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August 2012

July 2012 entries

Muppets at Odds with Chick-fil-A

I awoke this morning to a story concerning two of my favorite things; muppets and chicken nuggets. These two subjects are rarely mentioned in the same sentence, but that is about to change. It seems the Henson muppets were about to become a kids promotional item in a Chick-fil-A "happy meal." That was until Dan Cathy spoke out in opposition to same sex marriage and in favor of "biblical" marriage. Mr. Cathy heads up the extremely successful chicken chain where my family and I have spent a pretty penny on those delicious fowl nuggets. Henson quickly declared that their organization was accepting and inclusive of all people and would henceforth withdraw from any alignment with Chick-fil-A. Dan Cathy was asked if he were willing to retract his statement. In essence he said, "I said what I said and I meant what I said." That's not an exact quote, but it sums up his feelings pretty well.

So Gonzo and Fozzie Bear disagree with Chick-fil-A's views on same sex marriage. Okay, while I'm sure my readers know where I stand on this issue, I'm a little confused as to the controversy. Why should furry, and or slimy, talking animals be concerned with what a "born again" food chain executive believes about marriage? What involvement does that have with selling nuggets with plastic gigures in each child's meal? None. That's the point. This is a free country where differing opinions on important issues should aloowed and debated. I could have guessed both positions on marriage even before this became a news story. I expect anyone associated with Hollywood to be aligned with liberal political and social beliefs. I also know that the Cathy family is a strong Christian name in the South. It does not shock me that Dan Cathy has strong views on this subject and he is willing to express them. So what is happening? Shouldn't we be allowed to express our ideas that are shaped by our beliefs?  

Yes, we should. But the proponents of liberal social and politcal views have asserted themselves in the public arena as the front runners. They are aware of changing popular opinion. They now can brandish their left leaning swagger before us with disdain and arrogance. They know that the majority of "vocal" Americans will take their side. While, I believe the greatest part of American remains silent. As in the case of most arguments, the one who screams the loudest appears to win. I know there are many silent supporters of Biblical values because the line to the Chich-fil-A drive-thru window often winds all the way around the parking lot.

So I encourage you to speak up for what you believe. I don't believe in silencing the ones who hold views different from mine. They have every right to express their opinions. However, they do not have the right to silence mine. So go have a diet lemonade and a number 4 at your local Chick-fil-A. Support those who support Christian values. While you still can.   


A Big Announcement

Three years ago I experienced an event that would shape the way I think about missionaries and mission work for the rest of my life. I traveled with about 30 others to Phuket, Thailand to host missionary couples from across Southeast Asia. During that week I learned that missionaries are not uber-Christians. They are real people with fears, doubts, and struggles with their faith like every other follower of Christ. The difference between them and us is that they do not allow those things from following the call of God on their lives. I also learned that they are lonely and desperately in need of encouragement.

I remember meeting one family in the hallway of the hotel. A companion and I had just left letters from home for the adults and candy from the USA for the kids on their bed. The family was supposed to be at dinner. They had returned to their room for some reason that escapes me now. The wife came rushing from her room to meet us in tears as we were entering another room with similar goodies. Almost with uncontrollable emotions she thanked us over and over again for the small gesture of kindness. She went on to explain how she and her family had come to believe that no one in America cared about their work in Thailand. It was amazing to see how such a small act of kindness could solicit such an emotional response.

On another occassion I sat at a picnic table to listen to one young man's story. He had boarded a plane to make a short trip home when he became violently ill. I may mention here that to fly from Thailand to Los Angeles takes about 16 hours. During the flight he was in so much pain that he told me that he prayed to die. It seems that he had eaten some food in one of the villages in Thailand that had a hidden parasite living inside. It came to life while in the plane and literally began to eat it's way out. He did manage to get back to the states and after an extended stay in the hospital he returned back to his work in Thailand. He thanked me over and over for just sitting and listening to his story. I thanked him for his dedication to the Lord.

Those are just two of dozens of examples that changed my mind about missionaries. I appreciate their work more than ever because I came to realize they are no different than us. They struggle with their commitment level. They often think about packing up and coming home. They are afraid for their lives and the lives of their children. What they want more than anything else is to know somebody cares that they are making a sacrifice for the kingdom of God. I want us to do just that.

Dallas Bay is preparing to host one such missionary retreat. It will be for missionaries serving in South America. This retreat is planned for May 2013 in Lima, Peru. Would you please consider being a part of this incredible event. We need people from every walk of life. We want to take doctors and nurses, yes. We want to take pastors and counselors, absolutely. But we also need people who are willing to listen. We need people who will carry bags to hotel rooms. We need hairdressers, massage therapists, financial counselors, and dentists. We need anyone who is willing to encourage and treat a missionary with the respect they are due but so rarely receive.

Would you pray with me about going? We are going to make an official announcement soon at both of our campuses. By then we will have exact dates and costs for this amazing event. It is 9 months away. There's plenty of time for you to set the money and time aside to join us. I'm hoping that at least 30 people from Dallas Bay will participate. We would like to sponsor at least 60 misionary families.  With your help we can encourage these families to stay on the field and continue the ministry they have been called by Godt to do.     


Let's Not Get Distracted

It seems there has been a lot of dust stirred up by a recent lengthy article in the Chattanooga paper. I do not want to comment on the motivation behind such an article. Nor do I want to assess whether it was fairly written. I do want to express how much I hurt for the father in the story. Being a father of two boys myself, I cannot imagine the pain he felt at the premature loss of his son. The only one who could understand is someone who has lost a child in death. I know One who certainly understands his pain.

My issue is that I believe we have missed the greater truth. I know love was used several times in the article as well as the reader's responses to the article. Isn't the greatest love we may show toward another human being is directing them to the One who holds the keys to life's greatest question? How do I secure life beyond this brief existence on earth. That was the essence of the greatest expression of love in all man's history.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

Sure God loves gays, lesbians and the transgendered. He loved them enough to die for them.

Sure God loves greedy TV evangelists, gluttonous preachers and self righteous church goers. He loved them enough to die for them.

All the rhetoric about lifestyle is a distraction from the real issue. The reality is: "The man who is born of woman is of a few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away." Job 14: 1 - 2

"For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." James 4:14

As long as we allow the media to distract the church from our real calling, which is to point people to Christ, we will continually be chasing after the wind. We are not free to define or redefine the meaning of sin. Our job is not curse the darkness, but to allow the light of Christ within us to dispel it.