They were right (and wrong) about the slippery slope…

I don’t know Rachel Held Evans, but I like this blog entry… Here’s a link to her blog.

They said that if I questioned a 6,000-year-old earth, I would question whether other parts of Scripture should be read scientifically and historically.
They were right. I did.

They said that if I entertained the hope that those without access to the gospel might still be loved and saved by God, I would fall prey to the dangerous idea that God loves everyone, that there is nothing God won’t do to reconcile all things to Himself.
They were right. I have.

They said that if I looked for Jesus beyond the party line, I could end up voting for liberals.
They were right. I do (sometimes).

They said that if I listened to my gay and lesbian neighbors, if I made room for them in my church and in my life, I could let grace get out of hand.
They were right. It has.

They told me that this slippery slope would lead me away from God, that it would bring a swift end to my faith journey, that I’d be lost forever.
But with that one, they were wrong.

~ Rachel Held Evans

Free Speech, or intolerance and hate – finding a balance as believers

I scrolled through Facebook this morning to see what was going on in the world as I usually do. Today I discovered that a few of my friends had posted this picture. These pictures have really become the latest fad, and I have to say sometimes they are terribly funny. This one though, may not be as funny as it is serious.

When I read that picture, at first I was grieved… because once again I feel like it is taking a shot at the people who are really feeling hurt and neglected, homosexuals. But then I remembered the hurt I experienced recently when I tried to in an extremely loving way say that while I voted against Amendment 1, (in favor of treating everyone with equality) I still personally believe that homosexuality is a dangerous and unhealthy lifestyle. Notice that I didn’t call homosexuality a sin, I’ve avoided using that word to describe homosexuality for a while because I think the word sin has a much different connotation than it should. Boy it sounds silly to say that sin has gotten a bad rap, but that is kinda what I am saying. See sin isn’t just evil, murderous, hateful, and putrid but sin is also mistakes, failures, and missing the mark of perfection.

So is homosexuality sin? Well yes it is sin, homosexuality is missing the mark of what is best for a person’s life. Is homosexuality a bigger or smaller sin than the average sin? Well the answer to that is again, yes. Yes it is a bigger sin, and yes it is a smaller sin in ways than other sins. Let me try and explain. Homosexuality, really only “directly” hurts the homosexual and his or her partner. Homosexuality may also hurt the younger people in society who see and may or may not be drawn to or encouraged into such a lifestyle. Now, keep in mind that homosexuality isn’t like murder, rape, spousal abuse, religious abuse, etc. because those sins are sins against people. So in some ways, homosexuality isn’t as big, and bad as rape, murder, adultery, abuse etc. I took a beating from some folks on Facebook a few months back when I unintentionally grouped homosexuality with sins (like lying, cheating, etc.) that were directly hurtful toward others. However, on the other hand homosexuality is worse and bigger than some other sins because it has an internal impact on a person’s own body. I can’t explain it well, but what I am trying to say is this… homosexuality is a sin that will hurt your own body and I’m not just talking about from a physical viewpoint. I believe there is something that happens to your brain when you commit sexual sin. Something inside dies, or at least is damaged. Something inside tells you that you are less than human, and you feel like a toy only good for sexual gratification. I am going to fail to put this in words, but I believe that sexual immorality is somehow dangerous to our very psyche.

Now, I’ve taken a stand and called homosexuality sin. I certainly didn’t do this for my own fame or notoriety but instead because I love and care about people, homosexual people among others! If you are in a homosexual relationship, I want to encourage and help you. You can get out of the lifestyle without leaving the relationship, loving a person of the same sex isn’t a problem. Love is good, it is a Godly character trait! Some of you have fallen into this trap and you want to be free from this lifestyle but truly care about your partner. You don’t have to reject your friend, you can continue to love that person but stop committing sexual sin against your own body and theirs. I can’t imagine how hard this might be, I’m sorry about the road you’ll have to face as you walk toward freedom. I’m willing to be your friend in that journey, privately or publicly, either way I am here if you need someone to talk to.

