Saturday, November 15, 2008

thank you for asking

This past week, the American Humanist Association launched an ad campaign in a few cities including Washington, DC. The headline reads:

Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.

"Our reason for doing it during the holidays,” a spokesman states, “is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists and other types of non-theists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion.”

Why believe in a god?

I think this is a great ad for a simple reason: it opens the door for conversations. Do you believe in God? Let me tell you why I do.

For some (like me) it can be difficult to interject my faith into day to day conversation. Somehow when you are going over marketing sales reports or the results of the Jets-Patriots game it can be hard to jump in with a Jesus story. But give me even the slightest opening, and I can do just fine. To me, this ad campaign provides a great opening to start a dialogue with someone about their faith, and to tell my story.

Not all Christians agree. In fact, from all the reports I see online, Christian leaders are speaking out against this campaign. Some see the campaign as a sign that the cultural war to separate Christ from Christmas is intensifying. “It’s a stupid ad; the Bible tells us what’s good and bad.” And, “this is insulting”. One organization plans to mobilize its 2.5 million supporters to contact city officials and Congress to stop the "un-Godly campaign."

Folks – let them run the ads – this is a golden opportunity for us to spread the good news!

I first came across this ad on dailykos, which is a political, left-leaning blog (with, apparently, no shortage of atheists and agnostics). I look for opportunities to inject my faith on this blog, and when the conversation turned to this ad it made it easy. Not everyone was convinced (and some come across as a bit hostile) but at least we got to talking about Christ! What a great opportunity!

My favorite post on this topic was written by houndog, who commented:

Good question, Why not believe. As a Christian, very strong in my faith, that is exactly the question I would love for someone to ask. It opens the door to share Gods grace. I was once an atheist and one day someone shared with me their story. It's because I asked the above question. Why believe in God? So, ask away. I know a lot of people who would like to answer.
So, ask anyway. I, for one, would certainly like to answer.

Have any thoughts about this ad campaign? Please share. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

tuesday morning question

How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? John 5:44

Monday, November 10, 2008

three years ago

J and I pulled into the church parking lot at the same time on Sunday morning. The door to his mini van opened and three of his four children bounded out onto the pavement. J stepped out, looked across and smiled. "Well," he said, "you started inviting me to come three years ago. Just took a while."

In the eight years I have been part of this community of faith, J is the first person who ever responded to such an invitation.

Just one day earlier, flyawaynet visited this blog and left a comment on a post i had written in july titled the never-ending invitation about the power of high-frequency advocacy.

The combination of these two events - the blog comment and J's visit - have served as encouragement. Thank you, Lord. They've also motivated me to bolder, more vocal and more purposeful. That is, after all, what we are called to do.

Friday, November 7, 2008

post-election reflection

History will note what they did:

- they made it a priority
- they set out to share their beliefs
- they gave more money than they could really afford
- they gave up mornings, nights and weekends
- they met in groups and celebrated victories
- they emailed friends and family – week after week
- they allowed themselves to be ridiculed
- they called strangers from far away states
- they made it a priority to dispel false rumors
- they knocked on neighbors doors
- they knocked again, even when told to knock no more
- they ate, drank and slept a single cause
- they got in cars and drove to where they were needed
- they smiled when accused of drinking the kool-aid
- they did it for something bigger than themselves
- they came together and made calls together
- they left it all on the road

And as I look back on history, I have only two questions:

1. Why is this not a post about the American church?
2. What can I do to change that?

To borrow a phrase, yes we can.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

how did jesus vote on proposition 8?

In recent years, I have come to believe that God intended for man to be with woman. Don’t ask me why I think this. If asked, I could probably find some scripture verses to back up this feeling. But it's not that important today.

I also believe that the attraction felt between one man and another (or one woman and another) is natural. That we are all designed and created by God with a certain bent, if you will. And the fact that we are designed with certain inclinations that I consider counter to the way God intended us to live may seem odd – but it’s something that everyone I know can see in their own lives. Even those who devoted their lives to Christ found they were wired in ways that seemed counter to God's will. As the apostle Paul wrote: For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

But that’s not what I came here to write about today.

Fact is, I woke up this morning surprised. Surprised that I am sad that Proposition 8 passed in the state of California. More so, I am angry that this question was even on the ballot. And embarrassed that many proponents of this initiative did so in the name of Christ.

The local church can do an amazingly good job at making people feel broken, damaged and unwanted. And that is exactly the opposite of how Jesus Christ led his life. He said to all, I love you. I love you for who you are. Exactly who you are.

No one needs to change in order to be welcomed in God’s house.

Yes, those who are called to Christ are asked to repent. In the Book of Galatians, Paul records: The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

For many Christians, this idea of sin has mistakenly become a yes or no check off box. With the goal being to “stop sinning”. And even worse, get others to stop sinning.

But that is NOT what Paul wrote. If one continues reading Galatians, you find that Paul does not focus his words on telling people how NOT to live their lives. Rather, he is inviting people to let the Spirit of Christ into their lives.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Against such thing there is no law.

Before Christ, there was only the law. With Christ, there is the Spirit.

Those who are looking to dictate spirituality by state and federal laws, whether Roe v Wade or Proposition 8, seem to be missing the point. I do not need to judge others behaviors. I certainly don’t need to legislate it. I simply want to invite you into a relationship with Christ.

Eight years ago, my life changed for the better. Today I am full of peace and purpose, not because someone pointed out things about me they didn’t like, but because someone invited me to renew a relationship with the living Lord.

So I sit here today sad, embarrassed and angry. And my prayer today is for my brothers and sisters who are gay, that you will not let Proposition 8 – and whatever role the local church had in its passing – turn you away from a relationship with Christ. Because it doesn’t matter what I believe. It doesn’t matter what the California lawmakers decide. You are loved by Christ for exactly who you are.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008