Archive - July, 2012

Responding to Chick-fil-A Antagonist

I hesitated to venture into the Chick-fil-A skirmish, but it seems as though the discussion will continue for a while, so here I go.

A few preliminary thoughts:

Chick-fil-A makes amazing food. Healthy? No. Delicious? Yes. Enough said.

In addition to food, Chick-fil-A does a lot of other great things. This includes business leadership training, college scholarships, 11 foster care homes, many local charities and educational toys in their kids meals!

While those things may be true, let’s recognize that…

Christians have unfairly targeted homosexuals. It’s always easier to focus on other people’s sin and ignore your own. This is why Jesus said we should notice the log in our own eye before we point out the speck in someone else’s eye. Christians often ignore their own more “acceptable” sins of gluttony (e.g. fat pastors), pride, greed, etc.

Christians have failed to love homosexuals as Jesus commanded. All human beings are made in the image of God and therefore have immense worth. Because of this, they are worthy of being loved, regardless of their morality. There are many followers of Jesus who need to do a heart check because of their lack of love.

Having said those things, here is my response to Chick-fil-A antagonist:

1. Your accusations of hate are hateful.

Dan’s Cathy’s original message has been greatly distorted. His words are far less hateful than what many are implying. He said Chick-fil-A supports the “biblical definition of a family.” Not very hateful.

While some gay marriage proponents have responded with civil-discourse, many have responded with the same mean-spirited “hate speech” they falsely accuse Cathy of. It is greatly inconsistent (dare we say hypocritical) to hatefully call others hateful.

2. Your tolerance is intolerant.

The definition of tolerance is “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.”

The problem with your tolerance is that while you want people to be tolerant of you, you refuse to be tolerant of others. If you’re going to raise the banner of tolerance, it has to go both ways.

3. Your allegation of discrimination is discriminating.

Just like people, companies have values. Some value ecology. Some value innovation. Some value greed. Some value the “traditional family.” You don’t have to agree with them and you are not obligated to buy their product or to use their service. That’s called discretion.

Discrimination is different.

When the mayors of Boston and Chicago vow to not to allow Chick-fil-A in their cities, that is discriminatory. Cities/mayors can’t prevent or throw-out businesses from a city when their values differ from those of a company. What if a conservative mayor were to ban pro-homosexual companies from their city? Again… greatly inconsistent.

4. Your accusations of narrow-mindedness are narrow-minded.

Chick-fil-A antagonist say that Cathy’s statements are a reflection of a person who has yet to discover the truth, that he is speaking from ignorance or basing his opinion on an archaic book (the Bible) that no longer has relevance in modern society.

The problem with such a view is that it assumes you have found perfect knowledge. When I think I have perfect knowledge, anyone who disagrees with what I think, therefore, has imperfect knowledge. That’s a good definition of being narrow-minded.

Tim Keller says it well, “To reject the Bible as regressive is to assume that you have now arrived at the ultimate historic moment, from which all that is regressive and progressive can be discerned. That belief is surely as narrow and exclusive as the views in the Bible you regard as offensive.”

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

The One Thing Children Don’t Need To Learn

Not a single child in all of history has ever needed to be taught to be foolish. Folly just comes naturally.

I was speaking at a camp for middle school students this summer just outside of our town. My wife and nine-year old son decided they would like to drive out and join us for the evening. They didn’t know if they would make it in time for the evening meal, so Shelly told him to pack a meal to go.

They made it to camp in time for dinner so the packed meal remained in the bag it was brought in. Later that night, I opened it up to see what was inside and discovered the following contents.

While his dinner maybe missing a couple essential food groups (or all of them), he does get high marks for color and consistency.

We see similar examples of folly all the time in children. Running with scissors and not looking before crossing the street are due to folly. It’s why a child will eat donuts until they throw-up. Nearly all trips to the principal office are folly related. Folly is why teens surf on cars and jump from buildings without thinking about the importance of landing.

What can we attribute all of our “seemed like a good idea at the time” moments to? Folly. Folly prevents people from considering the outcome of their actions.

Proverbs 22:15 tells us, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.”

Children do not naturally gravitate toward wisdom because their hearts having something stuck to them that prevents them from making good decisions. So parent’s have been given the responsibility to “unbound folly”… to drive it far from them through the use of discipline. We might say our job is to be “folly extractors.”

Discipline removes folly and replaces it with wisdom. This could be through verbal warnings, time-outs, loss of privilege, spankings (given in love), or other forms of discipline. Correction should always begin with the least severe method and increase only when the more gentle method fails to bring about change. We know that forms of discipline must change as our children grow older, but the mission remains the same.

But have to stay the course. We must remain vigilant. Unlike wine, uncorrected folly doesn’t get better with age. The stakes get higher and the consequences become more severe.

No parent enjoys discipline, but we cannot allow folly to bind their hearts. To not discipline is to not love. Sparing our children from the potential consequences of foolishness is the most loving thing we could do for them.

How have you seen this relationship between folly and discipline in your own childhood, as a parent with your children or with other children/parents?