Now, that I’ve made one side mad… let me and stand for truth again and in turn I’m afraid I may offend or make the other side mad. I didn’t share the above picture on Facebook because I don’t want to just take another shot that will further isolate and hurt the gay community. Instead I’m going to post a link to this blog where I saw those pictures. As followers of Jesus Christ we should strive to live at peace with everyone. As I scrolled through Facebook this morning, I noticed the above picture, and then just a short scroll downward I found this verse from scripture.

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Hebrews 12: 14-15

So, I’m encouraging Christians to not look for opportunities to shoot back in anger against homosexuals. See it is our responsibility to love, it is our responsibility to attempt to “live at peace with EVERYONE.”

Somehow we have to learn to see homosexuals not as the enemy, but as friends and fellow humans who are trying to figure out their journey just like you and I. When they say that we are speaking hate, we shouldn’t shout back at them and scream back at them, instead we should love them and serve them and say “I am genuinely sorry that you find my words hateful. I don’t hate you at all, I love you but I don’t think your lifestyle is healthy. I don’t want to take freedom away from you, but I want to discourage you as much as possible from doing something that will hurt you. When I put up a road block to stop people from driving off a bridge it isn’t my goal to limit your freedom but to protect your life.”

Christian friends, please don’t take this as an angry post against your signs and your words. I’m not trying to limit your free speech, I’m simply pointing out that we should be the peacemakers, not the instigators of more fighting. Remember that you dramatically won the Chick-fil-A battle. Imagine being in a basketball game when you are up 32 points with 30 seconds to go and stop scoring. Imagine being a football team up 42 – 7 and take a knee. Show some love, so that those who want help and deliverance will have someone left to turn to when they want to turn for help. By the way, Chick-fil-A from what I saw handled the situation beautifully! I heard stories of Chick-fil-A’s delivering free food and water to their protesters and of course the lines at Chick-fil-A were incomprehensible. I saw other fast food restaurants with signs up saying “We support Chick-fil-A.” Freedom of speech won on Wednesday August 1st and freedom of speech dramatically won, now be careful not to rub it in. Let’s be loving and supportive toward the homosexual society, they need us to be full of GRACE and TRUTH in these coming days. Our goal isn’t to perpetuate or keep the fight alive, but to stand firm for freedom and to offer love, grace, and truth.. by the way, love, grace, and truth are all found in Jesus Christ.

By the way, some of you are going to take a moment to make this a theological argument. You might try and fuss about me categorizing sins as big and small. For you I say, read John 19:11. If you want to fuss about someone ranking sins, fuss at Jesus.

What should we do on August 1st and 3rd?

There are two events coming up at all Chick-Fil-A’s and I’m not sure what to do about these days.  Those days are next Wednesday and Friday.  I probably am among the most hated and least appreciated people in this homosexuality war.

I’ll explain below, but let me show you the two events first.  Here are links to two Facebook events one started by Mike Huckabee and another started by two people who are arguing for equal rights.

Equal Rights link (this event is called National Same Sex Kiss Day):

http://www.facebook.com/events/444598242237116/#

Mike Huckabee’s link (this event is called Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day):

http://www.facebook.com/events/266281243473841/

Ok, I feel like I’m hated by both groups because I believe Jesus loves homosexuals and I love them too.  I also voted against the marriage amendment while simultaneously believing that homosexuality is missing God’s mark.  I don’t believe God is angry or upset with homosexuals, instead I believe that God loves homosexuals and hurts for them and the pain that their homosexuality causes.  I know that homosexuals will read this and argue that their lifestyle doesn’t hurt them, but I believe it does.  I know that some of that pain is caused by religious idiots and these comments may even cause some additional pain.  Shoot, they may see me as a religious idiot.  I’ll live with that, while I continually attempt to make myself available for their healing if they ever decide to try and walk away from the lifestyle.  It would be my goal to help them walk away from the lifestyle without walking away from their homosexual partners.  Sexual sin, is one sin that we can’t encourage people to have small groups to discuss nor can we encourage people to walk away from all temptation.  You could say, well just get in a small group with people of the same sex, but that doesn’t work if they are your temptation.  If you try and get into a small group with people of the opposite sex, you will be the only one with that particular temptation.  So this is an extra tough situation to address.

