Open Letter to Bishop Richard Wilke

August 30, 2019

Yesterday, my wife sent me a post from her social media feed that she had found on a friends page.  We talked about it for a little bit and then I felt led to write a response to it.  Below is the link to the article I read and then my response follows.  It is a brief reply, because you can literally write books on these issues and verses. I wish I didn’t have to write anything about this topic, but I feel compelled to do so because of the ramifications that will take place if I don’t say anything. I am not harping on this issue alone, there are many areas the church can address. I view it as a continued conversation on the current issues in our culture. I have attempted to remove the log out of my eye first, before I point out someone else’s splinter. I seek to speak the truth in love at all times.  I welcome your comments below.

The Original Article from Bishop Richard Wilke

Gay daughter sent bishop back to Scriptures

 

Dear Rev. Wilke,

I read your article and too am saddened by the issue that is consuming our churches and culture today. But, for a complete different reason than you are. I see the erosion of truth and the authority of God’s Word being changed, diminished, and twisted not by outsiders of the faith, but those from inside. God does hold those who teach and have authority over others in higher regard.   Here are a few thoughts on your article.

First, I think it is very naïve of you to take your daughters “coming out” to not as an issue of influence.  While parents are the most powerful influence on their children, they are not the only influence. Culture, movies, music, and media are a powerful influence on people today.  I believe it was 18th century writer Andrew Fletcher that said “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.”  

Secondly, you make the statement “Still, I knew I had some work to do. I needed to reconcile my commitment to scriptural authority with loving and accepting my daughter.” In this statement you unknowning contradict yourself. For you cannot keep Scriptural authority if you want to find an alternative interpretation of Scripture that lines up with your “loving acceptance” (perhaps a feeling or experience) of your daughter.  Instead, you should have chosen to reconcile your loving feelings with the authority of Scripture. I believe you may also have convinced yourself of a wrong definition of loving your daughter.  Who says love let’s people do what they want? Statistics show that often those who struggle with same sex attraction or have friends and family that do, will be more likely to find interpretations of the biblical texts that are pro-LGBTQ.  Indeed relationships are a powerful influence on our thoughts and beliefs. I could comment more about this wrong idea of love, but I will move on to the more important part of your article, the Scriptures.

Third, it is true that the Bible does speak “little” about the issue of homosexuality, there is a reason for this. The Bible was written in the shadow of the Genesis narrative with Adam and Eve.  This foundation flows through many of the Scriptures in the Old and New Testament, especially dealing with this issue which I will explain below. There was no need for the Bible to say much about it, Jewish scholars on both sides, conservative and liberal both agreed that it was behavior against God’s design. In fact you will find that no church leader up until the last half of the twentieth century supported it.

The heterosexual relationship/marriage is assumed all throughout the Bible. The Mosaic laws (even 3 of the 10 commandments), the psalms, books of wisdom, the gospels, many of the epistles, all use the corresponding pronouns to a male/female relationship. Not one time is a homosexual relationship spoken of in a positive light.

So now we come to the meat of this debate, the Scriptures.  You are right, context is indeed the key to finding out what is the proper interpretation of these passages. Many people have different “interpretations” of these passages, what stops someone from saying “that’s just your interpretation and I have my interpretation,” is the question, which one is the correct interpretation?

The Genesis account of Sodom and Gomorrah (from here S&G) is definitely not the strongest passage from which to base an argument against homosexuality, but since you mentioned it I will address it. While the townspeople may have acted inhospitable and in rape and violence, there is clearly more going on here. The men want to “know” the two visitors that are Lot’s guests. We both understand that the word “know” can be taken in different senses, but the context tells the key.  Lot replies to the men of the city,

“I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please.”

It would be very strange for Lot’s daughter to not “know” any other men in a sense other than a sexual one. Second, it is important to note that God had already judged the city for destruction, hence His discussion with Abraham (Gen. 18:20), before this inhospitable act. Third, if we are debating what the sin of S&G was that caused destruction it would be rather strange for God to destroy a city for inhospitality or pride alone. But, in the Mosaic Law homosexual acts are punishable by death.

