bibleisforbigots
Wow, the web seems to have blown up in the last 24 hours over the whole A&E Networks vs. Phil Robertson debacle! It seems everyone has a distinct and polarizing opinion on the subject. In case you’re unaware entirely, Phil Robertson, the father of the family starring in the A&E show Duck Dynasty, said (in a nutshell) in an interview with GQ magazine that he believes homosexuality is wrong because the Bible teaches that it’s wrong. And what a hullabaloo that created! People are shouting from their virtual mountain tops on either side of the debate.

“Christians are haters!”

“Stand with Phil!”

“Ban Duck Dynasty because the Robertsons are bigots!”

“Ban A&E for banning Phil!”

Wherever you stand, one thing is clear: the subject of homosexuality in America is touchy, to say the least.

The Bible also teaches other, very clear principles: things like “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) and “remove the plank from your own eye before you remove the speck from your brother’s” (Matthew 7:5).

But all of this racket has got me thinking. I have many, many homosexual friends. I have steered clear of the topic on this blog until now because I would never, EVER want them to feel hurt by something I might say in the heat of the moment. To be clear, I do believe the Bible’s stand is clear on the subject: it is wrong and a sin. But the Bible also teaches other, very clear principles: things like “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) and “remove the plank from your own eye before you remove the speck from your brother’s” (Matthew 7:5). All this to say that if you are one of those Christians who claims to believe the whole Bible, then it would behoove you to apply the whole Bible. And what that means, in a very tiny nutshell, is that while sin is sin, the Love of Christ trumps it. And our calling as believers is to stand with truth, preach the Gospel, and LOVE our brothers, our neighbors, our enemies alike, just as Christ loves us.

If we’re incapable of doing both, then we shouldn’t call ourselves followers of Christ.

If we’re going to follow that line of thinking, we would all hate all people, all the time, for no one is perfect, no not one.

But I would daresay that the problem actually lies in a giant, societal assumption about most things Christian these days. There is an underlying message that if you believe something contrary to me, you must hate me. Look around and see if it isn’t so. And unfortunately homosexuality falls square in the middle of that line of thinking.

I would like to propose the idea that we, as humans, are perfectly capable of believing in certain principles and laws of God without hating those who don’t follow them. After all, the Bible also says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So if we’re going to follow that line of thinking, we would all hate all people, all the time, for no one is perfect, no not one.

I’ll give a simple example. The Bible teaches to “honor your father and mother.” This is both an Old and New Testament principle (Exodus and Ephesians). My children, God bless them, have yet to master the art of honoring me and my husband perfectly all the time. Despite their sweet little faces, they can be real pistols from time to time. And while they fail at this clearly-stated Biblical principle, I don’t fail to love them for it. I haven’t decided to hate my children because they haven’t repented of their sins of dishonor. No, it’s quite the contrary. I love them all the more, because I know that love is the only thing that’s going to teach them that following said principle is even worth it.

And, my friends, the same applies to homosexuality. Do I agree with it? No, I don’t. There, I said it. But do I hate anyone who practices it? Absolutely not!! Absolutely not. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I love them dearly, because I know that they, just like me, are sinners in need of a Savior. And I don’t ever want any hate I might spew to ever deter them from finding that Truth.

When I read the words of Phil Robertson (all of them, not just the snippets that are being thrown around social media like a hot potato), I don’t see a bit of hate in them. I see a man who, when asked, shared that he agrees with the Bible on the subject of homosexuality. But he went on to say that, “I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”

Does that sound like a man of hate? Indeed, it doesn’t. And perhaps we would all be better off if we remembered that just because you believe certain things about the world, about life, about your faith, it does not in any way imply that you hate anyone who doesn’t share those beliefs.

There is a growing intolerance for anything Christian these days. And we Christians would do well to remember that, remain calm, and show love anyway. Otherwise, we will just be joining the squeaky wheels in a useless cycle of name-calling and tantrums. And it won’t get us anywhere.

The majority of the world is a bunch of crazies that need to be locked up.

So what does all of this have to do with Christmas? Everything, actually. The message of Christmas is that God loved us so much that He didn’t want to leave us the way we are. He saw in us something worth saving, worth loving, worthy dying for. So He sent His only son to earth that whoever would believe in Him, would have everlasting life with Him. Wow. Have you ever really thought about that? God. Sent His Son. To DIE. For YOU. So that you don’t have to stay how you are. You can have LIFE in Him. A life everlasting. Whatever our sins are, they are already forgiven by Christ. All we have to do is accept that. If we’ve all sinned, then we all need Christ. So it’s a good thing He came, isn’t it?

