Friday, December 27, 2013


    Recently there has been a media storm concerning the Patriarch of Duck Dynasty and an interview in a magazine wherein his views about homosexuality were solicited, and he expressed them.  A gay advocacy organization demanded that A&E fire the man, and A&E complied by suspending him indefinitely.
    I offer that very brief review of the situation just in case the reader is ignorant of my reason for writing.   The reactions of Christians have been varied.  Many have been vehemently agitated and angered at this attempt by an organization to censor someone's free speech based on their personal religious beliefs.  Some were angered that a group dedicated to the defense and advancement of homosexuals should have such power to cause a believer to lose his job and ironically to actually declare him not to be a Christian.  Some were concerned that he may have indeed insulted homosexuals by calling them "sinners".  Others didn't think this was a very serious issue at all since it involved fairly wealthy people who were part of the television and media culture.
    I am concerned about how people have responded to the situation.  While some have brushed the incident aside as not really having anything to do with it being a threat to freedom of speech (usually citing that it was not government that objected to it), others have been alarmed.  Freedom of speech in not simply a governmental issue, actually it is the role of government to defend it in the private sector.  Certain governments in the world proclaim that they have freedom of speech and religion, but culturally everyone knows that certain things cannot be said, lest you lose your job, your home, your family, even your life. 
    Some Christians seem to think the answer to this kind of situation is to be quiet and seek in every way not to be offensive.  In case the reader hasn't noticed not all Christians are actually the same type.  Some believe the Bible and take it as true and authoritative in all to which it speaks.   Others have felt they can reinterpret the Bible, lessen its offense, make it more culturally acceptable based on the idea that the words themselves are not literally the words of God.  Bible believing Christians think that idea is heresy and not true Christianity.  My concern in this writing is to speak to Bible believing Christians, and to help those who are not believers to understand a little about them.
    Many Bible believing Christians have had family members or friends who were gay.  This has presented a real challenge of love for them.  Some have decided that the way to love gay family members was to accept their behavior as normal and thus have re-positioned themselves on what the Bible teaches.  Others believers have refused to accept such behavior but have still sought in some way to show love to homosexual members of their families.  Some families have been torn apart.
    Bible believing Christians have some very real challenges here.  I would like to encourage believers to rise to those challenges. I want to exhort all of us to love homosexuals, whether they be in our families or in our community.  Obviously if their behavior is immoral then our stand against such will have repercussions for them.  The gay community has striven to overturn those repercussions which include everything from the dismantling of laws against sodomy, changes in prosecution for contributing to the delinquency of minors, and gays openly in the military.  None of those changes allows believers not to show love to homosexuals, though we may hate their cause.   As in the struggle against alcohol as a public vice Christians have had to come to grips with the allowance of whiskey; loving alcoholics while preaching against drunkenness.  However, this is not the same thing as being made to shut up about our view of such behavior.
      I think our future in this country, and in fact the future of this country, depends on whether or not we will continue to demand the freedoms for which our forefathers fought and died.  Freedom is not something we should easily relinquish.  I doubt the problem is that someone will snatch it away all at once, this is a progression (or regression) and something we must be aware of and actively resist.  It is not unchristian to stand for these principles; the manner in which we stand will either be loving or not.  Loving is what Jesus demands of us, nevertheless, we must stand for freedom or we will eventually find it compromised and taken away from us.
    If we allow fellow believers to be shouted down, shut out, fired, ostracized because they simply answer "ambush" questions and reveal themselves publicly as actually believing that what the Bible says is true then we will have a hard time maintaining our ability to practice our religion in this country.  Those who want to stay on the sidelines in this struggle will one day find a muzzle over their mouths, blogs, books, and pulpits. Gay advocacy groups are asking for nothing less than for us to change our religion or refuse to ever acknowledge what is means.  We must let the world know that is not going to happen.  This is not simply an issue for Christians, but for anyone who has an unpopular view, or who actually believes in the freedom of speech and religion.    
    Contrary to the propaganda so prevalent concerning how these old fashioned views of Christians will change and fall away gay organizations and their supporters should realize that Bible believing Christians find no Biblical evidence that this issue is the same as civil rights for racial minorities.  Therefore believers cannot see this as an issue of justice but rather one of morality.  Any act of disobedience against God's Word cannot be justified as a right or a lifestyle no matter what public opinion might say.   In fact, we see this as an issue of the allowance of public immorality, which leads to injustice, and therefore should be resisted.  As long as people believe that the Bible is true in how it was written then their views will not change.  Surely anyone familiar with the history of Christianity knows that will continue to be so, no matter the cost.  Racial justice partly came about in this country not because Christians stopped believing their Bibles but because they were convicted by what it does teach.
    Christians have co-existed with sinners in this country for a long time.  We see ourselves as very much in this category ourselves.  When it comes to dealing with social issues, whether of justice or morality, Evangelical Christians seem to go to one of two extremes.  Evangelicals either want to become aggressively political and abandon principals of love and gentleness in the process or they think that it spiritual to abandon the political arena.  This abandonment of politics can come about due to the belief that the way to change society is through personal conversions on a grand scale, or that changing society ought not to be our concern at all.  For me the quest for public justice is part of my Christian responsibility, whether I see it achieved or not.
    We must love those who consider themselves homosexuals.  Our country has often tolerated their mistreatment and Christians have often been silent about that.  We must not allow them to be abused and mistreated and we must give to them the same protections given to all other people.  At the same time how can it be loving for us to not tell them the truth?  A truth they may not want to hear is not the same as "hate speech."  This is the ground we believers must not surrender.  If I believe the whole Bible I must love everyone and compelled by love tell everyone they are sinners (and the practice of homosexuality is one of those sins) and need to be saved, and can be saved, by the grace of God. How can I love someone and not warn them about their need to repent and turn to God if indeed there is a judgment which is to come? If persecution comes to me on that account so be it, I understand that price as a Christian.  Yet I am not just a Christian, I am also an American, and that means that persecution is not my only option here.
    Every Christian who is also a citizen of this country owns the country along with all other citizens.  My understanding of American democracy is that we the people make our government.  If it fails and I have not sought to affect change then I am partly responsible.  Our views may not always win but abdication of the defense of our freedoms is not a legitimate option. I can still be a Christian without freedom, but it would certainly be a betrayal of all America has stood for and for which it was founded if I allow that to happen. Gay organizations have exercised their freedoms to pursue a cultural and political agenda with which I completely disagree.  Yet, I believe they have the freedom to speak about what they believe.
     What we must not allow is for them to silence us in the statement of our beliefs because it hurts their feelings, or because they have attempted to redefine our beliefs as hateful toward them.  This redefinition has now taken root in almost all pubic media and social and public culture.  Homosexuals don't want to consider their behavior to be evil or sinful though we say it is sin.  Ironically, we say the same thing about moral, legalistic, self-righteous, religious people.  They don't like hearing we think they are sinners either, and those are the ones that nailed Jesus to the cross. While the present imbroglio might be dismissed because it is concerns television personalities, and one may not share all the views of the individual, nevertheless this is a dangerous threat to the free practice and proclamation of our religion, and therefore should be resisted by all Americans, not just Christians.