You quoted the Ezekiel passage that talks about S&G but you failed to mention the other two passages that also speak of it. Second Peter 2:4-10 discusses the destruction of S&G. Peter writes in verse 7,

“if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked.”

The key word being “sensual” refer to sexual conduct. Jude 7 also discusses the two Old Testament cities. Jude states,

“In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”

This passage again points to a sexual immorality, the general term for all sexual sins, and the accompanying destruction. In your quote of the Ezekiel passage, we may get a more detailed account of what was going on with the things that were listed, but you stopped just short of a very telling phrase in the Ezekiel passage.  Ezekiel continues in verse 50,

“They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.”

The word “abomination” is very telling.  It brings up reflections of the Leviticus 18 passage. I will grant that there may have been other sins that were committed by the people of S&G but there is too much evidence that points to a wicked sexual act.

Next you discuss the Leviticus 18 passage and as a good revisionist you point out that Lev. 17-26 is part of the holiness code, intended strictly for Israel to follow and represent Jehovah God before the nations around them.

A closer examination of the chapters will show that Leviticus 18 really stands out differently than the rest of the chapters.  It begins and ends with the Lord reemphasizing a warning to follow the commands listed unlike those in the other chapters. All of the commands deal specifically with sexual sins and the other chapters are more randomized. Aside from the other texts that speak on homosexuality in the New Testament, you should also ask yourself the reason behind the holiness code to begin with. Did God not want Israel to perform child sacrifice to Molech “just because,” or was it perhaps the actual acts that God found detestable themselves. It was not simply a preference as one prefers ice cream flavors, God actually had a reason for commanding Israel not to live and practice as the other nations around them did. At the end of Leviticus 18 we read that God had already judged the other nations for these same practices.

“Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, 27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled” (vv. 24-27).

This seems to point that it was the actual acts themselves that were evil in the eyes of the Lord and not just meant to “raise the bar” in a spiritual moral way.

Turning to the New Testament, you seem to gloss over these verses rather quickly and not even give specific references. Romans 1:26-27 is probably the most telling of the verses in all of Scripture.  Yes, the most common form of homosexuality practiced in the Roman world was the pederasty that was done with an adult man and a young boy around the age of 12. But if you read what Paul says,

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

In the Roman world there was no female equivalent of pederasty, this was only a practice done by the men.  Also the Scripture says “men committed indecent acts with other men.”  Paul did not use the Greek word for a young boy as well. Furthermore, if Paul wanted to condemn the practice of pederasty he could have simply used the separate Greek term for that and not the general term that he used.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Paul elaborates on a number of sins that those who “practice” (being a key word) these will not inherent eternal life. This is a good time to point out that we all struggle with sin. That is a biblical truth. It is important to point out that nowhere in Scripture does it condemn anyone who is tempted with same-sex attraction. In the same way for someone who is tempted to steal, or use fowl langue, or another temptation.  We do not pick only on one issue and ignore the rest. I understand that for various reasons people struggle with temptations, but we must not give into those temptations, thus committing sin. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 states;

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

In Greek, Paul uses two words that make up our English phrase above “men who practice homosexuality.” Arsenokoitai and malakoi are the two terms that Paul uses.  One for the male active partner and the other for the passive partner. The Greek word Arsenokoitai is connected with the passage from Leviticus 18 from Paul’s use in the passage and can illusions those practices that were described there. There have been articles recently that have tried to soften the language of Scripture. Things like, “The word homosexual was not added into the Bible until recently” and so on.  While this is true on a technicality, it misrepresents what the Greek says. It lists both the active and passive partner in a “homosexual act” and that’s where we have coined the term homosexuality from.  This is similar where people would say the word “trinity” is not in the Bible or “inerrant” but at the same time the words describe it to be the equivalent word used today.  There is much more that could be elaborated on with the Greek but I will move on to another issue in this article.