Anyway, I’m blogging today to ask believers – Specifically believers who want to both love homosexuals and support Chick-Fil-A even if and in-spite of the real possibility that Don Cathy’s words were painful to the homosexual community.

So I’m wondering… what do we do to make it clear that we love homosexuals and Chick-Fil-A.  Maybe we want to say, we love Chick-Fil-A, homosexuals, and religious fanatics.  I don’t know… but I thought I would write this blog, searching for ideas.

I’m willing to spend some serious time Wednesday and a little time Friday at Chic Fil-A if need be.  I have son who may celebrate his birthday on Friday, but Friday’s event seems to be at a specific time – 8:00pm Eastern time so maybe I can be a Chick-fil-A and still have his party later that night.  I don’t know.  I’m just brainstorming now.

Should we make tee-shirts or signs that say “Jesus loves and forgives Homosexuals! on the front and Jesus loves and forgives hateful Religious fanatics too!”

I don’t know the answer to this, but I would like to do something.  Maybe the best thing to do is nothing.  I don’t know, I just thought I’d throw the idea out there and see what people think.  I guess this is like running it up the flag pole to see if anyone solutes.  IDK?

 

Just thinking out loud,

Josh

More hate… I don’t want to promote it, but I’m hoping bringing the hate to the light will help heal it…

I just started writing below, when I stopped I realized that I was crying, praying, and fussing all at the same time… I’m sorry that this is so out of sorts, but I would love to see the world fixed…  The hateful You Tube is below, pray for those folks… especially for the children who don’t know any better.

Dear God, help us to love one another, but better yet help us to believe that YOU are LOVE and that You love us.  I believe that You love everyone, including the religious people who believe that they are right because they think that they hate all the people who they think You hate.

God is not willing that any should perish… is that still true?  God I hope it is… I sure hope that You are not willing that any should perish. Because I’m not willing that any should perish.  I think I’m getting to know and live Your heart.  Help me to love like You love.

If You, God don’t want anyone to perish, and You, God are the Victor… then why are people who claim to follow You still preaching that You hate, destroy, and damn.

God, I’m sick at my stomach now… I heard the video today of a child singing about homosexuals and I heard a congregation applaud…  As I look at that child I know that he doesn’t know what he is saying, I doubt he even understands what a homosexual is.  I know that he is just another brain-washed human, brainwashed by religion, but why is that happening to kids?  God I also read an atheist say things today that sound so much like the words of Your Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ, but she said these good things and credited them to atheists.

The quote was “An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An atheist believes that deed must be done instead of prayer said. An atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanished, war eliminated.” –  Madalyn Murray O’Hair posted by Courtney Sajben

I PRAY THAT SOMEDAY THE PEOPLE WHO CARRY THE NAME CHRISTIAN WILL BELIEVE THAT DISEASE CONQUERED, POVERTY VANISHED, AND WAR ELIMINATED IS POSSIBLE AND A WORTHY GOAL!  UNTIL THEN, I’LL DO WHAT I CAN, REPENT OF MY FAULTS DAILY, AND PRAY.

Jeremiah and I did a podcast in response to this the podcast is titled Ain’t gonna make it… I pray that people listen long enough to hear our hearts.

You Tube video

More thoughts on electric fences and touching not the Lord’s anointed…

Love God and Neighbor, NO FENCES

Love God and Neighbor, NO FENCES

I took a 4 day break from Facebook because I wanted to back away and think through the Maiden pastor atrocity… I’ve heard the “touch not the Lord’s anointed” phrase thrown around a lot as a warning when someone says anything negative about a “man of god”… CRITICIZING A PASTOR WHO IS wrong IS NOT WRONG, IT IS RIGHT and GODLY and if the people in the pews would do it more we would not be in the mess in American churches that we are in.  Criticizing the maiden pastor’s words is the only right response to what he said.  The passages in scripture about not touching the Lord’s anointed was about NOT killing them or using violence.  Not about not criticizing them!  If it were about not criticizing them Nathan would’ve been all kinds of wrong when he said “YOU ARE THE MAN!” If the people of God would quit cowering and bowing to “pastors” we might see the people of God doing the work of God in America.  Stand up people of God and when your pastor teaches something that is off, wrong, or hateful literally stand up and call him out right then.  Do it in love, maybe you could stand up and give a well timed illustration like Nathan did with David, but if your pastor is teaching hate – REBUKE HIM – SAY “YOU ARE THE MAN!”.

