Thursday, July 2, 2015

Make Plans, Allow the Lord to Direct! (Pt. 2)

In April I posted the above picture in my post Make Plans, Allow the Lord to Direct! I encourage you to go and read that post especially if you are in a place where your plans don't seem to be working out the way you thought they would. Lately I've been thinking a bit more about this scripture and I wanted to share with you some of those thoughts.

In my previous post I shared how God wants to direct us in each decision whether big or small but how I feel that this verse specifically refers to our overall life plans. Often we have a plan for our life that we are pushing for and striving for starting when we are teenagers (or sometimes even as children). Our society pushes us to make at least somewhat of a decision of what we want to do with our lives before we leave high school. This is when we are supposed to decide what college we want to go to, what major we want to pursue, or what job we are going to go after. Of course this is a very early time to make those decisions and many end up changing them throughout their life.

A lot of these decisions are made based simply on our interests or even what subjects we happen to be good at in school. However there are some people who were seeking God at a young age and feel like they actually had a Word from God directing them on what path to take. This is where I have been.

When I was 12 God told me I was to be a preacher, teacher, and a writer.

Naturally when I received this Word I interpreted it to mean full-time Christian ministry. I've sought God on how this ministry would play out. I felt led to go to World Harvest Bible College (now Valor Christian College) in Columbus, OH and spent my college years focused on volunteering rather than working. I then spent a year working for an Adult Foster Care Home but thinking my main focus in that time was my volunteering as an assistant youth pastor, my two mission trips, and my preparation to go to Youth With A Mission. Then I spent four years full time on the mission field and everything seemed to be on track for my dream to be in full-time ministry.

After I spent four years on the mission field my wife and I felt it was time to move back to the U.S. and I felt like I was supposed to pursue a job as a youth pastor with a local church. I found a part-time youth pastor position with Connection Church, got a job in mental health (based off of my previous position in the AFH) and continued with the plan to work my way to full-time ministry. Five years later and I find myself still working in mental health and still not in full-time ministry. For the last five years I constantly have talked about wanting to find an opportunity to work in my "passion" and in my "true calling". It took me five years to recognize that maybe God opened up this door in mental health not simply as a way to pay my bills until I found my "true calling" but because maybe metal health is my "true calling".

Does this mean I got it wrong when I was 12? 

Not at all. That Word that I received is, to this day, one of the most clear words I have ever heard from God. I am to be a preacher, a teacher, and a writer. It may meant that I misinterpreted what it meant but the Word was and is true to my calling.

Does this mean that I need to give up my aspirations towards full-time ministry?

Not necessarily. We never know what God has in store in the future. It could be that God will still open up a door for me and my family to step into pastoring or full time mission work again. All of this is possible. Or it may be that God is planning on partnering my passion for ministry with my new found passion for mental health. Or it may be that He has called me to balance the two, to be a bi-vocational minister, for the long term. 

What this means is that I need to recognize that God has placed me where I am because He wants me where I am. It may be a stepping stone to something in the future but it is more than that. If God is directing my steps then He directed me to this point and He has directed me to work in mental health for the last five years, and He wants to use me in my current position.

This is what God has been speaking to me about, hopefully it speaks to you too!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Some Thoughts on the Supreme Court Ruling and Same-Sex Marriage

Lately everyone has been up in arms about the Supreme Court ruling regarding homosexual marriage. People are arguing against the morality of same-sex marriage, whether the Supreme court had a right to make such a decision, and what this means for our society. I have also heard many claim that this is evidence as to why Christians need to more involved politically. As I waded through the numerous articles that my friends have shared on Facebook I can't help but wonder:

Is the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage really such a big deal?

Before you get too up in arms about it let me be clear. I believe that there is no question regarding the Bible's stance on homosexuality and the definition of marriage. To me there is no question that homosexuality is a sin and that same-sex marriage is a perversion against the God given institution of marriage. With that being said I still have a hard time seeing why this one ruling matters so much to Christians and why this one ruling is such a detriment to our society.

But Homosexuality is a sin!

Yes it is. Just like sex outside of marriage, divorce (except in case of infidelity), pornography, gluttony, gossiping, lying, dishonoring our parents...(need I go on). Homosexuality is a sin, but like any of these other sins it needs to be dealt with on an individual level through the grace of God. In most cases homosexuality is a surface issue and the underlying issue is the individual's need for Christ. 

If Christians would spend as much time preaching Christ, the cross, and the resurrection as they do complaining about the Supreme Court ruling, we might be seeing more homosexuals getting delivered through the grace of God rather than turning against the church as a whole.

If the same-sex marriage needs to be banned due to it's status as sin then why are we not calling for banning divorce, or making infidelity against the law? Why don't we cry out against the fact that living together without being married is legalized? It is not the government's job to ban sinful behavior nor would that be effective. Homosexuals were living together and acting as if they were married long before the Supreme Court ruling. Homosexuality is a sin, but it is a sin regardless of the legality of it. It is a sin that needs to be dealt with by the grace of God not the ruling of our government!

But Same-sex Marriage Distorts the Sanctity of Marriage!

Again I agree, but again it is hardly the only thing in our society that does. In fact I would argue that same-sex marriage is not even the largest culprit in distorting the sanctity of marriage. I believe that place goes to divorce. Again you don't see the church resorting to political campaigns to fight against divorce but rather they are fighting it through pre-marital and marriage counseling, writing books, discussing the issue with our youth, etc. Why can't we address homosexuality in the same way?

Political campaigns are not going to solve the issue of same-sex marriage. Even if we succeeded in getting it banned we still would not have solved the issue because the issue is in the hearts of the individuals. The issue can only be solved through the Spirit of God and the Word of God and we as the church need to get back to that number one goal. We need to stop speaking out agains homosexuals and start speaking to them, getting to know them, and sharing the love of Christ with them.

But the Slippery Slope!

Lastly, there is the argument that this ruling is going to lead to more serious rulings. There are two directions that I've heard this argument go. First, there are those that say that allowing same-sex marriage will lead to allowing polygamy, marriage to animals, etc. Secondly I have heard the more prevalent argument that this will lead to churches being penalized for not being willing to marry homosexuals. 

This argument is probably the most valid when talking about the political implications of such a ruling, however I do feel that Jesus' words apply here:

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about it's own things. Sufficient for the day is it's own trouble."
Matthew 6:34

I realize that Jesus was talking about food, clothing, and shelter here specifically but I feel that the same principle applies here. Today's trouble is that same-sex marriage has been legalized so how do we address that? Do we address it by complaining about the ruling? Or do we address it by preaching the Gospel, making disciples, and sharing Christ's love and grace with the world? 

If our way of addressing it is by complaining about the ruling and campaigning to have it overturned then we have already lost. The slope will continue to be slippery and our society will slide into further depravity with the church in the background complaining. However if we stand up and do what Christ has told us to do and preach the Gospel I believe that we can change the state of our society one individual at a time. Then before we know it same-sex marriage may still be legal but no one will actually be doing it because the church had finally become the vessels of deliverance to society she was always meant to be.