Dec 312014
 

I read the story and I still don’t know what to say about it and more importantly how to think about it.

“Transgender teen commits suicide, cites Christian parents in blog”

It goes without saying that this is a tragedy and it’s impossible not to feel the intense pain and confusion in this child’s writings…pain and confusion that led to his death by suicide.

I wish I could have done something to help him…but I wonder if I’m even equipped to do so.

The comments that accompany the story as it’s made it’s way around the internet basically tar and feather Christians as the ones culpable for the tragedy.

Much wrath in particular has been directed at “Christian counseling” as wholly inadequate to address such issues…and as being deadly to people struggling with them.

For this generation the answers are simple…the Christian faith and it’s moral standards are primitive, ignorant, irrelevant, harmful, and should be discarded.

Many of them will contend that any form of sexual and gender expression is a choice that must be respected and affirmed and those that refuse to do so are the enemies of reason and love.

For my generation, it’s not so easy.

When I read much of the writings on this issue, I’m staggered by the number of choices in sexuality and gender identity that are now supposed to be within the norm.

When I grew up, you were either male or female, you were “straight”…and if you fell into another category you were usually silent about it and placed yourself outside the common society.

The closest we came to knowing anything about “transgendered” people was when a well known male tennis player became a woman…and we thought that was the strangest thing we’d ever heard of.

That may not have been right or righteous, but it’s the frame of reference I work from …as it is with most people my age.

The current acceptance of “diversity” in sexual and gender identity is, quite honestly, baffling to me.

As a Christian with a traditional view of the authority of Scripture I believe that God created them “male and female” and He pretty much knew what He was doing.

I believe that the Bible teaches that homosexual acts are sinful, thus I cannot affirm the behavior of those who practice them.

I do not and will not condemn the practitioners as we all have sinned and fall short of the holy standards of God.

I think that in a fallen creation all of our faculties have been marred by sin, including our sexual identities.

The question is how do we address these issues pastorally, scripturally, and lovingly?

I wonder what I would have said to this young man who believed that he was trapped in a body that didn’t fit him.

I wonder if what I would say would be different if it was my son.

Is it possible that a surgeons knife and hormone therapy are legitimate tools to reverse this effect of the fall?

I do not want to be ignorant or uncaring…but I cannot and will not relinquish my faith either.

I do not want to be perceived as anyones enemy, neither do I want to support anything that God rejects.

All I know this morning is that the Gospel is the only thing I’m sure of…and I’m sure it is for everyone who will receive it.

We need to think and talk about these issues…acknowledging the complexity and risks both to those vulnerable and our faith.

What is the way forward?

Dec 312014
 

1426163_10152538970789156_1955504315_aA third Christmas has passed and another year will turn tonight with Saeed Abedini in an Iranian prison.

Our government has failed to secure his release and we have failed as a people to put sustained pressure on it to do so.

Sadly, we still have an opportunity to change both.

May God use the prayers of His people to free this man before we mark any more holidays for him in prison.

We ask again that on Wednesdays you change your Facebook profile picture to his and that you “like”  the “Free Saeed” Facebook page and participate in some of the activities that promote his cause.

We ask…that you remember him and his family in prayer…and that you refuse to give up on efforts to secure his release.

 

 

Dec 302014
 

timthumb.phpSacrificial love is the key to the Christian life…

Why your New Years resolutions will fail…

How to be a sick Christian…

The only resolution you need for 2015…

Catholics fail to behead anyone in 2015…

Michael Kruger responds to Newsweeks hack job on the Bible here and here

To the servants of this world…

Kurshner talks prewrath with Janet Mefferd…

When God seems far away…

Beware of New Years resolutions…

Mars Hill case study…

A teachers guide to discussing faith in the classroom…

Rethinking Islam and ISIS…

Christianity in the Middle East…

Five places progressive Christianity leaves one progressive behind…

What is the churches Big Mac?

Pope Francis on the 15 ills of the RCC…

Growing up evangelical in the 50’s/60’s…

The WW on the problems with Driscolls comeback…

Wenatchee the Hatchet continues his series on Driscolls bizarre teachings on spiritual warfare…

Thanks go to EricL for helping out with this weeks links…

Dec 292014
 

thinking_man_ape_wood_3d_sculpture_thinker_think-480x3251. 2014 was a year when God’s strength was made known to me through my weakness. Unemployment and poor health for myself and my family left me dependent on the grace and love of God.

To my wonder, we’re all still here, ready to try a new year on for size.

 

There are things you only learn in the grip of affliction…things concerning yourself and your God.

His severe mercies will shake you to your core and the shaking begins with the admission of your weakness. There are few other confessions more odious to our nature, but as vital to becoming the person God is making you to be.

He is faithful…even we we aren’t.

2. One of the things I’m most thankful for are those people who helped me in my afflictions while they were afflicted themselves…nothing speaks more of Christ than that.

3. I don’t know what 2015 holds, but I know Who holds it. Because I am convinced that I serve an omnipotent Creator who calls something from nothing, who creates beauty from ashes…I have every reason for hope.