And finally, we come to Jesus and His teaching and what He did and did not address.  It is a bad argument to say that Jesus never discussed XYZ and so XYZ must be permissible. There are a lot of things that Jesus never discussed. Grand thief auto, internet pornography, and so on. I have already mentioned above why I believe the Bible (including Jesus) doesn’t speak more on this issue but Jesus did affirm the Genesis creation account between a man and woman in Matthew 19.

Many have quoted Jesus’s interactions with the sinners, tax collectors, and the women of the street. They quickly point out that His love for them was far and above what the religious leaders of the day had shown to them. I agree with you, Mr. Wilke, that we should all strive to imitate Christ in this manner. I would even agree that some Christians have been right out mean and hateful to the LGBTQ community and that is wrong. But, that doesn’t mean that we change what Scripture plainly teaches in order to change the behavior of some Christians who need a lesson on manners and just being friendly.

At the same time, pro-LGBTQ friendly Christians don’t seem to read the whole story of Jesus ministry. He did tell the adulterous woman to “go and sin no more.” He did heal people, invite them, but he also told them to leave there life of sin. I recently saw a quote by Sinclair Ferguson,

“It is misleading to say that God accepts us the way we are. Rather He accepts us despite the way we are. He receives us only in Christ and for Christ’s sake. Nor does He leave us the way He found us, but to transform us into the likeness of His son.”

Many authors like Matthew Vines, Justin Lee have written in their books about the “bad fruit” that they believe Christians are producing when they do not accept the lifestyles of the LGBTQ community. They connect the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5 with this same idea but they are missing Jesus point about what real fruit actually is.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-23,

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

 

Notice that Jesus started out by pointing out the false prophets were the ones who produced bad fruit. What is the good fruit that Jesus is talking about here? It is found in the last verses 21-23, “he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Obedience to God’s commands is the good fruit we should aim for. Not an obedience out of fear or to earn salvation.  It is a gift of grace, but obedience out of love for God who has done so much for us that we want to love Him back. This love toward God says, I am a sinner, I need to let Christ transform me and make me more like his character and his teachings. I yield my weakness, my struggles, and my desires to the one who gave me eternal life and saved me from my sins.

I pray that you may consider these Scriptures again and place God’s Word as the top authority over your life as I do. We can still love LGBTQ family, friends, and people that we all may interact with and have a candid conversation with them.

Humbly,

John W.

 

 

 


The Kavanaugh Hearings and Truth

October 3, 2018

kavanaugh-fordWithout stepping into the mud slinging fight, I would like to take the opportunity to discuss the Kavanaugh hearings and how it relates to the diminishing definition of Truth in our culture.

We have been in a post modern world since the last half of the twentieth century and the watering down of Truth through relativism has spawned phrases like “religious truth” or “your truth.” When there is a disagreement, the standard reply given by many post modern’s is “that is true for you, but not for me.” As a recent example, Senator Corey Booker complemented Dr. Ford on bravely sharing “your truth” in the hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Much was made of the emotions from both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh in the judicial hearing on September 27. Their emotional testimony was used for evidence and counter evidence in support for both sides of the argument. Hearing comments from across America like “I believe his/her testimony because they sounded so believable.” This is an example of an additional shift in the priority of Truth. Emotion has taken a higher priority over Truth. Evidence takes a back seat to emotion.

As a student pastor, who engages students in apologetics I have seen this shift of thinking in conversation with students. One can present compelling evidence to students and still have them give you the “deer in the headlights” look when it goes against the cultural norm of the day. I first noticed this several years ago when I attended a Secular Student Alliance chapter in local high school. At the outset of the meeting students introduced themselves and quickly stated their worldview. The question was posed, “which is the right view of reality?” There were multiple students who felt that the competing views were all the right. There was no conflict. I tried to press the issue in my disbelief and give an example to illustrate my point that they could not all be right.

