July 29, 2012

I don't hate gay people

Before you read the rest of this post, I want to make a few quick disclaimers: This is a controversial topic and I know that people are very passionate about both sides of this issue. Please understand that the purpose of this post is not to start a heated debate or to make anyone upset. If you agree or disagree with me, that's okay, but please don't be disrespectful to anyone. This is something that's been on my mind a lot lately, and I feel the need to share my personal point of view.  

I don't hate gay people. That might sound shocking coming from a southern preacher's wife who grew up smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt, but in light of the whole recent Chick-fil-a controversy, I felt compelled to clear the air. Do I disagree with homosexuality based on my religious beliefs - yes. Does disagreeing with someone's lifestyle mean that I hate them? Absolutely not.

I can't help but feel a bit defensive when Christians are labeled as ignorant, bigoted, homophobic morons. I can't speak for everyone (I'm sure that there are some angry, extreme people wandering around out there), but the majority of us choose to respectfully disagree. I never, ever, ever, ever, EVER think another human being deserves to be mistreated, ridiculed, or abused. Ever. That type of behavior should never be tolerated and it's not what the message of Christianity is about. I will fiercely defend any human being who is being bullied or abused regardless of their gender, race, or sexual preference.

Here's the deal - I know there's a lot of debate over the whole marriage issue. For me personally, I believe that God created marriage to be a symbolic image of the relationship between Christ and the Church. From the very beginning, the marriage relationship was meant to image divine realities, so when people want to "redefine" marriage, it's natural that those who adhere to these religious teachings feel the need to become defensive of the traditional definition of marriage.

As a Christian, I have chosen to live my life according to the teachings of the Bible. I do not have the freedom to pick and choose what I agree with and what I do not. I've heard the argument on more than one occasion that if we choose to label homosexuality as a sin then we need to adhere to all of the Levitical law (in regards to facial hair, skin conditions, diet, etc.).

The Israelites of the Old Testament (of which the book of Leviticus is a part) entered into a special covenant with God. God gave them a series of guidelines and laws which were intended to set them apart from the other nations around them - to make them a distinct group of people. Some of those restrictions included dietary law, punishments for those who broke the law, and guidance for daily living. These were special instructions to a designated people at a designated time. The Israelites and God entered into this special covenental agreement in which God agreed to bless and be with them if they kept their side of the promise.

The modern day church is not a part of the same covenant that God made with the nation of Israel. The church is a part of the new covenant that took place after the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In this covenant we gain access to God through faith in Jesus, and although we are still called to live life differently from those who do not believe, it has more to do with inward character and behavioral changes than any peculiar outward manifestations.

I have also heard on numerous occasions that Jesus said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Yep, that passage is in the Bible, but strangely enough, no one bothers to quote the words that immediately follow. Jesus then turns to the woman who was caught in the act of adultery and tells her to "Go and sin no more." Implying that what she was doing was not right and she needed to stop. Jesus didn't just say, "Hey, it's OK, no one's perfect, do whatever you want to do." He dispersed an angry crowd whose sole intent was to trick Jesus into doing something that they could use against him and turned it into a moment for redemption. He didn't condemn her to death, he tried to lead her to life by urging her to stop a behavior that could cause her harm.

With that being said, I do not expect  non-Christians to adhere to the same types of standards and values that I do. Why would they? I do believe that living your life according to Biblical principles is the best way. It's what I plan on teaching to my children. I have no control over the choices that other people make. If someone disagrees with what the Bible says they have the freedom to do so.

I don't believe it's intolerant and hateful to disagree with someone's choices. Lest you think that the Bible only singles out homosexuality, it also says that heterosexual sex between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman is also a sin (regardless of if you're a teenage couple or a 30-something.) I'm just as much opposed to premarital sex as I am to any other sexual sin. Is it old-fashioned? According to today's standards, probably so, but that's ok. I wholeheartedly believe that the standards set out in the Bible were created for our own well-being, not because God is some cosmic kill-joy. We all sin. Each and every one of us. No one is perfect. I'm not going to condemn, but I will stand by what I believe is right. 

Here's my summary:
1) It's OK to disagree with another person's choices. It's OK to express your own personal convictions. It is not OK to ridicule, abuse, or mistreat another human being because they make choices you disagree with. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean that they hate you. They just disagree. 

2) I do believe that homosexuality is a deviation from God's plan for human sexuality - that the original design was for marriage to be between a man and a woman and that marriage was designed to teach us more about our relationship with God.

3) ALL sin separates us from a relationship with God. Adultery, sex outside of marraige, lust, and homosexuality are equally prohibited in the Bible.
4) Because we live in America, where we have the freedom to vote based upon our own personal beliefs and opinions, I have the right to support or oppose legislation that contradicts my personally held convictions. People who hold different opinions are equally entitled to make their voice heard through their vote. Because we live in a democracy, each individual has a say.  

I know this is not a popular opinion. I know that some people might label me as ignorant and hateful, but I'm really not, and honestly, those type of stereotypes are hurtful. I don't hate gay people. God has given us the free will to make our own choices, and people are free to choose whatever they want to. He's not going to force us to be holy robots, but as a good parent, he has also given guidelines for those who claim to be his children. Homosexuality, according to the Bible, is something that those who claim the name of Christ are not to participate in.

