Posts Tagged With: homosexuality

God, bless You!

Image courtesy of Sabbath Truth

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, Peter begins his first lovely little letter literally with a literary explosion. It’s as if he has so much that he wants to say so quickly, that the syllables come pouring out of him like a waterfall of words.

Believe it or not, verse 3 all the way to verse 12 is one long and winding and wondrously scenic sentence. You heard that right. A grand total of 315 words (in the NLT), all of which form one single sentence. Only the first part of which we will discuss now, with so much more rich and glorious truth to follow in the coming weeks.

There is an life-altering, soul-stirring insight embedded in verse 3 that we would do well to consider. Since verses 1 & 2 serve as Peter’s greeting, the letter itself actually begins with Verse 3.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

A rather remarkable statement given dire circumstances in which Peter’s original readers were living. We’ve already detailed them for you in the previous two podcasts. I’ll simply remind you that due to circumstances beyond their control—an empire-wide persecution at the bloody hands the infamously ruthless Nero—these were precious people—committed Christ-followers each, each our ancestors in faith—who had literally lost everything.

Even to the point of potentially losing their freedom and even their lives.

Theirs were the darkest of clouds with no silver linings.

A very fragile people living on the precipice with no safety net, clinging to their lives lived under the capricious actions of an unpredictable madman.

So if you were Peter, someone who fully understood and appreciated their seemingly insurmountable challenges—fears, insecurities, uncertainties—why would you begin your letter to them with the words,

“Blessed be the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”?

Does that not sound like a typically empty Christian cliché?

What prompted Peter to write with such audacity as to command his readers—including us—to bless God:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Even in the absolute worst of circumstances?

Obviously, Peter’s words, “Bless be the God,” did not come out of a vacuum. Fact is, there is a long and rich history to these words, and the life-altering, soul-stirring insight embedded within them.

Peter’s opening line was anything but a cutesy little Christian cliché. Not to his original readers. After hearing this podcast, not to us.

Although this does raise one intriguing question:

Bless God?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”?

I thought God blesses us.

How in the world do you and I bless God?

The answer to that question will change your life.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The Wrath of God

the-wrath-of-godIt is without a doubt THE single most unpleasant topic in all of the Bible. The subject of this week’s PODCAST: God’s wrath.

We discuss it here because here in Matthew 10, Jesus made reference to the iconic display of God’s wrath: the twin-cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

And for good measure, Jesus also referred to “the day of judgment.”

Since Jesus brought it up, we will bring it up — unpleasant or otherwise — providing some Much-Needed-Clarification to an Often-Misunderstood topic.

Upon reflection, I suppose the overarching questions raised by this sobering subject are these:

Is Jesus a gentle Jesus?

Is Jesus a wrathful Jesus?

Or both?

And if both, how does the one (gentle) square with the other (wrathful)? Especially in light of what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah.

My friends, as always, we have a ton to talk about.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you as you listen.

And PLEASE “Share” a link to this podcast with your family and friends.

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Why I Haven’t Voiced My Support for Phil Robertson (and Why I Won’t)

Well, my friends, they say that “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” I don’t know if I’ve ever realized the truth of that statement as much as I do this morning.

I was just about to throw my hat into the ring of controversy surrounding Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s GQ Magazine interview when my daughter, Ashley, beat me to the punch.

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Amazingly, she said just about everything I wanted to say, but said it so much better and more graciously than I ever could. 

So with her permission, I am hijacking her Facebook post as my blog post.

I cannot tell you how proud I am of her, given that she is taking what will probably prove to be for many an unpopular position.

I believe I speak accurately for both of us when I say that neither of us means any offense to anyone. We simply want to have a conversation about a very timely “teachable moment” courtesy of Duck Dynasty and the A&E Network. 

PLEASE feel free to post any comments that you may have, in agreement or disagreement with these sentiments. Thank you for reading them. And if you do indeed agree, PLEASE “Share” with your friends and “Like” this on Facebook.

The last several days my Facebook news feed has absolutely exploded with support, petitions, etc. for Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty. Usually when there is a hot topic on Facebook I stay away from it, because that is simply not why I’m on Facebook to begin with. I am on Facebook so that I can get to know my friends better and be a part of their lives while letting you all get to know me better and be a part of mine. But in this Duck Dynasty discussion, I see a way that you can learn more about me and what I believe in on a more personal level than I think I have ever gotten into on here before. 

