In America, people, (business owners too), are entitled to their own opinion

Chick-Fil-a has had a rough week. My response to the Chick-Fil-A controversy is the same I have about the more recent news about billionaire Amazon.com founder and president Jeff Bezos is donating $2.5 million to support gay marriage. That response is that in America, we have the right to our own opinions.
America is founded on principles of capitalism, democracy, life, liberty, justice, freedom and the pursuit of happiness to ALL. That means Wiccans, atheists, Muslims, Jews, Quakers, Buddhist, Hindus, Scientologists, all the denominations of Christianity, Catholics, Orthodox and ANYONE else tied or not tied to any religion. We are all entitled to the same freedoms and rights. All human beings that are citizens of this country should be treated with the same equal rights and liberties, that is what America is about.
It is easy for the Christian to have “a Christian over-reaction” to any of the news stories listed above. Some of my Christian colleagues all of a sudden are extra supportive of Chick-Fil-A and intentionally are no longer going to ever use Amazon.com. For me, I am more relaxed about all this. Yes, I am supportive of Chick-Fila, but I would feel the same support if they were an atheist owned business. I simply do not think it is in one person, a mayor, who also has equally free opinion to use that opinion to block the building of a restaurant simply because his opinion does not match up with the Chick-Fil-A’s president.
I think that a Christian business owner -an American citizen- is welcome to his opinion also. If you do not like these things, do not eat at his restaurant, that is a capitalistic strategy that I can appreciate. My point is that in AMERICAN, agree or disagree with the values (all values aside really), we are a capitalist society. That means that given the EQUAL rights and liberties, all companies can build and have a chance to succeed (if they can) in a capitalist system.
I am not going out of my way to eat at Chick-Fil-A. I am consistent with my argument. I will continue using Amazon.com because I am a capitalist consumer. I save money with Amazon. Amazon has developed an excellent service. What the Founder/President of that company does with some of his profits is not my concern. I do not feel like my using of the Amazon.com service is contributing to gay marriage. Even if it were a direct correlation, I would not be concerned. He is welcome to have his own opinion on gay marriage. He is welcome to spend his money on it. He is a citizen of America. He has equal rights to an opinion in this free country too.
I will go even further, I am even willing to say that I am not too concerned if gay marriage becomes legalized. Hear me out here, this is tricky and a touchy subject. Yes, I am a Christian, ordained minister and have strong conservative values, but listen. Do not have a Christian over-reaction. Yes you heard this Christian correctly, I think that the LGBT community can have equal rights. They are human beings too and live in America, home of the free.
Yes, you may see the obvious clash between my own Christian values drawn from the Bible and my public opinion and support for the LGBT community. There is some tension there. How can I possibly give my support if I am truly a Bible-believing Christian? Here is my approach on it. I do not see the point in fighting with legislation. I do not see how being anti-LGBT is showing the love of Christ to these people, who need Jesus. Obviously, I am not living the LGBT lifestyle. I even agree that that lifestyle is not natural, not healthy and sin. Although, my understanding is that I cannot tell people which sins they choose and do not choose. It is not my place to judge nor my place to control.
I have to give up control of that battle and focus on the heart. I want to show these human beings Christ’s love and His Gospel. Only Christ can truly save them and change their hearts, which in turn, will change their lifestyle. Only Christ can do that. I want to be His ambassador. I do not want to live in the past and say, this America is suppose to be a Christian nation (that is another post) ….let’s move past that. Read my responses to that argument in the links. Basically, we are America, home of the free and all are welcome to live free here in America right now, despite any special relationship you think America has with God. I do not see it. It may be hard or unfortunate for some Christians, but we are where we are in America right now, some call it “post-Christian.” That may be a stretch since nothing is impossible with Christ!
To take my previous argument further, that is I think that the LGBT are free to live how they want to in American. There is not way I can possibly live a life that is not connected or associated with any sinners. Firstly, all men are sinners. Some way or another every screen I look at, every food I consume, every book/blog I read…if you dig deep enough there will be a connection to a non-Christian. That is ok. All men are sinners. We once were sinners too! Have empathy.
Let us not have “a Christian over-reaction.” Let us live “IN but not OF this world.” Let’s be the workers IN the fields harvesting. Let us NOT live in complete isolation like monks, what impact would that have? How useful is it to avoid completely everything connected to sin? Especially in a capitalist society…we are blessed to be allowed to enter the harvest! We are blessed to have EQUAL rights (EVEN AS CHRISTIANS!!) Compare yourself to Christians hiding in Asian and Africa! We are so blessed to be consumer capitalists with equal rights! COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS oh spoiled American Christians.
Now let us use these rights and advantages for Christ’s glory! Let us be SALT and LIGHT in this very diverse democracy. Let us Praise Jesus because we have so many opportunities to make a difference and show Christ’s LOVE, hallelujah!

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Jesus Culture Experience

Alright, so I have always enjoyed  Jesus Culture band and have found their music to be very worshipful. I had never really taken the time to explore the backgrounds of Bethel Church in Redding, CA to see where they were coming from in doctrine. Instead I decided to go to a Jesus Culture Conference in New York City with some friends. 
I am a Baptist. Bethel Church and Jesus Culture are more charismatic. They fall most in line with the Pentecostals.  For the most part, the conference was not too scary or difficult for me. If the band and preachers and followers where mostly Pentecostal (or Charismatic) then they were really watered down during the conference. There was not a lot of people falling over slain in the Spirit and those sorts of things. 
Although, there were miraculous faith healings. I still cannot stop thinking about one instance. A deaf lady from birth, was prayed over with the laying of hands and everything. After the prayer, she started hearing things. I talked to her and her friends, it was a crazy thing.  I believe God can do healings, like this on Earth, if He desires to.
Bill Johnson, the pastor of Bethel, laid out an argument for faith healings….basically firstly, the disciples did it:
Mt. 10:8- Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Then in John 1: 50 – Jesus says that greater things are yet to come than these [things you have seen me do].