Monday, December 23, 2013


  Jesus said, "But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.  Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  Sell your possessions and give to the poor.  Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  (Luke 12:31-34) NIV
   I have been reading Tim Keller's book, "Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road."  It is a source of great information and challenge about the call to minister to the poor, and how to do it.  As I was reading some of his comments about the Kingdom of God I began to reflect on the idea that living for the Kingdom costs us something.
    We believe in grace, we preach grace, and hopefully we live in the power of grace.  Our salvation is not earned by our efforts and certainly not deserved by any innate righteousness of our own.  So, I wonder what it means when it seems as if Jesus makes things conditional.  Jesus makes me uncomfortable, and since I know he loves me and I love him I am thankful that he does this to me.  I seem to get the feeling that Jesus is saying the more we live for this life, and this world's stuff, the less we enjoy of the power of the Kingdom of God.  It is almost as if discipleship would cost me something.
    Yet, I also get the message from Jesus that if I give to the poor, if I am compassionate in the disbursement of my material wealth, he will take care of me and provide for me both in this life and the life to come.  I wonder how much I have let my Reformed and Evangelical faith make me deaf to the call of Jesus?  I would never surrender my confidence that we are saved by grace through faith.  I am so glad for the rediscovery of the Gospel in the Protestant Reformation.  I might be sad though in the loss of a radical repentance in the call to follow Jesus; especially when it comes to materialism in this modern day of a rejection of anything painful as if it were legalism.  
    The necessity of obedience is not legalism, for surely if we love him we will obey what he commands. Our confidence in being able to obey is our confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit as he gives us grace to live the Christian life. He commands love, but love is not an abandonment of doing something as if it were replaced by a feeling or a sentiment.  Love is a sacrifice.  The spiritual kingdom, it seems to me, in the teachings of Jesus are dependent on a forsaking of the kingdom of this world.  It is precisely in the area of materialism that he strikes to our heart's idol.  "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Luke 12:34) NIV 
     We either have treasure here in this world and in this life, or we have treasure in heaven.  Evidently we are not allowed to diversify our investments, we make deposits in one bank or the other.
    Christmas gives me envy and coveting problems.  I covet enough money to give presents to my loved ones.  I envy what others have to give.  Covered behind my wanting to give to others is the reality that it is still for my enjoyment, my pride and ego, a sense of power to be able to distribute to family and friends.  The poor don't really come into my coveting, since they seem faceless and won't be able to give me much back.
   Christmas is probably the most hedonistic, materialistic, envy and covetous holiday that we have.  I absolutely love it, but my envy of sinners is real. (Proverbs 23:17) It is not necessarily personal.  I am not jealous of any particular sinner.  It is just my walk though a department store and breathing in what I might look like, how I might feel, and how others might see me that keeps screwing up my heart.  The cashmere coat, the velvet blazer, the British tan slacks, the BMW to ride the clothes around in, the wide screen TV (wider, wider, more pixels, sound to surround the universe).
   We leave here with closets so full  we can hardly walk into them and souls so skinny Angels are hard pressed to notice.  The call of Jesus is to make purses, women's or men's is not the issue, but whether they will wear our or not is the point.  The only way to make a spiritual purse that lasts is to empty the physical one in our pockets.  We must choose to do this, because we love Jesus, and we don't have to be afraid of losing anything.  We must choose to be merciful, we must choose to give to the poor, and we need to be powerful, over the top, and determined in the doing of it.  May God us grace to escape christmas, (with the small hearted "c" and find Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


  I have a gift from God. It is not mine alone but one he seems to have distributed quite broadly.  It is the gift to hear music, to feel it, to move to it, to weep because of it, to sometimes feel the joy of it right down to the bones.
    Part of that gift to me has been to be around people who love it, who know how to share it, who have the talent and "chops" to make it music and not noise.  I come from a family that always loved music.  Part of our Christmas was having an Aunt or my mother playing Carols and Christmas songs, and the rest of us trying to remember the words.  I enjoyed school programs with music.  I enjoyed the radio.  One of the coolest things I had as a kid was a record player and a gift from some family member of some 78 speed recordings of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.  I listened to it every night that I could.
    I never had much facility or talent for music myself.  It seemed like I just couldn't learn to accurately read music, nor to play an instrument.  Yet I know that music has been one of the great enjoyments of my life.  I am blessed to have a wife whose voice was almost magical.  It has called out an emotional response from me many, many times. I first heard her sing in a group in elementary school, and then heard her sing a duet from West Side Story at a High School assembly.  I wanted to change my name to Tony so she could have been singing to me.
    During our high school  years we were formed into a singing group and it was there that I began to learn and to mature in my singing voice.  I was never spectacular, like my wife, but I began to enjoy being part of the joy of participating.  In College I was part of the Chorale and I felt blessed so many times singing songs of such beauty and depth, often beyond my real ability to master it.  Now, at Christmas, music just breaks out all over the place, and it is the kind of  music that contains such great ideas, such wholesome fun, such sublime truth.  It sweeps up in nostalgia, love, and most of all worship.  Romance songs are fun, but Christmas finally eclipses all the nasty ideas, all the gratuitous sexual allusions of modern pop and secular music. Christmas even eclipses a lot of tepid contemporary Christian music as well.
   So I want to say thank you to God.  Thanks for the gift to make, perform, hear, and enjoy music.  Thanks so much for worthy things to sing about.  Things for all the people in my life who have made music great for me.  Fred Means, John Hamm, James Ward, Oliver Trimiew, Joan Nabors, Jim Crumble, Getrell Watkins, Kirk Ward, Marci Ndiritu, Juliet Akinyi Nabors, Juanna Roberts, just to name a few; thanks to all of you.  Thanks to Handel, thanks to Luther Vandross, thanks to Stevie Wonder, thanks to Eric Clapton, thanks to Carlos Santana.  Thanks most of all to Jesus, for being born, for being the King, for fighting darkness and death, and winning.  Thanks be to God that he sings, and he gives songs away, and he made sound, and  he made it sweet, and puts a new song in my mouth.  Life has a sound track and poor is the life that won't hear it.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Progressive Social Policy

