Monday, June 29, 2015

When Same-Sex Marriage Came to Town

{In light of last Fridays Supreme Court marriage ruling, I thought I would repost what I Originally posted in 2013 on Fire and Hammer}

We made history! That is my home county made history when our Registrar of Wills started handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples in violation of the states marriage laws. In doing so Montgomery County became the first in Pennsylvania to issue these licenses. Of course a court challenge was filed with the state hoping a judge will order the county to stop until a decision is made about the constitutionality of the law. {After I wrote this, the states ban on gay marriage was overturned.} What does this mean for the ministry of Christ in our area?

Up to this point I have not personally met a married same-sex couple. I have come across openly gay people, including the two mommies who brought their child to an event at the neighborhood elementary school. I also once watched a sister in Christ navigate a gay parent's arrival at a birthday party. While this mom made her preference evident, we all followed our host's lead treating the visitor like any other parent. I know these are the first of many times when I will have to respond to an openly gay person. With the recent actions of our registrar (and with the more recent court decision) I will eventually (now) have to decide how to respond when a same-sex couple wants to show me their wedding pictures.

There are churches that stand in support of same-sex marriage but most denominations still define marriage as the union between a man and a woman. The argument for or against same-sex marriage will continue but the bottom line is the church is above all called to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are called to preach redemption and to deliver the message that Christ died for everyone. Are we ready to live out our faith even if doing so means loving the gay couple next door?

I believe it necessary to express a Biblical view of the meaning behind marriage. As our neighbors work to redefine the institution, each of us must pray for wisdom in how we should respond. Some believers are called to take a public stand for the true definition of marriage. All Christians will be called to share the faith. And while what has happened in my county {my country} may not have reached where you are today, most likely it is on the way. Pray that you and your church will be ready to continue in ministry; ready for that day when same-sex marriage comes to town.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

God's Got Your Back

Daniel 1:9-16

On my old blog I wrote a lot about life as a codependent. Having a parent suffer with the disease of alcoholism had the effect of creating in me a very negative world view. The numerous arguments of my youth left me feeling that I always had to prove myself: that no one would ever believe me even if I were clearly telling the truth. The idea that I had someone in my corner was foreign to me. The instability of my home left me believing I had to fight the world on my own.

I bet Daniel felt like he had something to prove as the stability and freedom of his home were stolen from him. One day he woke up a citizen of Israel, only to find himself a captive of Babylon the next day. His new neighbors worked hard to replace his culture with theirs; to change him into a solid citizen of the kingdom. Daniel had already lost his home. Now he had to fight to maintain his identity and his faith in the face of a nation in which neither were tolerated.

On the issue of diet Daniel refused to give in, as many of those who were with him had already done. But how could he convince his captors not to force him to compromise? He could have argued his point, creating an antagonistic atmosphere. He could have insulted his "hosts'" food and culture. He could have tried to out talk his immediate supervisor, showing how wise he was when it comes to matters of diet. There are a number of things Daniel could have done in order to hold on to his diet and culture, but in the long run all he had to do was trust in God.

God worked to open doors for Daniel, beginning with having Daniel find favor with his immediate overseer. Because of their relationship, Daniel was able to ask not to have to defile himself with the king's food. He did not have to beg nor argue. He did not have to insult nor did he have to try to out maneuver. He simply asked and because of the groundwork laid by God his request was considered.

As followers of Jesus we do not need to trick or cajole others. We have nothing to prove and do not have to fear what will happen if our words are not received. When we trust in the Lord and follow his will, he will open the door to our success. And when the enemy comes to stand against us, true followers can rest knowing God has our backs.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Are Jesus' Followers Ready for the Caitlyns of the World?

And so on June 1st the world was introduced to Caitlyn. After tweeting an upcoming magazine cover featuring her picture, Caitlyn saw her account break records as she received over a million followers faster than anyone before. It seems she has a lot of support for making such a brave step while remaining in the public eye. Clearly the world was ready to receive the former men's decathlon gold medalist. But if you are a follower of Christ are you ready to minister to the transgendered?

How will you respond the day someone walks into church and declares they use to be a different gender? Will you try to ignore them? Will you try to drag them into an argument about morality? Will you reach out to that friend or family member who tells you they are struggling with their gender identity? How will you respond when that person you are trying to witness to tells you they are different from how they were born? I think our response should be to love the person and share the Gospel, no different than we would with anyone else.

As followers of Christ we live in a world that is filled with ideas with which we cannot agree. But we do not fight against flesh and blood, no matter what the person may have done in their flesh. An external change does not change the fact that your neighbor has a soul and a need for Jesus Christ. Our duty as believers remains the same. We are to lovingly help people see the person of Jesus, living the witness that will draw them to Him.