In no way am I disregarding, demeaning, or belittling the death of the nine people murdered in a church in Charleston, S.C. Their lives are not insignificant. And grief, sorrow, anger, and desire for justice are all right and healthy responses. But the response to these murders makes obvious two alarming realities about American Christians.
It's astounding and disturbing to observe selective displays of public grief and prayer in America. What does it take to be publicly mourned by Christians—to be shot in church?
When and where was Christian "solidarity" displayed over Memorial Day weekend after 56 people were shot in Chicago, of whom 12 died including a 4 year-old girl and three teenagers? Where was the public display of Christian prayer and hand ringing after 23 people in New York City or 28 in Baltimore were shot, including 9 killed, over the same weekend? more >>
I had some remarkable interaction on Twitter this past Tuesday night. Not only was it eye-opening, it also provided a window into the mass confusion that is affecting our society.
Things began with a tweet I posted Sunday night (Father's Day) saying, "If Bruce Jenner is really a woman, how come his family celebrated Father's Day with 'her'? How can you be a female father?"
In response, a young lady name Andi wrote, "ur stupid as heck!" more >>
As a white, Jewish American (and committed follower of Jesus), I have learned much from my black brothers and sisters, among whom are some dear friends and colleagues, while some of my fondest memories of worship and ministry are in the context of black church services.
When I do a rally for my radio listeners in a major city, I'm always delighted to see the ethnic mix, with a strong percentage of my listeners being black, and they bring something special to our gatherings.
Of course I recognize that every culture and ethnicity has particular strengths and weaknesses, and I realize that all generalizations are flawed, but in the aftermath of the massacre in Charleston, I feel it is important to give honor by sharing these thoughts. They simply represent my own perspective, and I welcome either confirmation or constructive criticism. more >>
It's Oct. 1, 1992. The Milwaukee Brewers are playing the Seattle Mariners. The Brewers were two games out of first place with only four games left in the season. My dad steps up to the pitcher's mound and pitches 10 innings. In those 10 innings, he gave up only two runs on just four hits. For those who know baseball, you know this is extremely difficult to do. My dad got the 7-2 win over the Mariners that night, and in doing so, kept the Brewers in the pennant race.
My dad had made it to the "top." He had achieved what most boys dream about achieving. When he was little, he told me that he used to sleep in his uniform the night before a game; he was that excited and that dedicated to America's pastime. If that tells you anything, making it to the Major Leagues was his dream and would have made his life complete. Or at least that's what he thought.
One day, my dad was standing on the mound with thousands of fans cheering his name, and it hits him. Something was still missing. How could that be possible? He had gained everything that the world tells us is important: riches, fame, the whole nine yards. But he still wasn't satisfied. Then, he met his Savior Jesus Christ. Someone had the courage to tell my dad that he was a sinner and that without knowing the forgiveness and love of his Father, he would continue to be miserable—no matter what kind of baseball season he had or how much money he made. That night, my dad decided that being in a relationship with his Creator was much sweeter and more fulfilling than any accolade or worldly accomplishment. Upon meeting his Father, the void was instantly filled. My dad played 10 years in the Majors, and when he finally retired, what did he do? He did what every retired ball player does: he became a pastor. more >>
As the country awaits the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on whether the Constitution requires states to allow same-sex couples to marry, anxiety escalates among many religious believers, especially conservative Christians. Just last week, South Baptist Convention (SBC) president Ronnie Floyd and 15 other past SBC presidents issued a letter urging all pastors, educators, and other church leaders "to openly reject any mandated legal definition of marriage" that violates biblical standards. Yet a call for civil disobedience is not necessary. The Court will decide what the Constitution requires states to do–not what church leaders must do.
Religious leaders will still have the ability to choose the couples they marry. For example, some ministers currently refuse to marry couples who have not completed premarital counseling, while others opt only to marry couples who are members of their congregations. Even if the Supreme Court requires states to legally permit same-sex couples to wed, religious leaders will retain the right to determine which ceremonies they perform. The Constitution requires the government to be agnostic on such things; the Court's ruling will not change how churches function.
What might change, though, is how marriage operates as a legal and civil institution. In states that permit same-sex unions, homosexual couples enjoy the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities of heterosexual couples. They can adopt and raise children together, jointly own property, receive special tax and pension benefits reserved for spouses and families, and make medical decisions for one another in times of crisis. The government bestows these benefits–not churches. more >>
Close to 100 evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders in the U.S. have united in a message calling on Christians to act on their "moral obligation" to fight climate change, which they also called a pro-life issue, following on Pope Francis' environmental encyclical released last week.
"As Catholic and evangelical leaders, we are deeply inspired by Pope Francis' encyclical addressing our shared responsibility to be prudent stewards of creation. Pope Francis has issued a bold call to action, and the clock is ticking on a challenge that requires a collective effort in service of the global common good," the religious leaders said in a full-page advertisement on the back page of Politico.
"As citizens of the most powerful nation in human history, we have a unique responsibility to promote sustainable development, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and build a thriving culture of life that protects human dignity," they added. more >>