idea what to expect.
When Lindsay Skipper began singing the theme song for us at lunch last week, I knew we were in for something special. Few BCM staff will prepare you musically in the way she did for our family vacation. She also sent me this link to get us excited, apologizing that it was in Chinese.
We arrived Friday afternoon in our rental car – a bright red Chevy HHR. We had decided to rent anyway, but Carolyn made it super convenient earlier in the week when she ran into the car in front of her after a rainstorm. Almost $3000 in damage to the little Prius later, and Geico was kind enough to provide us with the rental while our golf cart was being repaired.
Since then we’ve truly had a blast. We wore ourselves out walking Busch Gardens and screaming on coasters. We stuffed our faces with seafood. We’ve slid and splashed at GWL.
We’ve I’ve napped, coffeed, read.
We have another day of this special time in front of us, but it’s been fun with each meal to enjoy a special prayer time. You discover new realms of gratitude when you are aware of your own inability to accomplish or attain something. So when we thank the Lord for our food, our day, and our vacation, it has deeper shades of grace than before.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.. (1 Peter 4:10 ESV)
By the way, for your photo stalkers, here’s the album.
I’m grateful for Bret Johnson, pastor of Valley Bible Church in Radford, sharing this quote with me. It’s taken from a book by John Piper, Counted Righteous in Christ and was quoted in a book by Mark Dever called Preach: Theology Meets Practice.
The older I get, the less impressed I am with flashy successes and enthusiasms that are not truth-based. Everybody knows that with the right personality, the right music, the right location, and the right schedule you can grow a church without anybody really knowing what doctrinal commitments sustain it, if any. Church-planting specialists generally downplay biblical doctrine in the core values of what makes a church “successful”. The long-term effect of this ethos is a weakening of the church that is concealed as long as the crowds are large, the band is loud, the tragedies are few, and persecution is still at the level of preferences.
But more and more this doctrinally-diluted brew of music, drama, life-tips, and marketing seems out of touch with real life in this world – not to mention the next. It tastes like watered-down gruel, not a nourishing meal. It simply isn’t serious enough. It’s too playful and chatty and causal. Its joy just doesn’t feel deep enough or heartbroken or well-rooted. The injustice and persecution and suffering and hellish realities in the world today are so many and so large and so close that I can’t help but think that, deep inside, people are longing for something weighty and massive and rooted and stable and eternal. So it seems to me that the trifling with silly little sketches and breezy welcome-to-the-den styles on Sunday morning are just out of touch with what matters in life.
Of course, it works. Sort of. Because, in the name of felt needs, it resonates with people’s impulse to run from what is most serious and weighty and what makes them most human and what might open the depths of God to their souls. The design is noble. Silliness is a stepping-stone to substance. But it’s an odd path. And evidence is not ample that many are willing to move beyond fun and simplicity. So the price of minimizing truth-based joy and maximizing atmosphere-based comfort is high. More and more, it seems to me, the end might be in view. I doubt that a religious ethos with such a feel of entertainment can really survive as Christian for too many more decades. Crises reveal the cracks.
How does this quote resonate or react with you?
It reminded me of this disturbing prophecy by the apostle Paul:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)
“Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” (John 5:7 NLT)
Do you ever feel that way about your life? As you survey a land of instant billionaires (think Instagram), it’s easy to conclude that life favors the “someone else’s.” The next mental parking place is the reserved spot for the “if only’s.”
“If only I had…”
You can hear it in this man’s voice in The New Testament book of John as well.
If only I had someone “to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up.” (John 5:7)
We join the majority of humanity when we wallow in the if only’s. We gaze at the Someone Else’s whose ship has come in, and we long for a someone to notice us, to intercede, to step in, to help, give us a break.
To the exceedingly great joy of anyone who sits on the sidelines while others get in front of us, there is a great news.
It’s all about timing, my friend.
The interesting thing about this passage of scripture is that the man who was longing was also lame. He’d been so for 38 years. He was a professional lamer. Some of your friends who are lame are amateurs. ;) This guy was the real deal.
He had his hopes on the pool of Bethesda, which some accounts of scripture say occasionally provided moments of dramatic healing. When the water began to bubble, the first one in would be healed. Tough for a lame guy to win a race to the water. And so he sat, wallowing in the if only’s.
Then Jesus came along. Good timing. Jesus did two things. First of all, He healed the guy by speaking to him.
Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” (John 5:8 NLT)
Jesus also redirected the man’s focus from others and even from the supposed source of his future healing. It wasn’t about what others received. It wasn’t about the pool. If this man was to be healed, he must quit looking at the fortune (or misfortune) of others, and he must give up on the pool.
He needed to see in Jesus the Source of his healing. The day had come. It was his time! It just came in a Person and way that he never dreamed.
Think on that if you’re consumed with the someone else’s of life today. God knows your need, and He loves you intimately. Quit looking at others and for solutions in life that are temporary.
The years you’ve spent wallowing may be close to an end. It’s time, like the lame man, to get ready to dance.
I was sad.
