I am a woman. I am a woman in seminary. If you believe that these are two strikes rather than two strengths, we might not agree on some things.
The World Vision debate. Why is this such a mess? First let me say why it’s not a mess. It is NOT a mess because some people have more conservative beliefs concerning LGBT rights within a Christian organization. It is NOT a mess because some progressive or liberal Christians support LGBT rights. It is NOT even a mess because World Vision supported certain LGBT rights and then unsupported those same rights. This is what religious freedom is all about. We get to believe what we want to believe on certain issues. It just happens to be the issue of homosexuality under the spotlight for our generation. Now back to the real mess.
The hate that was spewed was the equivalent of any Westboro Baptist funeral protest. Some of the hateful words I’ve read “in the name of Jesus” broke my heart. I don’t want any of these “hate-scripture-hate” spewing people to ever represent me as a Christian. Scripture should never be wrapped in hatred. I know not everyone is going to agree with me. It might even be that only a very few people agree with me. The hatred started and the “love your neighbor” concept was thrown out the window. And then there were the “I love the sinner, I just hate the sin” people. It annoys me that I even have to type it on this computer. Every time I hear it, I let out a blood curdling scream on the inside. Sometimes I even let people who say it know what I really think. So now you have the reasoning for the title of this post. Fred Phelps is NOT dead. His legacy of hatred toward our homosexual brothers and sisters will live on as long as we wrap scripture with hatred.
Hate spewing turned to sponsor pulling. What about the children?
More of us on the “liberal” side of Christianity rejoiced. It was a step forward for the LGBT community. What about the children?
More hate. More sponsor pulling. What about the children?
For conservatives it became more about the homosexual sinner than about the children. For liberals it became more about LGBT rights than it did about the children.
I agreed with World Vision’s first decision. I support my LGBT friends. I’m not one to quantify sin. I have enough of my own to account for, so I don’t have time to worry about every other person’s sin. Where’s that doughnut I just had in my hand?
I also agree with the reversal. It breaks my heart, but I agree with it. Why? Because it’s about the children. The lost sponsorship was destroying everything that the organization had built. Some call it pandering to the conservative right. Yes, but no. In my heart of hearts I believe that World Vision executives hate that they had to reverse that monumental decision. They did what they had to do to make sure that their organization would be able to fulfill their mission. They remembered the children.
If you dropped a sponsorship on a child please, please, please renew that sponsorship now. World Vision did what you wanted. It’s about the children. If you have sponsored a child because of the first decision and are angry about the reversal, I get it, but please don’t punish the child. World Vision is a good organization in which to send your donations.
Please don’t spew hatred in the comments, I won’t post it. Don’t make it a scripture battle. For every homosexuality-is-a-sin verse you have, I’m sure I can come up with a feed-and-take-care-of-the-orphans or a get-the-plank-out-of-your-eye verse. I refuse to do a scripture battle.
I am absolutely bogged down with so many things to do that I started making lists. I AM NOT a list maker. I have decided to juggle so many balls in the air at this point that I feel the unnatural-for-me need to organize. I have a To Do list with six areas listed in order of “needs to be completed immediately” to “this is last because the actual project will not be done for several years.”
I find that To Do lists are very helpful. They are a reminder and keep me focused on the important tasks. If I become unfocused then I tend to get absolutely nothing done. I am the type that tackles all of the quick and easy tasks on the list first. This gives me the immediate sense of accomplishment that keeps me chugging along through the rest of the tasks at hand.
I have recently become very unfocused and believe that is due to one unaccomplished task on my list. I was faithful for several years in setting aside time daily for scripture and meditation. I now read hundreds of pages of the Bible, commentaries and surveys weekly for my academic program in seminary. I at first believed that this would be the same but lo and behold, it is not. It is purely academic not spiritual.
Spiritual renewal daily can be the defining factor between focused and unfocused. I not only have to study theology but I must invite God to speak into my life everyday. I must pray about doing what is right for the community of people around me. I must seek guidance in my actions.
” The Lord is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry, and saves them” (Psalms 145:17-19).
Thinking of the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, put forth by God in Exodus 20, with positive wording is enlightening as well as refreshing. If “rewritten” positively, the Ten Commandments might appear as such:
1) Worship Me and only Me
2) I AM, all that you need to worship
3) Speak of my Name in reverent and loving ways
4) Rest for everyone and all creatures all day every seventh day
5) Honor your father and mother
6) You will promote life in all that you do in every situation
7) You will be faithful to your spouse
8) You will give all that you are able
9) You will always tell the truth in everything you do
10) You will be content with all that you have regardless of how much anyone else has.
