Unequivocal Culture: Fake News and Those Evil Christians

It started, as many of my current rants usually do, from that one site’s news feed. Someone shared an article that said something about the uproar of Christians being offended because of the new gay character in the Beauty and the Beast movie. I was annoyed at what appeared to be another calling for boycott by so-called conservative Christians. It seems to me that whenever this happens the movie in question gets nothing but unsolicited advertising, making Christians look foolhardy, and weary producers begrudgingly shake their heads as their coffers grow by leaps and bounds.

Hmmmm… Perhaps they enjoy the free advertising and get to look more noble for their bold approach to an old story.

Of course they do!

I know not a one person who would protest these leaps of character by Disney, ever since the backfiring of Hollywood protests in the 80s and 90s. I can’t even imagine that most Christians, given the climate today, would even care about a gay side character. I didn’t. In fact, I thought he was rather interesting, except for the stupid part at the end.

Anyway, I think some marketing manager needed to create a little more buzz for the film and came up with the controversial aside. They have an instant victim to their little ruse and bam! Christians are evil because they hate gay people, so come support our movie.

It all died down after the film came out and everyone breathed a sigh of relief that the gay character wasn’t performing gay feats of strength.

This whole thing came up again because of some stupid April Fool’s Prank apparently pulled off by Disney. Or maybe not Disney, just someone being a troll.

This one promoted the fact that Disney was making the new live-action Lion King’s Simba as a gay character. Then it said, “Homophobes go nuts!” Really? It might not have been the fact that it would change many elements of the story that people might have been upset? Initial reactions withstanding, this is just more blather to show how horrible it is to not fully appreciate gayness, gay-culture and gay people in our lives. And who are these horrible, hate-filled people??? Christians! That’s who!

This is pure propaganda. These ideas of intolerance by religious conservatives, and Christians are being foisted upon the general populace of facebook as fact. It is fake, and all this talk about fake news is detracting from the fact that we’re all being played! They make up a story about how angry we all are, post comments on these fake articles making us believe that these people are real, and it is all a line to push their followers to action. We are the fools in this, and they are all believing the lie about how intolerant we all are. And not a Muslim’s intolerance is in sight… just sayin’.

You know, we conservatives are losing the culture war. Not that I think many of us understood that we were in one in the first place. Where do we fight? Do we fight? The more we stand up it seems the more we are shouted down or told to be more tolerant by our apparent peers. We are not united as the liberals appear to be. Not because of Trump but because we don’t know where to stand and we haven’t in a long time. We argue about how far we should go and everything we deemed solid dissipates like dust in our hands.

Hold onto something solid people. Solid like a Rock. It’s gonna get crazy out there, these social sites are the testing grounds that will soon be in the streets. Find your truth and make it stand!

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Unequivocal Culture: Me Before You

Sometimes I go out selfishly on my own, and when I do, I try to appease my wife with a romantic movie borrowed from the local box of red. Don’t get me wrong, I like a romantic movie once in a while. In fact, I have watched many a Hallmark movie with her, promising less commentary in the viewing.

Last night I came home and she was in the middle of watching this film so I joined her. This morning she was extremely vocal regarding her dislike of the film. I call that art. When art evokes an emotion, good or bad, it succeeds. Disgust is another story. I think she was disgusted. You may disagree, but when anger comes to provoke change, that is art. But when it becomes disgust, it is a bad reflection on societies poor choices toward devaluing life, spirit, nature or whatever it is trying to bring down.

Spoiler alert:

I came into the middle of this seeing a bright, expressively wonderful, lovely, love-giving woman (Clark) taking care of a man (Will) confined to a wheel chair, paralyzed from the neck down. It was wonderful scenes of a woman showing a man the beauty of the world, whether it was in man-made buildings or the loss of a love you thought was forever.

At the wedding of Will’s former love, an older woman told Clark what a true man Will was. What I saw painted a picture of a man giving into a strange woman’s view of life; have fun, be free, take difficulties head-on, show your emotions, love deeply. I didn’t see the former Will, before he had his paralyzing accident, I’m guessing he was a hard man, and Clark was softening him.

My wife told me that it was Clark’s job to help Will see happiness enough not to… kill himself. What? Will wants to kill himself? I see that Clark is doing her job well. She even sacrificed her own life choices for Will.

There is a scene where Will is fondly remembering moments from childhood, only to say his visits to Paris as an adult was much better. He goes on a rant about how he liked his life better before. Clark’s beautiful character seems to crack his exterior of regret, but alas, he decides to kill himself. It was weak in making us understand that it was the pain he had constantly that made him want to end his life. All we saw was a man enjoying a woman’s company in a wheel chair, and it wasn’t enough to tell him he shouldn’t die. Wah! He never could do the stuff he use to do, nor offer Clark what he thought she should need.

The rant my wife went on was the fact at the apparent promotion of ending your life because it doesn’t compare to what it was or could be, was a positive view. We should give into our selfishness even when someone gives us their all in showing us a life filled with love. We need to appease those who sacrifice for us. Give them cash enough to assuage our guilt. It is still right to end your life, no matter what people do to help. Drag them down with you into your selfish whim, and spit them out because it doesn’t fit the plan. Even though you love, the pain of regret is never enough to stop the selfish need not to be here anymore.