Mark Matlock has offered some insight on the importance of relationships with students and the acceptance of Truth. In the book Apologetics for a New Generation, edited by Sean McDowell, Matlock discusses how students know and find meaning.  Matlock noticed that “students who held to a core of seven basic doctrinal beliefs differed profoundly from their peers when it came to beliefs in supernatural and experimenting with occult activities.”1 As he dug in deeper he discovered that it wasn’t the students personality, what type of thinker they were, or even if they were initially open or hostile to Christianity. “Rather, those who were able to absorb propositional statements of doctrinal truths best were those who were emotionally healthy.”2

Matlock cites work from Doctor Dan Sigel who divides how the human brain learns and remembers things both “explicitly” and “implicitly.”  These are our active and passive ways we learn through all the various experiences we undergo in life.  Matlock notes that these two types of learning must be paired together in order to have maximum impact in helping students know and discover truth.

What should apologist and church leaders do in response to this loss of Truth? I suggest three areas in which to set goals and continue to seek after.

  1. Continue to seek after godly relationship with those they disciple.  It is more than an hour or two a week in a classroom setting.  Pastors and teachers should assist their classroom learning of biblical doctrine or philosophical Truth with additional implicit learning times through relationships and activities.
  2. Continue to teach/preach biblical doctrine that will strengthen the family against a culture that seeks to destroy it at every level.  As the emotional health of our culture continues to decline, we must confront the perceived cultural norms with logic , reason, and biblical truth.  Parents and students will benefit from godly examples from Scripture that will help them amidst the many voices of our time.
  3. Continue to teach/preach the core aspects of philosophy, logic, and reason that firmly lay a foundation for Truth to stand.   Yes, academia has been radically flooded with liberal ideas, relative truth, and privatization, but we simply cannot give up the fight for Truth even though we might feel like we are facing a tidal wave against time tested principles of logic, reason, and Truth.  You may not be able to sway the masses, but use your scope of influence to the maximum potential.

Notes:

  1. Mark Matlock, Apologetics for a New Generation. 2009. Pg. 137.
  2. Matlock, Pg. 138.

Culture and the Beast

March 7, 2017

Beauty-and-the-Beast.jpgAs you may have heard, for the first time, Disney has produced a live-action film with a gay character.  Social media and blog sites will be filled with comments about it for the next weeks.  Coming off a great apologetics conference this weekend I am more assured than ever that how biblical Christianity responds to the film, Disney and others is as important as what words of truth we respond with.

I am not exactly sure what our response should be, but it should not be any different that how we respond to other sinful behaviors.  If you feel convicted to boycott Disney and their products you might want to be careful who you tell.  Are you prepared to keep your word even after the hype dies down?  A person without Christ may not understand your motives and modifying a person’s behavior should not be our first concern, their salvation is. Not to mention it is not our job, it is the role of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps a silent boycott would be better and reconsider not uploading the video of you running over your Disney movie collection with the lawnmower.

Here are a few thoughts for believers to consider.

