Monday, April 27, 2009

simply beyond words

My friend TK introduced me to what is known as "the wordless bible".

In simplest terms, it is the story of our salvation -- or more specifically, my salvation. I started to carry this book in my wallet. Five pages. No words.

It starts with the story of a glorious gift... a personal relationship with a loving God and creator. A moment that turns to darkness when when I turn my back on God and reject him through my words, my thoughts, my actions. That is not the end of the story, though, as someone else paid the price for my misgivings. Jesus gave his life on the cross for me. And since the moment I accepted this gift... this fresh start... this cleansing love... I have been able to grow in a more meaningful, personal relationship with God and his people.

From what I have heard, this wordless bible is used in countries where carrying a bible in public could be dangerous... and it is also used to introduce children to the amazing story of God's love. But somehow... the simplicity works wonders for me too.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

protect traditional marriage

Yesterday four thousand people packed the Augusta Civic Center to offer their opinions on a bill that would legalize divorce—a bill that will soon make its way through the Maine House and Senate. If it passes and is signed by the governor, Maine would become the second state to legalize divorce through the legislative process. This is in addition to the three other states were divorce has been declared legal through the courts.

Not surprising, conservatives and some religious groups are up in arms about current events. This past November, a group funded in no small way by a Utah-based church helped gather the support needed to overturn a prior court ruling that had legalized divorce in California

Recently, the National Association for Marriage, a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it, released an advertisement on this very issue:

“There’s a storm gathering. The clouds are dark and the winds are strong and I am afraid. Some who advocate for legalized divorce have taken the issue far beyond unhappy couples. They want to bring the issue into my life. My freedom will be taken away. I’m a California lawyer who must choose between my faith and my job. I’m part of a New Jersey church group punished by the government because we can’t support divorce. I’m a Massachusetts parent helpless watching public schools teach my son that divorce is okay. But some who advocate same divorce have not been content with unhappy couples simply separating. Those advocates want to change the way I live. I will have no choice. The storm is coming. But we have hope, a rainbow coalition of people of every creed and color are coming together in love to protect marriage.”

Clearly, there is clear biblical justification for the anti-divorce movement.

Matthew 19:6
“So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Matthew 19: 8-9
Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

As for me, I do not think you can legislate morality. While I don’t agree that divorce is right, I don’t see why it is my place to keep to people who obviously don’t love each other bound by marriage.

I know my life is different today than the time before I became a Christian – and the difference was not caused because someone else telling me what I can and cannot do. The difference was caused by me developing a personal relationship with God.

When I think about how Jesus wants me to respond to this whole issue of legalized divorce, I can’t help by think about a verse in Galatians: 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. Instead of running around trying to tell people whether it’s ok for them to get divorced, I prefer to work on relationships with the people in my circles… and tell them more about how I came to know Jesus.

Hopefully, we will come to a point where divorce is legal in all 50 states so we can begin to have more meaningful discussions.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

aren't we all hannah montana?

In its first ten days, the new Hannah Montana movie grossed over $50 million. For the past three years, the Emmy-nominated television series has set records on the Disney Channel. And sold-out concert tours have led to families spending $1,000 per ticket to see a single performance.

Leading her double-life as pop-star Hannah Montana and average-joe Miley Stewart, the title characters sings that she has the best of both worlds. The fame and rewards of stardom along with the privacy and intimacy of a normal home life.

And is it any wonder that this story-line is so popular? We all lead two lives. And hope that the worlds never collide.

You see this in politics. While at a San Francisco meeting with his core supporters, Barack Obama talks about how small-town voters cling to certain narrow-minded issues in elections. While he highlights his support for the second amendment and faith-based programs when campaigning in those same towns himself.

You see this in baseball. Commission Selig and leading players talk about respect for the sport while doing nothing of substance to rid the sport of substances that have led to record-breaking home run records and attendance.

You see this in business, where companies tout merit and achievement while advancement and opportunity is often based on relationships and connections.

Everyone prospers. Everyone gets the best of both worlds.

And yet, the tag line for the latest Hannah Montana movie cause me to pause.

She has the best of both worlds... now, she has to pick just one.

I haven’t seen the movie, but I surmise that Miley reaches a junction when a choice has to be made. She can no longer be a no-name high-schooler by day and international pop star by night.

After all, this fantasy … that you can constantly pass from one world to the other… effortlessly and without consequences is just that… a fantasy.

It’s the fantasy I live as a Christian. And my guess is that I won’t know the time or hour when my junction meets me. Who knows what world I’ll be in that day.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

the light is still on

have not spent much time here over the past few weeks... i look forward to catching up with your journeys soon. excited about this week, with good friday and easter. a celebration of victory if ever there was one.

while i have not been as attentive here, have been very intentional this lenten season of reaching up and reaching out--spending more time in scripture, prayer, sitting quietly before god and just being aware of the person sitting across from me. have also been working on trying to smile more -- to let the joy in my heart be seen on my face. (i can hear the voice of my 8th grade english teacher as i write this, "gillespie, do you ever smile?")

work has been very busy (a blessing, in many ways) but i have too many kingdom-oriented projects that are sitting by idly as a result. i can and should be doing more -- and i will.

so just wanted to say i miss you -- and will visit soon. until then, may your days be filled with an abundance of joy, for the Christ has risen. Just for you.