   We  have a fight going on in our city and it is about extending benefits to the unmarried partners of city employees.  A new city council member, who is gay, has appealed for these benefits to be given to both homosexual and heterosexual city employees who have an  unmarried partner living with them in a domestic relationship.  We used to call this "shacking up," or "living in sin."
   At first it looked like the momentum was all on the side of the gay council member.  The City Council took up the issue, several religious types came and made some fiery statements about immorality and sodomy, and it seemed as if the media and comments by public officials had marginalized them.  The mayor decided to back the new policy, and the Council approved the new measure by one vote.
    Then the folks opposed to the measure pursued a petition whereby the issue would be placed on the public ballot at the next election.  In a town where politics on the local level is a fairly lazy moving stream, where not that many citizens actually vote in local elections, where signatures for petitions seem to take a long time to be gathered and then approved, this one came together quickly with more than double the needed voters asking for the chance to vote.  It looks like the momentum has swung the other way.
    Comments made by various individuals seem dismissive about the success of those who want to stop this new policy.  One of the consistent themes with the LGBT crowd is the inevitability of the acceptance of their lifestyles, the moral and legal legitimacy for their marriages (and divorces), along with the turning of public policies to be gay favorable rather than gay averse.  There is a triumphalism in one court decision after another, one legislative change after another.  The power of the White House has been unleashed to push this as a new civil right through the State Department in our relationships with other nations.
    The shouting down of opponents, the highlighting of anything that smacks of prejudice against not just a homosexual lifestyle but a gay political agenda so as to censure contrary opinions has become commonplace.  Whereas at one time religion seemed to be universally against such behaviors, let alone its advocacy, it is now divided.   Clerics, denominations, and religious sounding arguments are used to proclaim the acceptance of gays and gay marriage simply an issue of love and freedom.
    This modern gay movement has some distinct advantages.  It is focused, it is well funded, it has some very intelligent, gifted and talented people as its advocates.  It sounds like freedom, it sounds like love, and everyone likes those things.  Those opposed to it have some disadvantages.  They are not organized, they are not usually focused on this one issue, they often fight back with an emotional response and are easily caricatured whereas it is seen as not only impolite but downright scandalous to make fun of gay people.  Those opposed to homosexuality usually have a religious reason for being so and in America that seems to be a non-starter.  If your reason is religious it must be personal and feels like it should be wrong to impose on other people.
      Not only that but one can't very well accuse homosexuals of hypocrisy, but all religious and straight people who proclaim this to be an issue of morality can be accused of hypocrisy.  It seems like  homosexuals can be as nasty as they want to be and still be seen as legitimate champions of their cause, whereas those opposed to such behavior seem to eventually be seen to have their own problems with sexual lust and therefore must be hypocrites.  If they never fall then they must simply be self-righteous.
    It would seem to make for a much more gracious environment for this discussion if we all admitted we were fallen creatures, but that there are still some things wrong and some things right, whether you can live perfect or not.  I take it as a given that no one can.
    It has taken a long time for me to get to my point.  I would like to disagree with the decision of the City Council and the Mayor.  I think they have failed terribly in their responsibility to set sound economic and social policy.  I do think that we should expect that of our leaders, to do that which is truly progressive so as to improve our city.
    In a city where so many of our problems arise from the destruction of the family how does this policy help us?   If more than 80% of African-American children are born out of wedlock, how does the discouragement of marriage and stable families help us?   If communities with large numbers of single parent homes translate into ungovernable schools that fail to educate and teach, and those same homes translate into the majority of inmates in prison, how does their new policy help us?  It seems to me that wise social policy would do everything to encourage marriage, between a man and a woman, and not destroy it.  Children raised by two parents of opposite genders have the best chance at progress in their lives.  It is hard to consistently and continually love a person of the opposite gender, in order to do that life has to be about so much more than sex, and so many things are improved in humans by the effort.  We become better people, more human as it were, if we love well, faithfully, and for an extended time.
    To make citizens subsidize with their taxes a lifestyle of employees that they radically disapprove of for moral reasons is a touch of tyranny.  When funds are needed to provide adequately for the salaries and pensions of other city employees but are rather given for this it smacks of theft.  For city leaders to think that those citizens who are opposed to this are part of a fading crowd whose views will change with time and education let me encourage them to not be so naive.  There is no moral high ground, as there was for civil rights, when it comes to the destruction of marriage and the proliferation and endorsement of homosexuality.  Religion deeply felt and believed for millennia, though it seems challenged by religious liberals, will not go away.  It has a way of being revived over and over again, and sometimes rises up to draw lines which its opponents had thought to be fading.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

Sonship, Dr. Adams, and the Use of Doctrine for Godliness.

