Friday, March 30, 2012

26 Days of Creation

During the month of April, I'll be participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge. Starting April 1st, along with over 1400 other bloggers, I will be doing a post a day (except for the Sundays after April 1st) for 26 days. Each day will correspond with a letter of the alphabet.

It's not required that a blogger have a theme to tie all the posts together, but I decided it would be fun, and more challenging, to do it that way.  After much thought, I settled on the theme of seeing God in His creation.

I love the natural world. Looking around at all the beauty and variety of life that exists on the earth, and the awesomeness of the cosmos, I can't help but be in awe of the Creator that made it. And this was God's intention all along. The apostle Paul said in a letter to the Romans (1:20):
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
He wrote that in 56-57 AD. Without having the benefits of modern science to show him the complexity of even the most basic forms of life, or modern technology to provide endless photographs and videos of our amazing world and the worlds beyond ours, Paul said that what has been made clearly shows the power and divinity of God. If people had no excuse then, we can't possibly have an excuse now, knowing all that we know, and seeing all that we can see. 

But, Paul goes on to explain that despite creation testifying to its Creator, people chose to ignore and deny it. People still do that today, crediting random forces, natural selection, and chance genetic mutations for the complexity of the natural world. 

During the A to Z Challenge, I want to look at the created world and highlight some of the things that make it amazing. Everyday things that are more complex that people might realize. And weird things that a lot of people haven't ever heard of. I'm not going to spend the next month arguing evolutionary theory.  But I do think it's very fitting that I am starting this on April Fool's Day.*

Since I'm also doing this challenge on my other blog, In the Care of the Great Physician, and will be editing my daughter's Challenge posts, plus my normal life responsibilities, my month is going to be super busy. I'll cope with caffeine, chocolate, and lots of prayer! And I'll be giving up television and movies for the month. I hope you'll visit during April to study God's creation with  me.  And I covet your prayers as I try to use this opportunity both for self-discipline and, more importantly, to glorify God.

* See Psalm 14:1

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Shocking Admission

My last post was about how wonderful it would be to see Hitler in heaven. I thought it would probably offend some people. This post... I know is going to offend some people. I'm going to say something else shocking. I'm going to admit something that isn't popular in conservative Christian circles. Ok, deep breath, here it goes...

I don't care about fighting gay marriage.

You read it right. I have so little enthusiasm for the fight for traditional marriage. It makes less and less sense to me as the years march on, and society (including Christians) moves away from traditional Christian values. Fighting against abortion, I get. I believe that an unborn baby is a human being deserving of protection. For me, it's about saving lives, period. Fighting for conscience protection and against religious oppression... a no-brainer. But gay marriage...well, I just don't see why the issue is so important to us. And I know what many of you are thinking... "Gay marriage contributes to the breakdown of society."  That's the typical argument. Here's some examples from stuff I've read recently:

This article says,
Homosexuality and same-sex marriage contribute to the breakdown of the family unit and violate the natural structure of marriage established by God.
....An article in the Weekly Standard described how the advent of authorized gay unions in Scandinavian countries is destroying the institution of marriage, where half of today’s children are born out of wedlock.
It is impossible to deny that gay marriage causes the decay of families.

Social scientists have been warning that if this fractured family problem continues, there will be many kids with several “moms” and “dads,” six or eight “grandparents” and dozens of “half-siblings.” 
Is there a problem with the decay of families and a fractured family unit? Yes, psychologists contend that a union between a man and woman in which both spouses serve as good gender role models is the best environment in which to raise well-adjusted children.
Another article questions whether children can "be raised just as well by two members of the same sex as by a biological father and mother?" The conclusion by the author is no. She argues that "governments recognize the institution of marriage as the primary institution responsible for the creation and raising of its society’s members. If the family falters, the society as a whole falters. Governments depend on stable families for the health of the society they govern." 

I'm not going to argue that gay marriage doesn't contribute to the breakdown of society. The point I'd like to make  is that same-sex marriage  it is not unique in that. For some reason the fight against gay marriage has become the poster child for the overall fight against the degradation of God's intended order for families. I think that because the family is breaking down, Christians are clawing to control some societal aspect of that erosion. But many are also failing to recognize that in secular society, the traditional family model is already considered unimportant. Two examples of common modern family types: Women (and sometimes men) are choosing to have children without a second parent, and couples are living together and raising children together without getting married.

So where are the protests, petitions, and calls for laws against these non-traditional heterosexual families? Should the government also step in and decide if spouses are serving as good gender role models? It could be argued that government has sufficient interest in stable families that it should decide who can and can't have children. Anybody want to petition for that legislation?

