Thursday, October 16, 2014

Houston, we have a (Constitutional) problem

There are multiple reports from across the nation about the insanity that is unfolding in my metropolitan area (Try:  Here or Here or Here or Here).  I pastor a suburban church, so until this blew up I was basically unaware.

Here is one man's perspective:

1.  This is a constitutional issue at its roots.  No government entity or representative should be able to demand, subpoena, or stomp their feet until churches do what they want.  The whole idea of the First Amendment is to let churches continue to be and do as churches see fit.

2.  The whole Separation of Church and State bit is a treasured Baptist principle (one of the good ones, as opposed another one like pronouncing their own names with two 'b's instead of a 'b' and a 'p').  But man, it needs some clarity these days.  The church is separated from the state so it can continue its important work of being the conscience of both culture and government.  Furthermore, by all accounts, IRS regulations allow tax-exempt organizations like churches weigh in on issue-related politics and even participate in petition drives.  So what's the problem in Houston?

3.  The Mayor's and City Attorney's stories keep changing., it wasn't me.  It wasn't my hand in the cookie jar.  My hand was in the bubble gum jar.  Uh...wait, it one time was in the cookie jar.  I took a selfie while doing it.  Uh...hey, did you see the Texans game?  My bet is that they continue to hedge until the story falls below the fold.  Then people will basically forget.

4.  In our social media culture, I think winsome responses win more often than angry responses.  What if (as a few did but a little too late) the narrative of response to the subpoena was, "@AnniseParker can get my sermons anytime. I preach almost every Sunday and she's welcome! #InviteAnnise."  Being winsome so often wins (think internet memes).

5.  Being winsome isn't enough though and I'm glad the Alliance Defense Fund has stepped in to call the government of Houston to account.

6.  No one from the Mayor's office wanted the sermons and private correspondence pieces of liberal-leaning churches who supported their HERO issue.  Churches advertised for the HERO issue (like this one).  So yes, it was 100% about vengeance politics.  Let's not pretend otherwise.

7.  Ultimately, there are still various people of various stripes, persuasions, and orientations who need to hear the Gospel.  I hope none fall prey to the temptation to ride this outrage to a very temporary fifteen minutes of fame.  I hope instead we all speak to the First Amendment issue (like Paul appealing to Caesar, so we appeal to the Constitution) and then just get up and go about our business of sharing the Gospel.

There will come a day when preaching the Gospel will cost us a lot more.  I don't think that's today...but it's coming.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Bears vs. the Longhorns: Ugliness and an Implication

I'm a Baylor Bear.  Those words haven't always been as fun to say as they are these days, but it's true.  I am a Green and Gold kind of guy.  The Queen and I met there.  I still love the school.  We did ministry there.  We have friends there.  On and on.

We squared up against the Longhorns this past Saturday in Austin.  That usually ends up very poorly for us as a football team.

But not this Saturday.  Granted, it was as ugly as two aardvarks and a mud puddle, but we did walk away with the W.

At one point, I tweeted that we looked more like butter knives than steak knives.  We needed to be a lot sharper.  Outside of a blocked kick returned for a touchdown, we were anemic at best.  But we stuck it out.  Our team kept doing what they needed to do - defense, tackling, blocking, and so forth.  We won.  28-7, in case you're keeping score at home.

We won because we kept doing what needed doing.

Keep doing what needs doing.

Spiritually dry?  Keep doing what needs doing - prayer, Bible, service.

Marriage running on empty?  Keep doing what needs doing - talking, time.

Relationship frayed?  Keep doing what needs doing - forgiveness, mercy, blessing.

I could keep going but you get the idea.  Personally and pastorally, I know there are seasons of my own life and those I love in which things are easier, more fruitful, etc.  But in the hard seasons, just doing what needs to be done is how you keep walking, keep going, and stay faithful.

The emotions have to come along with it eventually.  The energy does too.  But just keep walking

Keep doing what needs doing.