   Recently I read a small booklet written by Dr. Jay Adams on a ministry and theology known as Sonship.  Dr. Adams was a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and is probably best known for his work and books on counseling.  His efforts in Nouthetic Counseling have been controversial in the christian counseling community.  Well, this booklet on Sonship is controversial as well and I thought it might be good to put in writing some of my thoughts about  Dr. Adam's comments in case anyone has been influenced by it.
    Unfortunately Dr. Adams makes some personal attacks in the book on Dr. and Mrs. Miller.  Dr. John Miller has passed away but Rosemarie Miller is still living and active in ministry, serving in London, UK.  Dr. Miller and Dr. Adams served together at the seminary and I have no idea what if any relationship they might have had.  I have no official connection with World Harvest Mission or the Sonship course other than having personally taken the course and taught it in my congregation.  I have family and friends who have been connected with the ministry.  No one asked me to do this and I hope I cause them no concern because of what I am about to say.
    Frankly I found the booklet to be rather unkind, faulty in reasoning, and at the very least inept in its attempt to be theological.  In this unfortunate little booklet Dr. Adams seems to attempt to undermine the theological and Biblical legitimacy of the Sonship course and the Miller's ministry while presenting himself as someone giving an objective look at it. If someone had never taken the Sonship course and simply had this book to read I am afraid they would have a terribly prejudiced and inaccurate view of the teaching and the ministry.
     Dr. Adams engages in some petty and negative carping about the Miller's presentation.  One instance is where he goes after them for using the word "miracle."  Anyone who has studied in a Reformed seminary probably remembers a discussion about this word.  We know that Biblical miracles are those things that are impossible without a work of God to interrupt the physical "laws" of creation, such as gravity, death, etc.  Dr. Adams seems to not like any other use of the word, although in common parlance people use the word in a much more casual way to describe things that don't often happen, or have never happened, but could happen without an intervention in the rules of physics. Dr. Adams attacks the Millers for using the word in testimony when they speak of God's answers to prayer or some obvious work of God's grace to change someone's behavior.  I suppose if Dr. Miller knew that when he spoke it was actually a  Presbytery exam he and his wife might have been careful to give a definition of miracle that Dr. Adams would have accepted.  They instead speak as normal people who are amazed at how God has worked in their lives and the lives of others.  As it is, Dr. Adams comes across as petty and vindictive in this discussion.
    Dr. Adams is again petty when he goes after the Millers for using the concept of Adoption as the cornerstone of their Sonship teaching.   He wants us to know that being children of God is the important thing, not the moment or act of Spiritual adoption.  Of course he neglects to notice or admit that the course is  called, "Sonship" and that therefore is the fulfillment  of the very point he seems to want to make.  From what I have heard from the Millers they would agree adoption is where that relationship started.  Following Dr. Adams logic I suppose none of us should celebrate a birthday since we are obviously alive, but it seems to me to be significant to the present reality.  Adoption is used in Sonship as the doctrine, once we understand it, that can keep us from feeling like we are orphans when it comes to having a relationship with God.
   One of the things I realized when I was first introduced to Sonship concepts was that it used some of the great theological ideas in Reformed theology as a technique to help believers in their struggle against sin and in their walk with God.  I wondered at first if this was legitimate, and then of course I realized that if our theological concepts articulated in the Westminster Confession and Catechisms were Biblical they were indeed to be used to help us in our pursuit of godliness.  Theological propositions are not just articulated and studied so we can think systematically but so we can live in conformity with the Truth of God, and in that conformity see our lives transformed so we become more and more like Jesus.
     Dr. Adams attacks Sonship for emphasizing Justification.  He says it is simply a legal declaration.  According to Dr. Adams the truly life changing doctrine is what happened in our regeneration.  I certainly have no argument against Regeneration. I know that this is the very work of the Holy Spirit to miraculously (okay, I admit I think a work of grace is miraculous) take dead sinners and bring them to spiritual life.  Does he ever do it apart from the work of Justification?   Does Justification ever take place without the faith of the believer, brought about due to Regeneration?  I don't think so, and this is part of  Dr. Adams great failing, and most likely the failing of many who don't get Sonship, and that is to fail to understand the power of faith that God himself gives us.  God has ordained that we believe in Truth, and that believing brings change in our lives.  This righteousness from heaven has been revealed, and it is by faith from first to last. (Romans 1:17)  Our standards articulate that these doctrines are to be believed and that in the believing of them God works grace in our lives. (see WSC q.30, 33, 34, and especially 36)  I like what it says in Chapter 14 of the Confession when it says about our faith, that it "...gets the victory."  Paul says, "the only thing that counts is faith, working itself out through love."  (Galatians 5:6)
    "Preaching the Gospel to ourselves," another phrase Dr. Adams seems to have trouble with is simply the idea of continuing to believe in what God has done for us in Justification.  But if it is only a legal declaration, then why should I use the idea of it as something to believe in, and how could believing in a legal declaration help me?  I suppose one might have to read and understand the books of Romans and Galatians to get it.  I think Sonship is more consistent with their teaching than Dr. Adams seems to be in his booklet.
    Dr. Adams goes after the Millers for using phrases that imply the Holy Spirit still speaks or leads believers today.  He sets up the straw man that every time one has a "leading" or claims that God "told" them what to do they ought to write it down as Scripture.  Of course, this never even happened in Scripture in the early days of the Church.  Neither the Millers, no anyone I know in Sonship or World Harvest Mission is claiming extra-Biblical revelation or even ideas that cannot be exhaustively examined and defended as from Scripture. To cavalierly ascribe this to them is slander.  I just wonder how the Holy Spirit can actually bear witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God?  Maybe the rationalistic academics interpret that to mean it can only be a written statement in Scripture.  How terrible I think to keep telling the Holy Ghost what he can and can't do, especially when the Scriptures He wrote tells us otherwise.
   I realize that some people are intimidated by fellow believers who seem to have been transformed in their love for Christ and walk with God by a revival they experienced from taking a Sonship course.  There is nothing new here, no change from the Gospel of grace, just a fresh discovery of it by people who are being told they must take their sin seriously and that  the answer to it is not from legalism, nor from pretense or hiding, but from a joyous understanding of our new relationship with our loving Father, a confidence that our sins are forever paid for and our righteousness is all of grace from the imputation of the righteousness of Christ and that through faith.
   There may be problems with Sonship but not those of which Dr. Adams speaks.  The biggest one in my opinion is to divorce it from what it was written to do, and that is to launch people out into mission and evangelism.  It was written originally to be part of training for missionaries.  Any discipleship training should not ultimately be for self-indulgence, though we are always blessed as we grow closer to Christ.  It should help us follow the Master, and learn how to fish for men.
    Some of the controversy with Sonship is not with the joy of the revived, but sometimes with those who observe that revival and might feel intimidated.  Some might be suspect of how or why it happened.  There may be some who are resentful, or envious, or fearful that now they will have to actually deal with their old nature and not attempt to cover it up with rule keeping.  Sonship is in no way an opening for licentiousness.  Grace doesn't teach us to use our liberty to sin, but to confidently repent, and to say "no" effectively to temptation (Titus 2:11)
    There has been far too much bashing of Sonship from voices in the Reformed community who should be wiser, and careful not to attack the wonderful counsel of God it joyously proclaims, about how the Lord has exercised grace to us.   That grace expressed in wonderful truths which helps us live for God in power.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013


On the occasion of the front page of the Chattanooga Times Free-Press displaying the photos of 32 Black men arrested in a major drug sweep to break up gangs and the trade in crack cocaine.


It is sorrow
A sadness for the badness
32 Black men and their facing
Front, on the first page
Gathered, swept,
Rounded not up but down.

Facing not merely the camera
Where our eyes see them
As no longer simply a name
But an accompanied face,
Each a story, and the
Imminent possibility of
A great cumulative loss
To us, for themselves,
For our future.

They are men
Responsible for their own
They are accountable.
Yet their collective loss
Hurts and haunts us all.

We lament for their victims;
The dead, the wounded,
The crippled, the intimidated,
The seduced, the addicted,
The impoverished.

We lament the children
They have produced
But whom they will not raise.

