The Death of Civility

December 11, 2015

There is a trend within my immediate context of relationships that has me very worried.  That trend involves the willingness, or lack thereof, of the current generation of 40 something’s to take up the baton of civility and continue to run with it.  It is true in my local context, and I believe in many others, that the burden of caring for others emotionally and physically is being carried by those who are in the sunset of their lives.  I am concerned that after the sun sets on that generation that those in my generation will not be willing to step into that void to do what is necessary to help those in need.  Those little things that you don’t think have any effect, actually have incredible weight.  I recall being in the funeral procession on the way to bury my son Eli.  There were two individuals that I spotted on the side of the road who stopped what they were doing and put their hats over their hearts to honor someone they didn’t even know.  That was ten years ago and I can still take you to the very spot they were standing when they showed this act of kindness and tell you what they had stopped doing to honor my son.  That is the kind of civility that is dying today.  It is that same kind of civility that goes to funerals for people they don’t even know well.  They cook food for people who are homebound and visit those who are bereaved.  My generation is one that has relegated those sorts of things to the “professionals” in the church.  In doing so, I fear that we are weakening the witness of God’s church and contributing to the death of civility in our culture.

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Changing Tides and Shifting Sand

July 16, 2015

It is a very unique time in which we live today.  We are now living in a nation that has unilaterally approved of Same Sex marriage at the federal level in complete disregard to the laws of 31 states within these United States banning Same Sex marriage.  There is no doubt that the political clout of those pushing for the normalization of homosexual relationships has grown exponentially over the past decade.  It was a scant 7 years ago that both president Obama and then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton both publicly proclaimed marriage to be a union of one man and one woman.  Not surprisingly, as the political landscape changed so did the position of those in the most prominent positions of power.  The real question for me boils down to the question of origin.  Did marriage come from a societal will or does it have a deeper and more profound beginning?  As we look back through history we find that marriage is normative for most civilized cultures.  We can also see from history that the abandonment of that norm has been a contributing element to the downfall of cultures and civilizations.  The thing that I believe is so significant about the changing tide of public and legal opinion concerning Same Sex marriage is that there is now an expectation that Same Sex marriage not only be allowed but that it should be normalized and applauded in the culture.  The research that supports the benefits for the children of heterosexual married couples is overwhelming, and yet there is a commitment to overlook all of this evidence in order to accommodate a segment of society that according to the 2010 census equals 2.7 percent of the United States population.  The changing tide concerning Same Sex marriage, in my opinion, can only contribute to the shifting sand of moral relativism that has plagued us as a society for the last 40 or 50 years.  We are truly returning to the cultural condition that existed in the Old Testament in which every man does “what is right in his own eyes.”  When the ultimate judge of what is right and what is wrong becomes the conscience of the individual we cannot expect civility or civilization to long endure.

Another First for America

May 11, 2012

It is beyond incredible to look back over the past 30 or 40 years and see the societal evolution of our nation away from God and His standards.  There are currently 5 states that have voted to recognize same sex marriages and 30 states that have adopted legislation banning same sex marriages.  It should be readily apparent that the vast majority of people within this great country do not agree that homosexual couples should be seen the same way heterosexual couples are in the eyes of the law.  One tactic being used to change the social opinion on this issue is to equate the plight of homosexual couples to the plight of the black community in achieving equal rights.  This tactic makes the unsubstantiated assumption that the condition of the homosexual couple is one that they were born into.  There is much evidence to show that homosexual tendencies can be overcome but the scientific evidence to show that homosexuality is anything other than a preference is woefully lacking.  It is at this point in the societal debate that our president offers his “evolved” position on the issue.  I find it interesting that the timing of his announcement comes at the beginning of his bid for reelection in November and right before a big Hollywood fundraiser that brought in $15,000,000. (fifteen million dollars!)  We have become witness to the first American president to support homosexual marriage.

Courageous

October 3, 2011

There are a staggering amount of movies that have been made that range from the deplorable to the divine. I don’t go to or even watch enough movies to be considered an authority but this past Sunday night a group from my church went to see the movie Courageous. The neat thing about this movie is that you can’t mention some multimillion dollar actor to convince people they need to go see it. The content of this movie speaks louder than any celebrity every could. The reason that I went to see this movie when I did, and why I encouraged others to see it with me is so that I could be a small part of the opening weekend that so many people gauge the worth of a movie by. If you are going to judge a movie by it’s opening weekend ticket sales, courageous didn’t do too bad. $8,800,000 to be exact.

