Monthly Archives: March 2011

Jerseys

So tonight was my debut for the Highland Church of Christ softball team. To be candid, this was probably one of the main reasons Highland brought  me here in the first place. Sure…I went 0-for-2 on pop-ups and we lost. But I’m more of a franchise player, you can’t judge my contribution to the team based on one outing. It should take weeks before they catch on that I stink.

But along with being a part of a new team, came another perk…The Jersey. I’ve had several through the years. Some of them meant more to me than others, My Benton Boys Club Soccer Jersey, My Homeschool Basketball jersey (that my mom turned pink when washing it…an absolute disaster for any junior in High School). And now my Highland Softball jersey.

But this got me thinking…

Jerseys are everywhere aren’t they? I heard a sociologist say recently that in order for a group of people to feel truly unified, they most often need to find a group of people who do not, and cannot belong to their group. The term for this is scapegoating, and it’s everywhere. Think about it, in order for a group of people to feel in, the most helpful thing for them is to define who is out. Continue reading Jerseys

The Age To Come

So I’d like to go on record. I had a Love Wins bumper sticker on my car, long before it became so politically charged.I found myself last month thrust into the middle of a debate that apparently I had already decided on. At least that’s what the rear of my car says.

Also, I had pre-ordered Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins” a month before it ever became so controversial. When I saw Rob’s promotional video, and subsequent Twitter mania and blogging madness, I was overwhelmed with sadness. It seems like the divide among evangelicals is just getting deeper and deeper. And now, at the center of the controversy is Hell.

Ot at least that’s what people are saying.

But I think, it’s something else, something deeper.

In his book, Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell first awoke the ire of some of his more persistent critics with this paragraph:

“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove  that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births?…What if that were seriously questioned? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart?” Continue reading The Age To Come

The Creative Genius

Part of my job is to write. It’s not my favorite part, I like preaching more, but writing is certainly up there for me. And here’s why: Long before a sermon ever climbs up into the pulpit with me, it’s hammered out on my office IMac. It’s there that I preach it for the first time, and what I’ve found true for a lot of preachers that I know, is that this writing time is really when we first preach the sermon.

It’s a creative process, of dreaming and wrestling and questioning. Sometimes it takes days, sometimes hours. And sometimes…minutes.

There have been times that I was doing something else, driving along, having a conversation, sharing a meal, when suddenly it was as if an idea externally came into me. I remember my favorite sermon ending of all time was like that. I was pulling into my driveway at home, and suddenly it was all there. One minute I was thinking about butterfly’s, and the next I knew exactly how I wanted to start and end, down to the letter.

Now that’s not to romanticize the creative process, more often than not, it’s laborious, it involves wrestling with God and words. But every now and then something like this happens, almost as if to remind me that I’m not doing this alone. Continue reading The Creative Genius

A Christian Response to Homosexuality

So like many of my peers, I’ve been shocked by the recent explosion of Harding University in the news. Anytime the topic of how Jesus followers treat homosexuals is a public conversation, I cringe. I love my Alma Mater and because I’m not privileged to know the conversations going on behind the scenes. I’m trusting that they are asking questions about the students who are there who don’t fit into the easy categories that are being created.

The truth is that this could happen at any Christian university in the country. It just happened to occur in Searcy.

I also need to say up front, that I affirm the orthodox position on what the Scriptures say on homosexuality. Because I know quite a few people who deal with this I wish I knew another way to interpret this, but I don’t. But I don’t think the way we’ve historically responded is Biblical either.

I wanted to ask a friend with a closer perspective on this to weigh in. I hoped that he could give us a creative third way to talk about what is going on.  A couple of ground rules for comments on this post:

1. It’s okay to disagree with me, or what my friend wrote, but if you attack him personally I will not allow your comment to be posted.

2. Remember where this post is coming from. It’s not a slam on Harding University, or an invitation to do so. This is applicable to all the places that Christian gather. I’ve posted this because I know there are a lot of people who are out there who wrestle with their sexuality…and the one thing I took away from this is that there are a lot of students who don’t feel like they can talk about it. That’s got to stop. We’ve got to make our churches and religious institutions places where people can share their struggles safely and without fear of being rejected. If the church honestly believes that our sexuality isn’t our identity, than that should come out with our behavior. From what I heard my friend say, this isn’t just something for an administration to fix. This is something that happens on the student level just as much, if not more.

3. The person writing this is doing so from a good place. They aren’t bitter, God is healing their wounds, and he has great community that he is able to be honest and open with. You’d like him if you knew him, maybe you already do.

So with all that said, meet my friend:

Being gay is not easy.  Being gay at Harding is hell.  I don’t think it’s Harding’s intention that anyone on their campus feel miserable or disenfranchised.  Being dedicated to the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament, it’s just long been accepted that homosexuality is wrong.  For the longest time, the church at large and even the world were primarily in agreement.  Homosexuality was a closed case – sinful, forbidden, wrong.  However, from time immemorial homosexuality has existed and I dare say that since Harding University has been in existence that there have been homosexuals (admittedly primarily closeted ones until now) in attendance and likely as supporters, donors, faculty, and staff.

My story could have fit right in with some of the ones included in the HUQP zine, somewhere between Every Young Man’s Battle and Swings for a Cure.  Being gay at Harding was one of the worst experiences of my life.  I was in the proverbial closet almost the entire time, at least I never told anyone until just before graduation when I told my two best friends.  I waited to the end to tell my two best friends because I feared that even these beloved friends might not accept me.  Suffice it to say that if I worried that the two best friends of my life might not accept me, that I was convinced that the student body and the faculty, staff, and school leadership would not.  My friends handled the news with surprising grace, though neither of them advocated for me to tell anyone else.   As straights they both feared what coming out at Harding would look like for me.  It might have been somewhat that they didn’t want their friends to know that they had a gay friend, but more than that I think they both feared what the response would be.   Continue reading A Christian Response to Homosexuality