Tuesday, March 27, 2007

under pressure

Today I got my blood pressure checked... again.

You see, I had to have a physical of sorts for a new life insurance policy that I took out a few months ago. The first time around they took blood and asked a bunch of questions and took my blood pressure. For one reason or another, everything checked out just fine...except for the blood pressure. It was elevated. Not hypertention kind of elevated. Just above normal and just enough to "elevate" my insurance premiums.

The deal is that if I am in perfectly good health then I pay $96 a month for my life insurance. They call this kind of consumer "preferred" or something like that. If I am "mostly" healthy and don't smoke then I pay $160 a month. So the difference between my blood pressure being normal and it being slightly elevated is a difference of about $840 a year for the next "however many number of years" that I live.

It may have been stress. It may have been a few extra pounds or a little too much sodium in my system. Whatever the reason, I wasn't going to settle for "elevated." I knew I was a healthy dude and felt like the blood pressure reading was off for that day. So, I got my blood pressure checked again today and wouldn't you know it, perfectly normal (at least when it comes to blood pressure). 120/82. Not bad. I went ahead and submitted these results to the insurance folks.

Not only do I feel better about saving money, but I feel better knowing my heart is doing just fine.

Monday, March 19, 2007

sexual ethic

In regards to homosexuality, various Christians disagree. At one poll we have those who believe that homosexuality is a sinful deviant choice made by some in our society. At the other poll are those who don't see any part of homosexuality as sinful or wrong. Moving toward the middle, some Christians believe that it is a sin to commit homosexual acts but not a sin to have homosexual attractions. And others who believe that homosexuality is not sinful so long as it is within a life-long monogamous relationship.

Largely the ethical divide centers around heterosexuality being acceptable according to scripture and homosexuality being unacceptable. The tension is found when thoughtful Christians wrestle between scripture and the testimonies of otherwise faithful Christians who practice a homosexual lifestyle. To add to the confusion are the testimonies of faithful Christians who feel as though they have been "freed" from the homosexual lifestyle and now live relatively normal heterosexual lives. A final ingredient is the ongoing discussion between psychology and genetics as to whether people are "born gay", have a "predisposition to homosexuality", are a product of a damaging familial environment, or a mixture of two or more of these factors. It's the old "nature vs. nurture" conundrum.

Politically, its an entirely different question altogether. Whether to allow same-sex marriages is influenced by your view of homosexuality, but it is not asking the same question. The political question is whether we are willing as a society to change the definition of marriage as we know it. And if we do change it, to what should we change it? If we allow "other" forms of marriage such as same-sex marriage, why not allow polygamy? Where do we draw the line and on what moral basis to we draw it. So while your view of the morality of homosexuality will influence your political view here, it is not necessarily true that if one is ok with homosexuality "morally" that they will be ok with changing the definition of marriage for our society. That's where the civil union option comes in.

There is a lot to take in when the discussion becomes so multi-dimentional. But I wonder what would happen if we shifted the primary ethical divide in the conversation. One of the problems with the main division of sexual ethics being "homosexual vs. heterosexual" is that it leaves out a driving theme in scripture. The danger here is that Christians who are heterosexual would feel free from the prophetic voice of scripture simply because they are not homosexual. And homosexuals would feel free from the prophetic voice of scripture simply because they are written off from the beginning of the conversation. The result would be the same in both cases: sexual immorality in the form of promiscuity.

What if, instead, the line in the sand was monogomy vs. polygamy/promiscuity? This seems to be an even harder command for our society to follow. Much harder than "don't be gay." A sexual ethic that demands monogamy demands the same of heterosexuals and homosexuals. It doesn't allow for scapegoats and it doesn't let anyone off the hook. Surely, elevating the conversation in a way that showed that Christians stand for monogomy rather than just heterosexuality, would be difficult. It may indeed have a more negative reaction in our culture than calling homosexually a sin.