The message of the movie however is both priceless and timeless. The need in our society for fathers to stand up and fulfill the role that God has designed them for is beginning to be recognized by the secular media. The only problem is that though the secularist can see the devastating impact the lack of a loving father can have in a child’s life, they are at a loss as to how to counteract the trend. The problem they face is that you cannot endorse the fulfillment of all a man’s selfish desires and expect that same man to devote himself to the selfless task of being a dad. Any fool can be a biological father, but it takes something more to be a dad. The focus of the film is to call men to fulfill their God given duties to nurture and protect their children as they love their wives. A more timely topic would be hard to find.

The Old World Order

November 3, 2010

In watching the sweeping change in power that occurred during the midterm elections held yesterday, I was reminded of how little difference it makes who is in power.  I am certainly not saying that we should not be involved and informed about the issues and politics of the day, but it really makes little difference if there is a Republican or Democratic President.  It doesn’t matter if the person is a member of the tea party movement or not.  In the final analysis, God is in ultimate control of the affairs of men and Satan has temporary control of the world system.  I love what the prophet Isaiah says about who is in control of world events. 

“Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.”  Isaiah 40:15

There has always been an tendency on the part of man to think that he is the captain of his own ship and that he is the only one able to address the issues of his day.  The problem comes when people who hold this high opinion of what man can do differ in how to do it.  In the end, the winner is simply the one with the most money or the biggest gun.  Speaking from a biblical perspective, we must not put undo importance on the policies and politics of men.  The old saying is very true,  “you can’t legislate morality”.  As much as we would like to think that we can make rules and laws that will reform society, the simple truth is that the only way a person can be truly reformed is from the inside out.  Unless mankind has an inward working of God in his life, he is incapable of living up to his dreams of utopia.  With all of the advancement and knowledge in the world today, why do we still have the same old problems that have always been in the world.  The problem is not that man doesn’t have the necessary equipment to live rightly.  The problem is that, outside of God, he can’t.

Global Warming

December 19, 2009

I am sure that most of the proponents of global warming are convinced that Climate-gate was an attempt by big business to thwart the efforts of big government to avert the inevitable disasters that await if we do not change our coal-burning ways.   I would hope that there are a few global warming enthusiasts who will stop and ask,  “what if global warming is not true”?  As in most things of this nature, if you want to get to the bottom of an issue it is usually found by following the money trail.  I agree that  big business is greedy and stands to lose a ton of money if things like the cap-and-trade legislation go through.   We cannot lose site of the fact that there are equal or greater amounts of money to be made on the “environmentally friendly” side of the debate as well.   If there is no God and this world is all there is then by all means, reduce the entire civilized world to living in abject poverty for the good of the human race.  On the other hand, if God created the world for mankind then we need to be good stewards of the resources that He has given us but use them with the understanding that God put them there for that purpose.

Hell is not for sissies

November 28, 2009

It was brought to my attention the other day how we as Christians have an aversion to talking about hell that the world doesn’t have.  There are seemingly endless slang uses for hell in the everyday life of the average person.  Yet we are afraid to bring up the topic.  While hell can be used as a curse word, it is a literal place that it is our job description to tell people how to avoid.   The noted atheist Penn Jillette ,from the famed Penn and Teller duo, has a very interesting take on evangelism from an atheists point of view.  You can look for yourself by following the above link but what he basically says is, if you truly believe that hell is a literal place, how much do you have to hate someone not to tell them how to avoid it.  You have to admit that our reluctance to tell people about hell is a pretty good reason for the world around us not to believe that it exists.  I think this is true about preaching today as well.  Hell is not mentioned from the pulpit as it used to be.  We need to quit being sissies about our belief in a literal heaven and hell and begin to tell people how they can know the truth of God’s forgiveness before we no longer have the opportunity.