We talk about gay marriage undermining traditional marriage, all the while doing a great job of undermining traditional marriage all by our heterosexual selves. Over 50% of marriages end in divorce. This statistic is virtually the same in the Christian community. We have broken families all over the place. And in reality, gay marriage has absolutely nothing to do with the health of my marriage, or the stability of my family. Christians have the responsibility to protect their own families, and, within the obligations of the church, teach and sanction the biblical model of marriage.

Our government is not Christian - according to our Constitution, it may not be Christian. Even if we know for a fact that the traditional Christian model of family is the absolute best for society, we can't demand that the government enforce that. Just like we believe that confining sex to marriage is the best for society, but we can't (and don't) fight for the government to pass laws against sex outside of marriage.

I also don't agree that redefining the word marriage undermines what marriage actually is. Christian marriage is a sacrament, ordained by God, and blessed by God, being sacred in nature. Elementally, it is what it is regardless of what it's called. Calling a same-sex union marriage is not anymore undermining of the true meaning of marriage than using the term for the union of two atheists. I'll use a garden analogy here. I have lots of daylilies in my yard. My neighbor grows tulips. If one day my neighbor decided to call her tulips daylilies, it would not change the fact that her tulips are not actually daylilies, nor would it make my daylilies any less daylilies. Even if botanists decided to rename tulips daylilies, that does not change the innate characteristics that make the daylily what it is. The tulip can never be what a daylily is, regardless of the names we choose to call them.

So I don't care about actively fighting gay  marriage because I don't think it is any more responsible for the breakdown of society than a whole bunch of other things that go against God's order for families. And I don't think that redefining marriage will undermine what marriage actually is. But I have another point to make...

This article in Christiany Today says,
We are a culture of radical individualists, and gay marriage does nothing but put an exclamation point on that fact. We should fight it, because it will only make a bad situation worse.
Reality check... the passage of time is going to make the world worse until Christ returns. And in that reality is the most important point. The world is slipping into darkness. Is fighting same-sex marriage the highest calling of your faith? Is it something you will do, at the risk of alienating homosexuals that need to - and have every right to - hear the gospel of Truth and feel the love of Christ? The New Testament is full of instructions for believers. Chief among them: Love the Lord. Love your neighbor. Go and make disciples. We have to be careful that activism does not get in the way of our carrying out these commands. From what I've seen, Christians aren't doing a very good job of that.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Walking In Heaven With Hitler

Recently I read this blog post by a woman who calls herself a "different kind of Christian." She shares her thoughts on who/what God is. I disagree with most of what she said. In fact, most of what she said will make committed evangelical and orthodox Christians scrunch their faces, shake their heads, and lament over her lack of knowledge. Thousands of years of Christian theology says she's wrong on so many points.

But in the midst of all of the wrongness, there is this incredible piece of truth:

"I think Grace is scandalous beyond our wildest imaginations"

Yes! Yes, it is! The bible tells us that the message of the cross is foolishness, an offense, and a stumbling block. It is shocking. The pharisees were scandalized on a regular basis by Christ, as he ate with tax collectors, allowed his disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath, and said the Law was not what would save them. The message of grace through faith in the work of Jesus Christ is scandalous. To the point that if we believe it, we have to admit to shocking things. We have to be willing to say scandalous things, like this:

I would love to walk in heaven with Hitler.

Wait...what?? Are you scrunching your face and shaking your head? Are you offended? If you are a Christian professing to believe in the grace God gave us freely by the blood of His son, you shouldn't be. Because if that grace isn't big enough to forgive evil the likes of Hitler, then what is so great about it? What is so fantastic, amazing, awesome, unbelievably thrilling about grace that is limited? About grace that will reach over and cover the not-so-horrible offenders, but leave Hitler without a chance? It's too small for Christ's sacrifice (not to mention boring).

I'd like to have a conversation with a forgiven Hitler, remade in the image of Christ. I'd love to hear how he felt  when the truth of grace touched him. When he found out that love covers even his multitude of sins. Wow, what joy!

God is clear that His forgiveness and grace are freely given to us, but that we cannot have fellowship with Him without repentance. Did Hitler repent and accept God's grace? I don't know. But I imagine there will be a lot of people in heaven that us "good" Christians wouldn't expect to see. Because God is that good. His grace is that sufficient.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. And praise the Lord, there is no one too lost!

Are you feeling God's grace today?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Future of Food Contest

Calling all conspiracy theorists, Armageddon profits, ax grinders, and anyone else who likes a contest...