We lament the women,
Mothers, lovers, daughters,
Who if they see them
Will see them in places
Far, with spaces separated;
Bars, glass, and wire.

We lament the whole
Sorry story repeated
Once again in fatherless boys.
We lament the communities
Without their talents,
Initiative, leadership, and juice
They gave to crime;
Now stored away doing time.

We lament the schools
They condemn to children
Who know no discipline
And will nothing know.
No one at home to call them
Higher, No aspiration
For family, career, or meaning.

We lament the prisons
Full of others just like them.
We lament the system
That gives them longer years
And fewer tears than white boys.

We lament the system
That chooses one drug worse than another
We lament the profiling
The stops, the frisks.
We lament the
Racism that will
Accept that front page as
Inevitable but not

We lament the politicians
Who will not stand for
Families, who reward
Immorals but not marriage,
The judges who never say
“No” to a divorce.

We lament the churches
Who will not send or stay
But leave the places
Where these men are from,
That could have mentored,
That could have shaped
That might have warned,
That should have loved.

Years in prison may protect us
But it will not heal us,
Nor change those we send away.
Growing old may slow them down,
But we should weep for our collective loss,
And we should wonder if the cycle
Will come around again.

Let us weep for our children
Let us weep for our loss
Let us see empty spaces
Which these mugged faces
Will leave us
As they leave us
And in our weeping
May we find resolve
That our city will stop
Losing what could have been.

 Randy Nabors

17 November, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


    All things are being put under the feet of Jesus.  In the flow of human history I wonder how that works out, I am wondering how we as the followers of Jesus make an impact in the world culturally?  I am wondering about things like transformation and renewal.
       As I travel around I sometimes read the vision statement of congregations that proclaim they are to be about the renewal of the city and of all things.   Then I look at the decay of culture, the degeneration of morals in our own society, and I wonder what good we have done.  I wonder what good we can do, about the temporal and material nature of our passing upon the earth, about how those who come after us may not, and often do not, continue the good we have tried to do, the justice we have tried to enact, the beauty we have tried to create.
    I realize that my own sins have contributed to this decay, this retrograde action upon the good work done before me.  Yet I have hope, as I realize that what God asks of me is not to attempt eternal transformation or eternal renewal but that which concerns my own space and time, my own impact upon the issues of justice, in acts of mercy to the poor, in the rebuilding of streets with dwellings, of bringing beauty for ashes.
    I believe that all acts of righteousness have eternal value and thus eternal effect.  Even if the cup of cold water that I give in Jesus name may be smacked out of the hand of the prophet to whom I extend it by some oppressive tyranny the act had meaning because God sees all things, and he remembers.  I also believe that what some call "proximate justice" is significant because cultures do change, economics change, politics change, neighborhoods change, relationships change, nations change even though those changes are temporal and material. We strive to make those changes positive by the revelation of God as to what goodness, justice, and love really are. What I am saying is that those changes are eternally significant, not because they create the Kingdom of God or bring it to earth, but because they reveal it, in terms of the righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit that is experienced during that momentatry reflection of the true Camelot.
    This means that my country matters, my local government matters, my police force matters, my school system matters, my neighborhood matters.  My act of being a neighbor, and being a citizen are arenas in which I reveal the glory of God in the good works that I and my family and my congregation and all of us as the people of God do.  Yes, in history positive change has often been swept away by the next regime of evil, or the next invasion of wickedness, political entitity or army; yet they mattered while they were here.
    Protecting the boundaries of the widow, caring for the fatherless, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, protecting the innocent from the slaughter are God given responsibilities and they make a difference to the people involved, and to the culture involved.  One's eschatalogical view may dismiss such activities as fairly meaningless in the light of the coming apocalypse, in light of an expected tribulation, but I do not see that being consistent with the importance Scripture puts upon our responsibility to do good while we are here. 
    Some believers live in periods of tremendous persecution, in periods of poverty, oppression, war, and suffering.  There may seem to be no hope that life upon earth can have any joy or any meaning and thus the hope of heaven, the cry "return oh Lord!" seems not only right but the only thing for which one can aspire.  Statements from some affluent church that they want to transform culture may thus seem like a joke.
      I believe in heaven, and I believe Jesus will return.  I believe in the necessity of people to see beyond the temporal and live for the eternal and to place their hope in things above because death is real and life is fleeting.  Yet I also believe God made human life the arena of importance, and how I treat the slave, the sexually trafficked, the unjustly imprisoned, the slaughtered unborn baby, the swindeled impoverished debtor to the payday loan company, the desperate single parent mom, the unloved child means something to God.  I also believe that when we mobilize our congregations, our Christians to do something about it, sometimes we win.  Sometimes we change the situation on the ground.  Our purpose, and our value is not that we be permanently triumphant in everything but consistently faithful in obedience, relevant as salt that keeps its savor.
   The situation was changed for me when the Deacons brought groceries to our house in the projects.  We would later learn that man lives not by bread alone, but that was not the time for that particular lesson.  The lesson for that time was love and mercy and it began to transform our lives, and our hope was renewed, and one family was eventually brought out of poverty, and institutions were yet to be built to stand, advocate, and fight for justice.   This was not for nothing simply because "its all gonna burn."  It has eternal value, and temporal too.  To those who say we cannot renew anything, nor transform anything, nor redeem anything I must say are as wrong as those who think we can change everything by the power of our own hands.  I know these cities may one day turn to dust, but I hope to make them liveable while we are here, as I long for the city whose builder and maker is God.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I have a lot friends who don't like the Affordable Care Act, or Obama care, if  you will.  There are certainly parts of it I don't like, and wish we could get changed.   I have some friends who don't like the government spending more money than it takes in.  I don't like that either.  I've been upset about that since the days of Reagan, when we kept spending money for defense without taxing for it, and I was upset during the time of President Bush for having two wars that we haven't paid for yet.
   The Republicans think it is okay to go into debt to pay for war.   Democrats think it is okay to go into debt to pay for social welfare programs.  It seems nobody thinks it necessary to pay our bills, at least not right away, maybe never.
    I think truth is more important than passion unleashed with imaginative diatribe.  Many of my conservative friends seem to get steamed, in my opinion, about the wrong things.  There are much worse things happening then they seem to post about on FaceBook (such as the closing of monuments,etc), but they seem to be caught up by demagogues and parrot often inaccurate, ad hominem nonsense. Unfortunately this leaves them without a lot of credibility.  I do think many folks interested in politics really want positive change, they want our nation on a solid financial footing, they want honesty in our accounting.  I respect that.  I don't think  that everyone who wants the government to make financial sense is a racist, which is what I hear conservatives say has been an accusation against them.
    Neither do I think that people who wish sick people from any economic category to be treated, without having to declare bankruptcy or to be left out of real and adequate health care, are Marxists.  To acknowledge that there is something terribly wrong with the way we distribute and provide access to health care in this country is not a declaration of wanting to steal freedom from other Americans.    Accusations that government supervised health distribution would lead to rationing have evidently missed the rationing that already exists, due to many working people being unable to afford it.  Declarations that "America has the best health care in the world" seem ignorant of both published health statistics and the reality that health care that is best but unobtainable by the working class of this country might as well not exist.
    I am glad I am a Christian, so that I can still trust in God when I despair for my country.   The anger of conservatives about the financial mismanagement of the government seems to have given them the idea that they are justified in being tyrants, which is the way they come across since they are a minority in the government, not having won the Senate or the Presidency, and seem to assume that blackmail to achieve their purposes is not an idea that can work both ways and come back to hurt all of us.
   I am sympathetic to the idea that we should dismiss all the politicians and start over.  I am sorry that those legitimate and important ideas that conservatives should bring to the table are now in danger of being crushed by their own intransigence.  This administration has failed the country in not listening to concerns of the conservative portion of the electorate.  We are rightly angry at the dismissal of our religious objections to an imposed tax upon us to further a liberal view of women's reproductive rights, let alone the rush to homosexual marriage and the danger of crushing our freedoms of speech or choice to stand up against it.  Some of these things we can take into a negotiation of the budget and health care, but it is disgusting to see such concerns advanced by the completely irresponsible use of government shut down and a refusal to take the debt ceiling seriously.  Any conservative Republican who causally fluffs off a government shut down as inconsequential doesn't deserve to be governing in my opinion.  They are prisoners to their anti-Obama prejudice and have been so impressed by the hatred they have built up in their own constituencies that I don't know if they can even see an exit or hallway to compromise and constructive change.
  I was appalled at the triumphalism I have seen among my conservative friends in thinking they have brought the government to a halt.  It is such a negative triumphalism as it comes across as breaking the order by which our system of government works.  I have read of marriages where there was so much animosity that one or the other would go so far as to burn their house down and murder the children, and feel justified the whole time.  We live in hope that our leaders will come to their senses in time to avert disaster but, knowing human beings, I am glad our forefathers made the national motto, In God We Trust, of course, who else? 

