Friday, December 28, 2012

Say "I Do"

Churches for centuries have placed women in a subservient role.  It started with the cave man, and the traditional Muslims in the Middle East have carried it to an extreme to this very day.  The Jewish customs set that up officially, and we have perpetuated it.  But is it realistic considering that God chose women to be Judges and to have leadership positions in the Old Testament.  It would seem a cultural rather than Biblical decision on our part to perpetuate it.  Go Joyce Meyer!  Go Sister Teresa!  If you look at Western Culture today, the subservient woman role doesn’t fly very well anymore.  Have we abandoned the Bible?

How does the Bible integrate on this subject with the family structure today?  Ephesians says that wives should submit to their husbands, and I view that word submit more as “respect” as it is worded later in the same passage.  It also says there that a man should love his wife as he loves his own body, which is a pretty incredible standard when a guy takes the time to think about it. Love and Respect…what a concept!  Philippians says "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself."   I think it is clear that we are responsible for meeting each other’s needs.  Instead of trying to figure out who is the boss or blaming each other for our difficulties and selfishly considering only our own needs, we should be looking out for our lover’s needs.  I’ve often said that a marriage is not a 50/50 proposition as so many have said --it is a 100/100 proposition.  If you are not willing to commit to that viewpoint, there will be problems. 

Is it always going to be a consensus decision-making process in that kind of marriage?  Somehow I doubt it, and at some point one or the other will have to give in.  Husbands and wives need to keep that in mind.  But if you commit to and follow the 100/100 principle, it shouldn’t be impossible…difficult sometimes…yeah, let’s not be na├»ve about it.  Still, it can be done.

Can you imagine a world where we all took to heart our biblical responsibility and tried to truly meet the needs of those we are committed to?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

It's Not Your Birthday!

I wonder how many others God went to before getting Mary to birth His son to save mankind.  Think about it.  This young girl, probably in her early teens, was asked to carry this child who would be conceived without her having sex with a man when she was already engaged.  She would be expected to risk death by stoning as a result for that adultery.  Now that would be pretty weird to most women, and I suspect most would say “huh-uh Mr. Angel, I think I’ll take a pass on this one…but good luck with your search for a virgin though, and have a nice day.”  I can see what Catholics must feel in their veneration of Mary.  She must have been an amazing woman.  And then there’s this business of having a child in a stable.  Women died in childbirth back then under the best of circumstances.  Then there is that long trip on foot over the mountains for more than a week to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem…I thought it was a frightening and enormous chore just to get my wife to a real hospital 45 minutes away.

So here we are on Christmas morning opening our presents like it was our birthday and often just focusing on the value of all the material wealth we strive and dream to accumulate.  We don’t really think about Mary and Joseph and Jesus.  We think about things like the Polar Express and the Grinch.  Christmas has become a holiday about Santa Claus and presents to most people.  We can’t even say “Merry Christmas” without the politically correct police coming down on us.  WalMart won’t even let me inside the store to ring the bell for the Salvation Army (I have to stand on the curb outside) and their clerks aren’t allowed to say “Merry Christmas.”  The bulk of our merchandizing capitalist economy relies on the sales that occur in the last 30 days of our year.  And yet the real gift of Christmas is not those pretty boxes wrapped under the tree, but rather the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.  What an incredible Christmas gift of love that is for us…and it is totally free!  You won’t be getting credit card bills on it for months, you don’t have to put it on lay-away.  It’s there, right now.  Paid up in full.

Yesterday my fire station crew responded to a three-car crash that killed one driver.  I sit here and wonder this Christmas morning, “did he know Jesus as his savior?”  Do you?  Life turns on an instant.  It is unpredictable. There is no guarantee, and for sure you will come to that reckoning with God at some point sooner or later.

Be ready.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Be The Candle

Today the news is full of the story of a man pushed in front of a subway train and no one tries to help him get up and back safely onto the station platform.  One man stands near and makes the effort to take 49 pictures of the event in full living (and dying) color.  Perhaps it happened so fast that everyone was “stunned” into non-action.  I can’t even begin to analyze it fairly since I wasn’t there, but it does make me wonder about our willingness to do the right thing in our society.

Conversely, there was another story a few days ago about a police officer in the same city who bought a pair of boots for a homeless man who had no shoes (I wonder if he read the story about the Good Samaritan?)  Positive actions in our society don’t often get coverage, and maybe that is because they don’t happen often. It is the evil in the world that often takes the headlines, and the media does that by choice, I believe.  It grabs our attention and increases ratings (or sales back in the days when printed newspapers ruled.)

I wonder if those positive acts of kindness would bloom if they were covered more often in the news?  Would we be driven to emulate those actions more often?  I suspect so, and it wouldn’t take much to get that kind of movement started.

I still remember a visit I made to the old Eagle Gold Mine in Julian, CA.  This 1870s tunnel bores deep under the town, and at one point in the tour they turn off the non-historic light bulbs that line the shafts.  You stand in darkness blacker than anything you can imagine.  Then the guide lights a small candle in a sardine can reflector, which is all the miner of that time had for illumination.  The glow of that candle in the darkness is unbelievably bright and hugely illuminating.  All it takes is one candle to make that difference.

Be that candle to your world.

Cohabiting is Habit Forming

I ran across an article in the local newspaper today that discussed those who cohabit instead of getting married.  Most of the article was a glowing discussion about how beneficial the whole idea is, and came replete with testimonials from locals who were effusive about what a great experience this was - with nothing but positive outcomes.

It’s amazing how for we’ve come.  In 1970 it was illegal to cohabit in every state in the union.  Also, back in 1970 the idea of journalistic excellence was still in practice, and a real newsperson gave fair coverage to all sides of an issue in a front-page “news” article.  My liberal community and its newspaper don’t waste time with fair coverage of issues very often.  This article surprised me in that it actually at least had a one-liner by a professor that stated that those who cohabit statistically have poorer outcomes with marriage (Surprise!  Those who don’t want to make a commitment have an easier time dissolving a commitment when they finally make one…hmm it takes research to figure this kind of morality out??)

Duh!  So, the news doesn’t cover things objectively.  Big surprise.  William Randolph Hearst was notorious with it.  Our past elections demonstrated that as well.  Why should we be surprised?  Still, I find it sad that the generally liberal media promotes these causes that are not what God felt was wise for our lives.  Conversely, I find it sadly funny that we live in a society that promotes “non-marriage” for heterosexuals, and demands “gay marriage” for homosexuals.  What a weird bunch we are. 

So, do you sense a pattern here?

The pattern here at work in our country is a consistent movement to undermine what God defined as healthy for us in our family and relationships.  The other related pattern that is not mentioned much is that the rest of the world is experiencing a massive increase in those coming to faith in Christ, while those of us in the U.S. are showing one of the greatest declines in believers in our history.  God isn't relavant to us as much as our Facebook and Ipad and a Black Friday sale at Walmart are.

I wish I had a magic pill to fix all this.  I pray God will lead us back to him and I hope you are praying with me for that revival of faith and values.  What scares me is that God usually winds up having to lead us back to him with some serious “discipline” to get our attention.  In what form that will come, I cringe to think.