Friday, July 10, 2015

Love Wins


By a ruling of five justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, marriage is no longer the sole domain of one man and one woman. Gays and lesbians can now legally marry in all 50 states. As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The constitution grants them that right.” Many are cheering this decision and many are as equally disturbed and disappointed. For those who continue to hold fast to God’s truth, this is not the end of the world, so don’t give up hope just yet. Several concerned congregants asked our Pastor to hold a meeting to discuss the ramifications of this decision on churches that believe that marriage is a holy and divine covenant before God, for one man and one woman to enter into that commitment in order to serve God. When they become “one flesh” they reflect the image of the Trinity, equal within this covenant, sharing a common purpose and intimacy, even though each possess different personalities and roles within this relationship. It is within this relationship that procreation takes place and both mother and father share the responsibility to properly raise their children, even though each may have differing responsibilities within that role.

Several quotes from Rosaria Butterfield’s new book entitled, “Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ” were mentioned by Pastor Jay. One in particular, really caught my eye. “God is calling us to so greatly love others that we do not desire for them anything that might separate them from God.” Even though this should be the most overriding concern for Christians when endeavoring to “gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth”, far too often we trip all over ourselves and end up building a wall rather than opening a door. You see, if the person you are trying to save ends up being pushed away by your lack of ability to properly articulate the Gospel message, you end up being that person that slams the door on grace. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it anymore. We are all sinners. Let that soak in for a while. Those engaging in behavior that we know to be frowned upon by our God are the same persons looking back at us in the mirror, so if there is to be any finger pointing, look no further than yourself. All are forgiven if only one believes.

Man’s law is for this world and for those living in this society. One need not despair that this decision discards God’s command and diminishes the institution of marriage. As Christians, our task remains unchanged. We are to give glory to God by forgiving as He forgave us. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are to spread the Good News to all the earth. We are to love our God with all our heart, all our soul and with all our mind. We are to act in a manner that reflects favorably upon our Lord and Savior. We are not to judge, especially those who are not Christian. We must, by our actions, be a positive influence upon all those around us. Take those families of the nine Christian African American men and women who were shot and killed by a white man who targeted them because of their skin color at a bible study in Charleston, South Carolina. At the suspect’s initial appearance, one by one they had the temerity to face the murderer of their loved ones and offer him forgiveness, ask him to repent and come to faith in Jesus. This is truly the Holy Spirit flowing through them. This is how Jesus would want each and every one of us to react to someone who strikes us on the cheek.

Those brothers and sisters in Christ that remain in fellowship with churches like the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church in America as they celebrate this decision need to carefully assess their relationship with these wayward organizations and see just how it fits with the way our Lord and Savior wants us to walk in this world. Another quote from Butterfield’s book; “You can’t bypass repentance to get to grace. Christ is manifest in our humility, not in our disobedience.” When one celebrates their sinful behavior without repentance, Christ is not in them. Romans 1: 32, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” We are sinful human beings, unworthy of the gift of grace our God so graciously bestows upon those who believe. Perhaps, even more unworthy than those who engage in homosexual acts. Do not judge those who are lost because it is they that our Lord commands us to reach with the Gospel.

God makes it abundantly clear that He expects His children to act in a manner that is pleasing to Him. One small price to pay as gratitude for all He has done for us is to be obedient and properly reflect His love through our words and actions. Let us reach out to those who are lost, our brothers and sisters in Christ that acquiesce or even celebrate deceitful doctrine in a way that can open doors to conversation and reach out in Christian love those who do not yet believe, no matter what is their sin. Romans 3:22-25, “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.”

Monday, March 30, 2015

Something to Talk About

So, the CEO of Starbucks wants his charges to begin conversations about race relations. How quaint, yuppies sipping their $7.50 frosted lattes conversing about race with minimum wage earners. That will certainly be a great start in saving the world. Then we have ELCA presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton using her bully pulpit to put in her two cents worth by addressing racial equity, or what the ELCA so often describes as, “white privilege”. From Eaton’s letter to members of the ELCA, “Overt forms of racism are no longer legally sanctioned, but the legacy of racism, sadly, endures. Institutional policies and practices still privilege some while limiting access and opportunities to others. Today, the Voting Rights Act has been weakened by the removal of federal oversight of local voting laws and millions of poor and people of color fill the cells of our criminal justice system.” The emphasis upon promoting racial justice reminds one of former presiding Bishop Mark Hanson’s little two step dance of placing his “so-called” gospel of radical inclusiveness on equal terms with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let’s address Eaton’s contentions point by point;

The legacy of racism, sadly, endures. Apparently, forgiveness is not considered by the misguided leader of the ELCA. Eaton and her predecessors side with the progressive left and call out any and all perceived slights to anyone of color. When a black man dies at the hands of the police, none of our progressive brothers and sisters notice that criminal behavior initiated the police action. When a black man commits a crime against a white person, even when witnesses report the perpetrator using racial epithets, our justice system determines that it is not a hate crime. When a police officer is targeted, they deserved it. Seems that racism is a one way street in this country. “Hands up, don’t shoot!’ is the rallying cry by the progressive left, even when this is discredited as a false narrative. The legacy of racism endures with the race baiters like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the progressive left.

Institutional policies and practices still privilege some while limiting access and opportunities to others. The institutional policies that tend to limit access and opportunities are the same entitlement programs that shackle those in poverty, giving them just enough to survive, but not enough to escape poverty. And these benefits enable the poor to afford a few creature comforts. Yet they remain loyal to the party that panders to them, offering entitlements for votes while they demonize those who succeed as “privileged”.

Today, the Voting Rights Act has been weakened by the removal of federal oversight of local voting laws. Here Eaton evidences her lack of understanding of the law by parroting progressive talking points. The voting rights act was amended due to the fact that the states continue to provide equal access to all to vote. The voting rights act was implemented to stop states that put up barricades to persons of color in an attempt to deter them from voting. Most of those states that regularly violated the rights of persons of color to vote were southern states run by democrats. Funny how history has a way of being remembered the way a person wants to remember it. Voter ID is also decried as a way of subverting the vote and discouraging persons of color from voting. It does nothing of the sort. In Milwaukee County Wisconsin, the 2008 presidential election had more that 5500 more votes tallied than persons that had cast votes. The only thing voter ID will do is make it more difficult for persons to vote illegally.

Millions of poor and people of color fill the cells of our criminal justice system. The question should be, “Why do persons of color commit so many crimes?” We need to diagnose and treat the disease, not simply treat the symptoms. The lack of a father in many poor families, particularly the African American community is the disease. There is a reason that God created them male and female. Jesus said in Mark 10:6-9, “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” A mother and father is how God intended to be a family, and together they would raise their children. Each has a defined role. Eliminate the father and a void exists, often to be filled by joining a gang and/or engaging in criminal behavior. The progressive left wants the government to replace both the father and God in the family. Eliminate the father and God, and everyone looks to the government and is beholding to it. Shame on you Bishop Eaton, you side with those that wish to make you and your God irrelevant.

Perhaps if the leaders of the ELCA would concentrate on bringing the lost to Christ, many of the ills of society would begin to heal themselves. Perhaps if less emphasis was given to social justice, more effort could be spent on preaching the Gospel to the world. Perhaps if forgiveness was not a word that is apparently foreign to the progressive left, we could truly begin to love one another. Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Let us begin with forgiving others as He has forgiven us. Pray that the Spirit will fill more and more hearts with the love of Christ. This is how we will overcome our many differences.