Thursday, September 26, 2013


    I have been on the road a lot over the last month, and while I have been on the road it seems the world has too, but there is a question as to where it leads.  How do we look at life?  Is it that all of history moves in a linear line toward its ultimate conclusion?  Is it that we as humans move along our path, or make our path, through the world and through time?  Is it that we stand still and waves of events sweep over us, or else wash us away in their wake?
    I am a believer, and I believe in One sovereign hand who controls time, and events, and history.  He  creates, shapes, and controls it so that it comes out just as He wills.  While believing that I also believe that I along with all the rest of us are totally responsible for the paths we choose, the lives we lead, the decisions we make, the trouble we cause.  I believe that we can do good, and that we should, and are created for that end.  So, I believe in a Sovereign preordaining God and lives that make a difference.
    These two simultaneous beliefs allow me to relax, and not worry, or fear that events might overtake and overwhelm me.  They give me confidence in the ending.  They also give me incentive along the way to shape the road I travel, to push in certain directions, to take responsibility for my own walk.  As I look back I am amazed at Someone controlling even the misdirection, the wandering, the stumbles, and using them to create a certain destination.  I realize of course that I don't know all of what lies ahead, I don't know the hills, valleys, obstacles that I may face.  I don't know the cliffs or sudden drop-offs, the rocks on which I might fall.  While I move so does the world, along a certain path, though often in total ignorance of a divine plan.
      I am afraid that in the face of "bad news" and sudden disaster or movements that seem to lead to the death of culture we believers abandon what we know to be the truth of  "all things working together for good, to those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)  We sometimes  feel as flotsam in the current because sometimes the events are so big, the results so disastrous, that we make no effort to swim for reason, but only to stay above water.
    I went to a conference in New Orleans and arrived early.  The hotel was just finishing a conference before ours would begin in a day or two.  The conference we encountered was the National Conference on HIV/AIDS.  I am sure there were many kinds of folk at the conference, many heterosexuals, many researchers, with probably a myriad of views about homosexuality.  There was no doubt there were more homosexuals than I have ever seen at one time in one place.  Now, I got along fine with everyone, but being a very conservative committed Bible believer this was hard to handle. Whatever my theological, philosophical, and political opinions Jesus calls me to love people.  Yet, it was hard to handle because the homosexual movement seems to be so strong, the promiscuous licentiousness of our culture, the desire to have sex without guilt, without repercussions or responsibility, is so prevalent in our society.  The demand to redefine marriage, the redefining of family so there isn't any.  The current of current events that have led to this have felt like a water fall, and makes swimming against the current feel useless.
    I read that the one percent, or whatever the top "haves" might number, just got richer and the poor are poorer.  I read that even with "Obama Care" the poor in my state will be left out of the coverage they could have had if our state had cooperated.  I see the homeless on the streets, I see men who are not homeless pushing shopping carts of discarded metal to recycle it, not because they are environmentalists but because they are hungry.  My observation is that the poor, the working poor, the trying not to be poor poor, are drowning, and getting loans from sharks that make them sink even further. We hear the news that the Congress wants to cut out a lot of money for food stamps. It feels hopeless, and the poor feel hopeless.
    The prisons are full, the schools don't teach, there are not enough jobs, and the jobs that are offered can't get a family through the week.  If the Muslim terrorists don't kill us then the angry crazy man with a grudge or a psychosis will bring a shotgun to work and kill us, and if he doesn't then someone wearing certain colors will drive down the street and shoot our children.
    Why call for justice in such a stampede of idiocy and nonsense?  Why practice mercy when someone else will steal, abuse, or crush what you give or those to whom you give it?
    I have managed to sound like Ecclesiastes.  The validation of justice is not that I achieve it, and not even that I attempt to create it, but that it exists as an existential drive in the human heart and  is demanded by the One who made it exist in the first place. To admit the thirst for justice, and the human ability to perceive injustice, is to admit there is a God. The flood of evil, injustice, violence, poverty, and sorrow in the world doesn't diminish the power of mercy, or the need to love it, but only makes it more necessary, only more insistent.  If I don't believe there is Someone who controls the outcome and that things will be made right then the news of the moment or the decade will cause me to despair.  The odds seem too stacked against us, against the Biblical call for a life of morality, justice, hope, order, and restoration.
    It is senseless and selfish to hide in a illusion of personal safety, prosperity, health, and happy possibility, while the world goes to hell in a hand basket all around you.  Yet, that seems to be the strategy of the uninvolved, the unengaged, and in this I include the white middle-class Evangelical and the African American Prosperity Gospel aspirant adherent.  There is a rush it seems to denial.  Some seem to live their lives as if they swim in their own backyard pool, thinking they are safe, while the river of humanity is smashed against the rocks.
     We are all in the same river, and the danger is real, but we do not have to be adrift.  Danger and hope, destruction and salvation, acted upon and acting; real life needs not to be simply endured, nor should we attempt to evade its trouble with a life of pretend, but it needs to be faced and engaged. Our challenge is not only to float in the river, but to swim, and to change its course as God enables us..
    I am an optimist because I believe in final endings that are controlled by a loving, all powerful, and purpose driven God.  I am an optimist because I believe that effort, action, and work toward the things which reflect the character of God have eternal purpose, not simply momentary efficacy.  I am an optimist because I believe in final victory in which evil loses, good wins, justice prevails, the poor are lifted from the ash heap and are made to sit among princes.  I believe that in the midst of the torrent there is not only a rope of grace extended, but a grace that controls the river. I believe that facing, engaging, and fighting for those things now makes a difference, for myself, for the few I can help, for my children and others who watch my life.  Maybe even to change the current course of a river to the place of still waters, instead of a tide of events that wash many out to sea.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