My opinion might be different than a lot of my friends who are a part of the Christian community, even though, I suppose, you could say that I am a part of the Christian community as well. I say “suppose” not because I at all doubt my beliefs, but because the word “Christian” is now unfortunately such a broad term. If “Christian” means to you that I believe in God and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then please feel free to call me a Christian. If “Christian” means to you that I am a homophobic bigot or anything in between, than I would prefer that you refer to me only as a God-Lover or Christ-Follower, because that is truly what I am. And as a Christ-Follower, I believe that it is my job to love everyone, no matter who they are, where they have come from, no matter race, religion, or sexual preference; my job is to love. Period.

I have not signed any petitions, voiced any support of Phil Robertson and I won’t for three reasons. 

Number one: I would be a hypocrite if I did. A lot of the outrage that I’m hearing is from people believing that Phil Robertson’s First Amendment Rights have been violated. If I were to speak out on his behalf for that reason, then I would have to speak out for every other person who has been fired or received a reprimand as a result of something they had said.

The next time someone gets in trouble for taking a shot at Christians, are we going to get up in arms and defend their rights under the First Amendment? Somehow I doubt that very much. What people from both sides of the fence don’t always seem to realize is that free speech goes both ways. And if we are going to fight for it one way, we need to expect to have it come the other way as well. 

Number Two: The First Amendment basically promises that a person will not be arrested for speaking their opinion, it does not however give people the right to say whatever they want and not have any consequences for that. As far as I know, Phil Robertson was not led away in chains, he was not imprisoned, and he does not have a court date.

His employer has the right, as every employer does, to fire or lay off a person for misrepresenting their company or name. I have a friend that was fired a week ago for using language that their employer felt was inappropriate for the workplace and misrepresented them to their patrons. It was their right to do so. And before anyone even tries to tell me that Phil Robertson is being persecuted for his beliefs, let me point out that he was simply put on a hiatus. They have already said that he is coming back. The show Duck Dynasty is still running; there is in fact a Duck Dynasty marathon that is running today that Phil Robertson will be raking in the money for from residuals. 

Number Three: Yes, everyone has a right to their beliefs. The way that Phil Robertson stated his beliefs was vulgar and inappropriate. I have a hard time believing that any of my friends that are a part of the Christian community can really back this statement. This is the direct quote, 

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” 

He then went on to compare homosexuals to terrorists. 

His comments on black people are just as outrageous. Another quote: “I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” 

To say that I don’t support the disgusting statements made by this man is an understatement. I will listen to anyone’s opinions or beliefs as long as they are given in a respectful manner. This is beyond disrespectful to me. 

As I have said before, I know my view is different than a lot of my friends, and I hope that my view doesn’t hurt any of my relationships. I can have a different opinion than someone and still love them dearly, and I do! I guess, more than anything, what I want people to take from this is that there are many different opinions out there. There are many different viewpoints and beliefs. What I hope we can all come together on is what I think is the most important thing that we are given, and that is love.

As I add my voice to hers, let me conclude with a simple “yes” and “no.” Four of them, actually.

Yes, I love Phil Robertson as a brother in Christ. Yes, I will be praying for he and his family during what must be a difficult time. Yes, I respect the fact that he is a man of uncompromising convictions. And yes, when one of our beloved faith family is hurting, we’re all hurting together.

But No, I won’t add my voice to the cacophony of Christian voices in support of him. No, I won’t rail against the A&E television network. No, I won’t be boycotting their sponsors. And No, I won’t be attending any “I Stand with Phil” rallies or signing any petitions on his behalf given the same three reasons offered by my daughter in her post.

And finally, thank you, Ashley, for calling us to look deeper at a much more complex situation than we may have have at first, with our knee-jerk reactions of support, understood this to be.

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When the “T” in LGBT Hits Our Own Homes

“How do I as a parent begin to explain to my teenagers that their older cousin whom they’ve looked up to all their lives has decided that he may have been born a boy, but he feels more like a girl? That he is now taking female hormones, beginning to dress as a female, and is looking at legally changing his name from that of a guy to a girl? That he is now living with his lesbian girlfriend? I am at such a loss here. I didn’t see this coming AT ALL. So many questions… How do I still love my nephew, but not approve of his choices? Do we have holiday dinners as usual? Do I choose as a parent that he isn’t a good influence on my kids and therefore can no longer have them around each other? I am so lost here.”