Clark screams at him because she regrets ever taking the job and falling in love him only to find out he is still planning his suicide. She ends up going to him in Switzerland where you can peacefully kill yourself apparently. “I love you so much that I will see you through to the end of your own selfish demise.”

Weak, sad, culturally disgusting. I loved Clark and her expressiveness, but it was hard for me to see the truth of this story. It was ill-treatment of a sensitive subject. If you want to see a more compelling story of a similar subject, watch Million Dollar Baby.

The choice of name for this movie I am not sure about. It seems ironically perverse, or stupidly cute. If you’re going for a romantic movie, stop it after the thunderstorm scene in the Caribbean, and imagine Will made the choice to stay with Clark to the end. They grew old, Will learning to grow in his suffering and Clark loving to see every moment of his growth because he stepped away from self toward focusing on another.

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Ketchup With Mayo: Encouragement

This last weekend was a little hard for me. I ended up cancelling a group on that one site because it wasn’t sparking much discussion. It started because I wanted to read Keep In Step With The Spirit with a friend and we didn’t have a lot of opportunity to connect, so I suggested making a Facebook group. Then I thought it would be good to make it available to men in West Plains as a discussion group. I created the group, invited a few friends and then started posting. There was a little response to some things, but no discussion abounded. Maybe I’m not a good provoker to talk, or maybe that one site doesn’t promote discussion. Or both. Either way, it was dumb because it was just me. My friend ended up doing a lot of other things and isn’t able, at this time, to read much. So, I shut it down, or in that one site’s lingo, I archived it.

Last Thursday we had youth widows night and I did a little devotion on encouragement. I don’t see enough of that, so I wanted to encourage the encouragers. Then I thought that the next book on my list (see a couple of posts ago) was called, Encouragement: the Key to Caring. I began reading it and thought it’d be a good thing to go through with the youth.

Back to that one site: I also started thinking to delete my Facebook profile, so I began to clean up. I came across a lot of writing. Not only links from this one site, but long, rambling status entries I thought were really interesting and couldn’t delete. But the thing was, was that there was a lot, I mean a lot of stuff I use to write. So, I wanted to get back to that. And here I am.

In some of my digital cleaning up, I came across this email that really encouraged me. It was one of the best things that I came across and I wanted to post it. For posterity.

Mark,

I just wanted to say – I’ve not done a good job being aware of your contributions to our community. Or to your overall well-being. It’s my fault. I think that I just get caught up in the jesting moods and never really factor in the reality of you.

I want to thank you for what you did for Ken, and what you’re doing for others. I’m sorry for things I do and say that don’t edify or encourage you. I welcome you to brings these to the surface. In public when I do so publicly. Privately, otherwise.

You have a blessing of contentment. Maybe internally you don’t  – but I find that most people can only fake things without medication a few days, so I doubt your discontent on the inside. You’ve done a wonderful job separating issues from your identity. This always leaves room for joy to prosper.

Your joy is infectious. Not many people can simply bring a level of comfort through an introduction. But Mark Mayo can do just that.

Keep on being the beacon of hope and comfort that you have been and I know will be. I just wanted to let you know that God is using you when you least expect it, in ways that would seem mindlessly normal – these are the ways that God is making huge waves in the lives of those around you. And of course in the ways that you know, the ways he is actively leading you also 😉

Much like a comet ( which will be visible in the coming days ) you have a noticeable ball of energy, but everywhere you go, you leave a little bit of you around just because you were there. It illuminates to remind us all of the work He has and is and will be doing in the life of you and your family. Our community is fortunate for our Father to bring you to us.

Thank you.

It is hard for me to think that this was written to me, and about me, but I guess that is what the writer sees, and the joy it brought me will carry on for quite some time.

~Mayo

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Ketchup With Mayo: My Future Book Reading Plan

A few weeks ago I had the flu. It started on a Wednesday night and stayed strong until about Saturday morning. By then I could move around fairly well and went on a cleaning binge. Part of that was a reorganization of my bookcases. My bookcase is filled with Christian books that I’ve either partially finished or never got around to. I recently brought home 3 more and realized that if I keep bringing them home, I’ll want to read those and never get around to the ones that I already have and was once excited about. Well, I went on a book purge. I sorted the list to 1. Get rid of, 2. Not gonna read right now, but want to keep, and 3. Gotta read. Incidentally, the whole get rid of pile netted me a cool $31 at Half Price Books.

So, I have sorted the gotta read pile in an order that won’t get me too tired of one subject for too long, I hope. I am determined to get through these. I have never been a huge consumer of non-fiction titles, but why have these if I’m not going to learn from them. The list is not a hard-locked list. I may want to read another book someone recommends, or an opposing view read if someone recommends one. Here is my list, in order of intention to read, with commentary on why I want to read it and any other pertinent background you may want to know. I would be glad to read these with someone else and change my order if interested.

