Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday Night

Once again, I had planned on working out but my fitness motivation has been waning as of late and tonight proved to be no exception. However, my guilt has been mostly neutralized by over an hour of teaching from John Piper and productivity in other areas. I will try for physical improvement again tomorrow.

I do love Piper's teaching but must make sure that I am not substituting time in the Word with time watching or listening to him. Great teaching should be supplemental to our time with God. It can certainly enrich it.

The presiding bishop of the ELCA is suggesting that the Bible isn't the last word on homosexuality. Here is an excerpt from the brief article:

"In a town hall meeting Sunday, Bishop Mark Hanson said, "the understanding we have of homosexuality today does not seem to be reflected at all in the context of the biblical writers." Therefore, he said, Lutherans should consider more modern views on sexual orientation. At its churchwide convention in August, the ELCA lifted its ban on partnered gay and lesbian clergy, prompting some traditional congregations to withhold funds and begin forming a separate denomination.

But Hanson insisted the ELCA can accommodate both views. In his words, "God is still speaking to us." He also suggests that more homosexual-friendly policies may help the denomination grow."

My initial feeling is sadness. So many things are wrong in those few sentences. What "understanding" is he referring to? Does he subscribe to the notion that people are born gay...that sexual orientation isn't a choice? There is no scientific evidence I know of that has declared that to be true. Even if there were, aren't there genetic markers that lead to violence or alcoholism? Does that excuse those behaviors because you were born with a predilection (sp) toward them? Or does it mean you will simply have to battle harder within the freedom of individual responsibility to live a life that honors God and blesses others?

Oh, the self-serving rationale of "God is still speaking to us." This can pretty much excuse any behavior and viewpoint, can't it? Does God speak to us? All the time...most of us just aren't listening. But the suggestion here is that God is not only speaking to us but giving us new doctrine that replaces Biblical truth. There is nothing in Scripture to suggest God speaks to us in that way now. Does he illuminate and clarify existing Biblical truth? Absolutely. Does he change His mind on what he once thought to be true? No. His Word is inerrant and eternal.

"The ELCA can accommodate both views." If that isn't a line directly from Satan, I don't know what is. The bishop is effectively saying, "Look, there is no absolute truth when it comes to homosexuality. It is open to interpretation and well-meaning people can disagree but still worship together." What part of the word "abomination" is unclear? If you want to be a church that dwells in the pit of moral relativism that is your choice...not God's. Pick a side. You can't have it both ways. No church of Jesus Christ is big enough to teach some truth and some lies.

Finally, the bishop gives us a glimpse into his heart. "More homosexual policies may help the denomination grow." Ahhh, there we go. So, one of two things is going on here, in my opinion. This bishop may be cut out of the same cloth as Joel Osteen or Rick Warren. I will tell the people what they want to hear so they won't stop coming. I will loosen the truth enough that more will come to have their ears tickled. I want numbers to grow so that I may be glorified and my position may be enhanced.

That's one possibility but if I had to guess...something else may be going on. This bishop likely knows a number of people who practice homosexuality and who are Christians. (Can you be both? Yes...but there should be continual conviction by the Holy Spirit.) So, he sees these God-loving people who are committed to the church and his human mind is unable to reconcile them with God's label of "abomination". They seem to be so genuine in their love and relationships, that it just can't be wrong. So he has to come up with another way to reconcile this with Scripture. So, God is "still speaking" and teaching him new things. There is room for new viewpoints in the ELCA. And yet, I imagine at the end of the day, his spirit remains quite restless with all of this. Being out of step with the Lord is never a place where one can find peace and comfort. So, he rationalizes further and states that it will increase numbers. "Lord, surely you would agree that is a good thing? Right?" Hoping to quiet the inner turmoil he grasps onto something that can qualify as good in God's eyes. Yet, we know that God is interested in our hearts and not what comes from our lips. He is interested in a faithful remnant...not self-seeking masses. Oh what a dangerous wide path we travel down when we exchange the truth for a lie. My prayers are with Bishop Hanson and the ELCA church.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Not entirely sure what to say here except the entire situation is unfortunate and disappointing - a huge understatement from his wife's perspective I'm sure. I have always enjoyed watching athletes who were/are at the top of their profession - Peyton Manning, Roger Federer, Michael Phelps, Kobe Bryant are current examples and athletes such as Cal Ripken, Jr., Andre Agassi, Michael Jordan and Barry Sanders are older examples. I love watching how they compete, their desire to not just succeed, but excel. I have learned a lot about what it means to be a champion from watching these guys. It means maintaining consistent excellence. I try to apply that to different areas of my life although I think I fail quite often.

Tiger Woods was probably the embodiment of all of that for me. His dad was a Green Beret who taught him how to be a champion. He gave him all the tools, which combined with his God-given talent to make him the greatest golfer of all time by his mid-30s. I loved watching him compete on Sunday he would seemingly will himself to win tournaments and so many others would fall by the wayside simply because they didn't believe in themselves as much as he believed in himself.

I didn't know much about Tiger's spiritual beliefs. I would guess he had some Buddhist influence from his Thai mom. He never mentioned God so that meant that his beliefs weren't very strong or he didn't want to offend anyone in his formidable fan base. Still, there were signs that something wasn't quite right. This was a guy whose father taught him to be incredibly tough mentally, to block out any and every distraction when he was competing. Yet, here was Tiger, time and again, seemingly annoyed by every camera click and fan cough as he was ready to swing. His propensity to swear after bad shots, and even toss/throw his club in disgust were becoming regular occurrences. In my opinion, these were signs of inner turmoil coming to the surface during times of indicator that something wasn't right on the inside.

Now we know what wasn't right. Tiger's heart and spirit were out of whack...and when your heart isn't right your thoughts and actions won't be right. No amount of PR or projecting a false self can ultimately cover up the truth. It's a shame. I know that my sports heroes are just that - sports heroes. There are occasionally really good sports hearoes like Cal Ripken but most have just as many issues as anyone else such as MJ's gambling and ego or Andre's meth use. I think I will continue to watch Tiger for awhile but now with a different purpose. I want to see how he holds up under all of this. Can he right the ship? Can he still be the player he was? Can he become the person he professes he should be?

It will be interesting...that's for sure. We are about to learn more about Tiger than we ever thought we could. The world will be watching.