Removing Walls

August 26, 2009

It is amazing to me how much we need each other as humans and how little we are willing to invest ourselves in meaningful, transparent relationships.  I think we learn from a very young age that the goal of relationships is to see how long you can keep people from seeing who you really are, and keep them seeing who you want them to see.  We are trapped in a double life that will not allow us to remove the walls from around who we really are and let others participate with us in real relationship.  The reason for our walls is obvious.  We are protecting ourselves from being hurt by others.  Ironically, the very people that are capable of hurting us are the very people that we need to be healthy,  balanced individuals.  I love what Nate Larkin, founder of the Samson Society, says about relationships.   He says, “Jesus called us to a personal relationship not a private one“. We sometimes think that we need nothing other than our relationship with Christ.  That is obviously the most important of our relationships but we are designed to desire community and without it we are incomplete.  I truly believe that there are very few people, men in particular, that have someone that they can be totally honest with and will hold them accountable for their actions.  Unless we are willing to let other significant people into our lives we will not be able to advance in our lives as believers as quickly or as deeply as God would desire us to.  We all need to pray for someone who can be our greatest fan and at the same time, one who is willing to call us on the carpet when we are not acting in authentic ways.  I am realizing more and more as the years go by that I need other men in my life who care enough about me to look behind the smile and see what is really going on in my life.  without that kind of accountability, I will convince my self and others that things are fine just the way they are.  Once we become comfortable with where we are as Christians we begin to lose ground and go the other way.  Lord help me to be authentic!

The Big Picture

May 28, 2009

In the grand scheme of things it is difficult to get the big picture. When we are deeply involved in the day to day living of our lives it is hard for us to see what is truly important outside of our own pressing needs. I think often of the choices that I make during a given day and the impact, or lack thereof, that I am having for Christ on the world around me. The Apostle Paul made it very clear that there is great freedom in Christ. What most people in my generation do not realize is that freedom is not the ability to do what you want to do. Rather, freedom is the ability to do what you ought to do. Without the discipline necessary to say no to my selfish desires, freedom quickly gives way to anarchy. The big picture will show us the purpose for saying no to ourselves. The big picture will allow us to move from doing what is permissible to doing what is perfect and best. The big picture is “it is not about me”. The big picture will allow me to see God moving in my life to bring glory to Himself. If I’m not okay with that He will allow me to do things my own way but He will also allow me to experience the consequences that my actions bring.
“Lord, show me the big picture so I can allow you to be seen instead of me.”

Making PC Law

May 15, 2009

As a pastor, I have long been concerned about the decline of the moral and ethical values of our nation. Throughout history it can be readily shown that the foundation of any healthy society is the basic family unit. Today the definition of “family” is very much up for grabs. I think that Miss California got it right when she said that she thought that marriage was between a man and a woman. For expressing her politically incorrect opinion, she was subjected to scorn and ridicule. It is hard to avoid the fact that her expression of personal conviction kept her from winning the title of Miss USA. I have a difficult time understanding how Miss USA can be judged so harshly for her opinion just because a minority of people disagree with her. Many have complained that her title of Miss California should be taken from her because she does not express the opinion of the majority of Californians. If I am remembering correctly, it was the state of California that recently adopted Proposition 8 which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman and prohibited same-sex marriage. It would seem to me that she is representing the majority of people in California.

In other news, the act, H.R. 1913, would establish a new FEDERAL offense for so-called “hate crimes” and add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes. It appears that our government is well on its way to giving those who choose to live the homosexual lifestyle special recognition. I am wondering where the science is that backs up the idea that sexual preference is not a choice. The following quote is from the American Psychological Association web site.

What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation?

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

Apparently the scientific world cannot sustain the idea of the “gay gene” and say that since a person does not have the ability to choose his sexual orientation, he/she should be given special treatment. Under this new law the exact definition of “sexual orientation” was not nailed down. This means that an incredible number of very disturbing activities legitimately fall under protected status. What is more, my job as a pastor is very much under attack. It is very obvious to the average reader what the bible says about marriage and homosexuality. Yet, if this new law were to be enforced, I could be arrested for preaching and teaching what the Bible says.

the following information is from the Family Research Council

In a hearing on this legislation last Congress, Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) admitted that under the legislation pastors could be arrested for hate crimes based on what they teach and preach, which is certainly a violation of free speech and an example of unfair treatment under the law.

It is hard to believe that we are making laws in our country that would cater to political correctness. In a society that glorifies the scientific, the government ignores the gaping lack of scientific evidence for what they are trying to accomplish.