Enter to win a copy of the movie
The Future of Food!

Monsanto is the Devil. GMOs are ruining the world's food supply. The FDA is getting paid off by bigAg to squash small farmers. The USDA is trying to poison our kids with pink slime and something called a pizza vegetable (which I can't actually find seeds for). Government data-miners are patrolling the internet looking for the words raw milk, cow sharing, CAFO, and petition. In the interest of national security, they are spying on citizens who might be eating real food.  And the people who know the truth are turning up dead in what appear to be freak accidents. 

Well, some of that is true...

Here's the contest. Imagine the food system of the future, a la Soylent Green. Come up with an idea for a book about that future. It can be humor, thriller, mystery... whatever works. If you're not a writer, don't worry. I'll be judging ideas not writing, so give it your best shot.  Give me just the basic plot, like on a book jacket. Extra credit for a title. Please keep it to a paragraph or two. And no profanity.

Here's my hastily-written example:

Seth Stevens grew up hearing stories of people eating beef and drinking milk, before foodborne illness outbreaks caused the Food Supply Authority to outlaw cows as food animals. Now a senior detective for the FSA, he is sent to investigate claims that a small group of farmers in rural Pennsylvania has been breeding cows for meat and milk against federal law. Seth goes undercover, determined to bring the criminals to justice. But he could never have prepared himself for what he would discover. A web of deceit that goes all the way to the highest levels of the government.  

Could it be true that the FSA is secretly run by a corporation determined to control the food supply of the entire world? Could it be true that cows were not actually as dangerous as the FSA always said? As Seth searches for the truth, he finds his life in danger. Is the government trying to kill him... or is it the Amish? 

Submit your entries in the comments section. You can enter more than once, but make each a separate comment. The winner will be chosen on May 30th.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lessons From a Lost Blog Post

Ahh, the things God uses to teach us.

This has been a hard morning for me. Yesterday, I wrote and published a blog post on my Macbook. It took me a couple hours. A couple friends on Facebook shared it. This morning I opened it in my iPad to edit the title, and the content disappeared. Now only the title is left. This is apparently a common problem with Blogger and the iPad that has been going on for a long time. (Attention... Blogger techs... please fix this!). It explains why I lost a post just days ago. But that post wasn't finished, and was actually kind of silly. This one - entitled The War on Food Freedom - is something I'd want to recreate, but that will be very difficult.  So, I literally cried. Yes, folks. I cried. What's shameful is that I had just had an argument with my daughter because she was hysterical that she can't go to a friend's house next week. I said to her, only minutes before I lost my post, "there are more important things in this world to be upset about."

Hello hypocrite. It's never nice to see you again.

The truth is that most writers tend to be overly in love with their words (even at the same time we think we are terrible writers).  So I stopped to think. Had what I said made a life-changing impact on anyone who read it? Probably not. Have a million other people said almost the same thing? Probably.

Was spending an hour trying to figure out how to restore my post a waste of my time?

I remember years ago that a very Godly woman, also a writer, shared how she lost a lot of things she had written by hand in a journal. At the time, she grieved the loss. But later she told the story to explain the lessons God taught her through that. The top one being that her words were not as important as she thought. Now, I am sure that the words she wrote and lost were more important than my rant on food freedom. And, the lesson for me is this: 

God will give me the words that I need to write.  
And if they disappear, well, they served their purpose.

But wait... there's more!

I am on day 6 of my raw milk fast. For six days, I have had nothing but raw milk, some vegetable broth, and some herbal tea. It's been hard, but I've managed. After the second day, I didn't have any real cravings or problems avoiding food - except last night, as I cooked dinner for my family, it was hard to resist the ground beef I got from my farmer. That quickly passed. 

This morning, though. Oh, what a different story. After I lost my post, and I was in tears, and upset that I couldn't find a way to restore it, and mad at Blogger for providing terrible customer service... I thought about coffee. Donut Shop Decaf with sugar and creamy, yummy milk. Mmmm. And then I remembered we have jelly beans in the camper. Just Born. Double mmmm. I didn't have either of those things, but even now I am seriously tempted. This is a lesson that God has to keep teaching me over and over:

I am an emotional eater.    

Had I not been on this fast, I would have been having coffee and jelly beans. And my flesh would win out over my spirt, which tells me to seek God in my sorrow, not food. I have to try to hold on to this when I go off my fast this time! 

So, yeah, a hard morning. But God was there as always to turn my trials into teaching moments. And I thank and praise Him for that. 

(And, yes, I am backing this post up so it won't be lost if Blogger should again fail me.)

Have a blessed day!