I love Christmas because I love Christ. And because I love Christ, I love everyone He loves. I may not like them all the time, but I love them nonetheless. And I’m determined to let everyone know who would listen, that Christ is everything we would ever need, if only we would let Him be. Does that make me an intolerant bigot? If I am, then so is Christ. And if Christ is, then millions, nay billions of those who have followed Him over the millennia were too. And if that’s the case, the majority of the world is a bunch of crazies that need to be locked up. And if that’s the way you feel, you DEFINITELY need Christ this Christmas! 🙂

Let’s all take a moment to remember what Christ did for us, and what we can do for each other in return. And let’s all calm down and stop crucifying anyone who might believe that, stand for it, and apply all that the God of the Bible teaches. Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails, after all. (I Corinthians 13:7-8)

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Things My Kids Say: No. 014

thingsmykidssay
Me: Virgil, it’s time to go to bed.

Virgil: Mommy, I’m too little!

Me: Virgil, come on buddy. It’s bedtime now.

Virgil: I’m too young!

secularsanta
It’s that time of year. When elves are being mischievous on shelves. When reindeer are flying around shopping center rooftops. When an old man can somehow see when I’m sleeping. He knows when I’m awake. He knows if I’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake. (That’s the only reason to be good, after all.)

I don’t ever want my kids to grow up thinking Christmas is all about Santa, or Santa’s birthday (thank you, Bart Simpson).

I know lots of families who wrestle with faith versus culture this time of year. I’ve read many blogs on many different philosophies. “Santa represents the magic of this season. Why would you deny your kids that magic?” Or, “Jesus is all the ‘magic’ we should ever need. How dare we replace Jesus with Santa!”

I’ve thought and prayed a lot about where our family should fall on this apparently polarizing topic (at least for Christians). On one hand, I don’t ever want my kids to grow up thinking Christmas is all about Santa, or Santa’s birthday (thank you, Bart Simpson). But on the other hand, I grew up with Santa but I still knew what Christmas was all about. I think I turned out alright (some of you are shaking your heads in dissent, I’m sure).

So what is the answer? Sure, people will point out that Santa comes from Saint Nicholas, a really nice guy from centuries ago that helped children and gave as a representation of the gift of Christ. Great. And some people would say that anything America associates with Christmas – trees, evergreens, red and green itself – is of pagan origin and should therefore never be in a Christian home. I’ve heard it all, haven’t you?

Their Santa figurines will be kneeling with the wise men at the nativity.

I suppose the answer is the same answer for any Christian in any circumstance, with any topic that is not expressly spelled out in the Bible: let the Holy Spirit lead YOUR family.

For some families, that’s going to mean a strictly orthodox Christmas – the nativity, the advent candles, and absolutely NO Santa whatsoever. For some families, it’s going to be some hybrid of American Christmas tradition and religion. Their Santa figurines will be kneeling with the wise men at the nativity. (The wise men were never at the stable, by the way.) And for some families, it’s going to mean Santa, candy canes, stockings hung by chimneys with care, and perhaps the Christmas candlelight service at church – you know, give Jesus his due respect.

Wherever your family falls this season, just make sure you have prayed about it and let the Lord lead you. If you’re a Christian, that’s your job in all things, after all. And if you decide to incorporate Santa, don’t feel bad about it for one minute. If you decide not to, don’t feel bad about it for one minute, either.

As with most things in life, when put in their proper place and perspective, they can be completely used for the glory of God. After all, if we wanted to strip the church of anything remotely “secular,” we would never sing hymns, for those are mostly composed of the melodies of old bar tunes. And we would never use evergreens at Christmas because those were originally used by pagans to celebrate the winter solstice. We wouldn’t do a lot of things in the church if we avoided anything that was possibly linked to the secular world in some way: technology, air-conditioning, and on and on.

The truth is, it’s easy to become dogmatic when it comes to religion. But at the end of the day, as long as we teach our children that Jesus is the reason for the season, because Christmas is the celebration of His birth (which, consequently, was probably not on December 25th, or even in December for that matter) and the celebration of the beautiful gift God gave us by sending His son to the world to save us – as long as we teach them the truth – the rest is just details.

And to quote my husband, that’s my Christian opinion.

Either way, have yourself a Merry Christmas!

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Things My Kids Say: No. 013

thingsmykidssay
There is no lack of humor whilst watching your children gain a grasp of the nuances of the English language…

My Husband: Son, don’t give me attitude!

Virgil: I am attituding you!

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Things My Kids Say: No. 012

thingsmykidssay
Virgil: Mommy, can I take my shoes off?

Me: No, son. But thank you for asking.

Virgil: I’m not asking!

Me: Well, don’t take them off. We have to go to the store.

Virgil: I need to check them!

icepocalypse2013
“The worst ice storm in years!”

“The coldest weather DFW has ever seen this time of year!”

“Icemageddon!!”

“Icepocalypse!”

These are just some of the phrases floating around social media and local news over the past few days here in Dallas/Fort Worth. It has been the coldest, iciest weather I can remember in DFW. It started on Thursday with freezing rain and sleet, coming down in droves, for a solid day. And here we are, Monday morning, and about 2% of it has melted. Literally entire freeways are shut down. People have been stranded on the highway for days. No one can go anywhere. Schools are shut down. Businesses are shut down. Churches didn’t meet this weekend. Needless to say, this would be the absolute WORST time for your heater to go off.