Tolerance is America's new holy grail. We are supposed to be tolerant of everything - even if it's in opposition to our religious beliefs. We're not allowed to respectfully disagree. You know what, I think love should be our new catch phrase. I can disagree with you and still love you in the process. You can disagree with me and that's fine. I'm not going to label you as bigoted and "Christ-tophobic." I'm not going to feel threatened when someone holds a differing viewpoint. I'm going to stand by what I believe in, just as you choose to stand by what you believe in.

Maybe you'll want to boycott me. If so, I guess I have no control over that. Maybe you'll stop reading my blog or tell all your friends to unlike my facebook page because I'm one of those crazy Christians who disagrees with your point of view. You have that freedom, but I hope you'll stick around. 

Thanks for hearing me out. I just felt like I needed to express what was on my heart and mind. If you're a homosexual who has been mistreated by those who claim the name of Christ, I apologize. That is not the message of Christianity. Christianity is about redemption and love - a God who pursued us even when we were opposing Him at every turn. He doesn't waver on His standards for holiness, but he welcomes us as we are and continues to shape and mold us into His image.


July 20, 2012

Where is God when tragedy strikes?

Something deep within our souls tells us this is wrong. Parents should not have to bury their children. Infants should not struggle for their lives. Mothers should not be taken away from their children. Toddlers should not have to battle cancer. These things cause pain because deep within us we know that this is not the way that things were meant to be. We feel the "lostness" of the situation and it grieves us.

Beloved, we live in a broken world, but this is not the way things were meant to be. God is not the source of these heartaches - the enemy is.

Jesus said that "The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10).

Later, the apostle Peter describes our enemy as a roaring lion "seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8). 

His aim is to cause us to doubt the goodness of God. This is not a new scheme. He's been at it since the beginning of time. He was able to tempt Adam and Eve by leading them to question whether or not God was really looking out for their best interests. 
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5)

Precious ones, it's hard to understand why tragedies happen. There is no easy explanation or cliche answer you can give to take away the heartache and pain. We live in a broken world full of sickness, pain, and death. Unfortunately, as a result of the fall, we do know both good and evil. . . and it's the evil that's in this world that breaks our hearts. 

There is comfort in knowing that God is a God of justice, and that one day, each person will give an account before God for their actions. Even those who seem to escape justice in this lifetime will not escape His justice. The enemy has free reign of this world for the time being, but his time is running out.  

God hears the cries of the brokenhearted. The book of Revelation states that one day, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:4

It grieves my heart to see the seemingly senseless suffering in the world around me, but I'm reminded that this broken world is not my home. God has a rescue plan to restore the brokenhearted, to bring beauty from ashes and the oil of gladness to those who mourn, a spirit of praise instead of despair.

Where is God when tragedy strikes? I assure you, He is there in their midst, providing comfort and strength to those left behind, redeeming what the enemy intended for destruction.

One day things will be as they were always meant to be. Death will be destroyed. There will be no more suffering or pain. Until then, we pray -asking our God of mercy and peace to fill hearts and minds with a sense of his presence, to bring healing to bodies and minds, and for his kingdom to come, on earth as it is in heaven. 


July 16, 2012

Nature's Sleep Memory Foam Slippers - Review and Giveaway

I'm a mom. A busy mom. I don't usually have a lot of time to just put my feet up and relax at the end of the day. My solution? Wear comfy slippers while I'm busy running around the house. Nature's Sleep, the folks who bring you fabulous mattresses have adapted their memory foam technology to cushion your tootsies.

I had the opportunity to try the closed toe Nature's Sleep Memory Foam Slippers in blue. I loved the memory foam in them. They form around your feet to provide you with a comfortable fit. They are nice and warm which will be absolutely wonderful for cool mornings and evenings.

They have a very durable rubber sole. I wear them outside to go check the mail or grab something from the car. I like that there are treads on the bottom of the slipper to help provide a bit of traction.

I've been wearing them for a few weeks now and they've held up to the challenge. My oldest son spilled a glass of milk on them. My youngest son has tried to eat them, but they've still held up to the test.

Nature's Sleep offers a variety of products: mattresses, toppers, pet beds, and even foundations and frames.

One lucky reader will have an opportunity to win a pair for themselves. (Giveaway open to US only and ends on 7/25).

Check out the Rafflecopter form to enter (if it takes a while to load, try refreshing the page).

Best of luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 I received a complimentary pair of slippers from Nature's Sleep to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed are my honest thoughts of the product. I was not obligated to give a positive review. 

July 4, 2012

$200 Amazon Blast Free Blogger Event Sign-Ups

Are you looking to gain more Facebook fans or publicity for your blog? There's a new $200 Amazon Blast giveaway starting on July 15th and ending on August 15th.

Event Details:
*The giveaway will go live on July 15, 2012
*Open Worldwide
*Prize: $200 Amazon Gift Card *1 winner*
*To participate, all you have to do is share the sign-up info in a blog post and fill out the form here

Sign Up Fee & Info:
- NO COST for the first link (Facebook Page only) (additional links are $3 each)
There are also a few co-host spots available for those who might be interested!