God Wants Our Circumstances To Change Us

The Surprising Reason Why Superheros Exist

Whatever form they take… bat, spider or otherwise, everyone loves a good superhero. From comic books to major motion pictures, it’s hard to deny their popularity.

The formula for making a good superhero is fairly straightforward. Take one individual. Give to said individual a strong sense of morality. Add to this a sense of mission and a willingness to sacrifice self for the good of others without expectation of reward. Throw in a fight against evil and injustice, extraordinary powers with which to fight, and there you have a superhero.

It’s important to realize that superheros are not the result of highly imaginative fiction writers. Their origin comes not from the mind of man, but from the soul. They are the materialization of deep, inner-most longings for someone heroic to truly exist.

Why do we hope for such a person?

We know that evil is real. We feel it’s pain and we long for its removal. We yearn for justice, hope and security. We want good to prevail over evil. Because of this, our hearts ache for someone not like us, someone who is beyond us, greater than us to save the day.

They may not know it, but any time, anyone has ever created a character, written a script, or imagined a scenario where a heroic character rises to face evil, it is because of Jesus Christ. John Piper describes this when he says that “All heroes are shadows of Christ.”

What this means is that all fictional heroes are actually inferior imitations of a real-life hero. They are cheap substitutions for the One we all hope exists, who really does exists.

Consider His superhero credentials. His morality is perfect. He is relentlessly on mission. He made the greatest personal sacrifice anyone could ever make solely for the benefit of others. His powers are not just extraordinary, they are without limit and He courageously and permanently defeated evil.

So every time you see a caped crusader or a mask-wearing avenger, remember the real reason behind why they exist. More importantly, remember that there is a Hero of all Heroes who did far more than just save the day… He saved the world.

Do you have a favorite superhero? What do you admire in them that might also be found in Christ?

The Secret Every Husband Wants His Wife To Know

Husbands want to be wanted. There you go. The secret’s out.

Though they won’t be quick to admit it, there is within every a husband a strong and inescapable longing to be wanted by their wives. The desire is strong, having a profound affect on their mood, attitude and even their sense of self-worth.

Where does it come from and why is it so powerful?

Ephesians 5:23 tells us that as “head of his wife,” a husband has been given the responsibility of providing for, protecting, and leading his family. God has wired into the soul of man the need for affirmation in these roles. When a husband feels like he is appreciated and valued as provider/protector/leader, he feels fulfillment in being the man God made him to be.

Because most men struggle with insecurity, wives have a lot of power in this area. A critical word can make a husband feel worthless and crush their spirit. Conversely, words of encouragement will empower him, giving him much-needed confidence.

A wife can significantly bless her husband by recognizing and affirming his abilities and accomplishments. You can show appreciation for his hard work, being a great dad or by affirming him when he demonstrates wisdom or leadership. Simple statements like, “I love being your wife.” or “I’m proud of you.” will sink deep into his soul.

Being wanted also has a profound effect on a couple’s sex-life.

I’ve found a consistent theme with many couples struggling in their sexual relationship. Most women mistakenly believe that their husband’s desire for sex is primarily physical. While the physical aspect is significant, sex for men is much more.

In For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men Shaunti Feldhahn says, “It gives them an increasing sense of confidence and well-being that carries over into every other area of his life.” The opposite is also true. When a husband doesn’t feel desired by his wife, “…he not only feels his wife is rejecting him physically, but that she is somehow rejecting his life as a husband, provider and man.”

Yes, most husbands want to have more sex. But it isn’t sex that men most want from their wives. The underlying issue is that husbands want to be wanted.

I understand husbands don’t always do the best job of making themselves desirable. Most men, including myself, have lots of room for improvement. But wives can offer tangible demonstrations of love and grace to their husbands by giving them an amazing gift, confirmation that they are indeed wanted.

What have you seen in your own marriage (or in other’s marriages) that speaks to a husband wanting to be wanted?

Celebrating Dependence on Independence Day

Independence Day! The day Americans celebrate declaring independence from Great Britain by eating beef byproducts, blowing stuff up and getting stuck for hours in post-festivity traffic.

Independence has significant spiritual implications for followers of Jesus.

The most basic definition of independence is to be free from the control of someone or something else. Galatians 5:1 speaks to this when it says, “For freedom Christ has set us free…” Through his death and resurrection, Christ has given us independence from our sin- we are no longer under its control. But that’s only half of the story for those who have been set free.

Our being declared independent from sin simultaneously makes us dependent on something new.

Romans 6:18 says, “having been set free from sin, we  have become slaves of righteousness.” Christ has given us independence from sin, but at the same time, he has made us dependent on righteousness. Christ comes into our lives and turns our hearts away from sin, but he also turns us toward’s His righteousness.

This is cause for great celebration! Yes, we do not have to give in to sin because it no longer controls us. We are free from its destructive power. But, we are also free to do what is right. We have everything we need to live a new life, a different life capable of pleasing God.

So let’s celebrate independence. Independence for our country, but more importantly, independence from our sin. But let’s not stop there. Let’s also celebrate our dependence. Let’s celebrate the amazing truth that Christ has made it possible for us to live for him!

Are you grateful for your independence from sin? Are you just as grateful for your dependence on righteousness?