Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How should we respond to LGBTQ Festivals and White Nationalists rallies?

On September 15, 2018, the first annual TriPride Parade and Festival took place in Johnson City, TN. WJHL reported that 10,000 people celebrated at the Festival. In addition to this the Tennessee League of the South announced they will hold a rally at Sycamore Sholes State Historic Park on Saturday, September 29, 2018, at 9 am. According to the League State Chairman Tom Pierce, the purpose was to “draw attention to the continued assault upon our people and heritage.” They are protesting the fall of “Silent Sam” at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus. The question is how do we respond to these groups in our community? 

First, I would like to point out that these two groups share distortions. Both groups are distorting God’s creation and plan for humanity. The LGBTQ community distorts God’s plan and the creation of gender, sexuality, and the family.  God made two genders in Genesis 5:2. God established the plan for the family in Genesis 2:24 stating that a man shall “leave and cleave” to his wife, beginning a new family unit. Two genders fulfilling the earth through a God defined marriage is His plan for humanity. Anything outside of this plan laid out in Genesis is a distortion of God’s good plan and leads to greater distortions and brokenness.

The nationalist community distorts the value and equality of all mankind through racism. Genesis 1:27 tells us that all are made in the image of God. This includes all skin color. We are also told that all, if we believe in Jesus, are one in Jesus Christ, Galatians 3:28.  The New Testament teaches us that justification by faith does not eradicate our gender, our vocation, or our ethnicity, but it does relativize all these things. Our first and most important identity is not male or female, American or Korean, black or white, but Christian. We are more alike then we are different. 
Lastly, bible last teaches us that partiality is a sin, see James 2:1. And 1 John 3:15 tells us that everyone who hates his brother is a murderer. Hate is murder of the heart because it looks at someone else or some other group and thinks, “I wish you were not around. You are what’s wrong with this world, and the world would be better without people like you.” That’s hate, which sounds an awful lot like murder. 

Here are some things to remember:
1.    We must be salt and light, but don’t throw salt in people’s eyes or blind others.While it may be enticing to join the anti-protests in each group, we should avoid this. We must show love for the persons trapped in these principalities, and stand against their messages. 
2.    Remember the church brings together what the world defines as natural enemies. We are all one in Christ Jesus. The separating of peoples at Babel in Genesis 11:7-9 was a cure, but bringing peoples together at Pentecost in Acts 2:5-11 was a gift God gave us.
3.    Be tough and tenderand be patient with all.Jesus was the toughest on Pharisees and tender towards people, like the woman at the well. We never back down from God’s Word, but we also need to have compassion for the brokenness of fallen human beings. Let us remember, were it not for the grace of God, we would most likely be in one camp or the other.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Why Move Trunk or Treat to Sunday, instead of October 31?

Trunk or Treat last year was a big success! Actually, it was more successful than we were prepared for. The Facebook event was shared some 30 plus times, leading to over 700 children plus attending the event. This led to discussions in church council. It was decided by the council to move the date to Sunday October 31 for the following reasons:

1.     To Redeem Halloween to the Max-Anytime we find something in culture we have three choices as believers- we can:
a.     Reject Halloween-this holiday has pagan roots, so we can’t have anything to do with it. The problem with this view is that we can’t say that just because something has a bad root or beginning means it is totally bad. If that were true, we should stop driving Volkswagens because they were originally invented by Adolf Hitler. We will also be hard pressed to explain to children why biblically we can’t dress up and receive some treats. (see Gen. 50:20)
b.     Receive Halloween- This is simple, we will receive the holiday as it is. The problem with this view is accepting practices of the holiday we cannot go along with as Christains, like inappropriate customs (1 Timothy 2:9), any kind of celebration of witchcraft or pagan worship (Leviticus 19:31), and any kind of seeking to speak with the dead (Deut. 18:10-14).
c.     Redeem Halloween-As I child, I grew up in an unchurched/unreached family, and we always celebrated Halloween. I have many fond childhood memories. We often think of this from a churched or Christian perspective, but let’s try to put ourselves in the shoes of the unreached. My unreached family did not worship pagan Gods, play with ouija boards, or seek out spiritual mediums. For us, it was about three things: a sweet costume, which you wanted to wear every day, letting your neighbors see your sweet costume, and CANDY! I don’t recall ever going to a church to trick or treat, and to be honest, it never crossed my mind. But going to a neighbor’s house, sign me up! October 31 is the ONLY night of the year when lost people knock on our door. Will we be home to be salt and light to them, showing them the love of Christ?
2.     To allow maximum volunteer participation-The reality of last year was that we could have used more man power. For various reasons, several of our volunteers could not come on October 31, as it usually falls on a weekday. Most work schedules simply do not allow for them to participate. Another group stated they always hand out candy at their house, as it is a community event for them. Another still stated they could not help due to family activities on October 31st. These three issues knocked out a block of help, the Sunday before removes these hurtles.
3.     To be kind to our neighbors-We have been approached by several from Thomas Blvd about the tremendous pressure it puts on them when we hold our event on Oct. 31. The 700 plus people will visit the surrounding homes either before or after our event. 
4.     To have a backup plan for bad weather-With this even being outside, holding the event on October 31 gives no backup date. In the event that Sunday’s weather doesn’t work, we can always pick the three other days! 

o  Bonus: If we have good weather, the leftover candy can be handed out at church members homes who have lots of traffic.