    Recently I was asked to speak at the African American Leadership, Development, and Recruitment weekend.  This conference was held at South City Church (PCA) and Covenant Theological Seminary.  This was the third annual AALDR weekend, held on Labor Day.  The first was at New City Fellowship in Chattanooga, the second at Reformed Theological Seminary, and the third one was at CTS. 
    I have included my outline here and I believe you can go online and hear the plenary sessions and workshops at the Covenant Seminary website.  I will add some notes here to give you some idea of what I tried to speak about.

   We need the kind of freedom that the Apostle Paul speaks about in I Corinthians 9, where he says "though I am free and a slave to no man, I make myself a slave..."  Without that freedom our ministries are held back or inhibited, but when we are really free in ourselves, spiritually, in our personalities, we can finally really serve people (as we serve Christ).
  I spoke of four cultural issues, or one might describe them as phases, that people in cross cultural situations might experience.  I discussed this primarily from the point of view of the those in the "sub-dominant" or minority culture.  These phases are similar to what missionaries tend to go through, except that Western missionaries don't usually have the same threat to their core understanding of themselves as those whose ethnic or cultural group has been oppressed, or who live with a constant challenge to an attack on their cultural selves.


A.    Culture Shock

B.    Cultural Fatigue

C.    Cultural Alienation

D.    Cultural Confusion
    This dynamic can come from individuals who are in a time of ethnic or group shame or loathing, rejection of their own ethnic culture, a desperate desire to be accepted and assimilated into the majority culture, possibly living in denial about the reality of racism, and a disassociation from other individuals if there is any suggestion of racial or ethnic solidarity.

A combination of these issues can cause a kind of Cultural Trauma,

Leading to a reflection of PTSD (Anxiety, Fear, Sudden Anger, Transference, Social Inhibition.)

Spiritual Identity can liberate our cultural identity. 
   This is our great hope, that  we who are in Jesus Christ are loved by God in our full selves; our souls, our bodies, our heritage.  That we are sons of God, cannot be separated from his love, that we are righteous in his sight and forgiven.  The confidence we have in his love means that we can repent in regard to our own sins, and see the sins in our own culture(s), and still realize the love of God for ourselves and our people group.

We need a healthy CQ (Cultural Intelligence) to recognize how we are interacting with our cultural environment.


A.    Narcissism*
*Every person struggles with the innate human sin of pride.  It is a constant battle for every self aware person.  Narcissism is way beyond the regular temptation to feel superior to others, or feel slighted when we don't get recognition.  Narcissism is when there is never enough of you, never enough notice of you, the constant dynamic of having to speak or write about yourself.  It is insatiable, and makes people really want to avoid such individuals.  The more they trumpet themselves the lonelier they become.  We will speak about the danger of hubris when we come to sin issues.

B.    Man Pleasing
          This is a constant struggle for pastors and it carries with it the seeds of compromise and a loss of integrity.
C.    Competitive Insecurity
   Many pastors suffer from this, and it is a life of constant comparison and a feeling that we are never good enough unless we can outdo others.
D.    Manipulative Control
    This is where pastors start using guilt to intimidate people, leverage them to obedience (not to God but to their opinion) and spiritually abuse people.  It is a desire for control.

We need a  healthy EQ (Emotional Intelligence) to recognize ourselves.  Character can trump personality issues.
   One great hope for those of us with personality disorders is that we can still walk with God, and that though we are plagued by our fallen personality and tendencies we can still have some measure of victory over ourselves and the Lord can still use us, and many with these tendencies have been powerfully used of God.

  I think I will let these words preach for themselves.
A.    Dishonesty

B.    Fear

C.    Bitterness

D.    Self-Indulgence  (LUST!)
Sometimes when pastors become "full of themselves" i.e., filled with hubris, they set themselves up for sexual sin.  It is at this place that our success becomes our enemy, we begin to act as if we are not held to the same rules as others, that we have license to indulge ourselves because we are so special, helping so many people, etc.  Hubris is a swelling up of ourselves and it usually leads to a great fall.

Grace from the Holy Spirit is the engine of godliness in us.


A.    Correcting Bad Theology Is More Important Than Winning Souls.

B.    That Protecting Yourself Is Necessary or Possible.

C.    That The Authentication Of Our Ministry Has Something To Do With The Way We Compare With Our Peers

D.    That The Things We Do Are As Important As the Goal

(Studying/learning, Pastoring, Defending Theology, Serving, Polemics, Participating In and Perfecting Church Polity & Discipline, Writing, Preaching, Innovating Liturgy, Innovating Discipleship Techniques or Small Group and Body Life Strategies, Perfecting Evangelistic Techniques, Family & Children Ministry, Counseling, Justice, Mercy & Development Ministry – and all the other things we can find ourselves busy in)

We must not fail to keep the end in view:

1.    The Personal – to know Christ

2.    The Product – to win as many as possible.

Keeping our eyes on Jesus enables us to finish the race by helping us reorient ourselves to what is important to Him.