This one was suggested by a friend who I am having discipleship with. I asked him what he wanted to read because his passion and interest are difficult for me to pin down. It has taken me about 3 weeks to read chapter 1 and I intend to write a review after each chapter. I started a group on that one site called “West Plains Christian Men’s Deliberation Alliance.” This group is intended for discussion but hasn’t had many posts. That is where I’ll post my reviews… well, maybe they’ll be more of a summary. Packer seems to be a hard read; this one will take some time.

This one I received from my wife’s uncle, whom I lovingly call dad. A few years back he was getting rid of books too, and this is one I got. I think I started reading it at one point but then got distracted. It is up early in the list because the subject is something I very much want to be. I have always been fascinated with Barnabas and hope to be one some day. It is not a thick book and I think it may be a much quicker read.


I’ve appreciated Viola for quite some time. He was instrumental in my understanding of the Church’s purpose. I have listened to many a podcast and read many a blog from him. The fact that I have picked up and began reading this particular book at least 3 times shows my interest. It is a larger book, but one that I really need to finish. We all could learn a lot from this. I believe this one will always stick with me.

Unity is a subject I am very interested in. Since a friend of mine moved here, whose main ministry is unity, I have gained the desire to see the Church come together in many ways we have come apart in that we never should. My friend gave me this book. Seeing the Church live out its purpose is a hope for many of us seeing such division within His body. It should be a quick read, but I think might be a bit controversial to some who are close to me and may in fact be reading this post now.

I like listening to Timothy Keller. I like his books too. He and Frank Viola are probably my favorite authors, as well as James Sire. This one I found at some junk store and happened to read a lot of it. It is an excellent read so far, from what I can remember. Suffering has a purpose.

I read this one years ago with my men’s group in Salt Lake City. We read it together and was a real eye-opener finding out all who struggle with the horrible temptation of sexual lust. After a sermon at church the recently, I thought it’d be a good one to read again… perhaps with a friend.

Dialogue. One of my biggest passions. This also was found at a junk store. I had never heard of the author, but the synopsis sounded spot on. Not a very prolific author, this is one of his two books apparently, but I’m eager to get to it. Small book, hopefully easy read.

Another Viola, another one I read a lot of. This one I’d like to study to share with the youth of our church. Let us get back to focusing on Jesus.

One of my favorite books is the Universe Next Door, which comes much later in this list. That book was given to me by my best friend. He is very philosophical and recommended it to me. It was a hard read, but not completely over my head. This one is one I am eager to get to, interestingly enough, because it might be difficult to get through.

Another one that may be seen as controversial. I have heard a lot of warnings about Nee, but have never fully read a book by him. I have a very old copy that I don’t remember where I got, but was found or given to me around the time of my great understanding of the Church. Small book, most likely a very challenging read.

This one was given to me by someone I do discipleship with. We were all given a copy and were reading it together. We never finished it. It is very textbook like and was hard for me to read. Not because it wasn’t good, but because I felt like I was in school and my mind couldn’t wrap around this big textbook. I really enjoyed the discussions we had and hope that when I get to it, I can convince others to read it as well.

My friend’s daughter was getting rid of books after graduating from college. These two seemed interesting to me. Not sure specifically how this will benefit me, and they may not be a good fit, so they are in the bookcase together and we’ll decided at that point, when we come to it.

I have had this book for a few years and I think I read almost all of it. Good commentary on the war we are facing on earth that is a spiritual war. My friends had it in their bookcase and I was interested so I bought it. I think this is another of those must reads for every Christian.

I am interested in the viewpoint of those in the Church outside of the United States. Another friend of my constantly references this book, so I bought it. Started it at one point, but became distracted don’t you know.

I like Schaeffer. I watched his videos. His books are a little harder but I like his viewpoint and I am determined to get through this one… of course not all in a row. Tough read. I predict failure to get through this one, but NO! I will read at least one. My wife got this for me for Christmas or my birthday some years ago because of my interest, but I haven’t been faithful. I am sure it will be rewarding. Also got this when my Uncle was giving away books and I felt bad that I didn’t get any Schaeffer so it was then that I asked for them.

I don’t remember where this came from. Maybe someone gave it to me. I had it at work for a long time, I think I intended to read it on breaks but it got lost in the paperwork. It sounds really good and might be for just where I am.

I have been getting the magazine “Israel, My Glory” for many years now. I remember seeing it at the Matlak’s home and asking about it. I got a free trial, paid for it for a few years then let the subscription run out. I still get it. I don’t know how and I don’t ask why. Elwood McQuaid is a regular writer in the magazine and I bought this book because I like the symbolism of Christ in the feasts. I read a lot of this book, but never finished.

This is another James Sire that I probably will find difficult to read, but rewarding to complete. Ow, my brain.

The other Packer on my list. This one I have had for a long time. I remember people telling me, when I was a new Christian, that this was essential reading. I got it, and never picked it up again. I suppose reading a book about the Holy Spirit by Packer, I should read this one too. Another brain buster in a row!

Another Viola! I printed this one out when I got the digital copy for free when I signed up for blog updates or some such on Viola’s website. It is a retelling of Christ on earth told through Lazarus’ eyes. Oh! I just thought about putting it higher on the list. Alas, it’ll have to wait.

