Choosing Holiness

As I write this, eight hundred and fifty Methodist delegates from around the world are meeting in St. Louis “to decide whether to change the church’s historical position that sexual relationships should be solely between married men and women.” Three plans are being discussed, and “the commission and the church’s leadership broadly support the One Church Plan which would allow the ordination of LGBTQ pastors and recognition of same-sex marriage.” An openly lesbian bishop who is in a same-sex marriage said Methodists need to learn “how to live in beloved community where every child of God is beloved, wanted, celebrated, needed in order for the body of Christ to be made whole.”

Obviously every child of God is to be loved and wanted. Every behavior, however, is not to be celebrated. And the distinction between who I am, and what I do, must not be ignored.

In our Sunday night study we recently learned that “the idea of putting sexual attraction at the core of our identity is a recent invention,” and that “from ancient times, the adjective homosexual was used to describe acts that anyone might perform, not an unchanging condition or an essential identity. It referred to an action, not a category of person.” And that while “we do not choose our feelings, we do choose our behavior and identity”

Christopher Yuan, who had regularly visited gay bath-houses before becoming a Christian writes, “I had always thought that the opposite of homosexuality was heterosexuality. But actually the opposite of homosexuality is holiness. All Christians are called to holiness, no matter their sexual feelings.”

Our author then noted, “No one chooses to have same-sex temptations, just as no one chooses to feel angry or jealous, or be tempted by drugs or pornography. Where we do have a choice is in deciding how to respond to our temptations. We can choose whether to purchase drugs, or search for pornography on the computer, or engage in same-sex behavior. Everyone is called to choose holiness, whether attracted to the same sex or the opposite sex, whether married or single.”

Contrary to the thoughts of some, the body of Christ will never be made whole by embracing sinful behavior.

God Bless, Rick

When Jesus is in the boat

When I asked Jonathan to send me a copy of the communion meditation he shared last Sunday, he hesitated, telling me that much of it had come from something he had read. I assured him that most sermons include thoughts, words, and perhaps even paragraphs that were found in places other than the Bible. After all, the Bible was written long ago, and it’s been studied and expounded upon ever since.

To claim to have discerned something in the Bible that no one else has ever discerned or commented on is probably more arrogant than accurate. In fact, I’ve openly stated that I have no idea what is“original” in my sermons, or what I picked up from others throughout the years. And quite frankly, I don’t think it matters. Unless, of course, you claim that everything you have written is original.

Having said that, I loved what Jonathan shared with us. And he has carefully noted in the printed copy he sent me what he is quoting from a source he discovered in his study. Kudos to him for his study, and for his integrity. Now, back to what he shared, and where I’m going with it.

As Jonathan noted, if Jesus is in the boat we don’t have to worry about storms, nor wonder about the reason for Him being in the boat with us. But there’s another benefit to having Him in the boat that came into focus for me on a fishing trip in Florida.

Alan, my friend from FitClub, and I had planned to go to Lake Okeechobee to fish for giant Florida bass, but water conditions led to a change of plans. The guide suggested that we head to Chokoloskee and the 10,000 Island section of Everglades National Park instead, and that we fish for tripletail. Neither of us had ever heard of tripletail, but he assured us that it was a blast to catch. And he was right!

As we were making our way through the 10,000 mangrove islands to get out into the Gulf where the crab pots that attract the tripletail are located, I realized that there was no way I could get through the maze of islands without a guide.

I trust I don’t have to explain how this relates to what Jonathan shared with us. If Jesus is in the boat with us, not only do we have no need to worry, we also have the only guide who knows how to get us where we want to go.

God Bless, Rick

Impossible to Put into Words

Until this morning, I had planned on using this column to simply celebrate the baptism of a granddaughter, and to encourage those who have not given serious consideration to being immersed into Christ to do so.

Without a doubt, the only thing that brings more joy to a father than baptizing his own child into Christ is watching that child baptize his child into Christ. The pride and joy I felt watching Matt baptize Josie is impossible to put into words.

Sadly, something I read on the front page of the SJR this morning also brought forth emotions that are impossible to put into words. However, with the standing ovation that was given the governor of New York when he signed into law the right to kill a baby as it is being born, and a pediatrician turned politician who made it clear that he believes a mother and her doctor has the right to end the life of a baby who survives an abortion, it shouldn’t have shocked me.

Still, I was distressed by the headline that read “4 Democratic legislators propose expanding reproductive rights.” And I was angered by the way the killing of babies has been cast as a “reproductive right.”

For years women were deceived into thinking that an abortion was merely the removal of unwanted tissue. After science definitively proved that the unwanted tissue is fully human, the argument for abortion was changed into a question of personhood, and the value that should be placed on humans who are dependent on others. Now, in the name of “reproductive rights” the child is completely ignored.

If you didn’t read the article, this attempt“to ‘modernize’ the state’s abortion law” would repeal Illinois’ current abortion law, would require all insurance policies to pay for abortions, would remove criminal penalties for doctors who perform illegal abortions, would lift the state ban on partial-birth abortions, and would repeal parental notification.

Even though most of you have chosen not to study and discuss on Sunday nights how we’ve gotten to the place where this is acceptable in our society, I pray you’ve given enough thought to this matter to be able to explain to your children how and why this has happened.

God Bless, Rick