   Well, that about sums it up.  May the Lord help us to take heed to the ministry that we have received, that we fulfill it; as the Apostle Paul challenged Timothy.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


  I have friends who are so ideologically opposed to civil rights leaders that they find it hard to give any praise to the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   I have friends who have hated Republicans so much that no matter if Reagan  or George W. Bush had done even one good thing (can you imagine it)they could not bring themselves to acknowledge it.  There are those who hate the Democratic party and President Obama to such an extent that if he says something (anything) that is righteous they will find a way to interpret it as meant for evil, that there is some nefarious agenda at work behind it.
    During the time of Dr. King there were many among theological and political conservatives who thought he was close to Anti-Christ.  The John Birch society had him pegged as a communist.  J. Edgar Hoover considered him to one of the most dangerous men in America.  To some degree ideology makes people idiots, they stop thinking clearly, logically, honestly.  It is certainly true that there are ideological agendas, and not all of them are equal.  Some ideas are just wicked, evil, and destroy people.  Sincerity of belief has nothing to do with truth or soundness of thought.  Yet, even among the wicked God lets himself be known.
    On this anniversary of the March on Washington and the famous "I have a Dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.I find it hard to accept the opinions of those who would belittle, demean, or attempt to marginalize its significance for our nation.  I, like millions of others, love this speech.  I love it for its American ideals, I love it for its hope and its honesty about the reality of our nation's struggles with race.  I love it for its comprehensive call to all of us as citizens.  I love it for the way Dr. King delivered it and the glory it reveals of the African American church and the giftedness of the black preacher.  I love it because the man who delivered it strove to implement the principles he espoused with non-violence.
   The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4: 8..."Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."  On this day all Americans should be grateful for one of the great moments in our history.  One might say, "it is nothing but words."  True enough, but if you will consider it that is all America ever has been, words that capture ideas, hopes, beliefs, and dreams.  Look what God has wrought out of those lofty hopes.  We are not perfect as a nation, nor has any man been who helped it shape as such, but we have so much for which to be grateful and if your demand for perfection keeps you from seeing what is in fact good, and praiseworthy, you are truly blind.
   If you are one of those who just can't seem to get past all the problems you had with Dr. King, or that you have with present day Civil Rights spokesmen, or our present black president, maybe you could just think about the words and ask yourself if they do or do not correspond with your vision of what America is supposed to be about.  I think it might even be a good day for someone who was a bigot during that time to say to someone, even someone of another color, "I was wrong for what I thought."  Maybe you could even bring yourself to say, "America is better, America is greater, because of what Dr. King called us to be, and to do."  I am glad, as a preacher, that sermons do make a difference; if they are right, pure, lovely, admirable, and heeded.   

Friday, August 23, 2013

Parents Supporting Wicked Children

  Two stories have been in the Chattanooga papers recently.  One was the continuing legal complications of a family that are all locked up in prison.  They had appealed their sentences which came about due to a plea bargain over aiding and abetting a known fugitive, supplying a felon with weapons, etc.  Said felon was the son, brother, boyfriend of the family members now in prison.  The appeal was denied.  The crime of the "son" was killing a policeman in the midst of an armed robbery.
   The second story was the story of a female police detective who had applied for benefits for her lesbian lover/partner from the police authority/government where she works.  This story was about how the church in which her family were members had exercised  church discipline against the family due to their support of their daughter while she appealed for family benefits for her partner.  The disciplined the family not because they supported their daughter, but because they seemed to publicly support her lifestyle in appealing for family benefits.
    The local newspaper editorial of course mocked the church for taking the stand that it took.  This editorial actually referred to a a caricature used in a fairly liberal television drama as if it were a legitimate religious argument.  The news reporting typically interviewed a cross section of religious leaders who took different views concerning the decision of the congregation in question.
    One note about religious news reporting; it is simplistic if not misleading to quote religious leaders as if they are all equally qualified to speak for a certain religion.  Most religious leaders know that the religion of those who believe the Bible is a different religion from those who don't believe it.  Those who hold to a conservative theology actually believe and hold to the Bible as authority, while those who hold to a liberal theology use the Bible's words but only give it authority when they agree with it.  These are two very different things.
   I doubt most people have a problem with the condemnation of the family that supported their murderous relative.  I imagine most parents would find themselves in a horrible emotional state if one of their children broke the law, and while trying to maintain a tie of love and emotional support they would hopefully condemn the crime.
    This must happen frequently, seeing how many people we have in prison.  It is obvious that any parent can be in a situation where they don't approve of the moral choices of their children but don't want to completely end the relationship.  Most everyone is somebody's child, and all human beings have moral failings.  Sometimes they are fairly benign, but all too often they leave parents in a tough spot.
     How many parents have seen their kids strung out on drugs and alcohol and have had to struggle through co-dependency so as to love their child but not enable them in their addiction?  How many parents have watched their children get married, have children, and then commit adultery and leave that first spouse?  The parents (now grandparents) might have loved that first spouse, hate it that their grand kids are now in a divided family, and know they still have to somehow love and emotionally support that grown child that they feel has failed to have the character they had hoped to see.
    Yes, as in our first example, we have seen parents who have taken entirely the wrong approach.  When the police come they hide the child, even fight the police, and help the child break the law.  Some parents have so wanted to be accepted by their children that even though the child is isolated, morose, and bitter they keep buying them violent video games.  That hasn't turned out too well either.
    Over the last decade or so we have seen public figures whose children came out as homosexual take public stands to support them.   Even though these parents had never seemed to advocate this behavior they now seem to give public acquiescence to it based on the family relationship.  "I can't disown my own child," seemed to be the message.  I think the congregation in Chattanooga did the right thing.  They didn't condemn the loving and supporting of a child, even the child who the church considered to be living in known sin.  They did condemn the idea that a Christian family would stand with their child in the attempt to normalize and make acceptable that sin.
      This has been a dilemma many parents have found themselves in during this present cultural climate, and many have made the wrong choice.  We should always love our children, even the ones who are breaking our heart as we turn them over to the police if necessary.  Our children cannot determine our morality, that is left to a much greater family relationship, namely our Heavenly Father.  It is his opinion that counts not the Supreme Court, the President of the United States, public opinion polls, and certainly not the newspaper.
     People in the United States who think this is a passing commitment of conservative Christians needed to be disabused of that idea.  Though we hope to speak with greater and greater compassion, the idea that those who believe the Scriptures will somehow grow out of their stand against the practice of homosexuality is naive.  Some will lose their faith, that has always been a reality, but the Faith will not change.