Monday, October 24, 2016

A moderate approach to a divisive issue.

                One of the most divisive issues in the Church today concerns homosexuality and same sex marriages. And it's not just an American issue, churches in other countries are chiming in with their opinions on the stance being taken in this country, and other Western countries. Somewhere between Jesus loves the LGBT community so we'll be progressive and fully embrace members of that community and allow them to fully participate in the life of the church, including serving in pastoral roles, and Homosexuality is a sin, they need to give up their evil ways or be doomed to hell, there has to be some middle ground. A stance that is firmly grounded in scripture. A stance that acknowledges that God loves people, and so should we. But also a stance that allows us to call sin a sin.
              Many Christian conferences include breakout sessions on how to talk with or deal with the members of the LGBT  community that  come to our churches. And there recently seems to be an increased focus on helping LGBT teens, as well as the different takes on whether same sex marriages should be allowed, and the impact that they may have on children and on the definition of family.
            This is a difficult blog for me to write, because I believe in the inerrancy of scripture, which by extension means that I think we should love people, but see homosexuality as a sin. I'm also reluctant to condemn members of the LGBT community until the church takes the  same approach to other sexual sins. Remembering this middle of the road position, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to read books like Joe Dallas' Speaking of Homosexuality: Discussing the Issues with Kindness & Clarity (Baker Books, 2016).
                Dallas is a former gay activist, who changed his mind about the lifestyle he was engaged in and promoting, and has now written several books on human sexuality from a Biblical perspective.  I found this book to be helpful because the author addresses several of the sub-plots involved with this argument between traditional mainline Christianity and a new revisionist theory that manages to convey the impression that we've mistranslated, misinterpreted and otherwise gotten it wrong for the past several thousand years.  
                As he discusses each of his subject areas, Dallas offers the traditional position on the subject, the scripture that backs it up, and highlights the main points of the revisionist argument, followed by a response to the argument.  Much of the discussion has to do with how individual words are used throughout scripture, making a case for or against a certain position.
                Especially in this election season, I'm tired of harsh rhetoric, so it was refreshing to read this book. The author is obviously passionate about his beliefs, but he expresses his arguments in a gracious and loving manner. A manner that reminds us that God does love people who think differently than we do, but also charges us to accept the word of God as it was written for us rather than try to change it to fit the views of a fallen world.

                I received  a copy of this book in exchange for my review. The opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

GFA Day 30 Unequally yoked, and the power of prayer.

Naomi, a woman in south Asia had grown up in a Christian home, worshiping God, going to church, and looking forward to raising her children to know Jesus. But her parents forgot their Christianity when it came time to arrange a marriage for their daughter, and the groom was not a believer.  

Yes the wedding was in a church, but the marriage was far outside the church. Tarak refused to let his wife attend church services, and the things she knew best, prayer, bible reading and attending worship were forbidden, and hidden. Naomi knew that it would take a miracle, or extreme courage on her part to be able to pass on her Christian faith to her children.

In addition to being antagonistic to his wife’s beliefs, Tarak had something else going on: he liked to drink—a lot. As his alcoholism progressed things got worse for the family. He made money working, but spent most of his pay check on booze and tobacco. Usually there was not enough left for the basics, and when two children were born into the family, things got worse.

Finally Tarak’s poor choices caught up with him. He got sick and needed an operation. As is often the case with alcoholics, there was no money for the needed medical attention. Naomi and her children resigned themselves to a life without dad. 

But as Tarak was drinking himself to death, Naomi had returned to church, and the children had been enrolled in a Bridge of Hope school. One day Tarak’s son shared with the staff what was going on with his father. Some staff members came to the house and shared the gospel with an emaciated and obviously dying Tarak. 

At that point something changed, and his animosity toward Christianity left. Naomi was allowed to pray, to read her bible, and to go to church.  At church they prayed for Tarak’s healing, and healed he was. Now Tarak is a committed Christian, he brings his family to church, and his son and daughter have the hope of continuing the family legacy: raising each generation to serve God.

Yes they were unequally yoked, but prayer is a powerful weapon, and the grace of God is exceedingly great!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

GFA Day 29 Sponsor a Child

In the interest of transparency, I have to confess that I do not sponsor a child through GFA, Compassion or any other agency. Do I think sponsorship is a good idea? In many cases yes. Is it the only good idea? No.

However, I think that God will put the idea on the hearts of those who need to know about this option, and if they hear about it from this Blog, then God gets the glory. Paul wrote to the Church at Rome, (See Romans 10:13-15) building on an idea that he got while studying the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah, that before people can respond they have to hear, before hearing someone has to speak it, before they are in position to speak, they have to be sent. So today I have been sent, via blog, to speak so that people can hear, and possibly respond. God knows who needs to hear this today, and He will make sure that person or those persons get the opportunity.

I said that I don’t sponsor a child, but I do support some missionary activity that directly impacts children in situations much like those you can read about if you follow this link. I support activity that indirectly impact children like Daya and Nibun (who I’ve written about before), and I’m closely connected to the children of a refugee family with which I have the privilege and pleasure of volunteering. I even support financially a missionary couple serving in the part of the world where GFA operates.

So what is it about sponsoring a child that you need to know? If you followed the above link, you know why there is such a compelling need for sponsors. Your $35.00 a month pledge provides much needed help for people who often exist on less than $2.00 a day. It means food, it means medicine and educational opportunities.  

But more importantly you can directly impact the life of a child like this one:

Sponsorship is more than sending a check, or having a monthly charge on your credit card. The great hope is that you will develop a relationship with ‘your’ child. When you pledge, GFA sends a picture of a child, along with some personal info. You can write letters to this child, pray for him or her, and know that Bridge of Hope will ensure that your child is gaining a far brighter future, and experience the love of God. Click HERE for more info about sponsoring.