This one was another from my Uncle’s great book giveaway… I think. A subject I’m interested in, but rarely read about. Should be good. It looks like it is no longer being published. I wonder if that means anything…

These two I put together because I believe they make up the same controversial make-up of previous entries. Given to my by my friend who cares about Church unity and mostly read, they are small reads I can quickly finish. Very controversial indeed!

A kind of follow-up to Every Man’s Battle I think. I have had it for some time. I put it on the list mainly because the cover looks like the other one.

I read this one fully before. The only one on the list. We’re nearing the end.

I was given this one by a big Steve Brown fan. I listened to his podcasts for a time, man does he have a deep voice. I think this is good stuff and finished most of it. Even though it isn’t difficult to read, you’ll find it difficult to read.

The important part about being a Christian is transferring the passion. At least that is part of what I believe. If we aren’t becoming more Christ-like and helping others do the same, we are missing much of the Christian life. Quick read.

This one I’m not so sure I want to read. Keller many times tells us this such-and-such book is for the seeker, or non-believer specifically. This is the second to last book on the list and in the time it’ll take to get here, I’m sure I’ll find many more to be interested in. Although it is good to revisit arguments for belief.

This last one, the men in our Bible-study were kind of reading together. One bought them for us all because he liked it so much. Same guy who bought us Three Free Sins. Although I think some of this is fluff, it is very valuable to know when questions arise. It may be more of a reference book than one to outright read. I have been through most of it by the way, and it is a very easy read.

The last one on this list is a book I have at work and intend to read it at breaks and down time. I have been called to make my own personal “Statement of beliefs” so I think this’ll help.

There you have it: 31 books to read. I can’t imagine how long this will take me to read. I wanted to publish this list, because I never had such a strong intention to finish a good, healthy list of books to improve my walk and my understanding. Again, if you’d like to read along with me any of these, I’d be glad to switch some around. If you have any recommendations that have an opposing viewpoint, I’d be interested in those as well.

Happy reading!

Mayo

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Unequivocal Culture: Feeding The Drama

So, I’ve been watching a series called “The Man In the High Castle.” I was first interested in it when I saw the beginning advertisements for it some time ago. You might call me a Philip K. Dick fan. You might, because even though I read him in the past, many moons ago, I don’t currently today. You might, because even though I read his books, I wasn’t a ravenous fiend, consuming all he had put out.

“Who is Philip K. Dick?” you ask. Well, he was an early progenitor of psychedelic science fiction. His books were complex, because the narrative wasn’t always dependable, and there was a sense that the narrator didn’t always convey truth as the reader suspected him to be. (Is that what I mean when I said the narrative wasn’t dependable?) I believe he was a drug user that led him to spiritual thought and ideas of which he wrote about later on in life. I didn’t google or wiki Dick to tell you any of this, it is from my memory and is beside my point. I just wanted to share my personal interest in him and his work before I talk about what I wanted to talk about.

I never read The Man In the High Castle, because when I read the synopsis, it wasn’t science-fictiony enough. Now that I’m watching it, I sees the strands of Dick flowing through it; there is a confusing undertone of subject that is never fully addressed to your satisfaction and the characters wander around not asking the right questions. Which is what is bugging me.

There are 2 main characters that are starting to get on my nerves. And I think this is how some of these shows drag you in. They are heroes of a sort, but their motivation and action lean to such selfishness and foolishness, that I constantly wonder what in the heck they are going to do next. They manhighcastle05don’t ask questions to increase their knowledge, but they do demand things. Things like, “get me out of this situation my own foolhardiness got me into, even though you’re my enemy.” What right do they have to demand anything from anybody? One scene even shows the girl meeting the eponymous Man, only to stare stunned for half the time she is with him. Why isn’t she demanding questions at this point? Somehow or other he led her there, then was the time to ask questions, but she didn’t. She only got herself into a worse situation and is now demanding people get her out of it.

So this is my point. Is this what the modern drama does?

I haven’t watched any of the new type of television show these days. You know the ones that have created the phrase, “binge-watching.” There is The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Orange is the New Black, True Blood, and so much more. Most of it I consider crap and not worthy of my time, for the sheer idea that it demands my time and that it really is crap. I grew up watching stuff that you could miss an episode or six, and not miss much. Now, you gotta see what they do about that crazy situation and missing an episode gets you outside the loop.

Are all of these characters conflicted, confused and confounding? They might do the right thing or they might not. You never know. Is that it? Is it that these people don’t have a higher, elemental purpose that drives them on to predictable behaviors? And we need to see what they choose or how they get out of this scrape, because it matters.

A friend of mine compared watching The Walking Dead to taking drugs. He HAD to watch it. “Why?” I asked him. He said he didn’t know, but he was always talking about what some character had done or not done. And I hear people talk, and mostly what I hear is that they are surprised by someone’s reaction to a situation, like they’re surprised.

I remember a long time ago reading a Christian series called Mark of the Lion by Francine Rivers. I was shocked by some of the character’s behavior, but mostly shocked by my caring about these characters. I finished the series confounded by my care of these characters. I cared more about them than I did some real, actual people in my life.

Is this our root desire for drama? To see what someone will do? And caring or talking about it with others?