Calling for monogomy in both the heterosexual and homosexual communities seems more radical and more prophetic than calling for the end of homosexuality. It forces each and every one of us to look into the mirror and see whether we have held up this sexual ethic. It seems to be what Jesus does in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matt. 5:27-28)

By saying this Jesus drew the line in the sand in a different place than the Pharisees. They wanted to condemn the adulterer and praise the person who hadn't slept with another man's wife. Instead, Jesus wanted to reveal the adulterer that lurks beneath the surface in all of us. He isn't giving his blessing to adultery. Instead, he is simultaneously calling us to a higher standard of living and making us all aware of our need for God's mercy and grace.

I wonder what Jesus would say to us today. Maybe it would be something like this: "You have heard that it was said, 'the homosexual offender will not inherit the kingdom of God' (1 Cor. 6:9). But I tell you that anyone who has slept with his girlfriend, had a one-night stand, looked at porn, cheated on his wife, or lusted after a co-worker will not enter the Kingdom of God."

I don't want to take this issue lightly. I am a Christian who views "homosexual acts" as sinful while "homosexual attraction" as a by-product of nature and nurture. But I also don't want to draw the line in the sand at the wrong place. I am thinking more and more that I need to be a champion of God's love and grace. And maybe this looks like taking a stand for monogamy in all its forms rather than a stand against homosexuality.

Friday, March 09, 2007

my wife

This is my wife Missy. She is so cute isn't she? I mean sometimes the ladies have to go all out just to look good. But my wife looks good when she isn't even trying. Sorry, I know I am being a little annoying here. But really, I love her. It's such a blessing to be her husband. God is good.

She is feeling a little under the weather today. If you think about it maybe you can pray that she can shake this cold that has a hold of her right now.

P.S. she is going to kill me when she finds out that I posted a picture of her on my blog. :) So just keep this between you and me. Ha!

Monday, March 05, 2007

here is my servant...

We just had an awesome time of testimonies this past Sunday. Jay and Sarah told powerful stories about their lives being transformed by the love and grace of God. I came across this passage of scripture today and it reminded me of something true I heard in Jay and Sarah's stories. This is the Gospel of Matthew quoting Isaiah in Matthew 12:18-21,

"Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he leads justice to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope."

As Matthew quotes Isaiah 42:1-4, he is referring to Jesus. Jesus was the fulfillment of this prophecy. And the part that I love the most is verse 20, "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out..." This is true of Jay and Sarah's story. This is true of my story. And you can be sure it will be true of your story.

We hit places in life where we feel like the "bruised reed." We are bent and broken and feel like if one more gust of wind comes then we will fall to the ground. We feel like a "smoldering wick." We know we are supposed to shine the light of Jesus to the world. We know the children's song, "Hide it under a bushel? No, I'm gonna let it shine..." But our wick is smoldering rather than burning brightly.

This passage of scripture assures us that Jesus will not be the one to snuff us out. He will not be the strong breeze that kills our hope. Instead, he will be our hope. He will be our strength when we are weak. He will be our light when we are dark. "In his name the nations will put their hope." That's us. We are "the nations" to which this passage refers. And we can put our hope in Him.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

prayer warrior prophet

I have been feeling out of touch with God lately. I think it is because I have been running around and trying to "do" a bunch of stuff. Today I took a big chunk of time just to read. I finished a book that I had been reading by Alistar Begg. Then I read Hosea. It was a good time of prayer and reading. I miss this.

I used to spend blocks of time reading and praying a lot. But lately, as my schedule has picked up, I have become undisciplined. I talked to God about getting back in the saddle again. He thinks its a good idea for me to spend some more time with Him. I think so too.

I am getting this sneaking suspicion that all those big Christian leaders are right. They always tell you in their books that more will happen and more will get done if you do less but spend more time in prayer. Somewhere in my heart I know that it is true. I need to live that truth for it to really mean anything in my life.

What would it look like for a leader of a community to take a different identity? What if that leader was less the "delegator/decision-maker/organizer/worker bee/etc." and more the "listener/prayer warrior/prophet"? Maybe my life can be an experiment toward this end. We shall see.