Tuesday, July 31, 2012

One More Thing About CFA, Gay Rights, and Freedom of Speech

I do not usually use this blog as a soapbox, but I have been biting my tongue the last couple of days until I think it is bleeding... AND since I have Freedom of Speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, I can do what I want with it.

Here's the thing. I, too, think the whole Chick fil A thing has gotten out of hand. Before all my conservative, Christian friends fall over in apoplectic fits, let me explain. I think it has gotten out of hand because the issue at the center of the debate has become clouded in all of the anti this or that rhetoric that has resulted.

The issue at the center of the controversy is not gay rights. To my knowledge CFA has never had a discrimination issue and, in spite of a post on Facebook that turned out to be a hoax, they will hire homosexual employees. They do support conservative, traditional family organizations. There are lots of businesses that support LGBT organizations. Any of them in the news this week?

Mr. Cathy was not making a statement on CFA business practice in his interview with the Baptist Press. When asked a direct question regarding his PERSONAL BELIEF about traditional marriage, he stated that he supported it. He also stated that he thanked God that everyone in the Cathy family was still married to their first wife. So, I guess all the divorcees should be up in arms, too. Oh...wait...that includes me....

The issue here is Freedom of Speech, and as such, we should all be concerned about the discussion that has been occurring. I have gay friends and family members some of whom have made remarks on Facebook and in other venues that are in opposition to my beliefs. I don't agree, but I respect their right to exercise their freedom of speech. I have not "unfriended" anyone to date because they have posted a pro-gay comment. Nor have I blasted them for voicing their opinion. I do not want to limit their freedoms of speech because any time we take away the rights of others we lose some of our own. The flip side is - I should be able to express my opinion with the same respect.

Even a writer for Huffington Post (a liberal publication that I read as little as possible because it negatively affects my BP) said that although he staunchly disagreed with Mr. Cathy's comment (yes, he called him a bigot) that he supported his right to make the comment and that he should not be denied the opportunity to open a business anywhere as long as he operates within EOE hiring guidelines.

As I said, I have gay friends and family members. My opinion on their lifestyle (which is no secret or surprise to them) does not affect my love for them as individuals. We have a daughter who is gay. We love her and her partner. We enjoy their company. We have never rejected them or "disowned" them. We pray for them. They are always respectful of our beliefs when they are in our home.

This whole issue is not about being anti anything except censorship. Yes, I support Chick Fil A because I agree with their stand on family values. But mostly I support an individuals right to stand up for what they believe in whether I agree with it or not.

That is all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 30, 2012

All Creation Speaks

In the event that reading about the creation events in Genesis or just looking at the world around you doesn't inspire you to praise, take a little time to read Psalm 104. This poem, by an unknown author, describes in poetic detail what is documented in the first chapters of Genesis.

I love the opening of this psalm. I can only imagine the psalmist struggling for words to ascribe the appropriate attributes to God. Before he even starts recounting the creation story, he is beside himself with praise. "O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty." v1. Again, I think the translation understates the sentiment and I think the sentence should end with an exclamation point! Many earthly kings are great by human standards and clothed majestically, but the psalmist goes on to tell us that God is clothed in light, the heavens are His tent, the clouds are His chariots and He rides on the wings of the wind. That is some serious splendor and majesty.

My son and his family have started a tradition. It started out with one saying "I love you" and the other saying "I love you more". They kept trying to one up each other in the love department until they finally settled on the ultimate. Now when one of them says "I love you" the other will respond "I love you one plus anything you say". You can't get any more love than that! The description of God's splendor and majesty should be "He has splendor and majesty one plus anything you infinity and beyond!" Or as Ephesians 3:20 would tell us, "more than we can ask or imagine". That should either drive us to our knees or to our feet in praise right there.

But the psalmist isn't done. He begins to describe how God created in v.5 and I have to stop at the very first sentence. "He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved." This really is a statement of God's sovereignty. Even though, the earth will eventually be destroyed and even now seems out of control. It is in His hands until the end. Praise the Lord!

For the next 18 verses our psalmist describes creation. Then, in verse 24, he marvels at the vastness and diversity of creation. He says that God was wise when He made all of it. Now, you may look at the person who sits next to you at work (or maybe at home) and wonder where the wisdom was in that. We need to put on God colored glasses (instead of rose colored) and look at people through His lens. We have to remember that Christ died for every individual on this planet and that God loves them as He loves us. Every creature is unique whether they have special talents or special needs, abilities or disabilities...God created each in His wisdom. Praise the Lord!

The last thing this psalmist does is to describe God's watchcare over His creation. He provides, protects, sustains. "For in Him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:28. He is our very breath. Praise the Lord!

After all of his poetry and descriptions, the psalmist returns to his attitude of praise. He vows to sing praise to God for as long as he lives. He prays that his thoughts will be pleasing to God.

When we look at the creation we are surrounded with and contemplate God's sovereignty, how can we do less?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

You Are A Masterpiece!

I have always considered myself fairly creative. I am somewhat musically inclined. I love to draw. There have been times when I did crafts and scrapbooking, etc. and there are things I would love to learn to do better ~ like photography. I also like to can be the judge of my talent in that department.