There were some areas I could not completely agree with Bill on, but why aren’t we out in our communities/streets praying for healing for people in our local communities?
Obviously I have some warnings:
1. This is NOT about works. It can easily begin to look like and feel like works. But it is only God who does the healing, not us.
2. God may not always heal every single time we ask for healing in our prayers. Sometimes He has a greater purposes that we do not understand. Remember home is NOT on this earth.
3. Theology. One thing Bill Johnson said that is the most debatable is his understanding (or lack of it) in Christology. For me, Jesus was 100% man AND 100% God.
For Bill, Jesus was 100% man who forfeited completely ALL of His God-abilities and did the miracles as a complete man. Meaning any man can perform the same miracles if they rely completely on the Father as Christ did. 
This gets sketchy for a couple of reasons. Again, as with point one, it can easily start to become a works based system. But second and worse offense, is centered on Christ.  Christ had to be 100% (as well as 100% man), in order for His offering for our sins, as our substitute, to be acceptable and infinitely valuable (1 Pet. 1:18-19). 
So all of this has got me thinking all week and it is an amazing God thing. I see, not only at this conference but through-out history that God  can use us despite our bad theology and even despite our differences in beliefs/theology. I hear reports that Redding, Ca is a safe haven, a cancer-free zone and that the presence of the Holy Spirit is there. All of that sounds wonderful, I do not have any data to prove it but I believe that God can work in that way if He so desires. 

He is bigger than our human understanding of theology. I do not know who is more correct in a lot of areas in theology. I see good arguments on my areas of debatable topics and yet while it seems that the two sides can not agree and work together….they can. God is bigger. God does the Healing. He does the saving. I am just glad to be a part of it. I want to continue to work out my faith and continue to study these things. Do not get me wrong I desire truth and solid Biblical answers and I believe that a foundational worldview with essential doctrines is essentials….this is why I am willing to debate Bill Johnson on the points I did above. 
While on many non-essential, I am willing to hear the other side of the argument. I give grace and I agree to disagree and agree to say that “Wow, God is working through that, despite my understanding or belief.” 
 

Snakes on a Bikepath

Took Ginger, a Chichiwawa, for a walk today on a bike path. A biker stopped to warn me that there was a snake on the path a few yards up.
I paused a minute wondering what I should do. I had on flip flops and I am not sure the Ginger has every encountered snake. I wondered how she would react. I thought a bunch of what-if questions…

Hoping the snake passed by, after a minute of reflection, I kept walking the same direction. We did not encounter any real life snakes, but in my head I saw thousands…every broken branch, every twisted thistle, every broken bamboo shoot, everywhere I turned my mind was playing tricks on me.

What if I get bit? What if Ginger gets bite?  I am not prepared for this. What if the snake is poisonous? What if it jumps out and I have no time to react?

It was really useless worries. I made it all the way to the lake and turned around and made it back home without a hitch or a snake but my mind was still playing tricks on me.
What is the snake going to do jump out in front of me in an ambush and attack me with his poisonous venomous attack? What a silly thought, as if snakes had a mind of intent against me.
I’ve had crazier dreams, especially snake related dreams.

Nonetheless, Ginger and I made it home safe and did not encounter that snake or any other snakes.

America

Ok, so do not get me wrong….I do love America. I am so grateful for the sacrifices made for me to be living in this country. I am so blessed to be a citizen of the USA and to have all of the rights and freedoms I do have. It is truly wonderful. In fact, it seems unfair even, at times, when I think about me…I could have been born anywhere, but God wanted me here, in America. He wants me to but all of these blessings, privileges, rights and responsibilities to use for His glory.

On all of these holidays, especially July 4th, Americans get a little high on themselves. I do not care so much for all the celebrating and pride. I see people posting things about how America is the greatest country ever, if you are not an American than you are somehow less human or less important and I hear preachers say that America is going to be revolutionized and redeemed. They say how America is undeniably the world’s stronghold…..and this is where I start getting upset with holidays like today.These statements cross the line for me


 Maybe I am not Patriotic enough or American enough….but America is not some special country that God loves more….if anything it is just the opposite. There is no mention of America in eschatology. In fact, this is the wrong side of the world. The real action is in the middle east. And Americans ‘hate’ the middle east…..
Do not get me wrong, I will not dispute that God can save, revolutionize and redeem America, if He wants to. I desire to be a part of that. I am attempting to live my life in that way. But there is no guarantee that this is going to happen. Christ may come back today. That would be wonderful too.

And guess what? God loves ALL human beings on planet earth. Non-Americans are humans too. They are not any less loved by God. They are not any less important. The truth of the Gospel is just as true for them as it is for the American Patriot. One thing that we so easily neglect is our understanding of world history. Yeah, we know our own American history well. We are proud of it in America, too proud. Studying world history and other country’s history offers an amazing perspective.

Other countries have amazing stories and perspectives from their own history too. There is a lot of amazing and miraculous things happening around the World, not just in America. God is so good and doing so many amazing things. God loves them too. I think Americans have narrowed their eyes and vision on themselves so much, that they miss   everything else. God is moving and working around the world. God loves the nations, America is just one.

Albeit, America has been and still is a major country economically, socially, and even spiritually…we have a lot of freedom. But with that comes a lot of responsibility.