I was sad for the perfect cultural storm of the week. I was sad because of how money runs our country and manipulates the thinking of our leaders. I was sad because wisdom is so lacking. I was sad that people, in general, are robbed of true love. I was sad that honest, intelligent discourse was so elusive on topics of significance.
This week, President Barak Obama came out in support of marriage rights for homosexuals. He stated that it was a personal conviction that had changed and should not affect states’ rights to set up their own legislation. It was unfortunate timing. He was essentially forced to verbalize his own position as a result of Vice President Joe Biden’s comments about the issue earlier in the week. To top off the perfect cultural storm, North Carolina voters, by 61% approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The media, internet and coffee shops have been full of heated discussion since.
America seemingly is polarized. Extremes found something to celebrate. Gay rights activists lauded the reality that for the first time in history, a sitting US President voiced support for homosexual marriage. Others voiced their affirmation of North Carolina becoming the 31st state to prevent marriage from being redefined from its globally historical understood meaning. (Source for image below)
It just all made me sad.
The timing of President Obama’s announcement was odd, given everything that preceded it. It became more odd when viewed in light that he has been silent on the issue for almost 87% of his term as president. It was downright disconcerting to learn that the day after his announcement, he was slated to attend a big bucks fundraising event in Hollywood hosted by those with distinct agendas on this topic. His reelection campaign netted $15 million from $40,000 a ticket event. (Source) One attender proclaimed, “Yesterday, he did the right thing.” It just appears that his announcement was one of political motivation rather than personal conviction.
Given that both men who will be receiving the lion’s share of attention in the 2012 election are millionaires and will raise millions makes me sad. I have this gut level discomfort with our current political process that seems to say that only those with money or the connections to raise it can shape the discourse and future of our country.
I know of so many people with deep wisdom, commitment to honesty and beautiful hearts that will never get a chance to shape our country’s discourse. It’s because they don’t have the money to do so. So those with money get to influence our country in ways that the majority of citizens disapprove of. It makes me sad.
I was sad that people value feelings over wisdom. This issue is a deeply emotional one. Yet, if we see marriage as not being ours to redefine, it may help. If we understand the amount of people affected, it may help.
It’s difficult to determine how many people identify themselves as homosexual. Yet, in an April 2011 article, Gary Gates stated that an accurate estimate based on studies, surveys and demographic data is difficult, but in the U.S., about 4 million people identify themselves as homosexual . Gates works for a think tank based at UCLA called the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy. The number represents 1.7% of the US population. Factor in bisexual and transgender statistics, and Gates’ study finds another 5 million, for a total of 9 million,or only 4% of Americans. They are indeed a very vocal minority.
Who invented marriage?
My conviction is that God did. It’s an ancient institution and the first human relationship, according to Genesis.
The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him… And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man… Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:20, 22, 24-25 ESV)
Some may object to the Genesis account, preferring a more naturalistic cause (and less romantic) for man and woman’s origin. However, Jesus affirmed the account in the New Testament:
He answered, Â Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, Â Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. (Matthew 19:4-6 ESV)
If God is the source of marriage, then He alone gets to define it.
In Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, I was impressed by Jobs’ zealous protection of the first Macintosh’s purity. He didn’t want anyone able to alter its innards. While other computer companies were making computers that could be customized by consumers, Jobs adamantly refused.
Jobs’ desire to control the user experience had been at the heat of his debate with Wozniak over whether the Apple II would have slots that allow a user to plug expansion cards into a computer’s motherboard and thus add some functionality. Wozniak won that argument: The Apple II had eight slots. But this time around it would be Jobs’ machine, not Wozniak’s, and the Macintosh would have limited slots. You wouldn’t even be able to open the case and get to the motherboard. For a hobbyist or hacker, that was uncool. But for Jobs, the Macintosh was for the masses. He wanted to give them a controlled experience… He went so far as to design special tools so that the Macintosh case could not be opened with a regular screwdriver. (p138)
Creators have a right to stipulate the design and content of what they make.
In the current debate, I see marriage as a God-given relationship to humanity. It is biblically defined as being between a man and a woman. That should not be up for debate.
If a culture wants to create civil unions or other forms of relationships that it recognizes, it should be cautious. Where a small percentage of people are adamant advocates for homosexual marriage today, who is to say that a smaller percentage might not advocate polygamy tomorrow? If three (or more) adults want to enter into a “marriage” together, what would prevent that from happening if marriage becomes a subject for cultural debate? What about a 12 year-old and a 40 year-old getting married? What about a man and his dog? There are small percentages of people everywhere that are passionate advocates for all kinds of marriage choices. (Take for example, marryyourpet.com and instances like this and this).
The real losers in the current contentious climate are people. I was sad about President Obama’s needless public polarization of our culture because it adds heat rather than light to the human hearts involved. Real people are hurting over this debate. The intensity of the issue is caused by the deep emotions involved. Whatever a person’s current sexual leaning, he/she is a person whose heart wants to be loved. They want to experience meaningful relationship. They want another person to affirm their personhood and worth. They deeply want another’s touch, caress, embrace and kiss. Those acts of physical intimacy are gifts given that make a person feel loved.