  1. Do not be surprised. It has almost been 2 years since SCOTUS ruled that gay marriage is legal in all 50 states.  There are so many other television shows and movies that have already included it for years.  I am surprised that Disney did not join them earlier.  No doubt they considered this earlier and held off for various reasons.
  2. Use this as an opportunity to discuss sexuality and biblical marriage.   Our culture does not hesitate to show a variety of sexual behaviors and parents and Christian educators should be ready to respond to them with biblical truth and existential examples of how the consequences will be played out. I recommend a book by Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet  called Same-sex Marriage.  It is a gentle and caring approach that explains what the Bible teaches about homosexuality and how we can respond to others in love.  This same discussion should happen of course with other topics like drugs and alcohol, language, violence, and so on.
  3. Use this to teach others about the power of media.  We all under stand the use of media and the power of suggestion.  Scottish writer Andrew Fletcher once said something close to “Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.” He knew the power of media in his day and we should also be aware of the messages in ours.  What percentage of Americans claims to be gay?  If you said two or three percent you are correct, but if you guessed much higher it is likely because the media over inflates reality with so many gay characters.  Some will dismiss this movie as just mere fiction, a rewrite of a cartoon classic, or chide you not to take it serous, but even in cartoons aspects of real life can be portrayed and are just as powerful.
  4. Say something, respond.   The worse thing you can do is nothing.  You may be tempted to just be quiet for a number of reasons.  You don’t want to lose your social media friends, you do not know what to say, or maybe you are apathetic and figure what is the use, we can’t stop the huge cultural wave that hits the shoreline again and again.If your friends unfollow  you it might be because they really were not that close to you after all, maybe you responded too harshly, or they are too easily offended. Just keep posting the cute kitten videos!  There are many negatives that come with social media that should be avoided.  It is better to speak to smaller groups that are like minded and one on one conversations are really best.  Know where you can speak freely and where you need to guard your tongue carefully around others.If you do not know what to say, this is a clue for you become clued in on this discussion.  Read and research the details so you can have a an intelligent conversation with someone about what you believe and why.  There are great resources that you can download, apps with podcasts to listen to, and a growing Christian resources that we have at our disposal.

    Finally, if you are apathetic about this issue, go ahead slap yourself now and wake up.  You may not be able to stop the oncoming waves hitting the shore but you can keep a lookout for someone to save in the water. It matters to them and you might not be able to save everyone, but you can save one.

I am sure that some will respond with truth by stating biblical verses and facts that support traditional marriage or condemning homosexual behavior.  Others may take the opposite approach and say it is our job to simply love and pray for those who live a homosexual life style.  The apostle Paul encouraged the Christians in Ephesus to “speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Eph. 4:15).  This combination requires us to boldly and lovingly share Scripture with others. We must temper our words so that we are not out to bash someone, win an argument, or defend God as if he needs defending.  Have conversations with people to educate them, to consider a different point of view, or understand a Scripture passage.  It is not only about what we say, but how we say it.

 

Notes:

The NHIS reported in July 2014 that 1.6 percent of Americans identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 percent identify as bisexual.[1] In a Williams Institute review based on an June–September 2012 Gallup poll, approximately 3.4 percent of American adults identify themselves as being LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender).


Martin Luther King Jr. in 2017

January 16, 2017

martin-luter-king-jr_5003Over 53 years after Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream speech…”  and we are celebrating another Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on the third Monday in January.  Although this year it does not seem as celebratory amidst the circumstances that our great nation faces.  The peaceful and loving leadership the Rev. King seems a little soured this year by the political unrest with John Lewis and over twenty democratic senators refusing to go the Trump inauguration this Friday as well as the shootings that have occurred this year in the name of racism.  There are some on both sides.

Who’s fault is it? That is a “loaded” question (yes that’s a gun pun).  I dare not even attempt to answer that question but I will say there is likely enough blame to go around for all of us. No judgment here, only God can judge a man’s heart and decided if there is room for improvement in that category.  Instead of placing blame and attempting to answer my own question I would like to pose a solution by someone that this student pastor admires and is a fan of all people, JESUS.

  1. Jesus interacted with and befriended all types of people.  He made friends and often ate with the “sinners and tax collectors” (R.I.P. IRS, you got your own level of “low” back in Jesus day). He saw many people that society rejected; Gentles, an adulterous woman, and a Samaritan woman who was working on husband number six.  Even those mixed up religious leaders who thought that they had all the answered and were very judgmental in some cases.  Even though he knew all about them, he still gave them the time of day.
  2. Jesus “turned the other cheek” when others said and did things to him.  Don’t miss this, this is big. Jesus taught and lived that when someone does you wrong, you don’t get revenge, you don’t return the favor back to them, you “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:38-42). A slap in the face to a Jewish person was the ultimate insult because mankind is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).  “Love your enemies,” “pray for those who persecute you,” and his other teachings could really change the way we respond to others, if we would only follow Jesus’s teaching.