This list not only represents what may be considered a positive spin on the list of the Ten Commandments, but it is also a list of the characteristics searched for in a potential spouse, family, teachers, friends, spiritual leaders and anyone in which a considerable amount of time is spent. Commandment 8, you will always give and commandment 10, you will be content with all you have are the 2 commandments I would like to discuss.
Do ALL that you can and give ALL that you can. This theory is that if everyone gives all that they can and does all that they are capable, the world would be a different place. Turning the commandment “do not steal” into a commandment of “give all that you can” speaks volumes. Paul writes about this very positive nature of the eighth commandment, “Thieves must give up stealing … work honestly … so as to have something to share with the needy” (Eph. 4:28). Giving to people in society who cannot support themselves is a repetitive command throughout the Bible. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God … to care for orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27) is a description of this giving nature that God loves. Giving of oneself is not always defined as a monetary measurement. Some things that can be given in place of money are time, advice, help, knowledge and friendship. These are just a few of the many things that can be given with a missional attitude.
As for the tenth commandment, the idea of turning “you shall not covet your neighbor’s house” (Exod. 20:17) into “be content with all you have regardless of what anyone else has” turns an anxious situation into a peaceful scenario. It is so easy to fall prey to the American expression of keeping up with the Joneses. Someone may think, I see it, I like it and I want it too. If I do not get it then others are somehow superior to me within the culture that we live. These are thoughts that may cause uneasiness within the realm of discontentment with possessions. If someone is content with all they have, how could they possibly want more? It is written, “there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment … but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these” (1 Tim. 6:6-8). With discontentment there also comes unnecessary cultural pressure to be superior. Wanting something that is not already owned, if there is not the means to acquire the particular desired item, may cause undue anxiety. Being content with everything that is currently under stewardship gives a sense of calmness and tranquility and keeps the godly person from sin. It is commanded by Paul to “keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have” (Heb. 13:5). With contentment comes peace.
It is amazing that the Ten Commandments are relevant in today’s American society just as much as they were in the ancient Israelite society. Although the people of today’s American society may not treat the Decalogue with the same reverence as the ancient Israelites, it does not take away from the fact that these commandments have shaped the fabric of our culture, legal system and social morays. They have been passed down through the ages in these areas of every society and culture. Giving to the oppressed and being content with a simpler lifestyle, are just a couple of many trending topics in religion, politics and among social justice advocates. It makes sense to put the positive spin on them from a theological point of view so that society is capable of appreciating the forgiving love and mercy of the sovereign God who wrote the laws.
Today I am beginning the process of making our spare room upstairs into a bedroom. We want to be a foster family. It is a part of our personal family “Do What You Can” campaign. We are a family that despises the fact that there are neglected and abused children out there in our own neighborhood. We have decided to do what we can about it. We are beginning the process to become a foster family. We don’t have a perfect, Martha Stewart looking house. We don’t have amazingly nice furniture. We do have a lot of love and compassion. We do have a mission to help others. We do have an extra room. We even have a Chevy Suburban to fit our family of 5, two big dogs and one or two others. We can use what we’ve got to make a difference.
James 1:27 says this: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Who are the widows and orphans of today’s society? I believe they are the people that have no way to support themselves in the society that they live. Widows and orphans in ancient times were the people who were unable to feed themselves. They had no one to support them. They had no way to support themselves. In my mind, the term “widows and orphans” applies to many more than just that. I realize that not everyone can become foster parents. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about what you can do to help others. Figure out what you can do, then DO WHAT YOU CAN!
I love camping. It is my favorite past time and I cannot wait for a good week-long camping trip. I don’t believe in campers, popups, RV’s or anything else that isn’t a tent. I will give in to the comfort of inflatable beds but the tent is non-negotiable. It is an integral part of my camping experience and what I believe the family experiences.
I’ve just started seminary classes. Every time I go to class my mind is blown in new and unexpected way. I’ve decided that the Bible is like a camping tent. I have a brand spanking new camping tent now and I’ve taken it out of the bag it came in. I’m trying to put my camping tent back into the bag. It won’t fit. It never fits back into that bag of what I believed to be true before.
The only difference about a real camping tent and this tent of belief that encompasses me is this. A real camping tent that doesn’t fit back into the bag frustrates me to the point of screaming and high blood pressure. This new tent of belief is one that I never want to go back into the same bag. It’s an adventure!!!!
Earlier today I was reading my Bible while eating Sriracha flavored potato chips. I couldn’t help but feel like I was doing something really wrong on multiple levels.