4. Writing a blog and writing a book require two different skill sets…one I have mastered and one that is mastering me.

5. The decline and eventual fall of American celebrity evangelicalism as we know it began with the collapse of the Mars Hill empire. The ability to control a narrative is no longer only in the hands of those with access to the “major media”, but in the hands of anyone who is willing to speak the truth online. The internet has leveled the field.

6. It is disturbing and odd to me that with the explosion of sound theological teaching available to the masses online there doesn’t seem to be any increase in actual biblical and theological literacy. That doesn’t compute…

7. I’ve never felt more estranged as a Christian from the culture and society as I have in the last year…true believers have always been marked as different, now the difference has a negative stigma attached to it everywhere you look.

8. The single best thing I did last year for my emotional and spiritual health was to discipline myself  concerning time online. I may miss some good stuff, but I miss a lot more nonsense in the bargain.

9. It’s a source of intense irritation to me that people who would never think of speaking ill of other faiths feel very comfortable ripping the Christian faith at every turn. Evidently some “progressives” need to make some more progress…

10. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your online world for another year. It was a struggle for me at times and the quality of the writing and thought was uneven at best, but we showed up. Sometimes that’s the most effective ministry you can have…

Dec 272014
 

thumbnail.aspxWe regularly say: “We proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

In our primitiveness, we do not doubt your coming, soon, powerfully, decisively.

In our settledness, your coming is not too urgent or real, because we are venously entitled, privileged, protected, gated.

In our rationality, the “until” of your coming makes little sense to us, so we mumble and hope no one notices.

 

In these last days,

In these latter days,

In these final days,

In these very late days,

We draw closer to your promised “until.”

We draw closer in fear, in hope, in gladness, in dread.

So we do proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes,

until he comes in peace against all our violence;

until he comes in generosity midst all our parsimony;

until he comes in food midst all our hunger;

until he comes in community midst all our alienation.

We are your faithful hopers,

distracted by despair, but hoping,

distracted by affluence, but hoping,

distracted by sophistication, but hoping.

Come soon, come Lord Jesus, come soon while we face afresh your death, until you come soon and again …again and soon.

Amen.
Walter Brueggemann. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: The Prayers of Walter Brueggemann (p. 169). Kindle Edition.

Dec 262014
 

IMG_0027I’d been gone all day and as I pulled up to the curb I could see Miss Kitty waiting in the driveway.

As I approached the house she loped toward it in front of me, eager to get in and glad I was home.

I assumed I’d forgotten to fill her dish and she was celebrating the arrival of her waiter/chef.

I retrieved a can of Fancy Feast and emptied it into the dish…dinner is served.

She just stared at it, then stared at me.

She was evidently not in the mood for Fancy Feast…

I grabbed a new dish and some fine Whiskas (with gravy) and presented it to her.

She stared at it, stared at me, and began to yowl.

I admonished her for her finicky ways, talked about starving kitties in Africa, and got yet another dish which I filled with a fine Friskees pate and set it before her.

Two blank stares and a yowl were my reward.

I plopped into my chair in exasperation and frustration.

“Stupid cat! What do you want?”!!!

She lept into my lap, and bumped heads with me, purring like a vintage Harley.

She curled up in a big ball of cat and was sound asleep by the time I figured it out.

It wasn’t about the food.

She wanted me.

She was waiting for me to come home so she could be with me.

She didn’t need any food, she needed my lap.

She appreciates the food, but she loves my presence.

Most of the time I measure my worth to my loved ones by what I can do for them.

Most of the time I measure God’s worth by what He can do for me.

Most of the time I measure my worth to God by what I think I’m doing for Him.

Most of the time I’m wrong about all these relationships.

What’s truly valuable to those who really love you is you.

The rest is all Whiskas with gravy…

Make your own application…

Dec 252014
 

DETAIL FROM ICON OF THE NATIVITYJ.I. Packer on Christmas;

“But in fact the real difficulty, the supreme mystery with which the gospel confronts us, does not lie here at all . It lies not in the Good Friday message of atonement, nor in the Easter message of the resurrection, but in the Christmas message of Incarnation. The really staggering Christmas claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man–that second person of the Godhead became the “second man” (1 Cor 15:47), determining human destiny, the second representative head of the race, and that he took humanity without loss of deity, so that Jesus of Nazareth was a truly and fully divine as he was human.

Here are two mysteries for the price of one–the plurality of persons within the unity of God, and the union of Godhead and manhood in the person of Jesus. It is here, in the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the profoundest and most unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation lie. “The Word became flesh” (Jn 1:14); God became man; the divine Son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wriggle and make noises, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. And there was no illusion or deception in this: the babyhood of the Son of God was a reality. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets.

Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the Incarnation .”

The even more fantastic truth is that He came…for you.

Make your own application…and Merry Christmas.

Dec 242014
 

keep-calm-its-nearly-christmas-101I’m very saddened that I just learned of “Festivus” yesterday…the “airing of the grievances” would have been a hoot here.

I digress…

Many people have family traditions on Christmas Eve and Christmas day…share them if you feel like it.

Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas day?

Will you attend a church service?

 

For those not in families, what will you do to get through the holidays?

 

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