    Sadly, many would rather reply back to a blog post with anger, join a twitter war, or even worse shot and kill someone on the other side. As I drove home today from the store I heard about a shooting that took place in Miami at a celebration for Rev. King. Not to mention the police officers that have been targeted by revenge seeking individuals as well.  Sadly, this is a two-way street.

  3. Jesus died for one human race. All colors, ages, economic status, nationalities, and any other ways we may choose to divide ourselves. Reminder, we are all created in the image of God and we all bare the responsibility to value the life of all people. The very first words we have recorded from Jesus on the cross are “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Goals!  If Jesus can forgive the people who are killing, maybe we can muster up the same words to someone who calls us a name, misjudges us, or just outright doesn’t get it.

This doesn’t mean we have to all agree on everything and recognize other people’s opinions as correct, but we can act and speak responsibility toward one another in love and have good discussions in the way the Rev. King did following his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We are not responsible for what others do or say, but we can control what we say and do and we are ultimately responsible for ourselves. Refuse to play the childish games and pick up the mud to toss back at someone else.  Think about what you post on social media and if their might be a better way to phrase your thoughts.  Pause, and wait until you calm down before you respond.  Be proactive instead of reactive.

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below on how we can pull this human race back together.  We’ll give everyone a pass through today, January 16, but for the rest of the year work on what you will do and say to honor the One that Rev. King did.

 


Politics and Presuppositions

January 13, 2017

With one week left before the inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th president there has been much talk over his cabinet and staff appointees, like there always is with each administration. The senate and house are allowed to “grill” as I saw one headline this past week, each of the  people that Trump has chosen and determine if they will approve some of the people to serve.

In the midst of all the leaks and “fake news” that has been talked about, the presidential appointees have been given more discussion this year than perhaps I remember. Each president has the right to put in place his/her own people and usually does. They want like minded people that will support and offer a hand in completing the agenda that they believe will work best over the next four years. This sharing of a similar philosophy allows them to work more efficiently together.  Examples of these political philosophies could be raising or lowering taxes, regulations, job competition, and so on. These are the political presuppositions that each of these people have found to be trustworthy and rules to live and govern by.  If you need a definition of presupposition you can check this previous post.

Would it be smart for a president to  have someone on his cabinet or as an advisor that would offer a dissenting view or opinion that would offer advice to them?  I say yes, making the best decision would include having all the information available to make an informed decision. Sadly many will not do this. We only like to hear compliments or praises from those who agree with us.  Keep in mind we do not have to follow or take their advice, but at least give them an ear and listen with an open mind.  Ever read a post you disagreed with but were not approved to post a different opinion? Ever notice how the talk show host will mute the person on the phone when things start to get messy or out of control.

I have found this to be the case when having conversations with people over spiritual discussions or when using apologetics with people of other worldviews.  Each person comes to the discussion with certain presuppositions that they are not willing to let go of.  These may include things like; a naturalistic or supernatural belief, a belief in miracles, or a Reformed theology vs. a Wesleyan.

One thing I have found helpful before spending large amounts of time with someone is to ask if they will be open-minded and willing to consider certain basic ideas in the discussion you want to have.  If you are willing to talk with those understandings it will be less frustrating for both of you and you can remind the person again that they agreed to hear your case with an open mind.  Maybe this will help them, or you, understand the topic more completely and you may win them over to your side politically or in your religious worldview.


