Thursday, May 31, 2012

Response to Charles Worley

This blog post is the article I wrote for the Catawba Current this month, our church newsletter:

          If you didn’t know by now, Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Baptist Church in Maiden has been in the national headlines.  On Sunday, May 13th in response to Amendment One and President Obama’s statement regarding gay marriage, Worley shared his thoughts on homosexuality in his sermon.  Here are his words verbatim: “I figured a way out, a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers, but I couldn't get it past the Congress. Build a great big, large fence – 50 or 100 miles long – put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals, and have that fence electrified so they can't get out. Feed them. And you know what? In a few years, they'll die out. Do you know why? They can't reproduce."

The video of his statement made it to the social media juggernaut and has since received national attention, in case you missed it, here it is:

            As a Christian and a pastor Worley’s words grieve me.  I know I am not perfect in what and how I communicate, however, his words were blatant ignorance and foolishness.  I can only hope that he was trying to illustrate a point about how same-sex couples can’t reproduce, however, such a horribly insensitive and inflammatory illustration is inexcusable.

            Statements like Worley’s are what give Christians everywhere a bad reputation.  Worley’s words are known now to millions of people who assume that all Christians believe what he said.  Even if he repents and apologizes (which I think he should) the damage has been done to the reputation of the Christian faith.

            For those of you curious about my stance on the matter, I stand in agreement with the statement found in the United Methodist Book of Discipline.  In case you’re curious it’s found at Paragraph 161G and states:

Homosexual persons no less than heterosexual persons are individuals of sacred worth. All persons need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God's grace is available to all, and we will seek to live together in Christian community. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons.

            I like the balanced stance of our denomination.  I think it is biblically faithful, takes a stand and shows grace all at the same time.  We know from the Bible that we are created in God’s image and that God is the giver of all life, therefore all persons are of sacred worth.  However, we also know from the Bible that we have a tendency to go against God’s best for our lives…this predisposition is the power of sin in the world and in our lives.  The practice of homosexuality is just one among hundreds of ways that some people give into sin.

Yes, I believe the practice of homosexuality is a sin, however, so is the practice of heterosexuality outside the holy covenant of marriage.  For several reasons (mainly because of the political debates and votes on the issue of gay marriage) the sin of homosexual practice has been elevated as greater than other sins.  While Paul does make it a point to single out sexual sin as different from other sins (1st Corinthians 6:18) we must be careful in judging people who are tempted by same-sex attraction. 

I have never experienced the temptation that comes with same-sex attraction, however, I have experienced temptation in other ways.  I know what it is like to be tempted because I am human.  I also know how easy it is to give into temptation.  It takes a lot of work to resist temptation. 

Just because I am not tempted by something that tempts someone else doesn’t mean I have any right to think less of them.  What tempts me may not tempt someone else.  I am not tempted by alcoholic beverages.  I do not have to work hard to resist getting drunk.  Many people are tempted by alcohol…even Christians.  And many of them have not yet won that battle…even Christians.  If you think it is your job to call out the sin in others, remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge or you too will be judged.”  There’s a big difference between judging someone by their fruit and recognizing them by their fruit.  Let us be careful about judging others and focus on resisting our own temptations by loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Two Weeks

Man, I just realized that it has been two weeks since I have blogged.  I'm not sure why. 

The current sermon series is called Emoticons.  It was inspired by my seven year old daughter who loves to put Emoticons in e-mails to her grandmother. 

So far we have dealt with emotions around anticipation...that was for graduation Sunday on the 20th.  The point of the sermon was "Don't ever graduate."  Christians should always be growing and learning and "being conformed to the image of Christ." (Romans 8:29).

Yesterday we talked about the emotion of anger.  The point was "if you don't control your anger, your anger will cotnrol you."  I borrowed four ways to deal with anger from Charles Stanley:
1. Own it
2. Identify the source
3. Deal with it quickly
4. Forgive

This coming Sunday is Homecoming.  The Reverend Joe Parker will be bringing the message and instead of two services we will just have one service at 10:30 with a meal to share together afterwards.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sunday Recap

The scripture Sunday was Matthew 5:13-16.  It's where Jesus tells his disciples they are to be salt and light. 

I used Jesus' words to talk about being a witness in two ways.

Salt is for the one consuming it.  It's not shared.  It's our silent witness.  Our Salt witness is what we do behind closed doors, when no one is looking.  If we are connecting with God through prayer, Bible study, fasting, listening for the Holy Spirit and making wise decisions in our private lives, then our public witness is more effective.

Light is to be shared.  Our light witness is our known witness.  It's what people see.  It's their perception of who we are.  And that perception is their reality of us (whether we like it or not).  Our light is our reputation.  It's what we say and don't say and what we do and don't do.  What people know about us matters...Jesus is making that clear.

So to be an effective witness for Christ we have to do the work in private so that what we do in public gives Christ a good reputation.  As a Christian, our reputation is Christ's reputation.

The point for the sermon was this: To be salt is to be a silent influence, to be light is to be a known influence.  Our witness is our influence and we all have a person (or even several people) that we shoudl be influencing in the name of Jesus.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sunday Morning Recap

We looked at Joshua 24:14-27 and talked about serving God.  Serving God means serving others and that service starts in our homes.  What we do at church should just reinforce what is done in our homes.

How are you serving God in your home?  How are you serving your spouse?  How are you serving your children?  How are you serving your family members?  What kind of example are you living?  Is your job getting your best?  Is your hobby getting you best?  Are your buddies getting your best?  Or is your family getting your best?  Serving your family in a Godly way means they take priority.  It means our family gets our best.

God wants men and women, husbands and wives to step up and be the kind of husbands and wives and moms and dads that he wants us to be.  Will you step up?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

General Conference

The General Conference of the UMC is going on as I write this.  A pastor friend of mine (Talbot Davis) blogged about it here and it sparked an idea for a blog post in my mind.

One of the things Talbot wrote is that the comments and tweets are often more interesting than the happenings at conference.  So true.  In fact, it's so true that I actually copied and pasted some of the tweets and comments into a word file.

So here they are for your enjoyment:

-The church ought to be a safe place with a dangerous message!

-Tolerance says "I tolerate your differences." Respect says "I honor the God in you even if we disagree."

-Programs don't make disciples; disciples make disciples.

-If you can only be prophetic when you have nothing to lose, you're not really being prophetic.

-Unity does not mean uniformity.

-The call to repent of sin is all inclusive. GLBT folks have always been welcome in Methodism to change and repentance.

-GC is like an accident, you don’t want to watch but you can’t help it.

-You cannot follow Jesus if you are stuck in your seats.

Sunday Recap

On Sunday I talked about "Gifts."  To set it up I asked people with various gifts to be a part of the entire service.  I had somone with the gift of teaching to lead the children's time.  I had someone I see as a prayer warrior lead the prayer time.  I had a young girl who is called into ministry lead us in The Lord's Prayer.  I had a man who has not done so at Catawba share his gift of singing.

It was a wonderful service that just confirmed that our strength is our community.

The text for the sermon was Matthew 25:14-30.  The parable Jesus tells in that text has a lot to do with the relationship between a boss and his employees.  It has to do with  taking responsibility for what we have been given by a generous and loving God.  We are to be faithful stewards of all He has given us.

The main idea was: Your relationship with God determines what you do with what you have.

I am convinced that how we view God will determine our relationship with God.  And our relationship with God will determine whether or not we are generous and sacrficial and loving people or if we are stingy, selfish and apathetic people.

What kind of person do you want to be...if you aren't that person, start with your relationship with God and who you want to be will fall into place and you will then start using the gifts God has given you for His purposes.