If we’re not extremely cautious, those of us who oppose redefining marriage will be seen as seeking to prevent the personal peace and enjoyment that comes from experiencing the love of another person. If someone stepped into my relationship with Carolyn (we’ll be married 20 years this month!) and tried to forbid it, I’d come unglued too.
So let’s not debate the issue callously. Let’s recognize that love is at stake.
When we step back and wonder why in the world love matters so much to us, it should point us to more than our beating hearts. It should direct us as humans to matters of more significance. It should cause discomfort for the atheist. You see, the claim of the Bible, from cover to cover, is that God is love, and that He loves us. (I John 4.8) God made people because of love, and He offers them, freely, the kind of love that blows apart our earthly words for it. (For example, we say, “I love my wife” and “I love banana milkshakes,” and we know that they are different meanings, but we cheapen the word.)
God offers humanity true love.
“This is the kind of love we are talking about not that we once upon a time loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God..” (1 John 4:10 The Message)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17 ESV)
The depth of love that God offers promises to satisfy the deepest longing of every human heart for worth, significance and intimacy. So let us not belittle people’s honest search for true love. We must all be pointed beyond our current relationships to a Relationship with God that will both soothe and inflame our hearts at the same time.
When we have encountered True Love, we will then be able to love Truth and willingly accept the guidelines of our loving Creator. In the meantime, this debate is not only robbing people of eternal love, but it’s even seeking to rip people away from temporal love.
Honest, Intelligent Discourse
Finally, I was sad because of the level of conversation our culture engages in. It’s hard not to find an article on a news website about this week’s announcements without finding expletive-laden responses. The name-calling and sheer banality of interaction is astonishing. Indeed, I would not be surprised to be bombarded with comments or opinions that are anything but civil as a result of this entry. I’m confident that there’s a lot of people that vehemently disagree with me.
If the research by Lifeway is any indication, Americans are having a very hard time agreeing on the issue – whether homosexuality is even a sin. There is a high level of agreement by those identified as a “born again, evangelical or fundamentalist Christian” – 82% say the practice of homosexuality is sinful. What’s disturbing to me is that 18% would say otherwise.
I’m open to clarification on this as a Christian, but what the Bible teaches about homosexuality is clear. It’s condemned. Not homosexual feelings, but homosexual practice. Feelings and desires can be submitted to one’s will. Some desires are intense, but we are told repeatedly in the New Testament that it’s possible to replace one set of desires with another. We are told to throw off the corruption of sinful desires and live in love with God and others rather than living just to satisfy ourselves.
“…you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:17-24 ESV)
That’s the biblical worldview. It’s not just a ban on homosexual behavior. It’s a guide toward true love. Before you as a heterosexual conservative rejoice in that injunction, remember that your sexual desires are also spoken strongly to in the scriptures. Don’t cheat on your spouse; don’t have sex before marriage; don’t use members of the opposite sex as objects of lust (reject pornography); etc.
“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 ESV)
In our discourse, let’s identify our worldview, as I’ve done here. I don’t think there’s any doubt what lens I view this issue through. But let’s be honest about our core convictions. Let’s talk. Let’s debate. Let’s use our minds and reveal our hearts. But let’s not stoop to demeaning one another in this debate. People are too precious. Love is possible.
There are simply too many activists – gay rights, political conservatives, and the religious right. Activists seem to scream a lot. They tweet in all caps. It saddens me that we can’t journey together without tempers flaring. It feels at times like we’re a bunch of kids on a playground arguing over whether someone was “out” in kickball. We long for a teacher to step in and make things right – from our point of view.
It looks like President Obama felt the need this week to call a pastor. Joel Hunter pastors Northland Church in Florida, and he spoke with the President shortly after he had made his announcement to the media. Hunter said he was “disappointed” and disagrees with the President on his interpretation of scripture. (Source)
Though this is an election year, and it will be disturbing to see both Democrats and Republicans use this issue for financial gain for their campaigns. Meanwhile, real people will be mobilized to support their point of view. There will be hurt feelings that may never recover. While the playground degenerates into name-calling and shoving, those of us not directly in the fray watch somewhat helplessly, hoping the Teacher arrives soon to settle the dispute, rebuke hate, and remind us that life and love are bigger than this current game.
The Personal Blog of Jeff Noble
Info: From the misty hills of Virginia, "Notes from the Trail" seeks to encourage you on your journey. Written by a graphic designer-pastor, this blog is a blend of humor, insight, and faith discovery.
Check out my Tumblr site for other thoughts, pictures and randomness.
Also, my about.me page can link you to my other digital hangouts on the web.
- An intro to Jesus Manifesto
- The Cove and personal spiritual retreats
- A la carte: Are you doing team leadership wrong?, Interns, and 3 Issues Churches Must Answer
- Goodbye (again)
- Liddle Women: Virginia Tech softball, faith and cancer
- A la carte: Evernote app ideas for speakers, Chris Broussard
- Take a free temperament test by Keirsey
- Sometimes it takes a ballpit
- Review: The Lost World of Genesis One
- 7 helpful tips for those in their 40s
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