I feel like The Man In the High Castle is playin’ me. The writers have analyzed the success of previous dramas and builds on that formula. I am not going to stop watching it, because I want to know what the main idea is, but the characters are going to end up annoying me. Even the main villain is beginning to have questionable motivations because of a sick child, and may make stupid decisions that will get him caught up in something we have to see if he gets out of.

I wrote about our life of ease here in America the other day, and wonder if this is another symptom of our descent: our care of fictional characters more than each other.

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Unabashed Truth: The Homosexual Bible Movement

I hesitated to write the title of this post because of what may become controversy. I consider this blog a more personal note to myself and a small group of others. Imagining that I could create a controversy through my blog is a bit of a stretch, but I never want to be at the center of one on the internet.  But I believe this may be the reason to start, if there ever was one.

I came away from the last sermon we heard, confused. I wonder at all the warnings in the Bible about not listening to people who have strayed from the truth, about how lies become truth and the truth becomes a lie, or good becomes bad, or evil becomes right, how that many things in this world will lead us astray, that we’ll make justifications for ourselves to begin believing the lies. And I ask myself how can there be all these warnings and yet, and yet, And Yet, there are people who will blatantly, freely go down those paths of lies, not recalling anything in the Bible that might be considered a warning about the exact path they are treading.

Is the Bible for confirmation of our way of life? Or is it a transforming, transcendent work that challenges us to not live as we want, but grow through our struggles within oneself? Calling us to push our brother toward truth when they hit a wall of lies? Exhorting us to be set apart from the world, because the world seeks its own self-interest and we, the reader, are to seek none but the LORD?

I believe the Bible to be transforming, transcendent, challenging, calling, exhorting and much more. And there are those who claim to know Him and His word, who are wrong. I am not calling them wrong, God is. He hates the lies. He would spit out compromise. He honors those who fight for His truth.

The Homosexual Bible Movement is just another lie that people will feel good about compromising with. And those who are faithful in not joining in the world and their compromising His eternal values, are to speak against it. So here I am.

Let’s start with the video of the book that provoked these last sermons:

Before I get into the analysis of the verses Matthew Vines brings up, I’d like to talk about the video in general and who we are as a Church. We love Matthew Vines. His story is compelling. Our hearts goes out to him as he has struggled with his faith and his sexual orientation. His understanding of the Bible should be met with compassion and not hatred.

This video is created to evoke an emotional response. It has meaningful piano scales, thoughtful glances, and studious desk situations. He wants us to make an emotional response. You must agree, it seems to say, or you don’t have a heart of compassion as Jesus did.

He begins the video narrative by saying, “Marriage equality is on the rise, but despite this trend religious beliefs remain a major obstacle to acceptance.” There it begins. Something the world is finding more and more acceptable is running into problems from the conservative christian church. He says that as he started really studying the Bible and where it supposedly condemns homosexual behavior, he found that it really didn’t. All these years? All these years and he found something we all missed these two-thousand plus years? And it changed his parent’s views and many others in his life.

I love my children and hope the best for them, but if they find that the bible doesn’t specifically condemn the killing of babies, yet it is acceptable to their lifestyle, I’m going to have some serious issues with their beliefs. “That is a bit of a jump,” you say, “comparing a homosexual lifestyle with abortion.” But is it? As we compromise and rationalize our way away from the truth, where does it end? That is what I ask, where can I draw a line in which God has made firm? Will there ever be a time when these rationalizers say, “Enough!”?

Sadly, I think not. God sees every sin as the same: violation and outright rebellion against His Holy standards.

Mr. Vines goes into 6 passages from the Bible. Three in the Old Testament: Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22, and Leviticus 20:13. Then three in the New Testament: Romans 1:26-27, 1Corinthians 6:9 and 1Timothy 1:10. These passages, as Mr. Vines says, “refer” to same-sex behavior.

Genesis 19 tells the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. “For centuries, this story was interpreted as God’s judgement on same-sex relations,” say Vines, implying that it really was only recently that it was interpreted that way. I, myself, have never thought of this story as only the condemning of same-sex relations, but about choosing what appears best, only to find out how appearances of a desirable land can be an illusion. Allowing someone else to choose before others, seeing that a life of apparent difficulty may be a better choice in the long run. Those are what I see as a major teaching of this story. The homosexuality in the story serves a moral to how far a people of ease may descend in their deviancy. (Take heed America! For our life of “ease” may be the catapult to accepting many immoral behaviors.) In response he brings up Ezekiel 16:49, and claims that Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because they did not help the poor and needy. In fact, it does mention their life of ease. But verse 50 goes on to say that “they were haughty and committed abominations” before God.

Are we to read Genesis 19, seeing the actions of these men, and believe that their greatest abomination before God was their carelessness towards strangers and the poor?! Jesus said we will always have the poor, and our care of them shows who we are as a society. But to understand the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to show how much God cares about the poor? I think not.

In looking at Genesis 19 we must also consider Lot’s actions in offering his daughter to the mob. We look back on creation and see God creating Eve from Adam. From man, came woman. There is an order, a natural order. We must not dismiss that so easily. If we claim to be Christian, there are ideas we must maintain. One of those is the idea that God created and He created in an orderly way. Even if you are an old earth believer, you understand that God was wholly involved in the creation and its order. Lot’s actions have no excuse for his offer of his daughter to the mob, but we must not dismiss that even in the abominable sin of rape, he had in mind a natural order. It may have been worse for him to allow an unnatural order of sin than a natural. Who entirely knows? I can’t imagine what that would be like to confirm a choice like that in my own mind as the father of three daughters.