It’s My Pleasure

November 18, 2011

I love Chic-Fil-A.  I love the food and the company and what they stand for.   Across from my church where I serve as student minister is a Chic-Fil- A that I visit at least once a week, not counting the stops for coffee in the morning.  Over the years I have gotten to know the people who work there and build some relationships with the people.  Our church even opens up the church for Colby and the leadership team to meet about every two weeks.   The church staff has nick-named the Chic-Fil-A across the street “The Birthing Place” because we also use their store to have meetings with people over a coke or lunch.  We share Christ with people outside the church walls and some are “born” into a new relationship with Christ there.  Well, if you have been to a Chic-Fil-A in the last 3-4 years you know that their signature saying is “It’s my pleasure!”  It was something the company started several years back and has stayed with them since.  It shows a willingness to serve the customer and it not just words from what I have witnessed over the years, it is something that they employees model.

One day a few weeks ago I was in my thinking mode and I had a thought about their phrase and what might be the impact of the customers because of it.  What is it saying to the customer?  I know that it is a way that Chi-Fil-A is trying to make the dinning experience more enjoyable and to make the customer want to come back.  They were not the first company to bring the idea to the public.  Years ago Burger King started their slogan “Have it your way.”  I remember a  time when businesses were not so forth coming with their service.  If you bought a milkshake and then your child spilled it on the floor you actually had to go buy another one yourself.  (GASP!!)  Imagine that?  You actually had to have a little personal responsibility.   It wasn’t long after one company started the extreme service that others had to follow, or be left behind.  What am I talking about?  In one word: Entitlement.

America has become a land of Entitlement.  Freedom has been translated into FREE!  People used to ask for things, now they demand them.  (Believe me I could tell you some stories!!)  Listening to the radio a few days ago, I heard the statistic that 47% of people in the United States don’t pay any federal taxes AND many of them get money from the government.  I could go back and give examples of the social welfare programs but I don’t want to bore you.  I will point out that while many people complain that their Social security is not much to live on, most of them will receive multiple times more than they paid into it over the years.  It’s not just the senior adults to.  We have raised a generation of young people who do not appreciate what they do have.  The year I graduated high school Georgia started a Lottery and a college scholarship program called HOPE.  If you had a 3.0 or higher GPA the state would pay 100% of your college tuition.  Earlier this year the state had to cut back on the moneys they were giving to keep the program alive.  They had to cut the 100% to 93%.  If your GPA was 3.8 or higher you still got 100% from the state.   People protested in front of the capital, they were interviewed by TV and Radio and you would have thought that they had closed all the colleges up and their was no way they could go to college now.

Two months ago another chapter in the Entitlement book was being written, this chapter is called Occupy Wall Street. Groups of people gathered on Wall Street to protest cooperate greed, and a few hundred other things they didn’t agree with.  Soon the movement spread throughout cities around America as they began to occupy parks in cities everywhere.   The news coverage has not been dull when occupy Wall Street comes up.  There have been a number of actions that I won’t get into except to name a few like, using the bathroom on an American flag and a police car, public nudity, public sex, violence and confrontations with police around the different cities, looting, rape, drug and alcohol abuse, and at this point one death in Oakland, CA.   I’ve only just scratched the surface with the list above.

So who are these people?  According to a survey of Zuccotti Park protesters by the Baruch College School of Public Affairs published on October 19, of 1,619 web respondents, 2/3 were younger than 35, half were employed full-time, 13% were unemployed and 13% earned over $75,000. 27.3% of the respondents called themselves Democrats, 2.4% called themselves Republicans, while the rest, 70%, called themselves independents.

On Oct. 10 and 11, the polling firm Penn, Schoen & Berland interviewed nearly 200 protesters. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, 98% would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and 31% would support violence to advance their agenda. Most are employed; 15% are unemployed. Most had supported Obama; now they are evenly divided. 65% say government has a responsibility to guarantee access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement. They support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and are divided on whether the bank bailouts were necessary.

