July 30, 2012

Ready for This Particular Chicken to Cross the Road

When you live in the Bible Belt, every shot fired in the culture wars seems to be the shot heard 'round the world, or at least throughout our section of the world.

The current battlefront can be found at Chick-Fil-A. I refuse to take sides, although I'm sure there are those who think not siding with them (whichever side they're on) is taking a side.

Call me silly, but I think companies can support whatever causes they may choose to support and customers who don't care for those decisions can choose to take their business elsewhere. That seems simple enough.

I don't understand Christians turning this into a holy war with snarky comments and pictures on Facebook. These Christians represent both sides of the issue.

Really? Jesus gave his life for a holy chicken war?

I think not.

Paul indicated in I Corinthians that marriage can be a distraction from the Gospel. While he wasn't speaking to this situation, I think it applies. While there are married couples who manage to serve the Lord fully through their marriages, as Paul says, most who are married have divided interests. As Christians, when we let ourselves become distracted by who is or is not supporting gay marriage, we have divided interests. 

Sometimes I wonder if we all have a case of spiritual ADD as we bounce from one battlefront in the culture war to another. Whenever Christians get caught up in this stuff, we're not focused on Christ. We're focused on convincing others that we're right. That's not our job.

God does not call us to make people just like us, which is a good thing. Jesus unloaded on the Pharisees over that sort of thing, masterfully employing the phrase, "son of hell." (I alternate between chuckling that he used that term to describe religious leaders and feeling convicted that he could be referring to me.)

We're called to love others. We're called to tell people about Jesus. We're called to tell the world about God's grace. We're called to share the story of God's love for each of us, love demonstrated in Christ's sacrifice.

Nothing else compares.

Until next time,

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. ~ 1 John 4:10

July 14, 2012

My Brush With History

I'm a news junkie, largely because I love to watch history unfold. My earliest memory of a national event is President Kennedy's assassination when I was 4, and I have no doubt that's what taught me at an early age that history isn't just in books. It happens all around us. 

So a few months ago when two men whose work was connected to one of those historical events that I watched unfold came to town, naturally I wanted to see them. My friend, Trella, and I looked forward to the night for weeks. We knew we needed to plan better for this one after finding ourselves watching George Will from very bad camera angles on a monitor in a standing-room-only area outside the auditorium where he was speaking a few weeks earlier.

We arrived two hours early. We were so early that the ushers tried to direct us to the VIP reception to meet the speakers but we knew we I wouldn't be able to stop giggling long enough to pull that off. Instead, we went into the basketball arena (the University of Tulsa learned something from George Will's popularity) and carefully chose our seats. Since we were the first to arrive, we had plenty of choices. We decided we wanted to be dead center. Unfortunately, the VIPs who were invited to the reception had several rows of the center section reserved just for them so the closest center seats were many rows back from the stage. Like Goldilocks, we tried those seats for awhile but decided we could do better. By that time others were beginning to arrive so our options were more limited. We moved to the section just to the right of center and found seats near the aisle two or three rows back from the stage.

We were rewarded for our efforts when the speakers came out, walking right in front of us. One of them was visibly surprised by the size of the crowd - a few thousand people - filling the arena. They took the stage and spoke for an hour or so about their experiences and the historical event which had propelled them to fame decades ago. The whole time I couldn't believe that I was so close to these men who have been household names for most of my life. When they opened the floor to questions, I knew I had to get in line.

I've never been one of those people who goes anywhere near a microphone in front of a crowd, but here I am, asking my question.

The first guy responded that my question was a good one. Or maybe he said it was great. No, I think he said it was the best. question. ever. Oh, I have no idea what he said, I just know he indicated he liked the question and I couldn't believe he was looking directly at me as he spoke. Then he turned to the other guy who spoke to me for several minutes as he continued to answer the question. Although his words were obviously intended for everyone in the arena, he looked me directly in the eye the entire time, as though he was speaking only to me as he told a story. It was a thrill I can't begin to explain.

It was a day or two later before I had a revelation about that night. I was thrilled for the opportunity to talk to these guys who had impacted history. But I get to talk directly to the One who created history every. single. day. And while His Word is clearly intended for everyone, it speaks directly to me each time I read it. Why do I forget that? Why aren't I as excited to greet Him every morning? Why do I take speaking to Him throughout the day for granted? Why do I neglect Him?

I won't lie. There are still many days when I take my relationship with God for granted, but then are those other times when I break through that indifference -- or more accurately, when I allow Him to break through my indifference -- and I find that I can still have that same feeling with God that I had for those few minutes when two famous guys answered my question. No, that's not right. It's not the same. It's way better.

Oh, and who were the speakers? These guys -- and Carl even looked up!

I couldn't have been more excited if they'd been Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, themselves!

Until next time,

You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first. ~ Revelation 2:4a-5b