Lastly, we are to look at Jesus’ confirmation or approval of, the condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 18 speaks about 3 men appearing to Abraham. One of them is referred to as the LORD or Yahweh, the Great I Am, God Himself, in human form: Jesus if you will. The LORD reveals to Abraham His plans for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In considering that God agrees to not wipe out the cities if 10 righteous men are found there, you must contend with Matthew Vines assertion that this is about treatment of strangers and the poor. The culmination of the mob desiring to rape the new men seems to go far beyond just the idea that this is about not giving someone a living wage or an extra slice of bread. This is about complete and total descent into a depravity that God gave them over to. In Matthew 10, Jesus says that for those who reject the good news from the apostles, it’ll be just as bad for them as for Sodom and Gomorrah.

God is sovereign. Sodom and Gomorrah serves a warning that is harsh. God has a limit to His patience. Are we to throw up our hands and say, “then who can please Him?” No. For in Jesus is found grace. If we reject who He is, if we are to reject sovereignty, if we are to reject trust, and embrace all who we are and to seek our own self-interest, then it’ll be just as bad for us, the judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah. He wants us to stop and look around at the deviancy we have embraced. There was not one man among the mob who paused and saw what was really going on. Not one man shouting above the others, “What Have We Become?!” This isn’t about homosexual sin. It reveals the most unnatural tendencies we embrace as a culture, embrace and wallow in how rebellious against a harsh and indifferent God we imagine. (Listen up American Church.) To assert that if one man came to Lot’s door in the light of day and asked for a date from the new guy in town would have been okay, is absurd. To say that if they were offered an extra helping of bread, all would have been well, pushes the boundaries of our understanding of God. Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because of their total embrace of rebellion. The homosexual behavior, and demand of it reveals how far they descended.

Leviticus 18: 22 and 20:13 seems to outright condemn same-sex behavior, says Vines. He says it is an abomination and talks about other things God calls an abomination: sex with a woman during menstrual period, eating pork, rabbit, shellfish, and charging interest on loans. Vines lumps in all these laws as, “the Old Testament law code.” He points out in Hebrews 8:13, that the Bible says the laws are obsolete and outdated. Also, the passage in Romans 10:4 says that Christ is the end of the law. And then Vines says that Christians are not settled by this, that these passages should make us realize that the Old Testament laws should be done away with. We will now turn to the different types of laws God gave us that we forget about in arguments such as this one. There is the ceremonial law, the civil law, and the moral law.

The ceremonial law has to do with worshiping God. These laws were either maintained and ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Ceremonial law revealed how imperfect we were compared to a perfect God deserving of all our adoration. It contained dietary laws that were abolished because there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. God sees us all as one because of the fulfillment of Christ. The Jews saw themselves as set apart with these restrictions in clothing and food. Now we all come to Christ, as we are, and He will change us. Some choose to follow the dietary laws, not as a means to gain favor with God, but as a reminder of who He is, of the sacrifice He ultimately made for us, and as long as they do not frown upon those not following the law or putting others under it for legal reasons, They Are Free To Follow The Law! Amen! In Christ there is freedom, and he released us from the ceremonial law because of Christ’s sacrifice. Hallelujah!

The civil laws are our principles for living together, as a community. God led the Jews out of Egypt and through the desert, and He made laws for them to follow so that they could live in harmony. Those laws are good and right for a people who choose to live with one another and allow God to transcend their ideas of self to community and worship. As a community of Christians, those laws may be great to follow, but not necessary. These kinds of laws, as all of the types of laws, were broken by the Jews. It were the civil laws that kept harmony, the ceremonial directed worship, but the moral law revealed the heart of God and is to be considered unchanging.

The moral law is God unchanging law. It reveals who He is, how He created and maintains His personal character in His people. It is His heart, His being. God is saying, “this is who I created you to be and there is no other change in this.” Following the moral law was obeying who He commanded us to be. God does not desire sacrifices or burnt offerings, but He desires our obedience. Our obedience is understanding His character, His moral law, and striving toward that holiness.

From the beginning His moral standard has been revealed in the marriage relationship; A man and a woman. Marriage is the cornerstone of a culture. It reveals our hearts. What kind of compassion do we show in compromise? How far are we to go in order for people to feel comfortable with themselves or others? Is there no challenge or difficulty in our lives we are to take on? In all this, I am addressing the Christian brother and sister. For the world is revealing its character all day long! Where is our character based on brother? Do we continue in the path of the world sister? Marriage is the first sacrament and naturally follows to multiply on the earth. It is the natural order of creation. Dear brother, I am in no way perfect and have many sins, hidden and revealed. I hope my close brothers will see those sins in me a call them out as not following the character of God. Your whole life, dear brother, is difficult and complex, and you can’t see how you can turn from what you believe is who you are, and I understand that. But how much more compromise can we handle in a world that is so selfish and whatever feels good is told to us is right? Brother? Sister? Are we revealing God’s moral law in our behavior, or ourselves? Is the Bible meant to confirm our desires? Or is it meant to reveal our need for Him?