The church is supposed to be the people of God gathered in a public place for the purpose of deliberation not an audience gathered to hear from God via a mouthpiece like we have in churches today.  Preaching is good, but it isn’t for the church it is for the world.  The church needs to think, talk, and brainstorm ways to live as Jesus would in the world.  We are the body of Christ on the earth today.

Now, I also wanted to say one more thing about the Maiden pastor… just because this guys said something so hateful and ugly about homosexuals doesn’t mean that he is a bad evil guy, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t know Jesus, it doesn’t mean that he is going to rot in hell…. it means that he needs mercy and the grace of God just like I do!  It means that he is like you and I… While I believe that I am a saint now, and not a sinner (I still sin, even though God now sees me as sinless) – I also recognize that I still carry with me a body of death… an old brain with old sin habits and patterns.  This “body of death” still has bad thoughts, and sometimes I type them sometimes and other times I speak them…

From being at Providence Road 3-4 times I also know that that pastor is a very loving and kind man, most of the time.  I saw one interaction between him and a very young child one time where that same pastor actually allowed some child to spit in his hand and he didn’t flinch… I can’t give you the details because I don’t remember clearly enough, but I remember as a young man watching that interaction and realizing that he was very kind and compassionate in that instance.  I wanted to be like that, and I believe it was a Godly trait of that pastor that I wanted to imitate. So – I’m just saying everybody still makes mistakes, don’t judge that pastor by one very bad, very wrong sermon… rebuke him – yes, but remember to season your rebuke with love, grace, and mercy.

Let me sum up my rambling with a few bullet points…

  • Touch not the Lord’s anointed is a good verse to discourage people from killing the pastor in Maiden, but a terrible verse to discourage criticizing him and telling him that he was wrong.
  • If the argument is that we should confront God’s anointed privately and in love, I agree… but I would also argue that all believers in the New Covenant are God’s anointed!
  • We should rebuke hate speech; As lovers of God… that is in our nature.  If you didn’t want to rebuke the electric fence words, and you know God… it was probably only because your brain has been filled with ideas like “touch not the Lord’s anointed” twisted out of proper context.
  • Rebuke can be done in love, grace, and mercy… but it has to be done by the CLOSE family and CLOSE friends who have already made it clear that they love and offer grace to the person being rebuked.  If you aren’t already close, get close and show love before trying to offer rebuke.
  • I go on record as saying that I believe the pastor in question isn’t as bad of a guy as the quote sounded… I believe he probably knows Jesus, but has been so filled with dogma and religion that he can’t see how he is wrong here.  I remember years ago, realizing that he does love.
  • If you are struggling to forgive this man, take a personal inventory of your personal flaws or sins and realize that you too need grace.

I have so little courage…

I’m typing a blog right now that I am afraid to let the world see. My eyes are filling with moisture as I write, I’m emotional because I’m afraid of what others will think. I bet that is a shock to many, because I usually speak my mind so freely…

By the way, my fear is only about the ridicule that I will receive from people who call themselves “Christian”. It seems that my atheist friends / acquaintances always treat me fairly and with respect, it is only religious folks I know who yell, ignore, defriend, and mock my faith. It is religious people who say there is no hope for me… amazing – a pastor actually said that to me recently, “There is no hope for you, Josh” even when I pointed out that we were supposed to be giving hope, not taking it… he never said a single word of apology. He never took back those words. I was amazed then, and still am obviously today.

I received an email from a Pastor yesterday asking about my opinion, he actually said “I write to you because I value your opinion on such matters. I see you as a critical thinker and a biblical thinker.” That was humbling… and shocking considering the treatment I’ve been getting from religious leaders.