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It’s not just campers at Christian camps who ask questions; adults ask them too, daily. Questions that come to me via email, snail mail, and social media of all sorts. Questions that they would ask God if given the opportunity and with the assurance that He would give them an honest answer.

As I’ve made clear, repeatedly and emphatically, I am not God. I hesitate to speak for God. To the best of my ability, I can only attempt to offer an answer from the Word of God. And I do so with fear and trembling in my passionate pursuit of respecting the Truth and getting the answer right.

Now, having offered all of those disclaimers, I’ll give it a shot, answering these questions exactly as I would as if we were at camp together.

Believe it or not, you have just been handed a golden opportunity to share a teachable moment with your children. As teenagers, they are old enough to be told the unvarnished truth about their cousin, and about your personal struggles with his lifestyle choices. Your struggles mentally and emotionally are what they are, and are perfectly legitimate. It’s OK for them to see you struggle.

As you let them into your soul, they will see as never before in real time, right before their eyes, how you as a committed Christ-follower, as a parent, as an uncle or aunt, are attempting to respond biblically to this new information about your nephew.

Without in any way minimizing your shock, pain, and confusion, let me ask you to consider a couple of questions as you try to process all of this new information. (Trust me, I am processing this right along with you. So if my thoughts seem to be developing as I write this, they are!) 

  • Would you be asking the same questions — about holidays, contact with their cousins, etc. — if your nephew was heterosexual and living with his girlfriend? Or living at home but sleeping with his girlfriend? Or was into Internet porn?
  • What if instead of something sexual, you discovered that he has cheated on tests at school? Or gossips? Or abuses alcohol? Or uses illegal drugs? Or has been caught telling lies? Or is disrespectful to his parents? Or acts or talks proudly or arrogantly? Or has anger-management issues? Or uses profanity? Or was married and subsequently divorced? 

What I am getting at is this: Is the fact that his behavior falls in the category homosexuality or lesbianism the thing that drives your discomfort, and generates these questions? 

I find it intriguing that God explicitly states,

There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family (Proverbs 6:16-19).

I cite this passage to suggest that if we are consistent, then we would be asking all of your same questions about any family member (or friend) involved in any of the issues that God explicitly states that He hates — including the telling of lies, or having proud-looking eyes!

Point is, we all do things that God hates. This being the case, how should we be treated with regard to holiday meals or contact with teenage family members?

“Consistency, thou art a rare jewel.” Thus my question, asked in all sincerity, is this: How do we respond with consistency when we are talking about LGBT issues?

I will not presume to tell you what to do. I can only tell you what I would do. 

I, too, have a nephew whom I love and respect. If he were to confide to me some lifestyle choices with which I personally disagree, it would make absolutely no difference in how I treated him, or how I would respond to him. 

Because you know what? It’s not up to me to agree or disagree with his or anyone else’s lifestyle. Who am I to sit in judgment of another’s lifestyle choices? (And in the interests of full disclosure, truth be told, I, too, have made some choices with which I disagree! No one, including me — especially me — can claim a monopoly on perfection.)

Did not Jesus say to us, “Do not judge others”? Yes, He did — Matthew 7:1. Did not Jesus say to us, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (the her being a woman caught in the act of adultery)? Yes, He did — John 8:7.

There is one (and only one) exception to my it-would-make-absolutely-no-difference statement: If anyone in my life, be it family or friend, was a clear and present danger to my family, that would be a game-changer. By clear and present danger I mean this: It’s one thing for someone to use illegal drugs; it’s quite another to entice my children into using drugs. It’s one thing to be sexually active outside of marriage; it’s quite another thing to display predatory sexual behavior toward my children. It’s one thing to have anger-management issues; it’s quite another thing to threaten bodily harm to my children.

See the difference?

Back on point, my nephew is not accountable to me for his choices. How he chooses to live his life is between him and God. My love for him is unconditional. I cannot think of anything that would change that. His lifestyle is, quite frankly, none of my business. 

So were I to receive the exact same bombshell revelation that you just received, I would be surprised, shocked, taken aback. But at the end of the day, in terms of my relationship with and love for my nephew, it would change nothing.

That’s where I currently sit on this issue (emphasis upon the word “currently”). But as I continue to process this, I would LOVE to hear from you. Tell me what you think (respectfully, please). We can certainly agree or disagree and remain friends. These are not easy questions. There are no easy answers. I am open to hearing your take on this subject.

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