Which is exactly what happened to us.

Last week was Thanksgiving and the kids and I spent a few days with my family while my husband had to stay behind and work. (Don’t worry, he got to come out and spend Thanksgiving day with us!) When we got back home last Sunday, he told me that the heater had been making strange sounds and that I should tell our landlord. My first thought? “Oh Lance, you and your worries. I’m sure it’s nothing.” I almost said it but something (which I now know was nothing other than God Himself) told me to call our landlord immediately. So I did. I never do that. In the past when we have had the inevitable little problems that arise in a home (water heater going out, toilets on the fritz, etc.), I’ve always waited a few days to call. Perhaps out of a fear of sounding like a whiner, but whatever the case, I NEVER call immediately when a problem starts to arise. But this time, I did. Never having even heard the heater make the sound myself, I called.

The landlord sent someone out that night to look at it. Sure enough, it was dying. He said we needed to order an entirely new unit! (Wait, what?) The weather had been predicting the ice-apocalypse that was headed our way for a few days so I asked the repairman if we could get a new unit before it hit. He assured me we would. The weather was due to hit overnight Thursday going into Friday. He said we would have a new unit by Thursday.

So when the sleet started at 2pm Thursday afternoon, I knew the prospects of a new heater were slim. But no worries, it was still working, it was just making weird, loud sounds. But those weird sounds got weirder and weirder and louder and louder. By Friday evening the heater would kick on for about 3 minutes and then shut off again for hours. But oddly enough, it never got arctic in our house, despite the temperatures in the teens and wind chills below zero outside.

We called the landlord again to tell her what was going on. I could tell she felt really bad. I didn’t want her to – it’s not like she planned this perfect storm of freezing weather and a dying heater. Nonetheless, she asked her repairman to brave the icy roads and come see if there was something he could do to keep it going. He came on Saturday, worked some magic, and got it up and running again. He said he thought it would hold out until he could get the new unit here on Monday. But again, it still wasn’t arctic in our house.

The “fix” was short-lived and our heater died again. Lance and I were worried sick about our kids. We have two pathetically small space heaters and we kept them on in their rooms at night and rotated them around the house during the day in the areas we were using the most. We each separately laid hands on the heater (unbeknownst to each other) asking God to keep it going. We laughed when we both, embarrassed, admitted to each other that we were laying hands on our heating unit. Every time it would try to come on, I would start my 9-1-1 prayer, begging God, “Please, oh please, oh please keep it on! Let it work this time!” Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. But still, the house wasn’t cold.

I was tired of begging God to keep the heater running and tired of feeling like sometimes He answered and sometimes He didn’t.

By Sunday night, I was frazzled and tired. I was tired of worrying about our kids, tired of praying like a dying woman every time the heater tried to come back on. I was tired of begging God to keep the heater running and tired of feeling like sometimes He answered and sometimes He didn’t.

Our sweet neighbors offered to let us sleep at their house last night (Sunday). Lance and I talked about it and as we did, I realized something – it had never really gotten cold in our house, despite the fact that we hadn’t had a heater for days and the temps were at record cold. Then it hit me. I had been praying all weekend for the heater to keep coming on. I had been riding a roller coaster of ups and downs – elated when it would come on, disappointed and upset when it didn’t. But never once on that roller coaster did I stop to take into account that we had never gotten cold. In fact the temperature gauge on the thermostat never went below 68º. And most of the time it stayed around 72-73º. It was a miracle. A true, no reason this should have happened, bonafide miracle. And the miracle made me realize that often we pray for something specific like “keep our heater on” when all we really need to do is say, “God, I trust You to keep our house warm, heater or not.”

How often could we apply that to our prayers in life? More often than not, I would imagine. When we have financial problems, it’s easy to pray to win the lottery. Sure, that would solve your problems (maybe), but what’s the real need there? The real need is for God to provide for and protect your family. Perhaps that’s what we should be praying. Because miracles don’t always (or ever) come in the form we think would be best (and thank God!). When we have a sick loved one, we often pray for their illness to be healed. And while I know healing happens all the time, and there is a time to pray for healing, sometimes we need to just pray that God would deliver them in His way. And sometimes that deliverance may even mean death. I’m not saying this to sound crass or callous. I’m saying it to point out that God’s ways are bigger than our own and infinitely better than we could imagine.

Our little ice-capade has given me a new perspective on what miracles really are. And as I sit here at my computer typing this blog on what should be ice-cold keys on the keyboard, I’m marveling in the warmth of my un-heated house, and resting in the warmth of the miracle that took place when I wasn’t expecting it.

We are a blessed house, indeed.

Isaiah 55:8 – “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.”

Pictured above:

Left – Icicles on our house, some of them as long as two feet!
Center – The ice so thick it looked like snow. 4-6 inches in some areas.
Right – Virgil “helping” daddy try to dig the car out of the ice.