Romans 1:26-27, Vines says, is about lustful behavior. He says there is no mention of love, commitment or faithfulness. To me, this is much rationalizing. I have the most trouble in this section with Vines because he has to stretch so far in saying that this isn’t about a one man, one man committed relationship, but about the cultural idea of young and old, slave and free, married men, or idol worship. He compares what Paul says about men having long hair being unnatural, to what he mentions in this passage, as accepted as cultural. So we must accept these passages as cultural. But in the 1 Corinthians passage, it is about the nature of authority. Our hair, or what we wear on our head show either authority or a placement under authority in the Jewish culture. The Roman passage addresses Gentiles and how we all have God’s character within us, but in our rejection of His creation and worshiping the creation, or creature, He gave them over to our desires. Any culture that begins to reject the worship of God and His creation, and turns to what pleases them, will ultimately birth all manners of rebellion, and men with men and women with women is a symbolic last maneuver in that rebellion. God gives them over to these abominations.

This is a self pleasing culture we live in. We live in the most at-ease culture in the world, perhaps ever. We are allowing a child to decide that how he/she were created, was wrong, and the world can fix that in order to please ourselves. We are harvesting the fruit of God giving our culture over. It will not stop. Will you be shocked when a man requests to be changed to any manner of other species or sex? Is there no end to this descent? Sure, I’ve said all this before, but with each passage addressed, I am driven back to the confusion I have in slowly drifting with the tide. “Well the world is going this way, how long will the church stand in the world’s way?” That is why Christians are being attacked, because it stands for something. Truth? Morality? Not for long I daresay.

That is why I am writing this. Brother, sister, will you stand, or will you crumble? Is the Word, Logos, not worth fighting for? Are the words written in the Bible not enough to say, “that is far enough”? Idolatry always moves toward immorality. Open your eyes. Stand firm. Do not waver. You are not alone. Your brother and your sister accepts their homosexual family marriage. In the Church, will you accept this? Has God Changed? Have we misunderstood these passages all these years? Our goal is to multiply and fill the earth. Not only in Genesis is this said, but in Matthew as well. Does the postmodern church, affected by a weakness of truth and morality, have responsibility for its dwindling numbers. I believe others see our wavering stance for truth as wishy-washy. Our capacity for multiplicity is shrinking because of our weak-knees in standing before the mass of giants in this world. They mock us because of our standing on the wrong side of history. Do we cry and cave to this mockery? Or do we stand?

1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 is the final address of Matthew Vines. Vines says the concept of sexual orientation didn’t even exist in the ancient world. He claims that the use of the word, “homosexual” in these passages doesn’t make sense because of the fact of not understanding sexual orientation back then. In looking up this word, I see that many scholars interpret it the same as Vines. They say that in Paul’s making up of a word, naturally garners misunderstanding of his meaning. As Vines looks at these verses, the word, “homosexual” in both passages gets wiped away to become “Licentious” and “Abusers of themselves with Mankind.” Vines agrees that Paul doesn’t have a positive view of same-sex relationships, but not in the concept of a committed, monogamous one.

The word Vines and other scholars are wiping away is, “Arsenokoitai.” A Greek word Paul did create from the very passages in Leviticus we looked at earlier. He combined man and “lie-with” another word you may understand looking at, arsenokoitai. Vines says our cultures are worlds apart. We should dismiss Paul’s view because it was so long ago, and sexual orientation wasn’t known in the context of commitment and monogamy. Again, Paul is addressing God’s moral character, that never changes. We can rationalize our way out of anything, and the Church is riding the wave to the depths of depravity.

Vines concludes by saying the Bible never addresses sexual orientation or same-sex marriage. But it does tell you what marriage is, and Jesus confirms it. Vines claims that some of those verses address old and young (children), but what if they were committed to a monogamous relationship? Is that approved of then? Again, I come back to the idea of rationalizing away every guilt that comes upon us.

“So there is no reason why faithful Christians can’t support their gay brothers and sisters. It’s time.”

No reason? In every one of the verses Vines brings up, there is every reason for us not to support gay marriage. I am assuming he means gay marriage when he tells us “faithful Christians” to be supportive. I’ve seen the Church not discipline a man caught in adultery. Does he think we can just wipe away thousands of years of God’s word standing, and the Church continually losing ground, that we can just say, “yea”? Just because the world sways to one side of history doesn’t mean the Church should justify our stance away. I said it at the beginning and I’ll say it again: I love you, my gay brother or sister. Just like I love some people in my life despite leaving the truth for a life of lies. Just like I love those who run an abortion shop. Just like I love those dependent on substances to get them through their day. Just like I love myself when I sin one more time, but not because of myself, but in spite of myself and His work in me. We can live in peace and harmony with our choices, if we’ve justified and rationalized the guilt and pain away. But there is a moral standard we will all be measured against. His heart is that moral standard; unchanging, ever gracious. I cannot stand with the Homosexual Bible Movement. It strays too far from the truth. Just like I cannot stand with the New Apostolic Reformation because it twists the truth. I am not perfect. I rebel. I sin. I am broken. There is a solid rock to stand on. And I am ever, and always, with that rock. Thank you God for Truth.