Tonight, I was reading the first chapter of Genesis and was awed anew at the creativity of our God. Realizing that when He started creating the world - the universe - none of it existed other than in His mind. I look at the hugeness and complexity of our universe - galaxies, stars, solar systems. Then proceed from there all the way down to the smallest particles - cells, atoms, protons, neutrons. Do you have an idea of the complexity of a single cell in your body? Not to mention all the bodies of all the other animals some with very minute differences in cell structures that make them entirely different creatures? And, of course, everything in between. "Who can fathom the mind of God?"

Not only is He creative, He is orderly. Everything created in a specific order so that creation was building upon itself. No living creatures or plants until He had the whole water and light situation worked out.

In the end, on the final day, He said, "Let's make man!" Humankind. I've often wondered why He did this. We have caused Him nothing but trouble from day one it seems. Yet, He did - not out of need but as an expression of His love. After He created man, He looked at all He had done and He thought it was VERY good. I think there should be a much bigger superlative than that there, but I honestly can't think of a strong enough part of speech to describe God's handiwork.

I know a lot of people - most people - including me who struggle with self image. We constantly are down on ourselves because we don't like the color of our eyes, or our hair, or the shape of our rear end, too tall, too get the picture. But God LOVES you! He made you. Criticizing yourself is like criticizing God's handiwork and Genesis 1:31 says God's handiwork is very good. I love a verse in Ephesians 2:10:
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Did you know the Greek word for workmanship is 'poema'? Look familiar? It means poem or masterpiece. God is writing His poem on you and on me!

Now, I'm not giving us all permission not to try and improve on things we need to work on. There are always areas for growth and improvement. What I am trying to say is...start where you are and accept where you are today. Ask God to show you places you need to change and then allow Him to write your poem verse by verse. Even the great poets started with blank slates. Know that God loves you just like you are because He made you! You ARE a masterpiece!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

ALL Have Sinned...

Romans 3:23 "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

ALL have sinned....oh, yes, they have...WE have. Is there any difference in sin? Well, that depends on who you ask. But if you ask God...the answer is a resounding "NO". In our human minds, there is a difference. I do not view myself as nearly as bad as the murderer on the nightly news or the terrorist that just blew up a bunch of buildings and hundreds or thousands of people with it. In my little pea brain, compared to that - I'm a great person! The key is in the verse above, though. From Billy Graham to Osama bin Ladin and everyone in between, to God, sin is sin because it causes us all to come up short. It separates us from Him. It interferes with our relationship.

Romans 6:23a says, "The wages of sin is death.." Ouch. Not the wages for capital murder, or rape, or child abuse. Just sin. In my post from April 6, I mentioned two things that we have difficulty grasping that prevent us from realizing how desperate we are for a Savior:
  • The Holiness of God
  • The Complete Depravity of Our Sin.
We can't imagine how truly good God is, and, therefore, we cannot grasp how truly bad we are.

There are a couple of questions that occurred to me this week and how we are able to answer these questions DO make a difference in our sin (or so it seems to me).

1. Is my sin intentional? Do I sin when I mess up, or do I just do what I want regardless of what God may think about it? In Romans 6:1-10, Paul makes several statements that should make us think twice about the things we choose to bring into our lives.
v.1-2 "Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!" (In another version, it says, "May it never be!").
v. 6   "Our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with.."
v. 6   "We should no longer be slaves to sin."
v.11  "Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
v. 12 " Do not let sin reign in your mortal body."
Everyone messes up, that is what forgiveness is for. But we should never be intentionally setting out to enjoy the things that put Christ on the cross. As Christians, we cannot be mastered by sin.

2. When I sin, am I repentant or do I make excuses? Jesus said in Luke 13:3 that "Unless you repent, you too will all perish." In Acts 17:30, Paul tells us that "God commands all people everywhere to repent." If I simply allow my sin to run rampant in my life and I am never repentant, I can never cross that bridge into God's presence because He cannot tolerate my sin. The only way He will see me is on my knees in repentance.

Why do these questions make a difference? Because if my sin is not intentional, or at least attempting to not be, and I am repentant when I do sin, my sins are FORGIVEN! The second half of Romans 6:23 says the "free gift of God is eternal life." Sin kills us, but God gives us LIFE. Psalm 103:12 (GOD'S WORD Translation) says "As far as the east is from the west- that is how far he has removed our rebellious acts from himself." I love that this version uses the term rebellious acts, because that is essentially what sin is whether it is intentional or not.
One more story and I will sum up. This past week in my Bible study, I watched a video of a young woman's testimony. This was a sweet Christian girl, wife and mom. She was active in church and ministry. Then she went on a mission trip into the Amazon jungle and when confronted with the neediness of the people, yet, overwhelmed with their gratitiude for everything God provided no matter how small, she was completely broken. She was so repentant for her own selfishness that she could not stop sobbing. She was a "good person" but she still had rebelliousness in her heart.
Are your sins forgiven? Are you repentant? Are you allowing God to remove your rebellious acts? I encourage you to ask His forgiveness. Freedom from sin is a wonderful thing and it is possible ONLY through the grace of God.
If this post has prompted you to ask for God's forgiveness, or to ask Him to be your Saviour for the very first time, I would love for you to post a comment and let me know. God loves much He died for you. What will you do with that?