Radio talk show host Neil Bortz among others has pointed out that the vast majority of these OWS protesters are young and have not had a taste of the real world.  “They have been told” ” Neil continues “that they are all winners, and no one is a loser all their life.  There are no soccer game lossers, because we can’t afford to hurt their self-esteem.  Then when they get out of school and into the real world they revolt because nothing they have been told in life is true.”  He adds that they all have lap tops, smart phones, and the latest gadgets, but yet they claim they are poor.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned here.  We could talk about the prospective from which the “me” generation and how that if you live in America you are among the top 7 percent richest in the world.  They could sell their laptops and smart phones and help feed a family for a year in another country.  We could talk about the messy morality that this is an example of.  How the sinfulness and selfishness of mankind is running wild because people have abandoned the church and godly principles.

2 Timothy 3:1-4 says ” 1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”  Sounds like it was written yesterday doesn’t it?

So how do you fight back against this Entitlement mentality?  Start by changing the way you personally entitle people around you.  It’s good to give someone something, but it’s even better to teach them to provide something for themselves.   It all starts with one.  Jesus told us that we will always have the poor with us on the earth, but if we start teaching people how to fish rather than giving them a fish the situation will turn around again.  Those that have can help take care of the smaller amount of those who really need help.   If you make a mistake, own up to it, be personally responsible for your own actions.  Don’t count on someone else picking up the tab for your mistake.  Vote, put people in office that will help control the growing problem of entitlement.   There are ways that we can slowly began to pull back on the throttle of entitlement that will still allow those that are receiving it now to ween themselves off part of what they get.

If you have any more suggestions or ideas please feel free to leave a comment.  As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcome.


“I love it When a Plan Comes Together”

July 3, 2010

OK,  just got back from the movies.   I went to see the A-Team movie a remake of the TV show I watched as a child growing up in the 80’s every Friday night at 9:00pm.  I have to say  it was a bit disappointed with the movie tonight.  I’m not sure that if there is a sequel that I will go and see it.    I remember for years watching the Dukes of Hazard, and the A-Team back to back almost every Friday night for years.  It was great family time with the whole family and then off to bed at 10:00 when Dallas came on.  Several things I will remember about those nights like;  it was the one night we got to stay up late and the jokes about dad liking  Daisy Duke.

 Hannibal had his saying at the end of the program after the bad guys were caught and the adventure was over.  “I love it when a plan comes together.”  Everything seem to just work out perfectly and the good guys went home and we waited impatiently until next week to see what would happen again.  Sounds a little of the reality scope of life doesn’t it?  It was no fairy tale ending because they were always on the run from the MP’s and Cornell Decker. 

 The thought occurred to me on the way home that God might have the same phrase that He uses on us when all through our lives different things may happen and they might seem out of control and crazy, but in the end they work out for a “mission accomplished.”  The world can be a messed up place, and because of the sinful choices of people it can be hard to grasp the idea that God is in control and God has plan that He is working out, but it is true.  God is in control , He has a plan, and even when the world is crashing down around us or with us, God is there.

There are so many scriptures that show us that He is in control and that He has a plan for those who are His children.  Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:28 just to list a few.  It is always easier to look back after you have come through an experience and see where God used it to better you or to teach you something, or even to begin a new chapter ministry or life.  The hardest part is trying to see God in situations that you are currently going through, we often look for God working in areas when He may be doing something totally different with a situation. 

Are you going through a tough situation right now?  Do you struggle to find God working in your life some times?  Let me encourage you to do 2 things.  Remain close to God and His people (the church) they will be a great support for you.  Secondly, just keeping doing what God has called you do, being obedient to him with what you know He wants you to do, until the time comes and you know He wants you to do something else.  It may be weeks, months, or even years that will pass before you see how God was with you in a situation or how you grew in the tests and trials you passed through.  Rick Warren, Pastor and Author says in his book “Purpose Driven Life” that God often uses your greatest weakness or failure to be your greatest ministry in life.  Think of the possibilities of how God can use your experiences to help others  who are going through where you have already been.

  Maybe, like Hannibal Smith  you might even say “I love it when a plan comes together!”