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Ketchup With Mayo: A New Era Begins

It has been a difficult year for me. In particular, it has been a very difficult last couple of months. But now I am looking forward, starting Monday, to a new era.

Let me start this story from the beginning. I am the site manager for a print shop of a local business that covers practically the entire nation, and then some. I moved here to West Plains to begin this project back in November of 2009. My manager at the time hired the first person to run the production side of things. Over time I’ve hired two new guys in expanding to mail and other things.

Circumstances with these employees have never been optimal, especially since my workload has increased over 200% in the design aspect of my job in that last 2 years. They have fed off of each other’s desire to allow the other do anything extra in the shop, if you know what I mean. In themselves, they are not bad employees, it is just that their situation dictates how much effort they put in.

Last year I called on them all to step forward and start leading the others in production, processes, and an overall work in the shop. I told them I needed a supervisor and wanted one of them. One put forth minimal effort for a time, but went back to normalcy soon enough. Another always had good suggestions but never took the lead. The last would regularly ask me what he could do and I would guide him, then he would fail and beat himself up to the point of never trying anything again for a long time. We’ll call them Minimalman, Neverstand and Giveup, respectively.

Giveup is the one with the most potential, but it seems that he may need more experience in life and confidence. Recently I have had some experiences with him that have made me distrust him, and that needs to be built back up if he does want to move forward.

Neverstand has come a long way, and occasionally has told me of his desire to move forward. He has worked hard on a new project that I will speak highly of, but his professional appearance and bearing are strongly lacking, plus he constantly disagrees with the standards our company sets forth.

Minimalman has been there the longest and has fallen the furthest; not in things you can constantly observe mind you, but just in his efforts, relationships, knowledge, bearing, accountability… Come to think of it, you can observe those things. Let’s just say he is the Eddie Haskel of the group: pleases people when it matters, snotty behind authority’s back. He is my biggest disappointment. We have been through several disciplinary actions over the years, and he has come back strong from them, only to fall back on his same mediocre work eventually. It was sad really. He really could have taken charge of the shop. In the times that I gave him responsibility, he has gossiped about me, and tried to usurp some sense of power in how he communicated. His job was his life, only to him it was like raising a teenager who was slightly out of control, so you put in minimal effort to keep him out of trouble but never improve his circumstance. Minimalman could have been the leader the team needed, but his attitude, demeanor and lack of willingness to train or give responsibility over in his area, held the whole thing back. Any one of the team could have been replaced, but I believe it was Minimalman who needed to go. Bring in a great new person besides Minimalman, and he would have bumped so hard against the new authority, that things would have potentially gotten worse.

I had given up on the idea of any of them being a leader and my work overwhelmed me and I had lost a lot of hope for any change for the positive. In fact some months before my announcement to them I believed Minimalman would be fired for an extreme transgression. And since it didn’t turn out right, that is when things began to fall apart. But Minimalman did get fired early this year. I had discovered something that took courage (or so my boss said) to bring to my boss and HR. I suffered much in my soul in the entire process. No matter how much he needed to be fired, I still felt responsible. It was difficult and when I did fire him 4 weeks ago it began for me a 50 hour and more work week. I have been soooo tired and have done nothing extra beyond regular work and scheduled events.

Firing a person was a first for me and things started to get personal. He wanted to blame me for all the things wrong in the shop. I almost took the bait too. Good thing my manager was there. It made me think about taking responsibility for your mistakes. He wanted to blame anyone but himself for his mistakes. I am sad, because he will never grow unless he sees what he has done. I think about our political culture right now. There is so much people want to blame others for cultures woes, but never stands up besides their protesting.

When I thought Minimalman would be fired last year, I had plans to fill the shop with a friend that worked an hour away from his home here in West Plains. He would have been such a boon to our shop that needed what I thought he could fill so well. Alas, since it all didn’t work out, his boss said that he wanted him to work 2 years before other work considerations.

Anyway, in this whole recent event that transpired, I jokingly told my friend that the job was his. I knew his loyalty would keep him away. I went through the process of interviewing, until my friend said his boss released him. All in all, things worked out and he went through the process of recruitment and begins Monday.

I am so excited, and one thing I really understand is that he is not the answer to all problems that have gone on in the shop. But, it is exciting nonetheless. A new era has come because I have someone I will work with who holds to the beliefs of the bible. Who I enjoy working with. Who knows people and has energy that is needed in the shop.

I have put off so many things because of the hours I’ve been working. I see this as a big change for me, my job, my family. I pray that I can refocus my needs and my understanding of who I am in Him. It has been a long time coming. And yet I’m a little bit frightened. I’ve always had desires to be in a better position, a position like this. But I know God doesn’t want my life to be simple, which, again, I don’t think this will be an answer to “simple” life. It’s just that I’m always looking for the negative around the corner when something that I have wanted to build comes to fruition. Maybe I’m in a place now that I understand it is not about me and my plans, but it is about fulfilling His and community is very important part of all this. I pray that I stay focused.

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