A friend of mine wrote this on facebook today and it was her words that made me embarrassed that I hadn’t been more open with my words. Here is what she wrote: “I hope you Evangelical’s are happy……I am on a rant , so bear with me. So angry, to the point I could cry for the way we as the church are looked at by the world. I work with all Evangelical’s who are gloating over the fact that Amendment One (defining marriage between one man & one women) passed. I could take it no longer, I piped up that I voted against it….a look of shock…I explained that I don’t want the government intruding in our lives. That although I don’t approve of a gay lifestyle, I don’t think it’s our business. I got the argument “well, the Bible clearly says…” I said: Where does it stop, do we outlaw divorce too, the bible is clearly against divorce too, how about heterosexual couples living together, do we outlaw that? Silence…I proceeded to tell them about a Barna poll that asked young non-christians what Christian’s stood for, and their answer: They hate gay’s…..I said that Jesus only had harsh words for the religious, not the sinners, He was known for hanging with sinners, but we don’t want to get dirty, so we pass laws……..Silence…..My heart breaks!!! We are known for the very opposite of what we should be known for!!!! How has your church gotten so far from your heart, forgive us….”

Another friend of my admitted to a pastor that she would be voting against the amendment, he told her that he never wanted to see or talk to her again. He said that she was disowned… if she would vote for the fags, (his words not mine) then she was no better than them!” Novel idea, pastor… I believe we are no better than anyone else. My mom (I’m so thankful for her teaching in my life – even though we probably voted differently on every point yesterday) used to tell me when I was too young to understand, “Josh, no one is better than you, but you better never forget that you are no better than anyone else!” Great words to live by. I pray my kids hear that enough from me that they never forget it.

Here’s my response to the pastor who asked me for advice yesterday about the Marriage Amendment…

I did a podcast about this, so I’m not afraid to speak about my opinion to this. (Well I wasn’t to him, but I was afraid today… Religious people go ahead and write me off, I can’t worry about what you think.) You can listen to that, or I’ll give you my short answer here… I’ve been back and forth on this. At first it was obvious – FOR, then I heard the fears of domestic violence – AGAINST, then I realized that was a lie, FOR… then I thought about why are we doing this, AGAINST, then I realized that we are killing Muslims as a country and war hasn’t even been legally declared – so why on earth are we wasting our time with this garbage, AGAINST… then I prayed… “God, does this really matter…?” I think His answer to me… this isn’t for everyone and I wouldn’t tell you, except you asked… (Now, I’m sharing it with everyone… things can change overnight.) PLEASE DON’T ASSUME I’M WRITING THIS LIKE IT IS PROPHECY OR A WORD FROM GOD, I DIDN’T HEAR AN AUDIBLE VOICE AND I KNOW THAT THIS WAS SOMEWHAT MY MIND, BUT I HEARD IT AS IF IT WAS ALSO SOMEHOW THE MIND OF CHRIST… “Josh, the results of this vote are less important than the fight and you can’t vote against the fight… the fight itself says that My people are more concerned still with sin and standing in anger against other people than they are about healing people and helping them know that I love them. One time the people demanded the right to divorce, and I’ve always tried to protect them from the danger of divorce (or degrading marriage in anyway), it was never My plan, but they wanted it, begged for it, and were going to live in hatred toward each other whether I allowed divorce or not… so I allowed it under some circumstances. It wasn’t My will, but the people needed to stop focusing on rights, and sin, and fighting and just believe that I love them. Josh, they are going to live however they want, I already gave that freedom… now We, you and I have to keep loving them… So vote how you want, just be sure that you don’t use this issue as another opportunity for believers to show disdain for unbelievers… I love them, and their sin doesn’t repel me… I WILL overlook and forgive their sin, just like I do yours.”

I’ve never done that before… shared so detailed what I feel like I heard from God. Some would get angry about that… as if I could speak for God. That wasn’t my heart, I’m just sharing what I felt like He was saying to my heart… We have the mind of Christ, 1 Cor 2:16.

Well there it was… I’m sure some are ticked, and some wrote me off before I posted this… I love them anyway, and I pray that someday we can make loving God and loving one-another primary, not our fight against and focus on sin.