There Really is Something in There!

There is a 13-year gap from our oldest to our youngest of five boys. So even though we have a couple of grandchildren, it is not really that long ago that we had little ones in the house. Along with also not being people to throw things away quickly, we still have quite a lot of the toys from our kids that the grandchildren can now enjoy when visiting.

One item that Bella (32 months old) really enjoys for some reason is a toy camera. In a way, it is odd that she actually understands it is a camera, as it is an old instamatic style with a “flash cube” that turns 90 degrees when you “take” a picture. If you look inside one of the holes, there are actually circulating pictures of different wild animals.

Bella does not seem to understand that there really are pictures of animals in there! Closing one eye is a serious kid challenge! We will say, “Look in here and you can see a picture of a bear” … and there really is.  But she thinks we are just pretending, and so plays along by saying, “No, I see a snake.”

A lot of folks are like that about faith. They play along with church and learning about the Bible and its teachings. Of course, these things are real and true. God has revealed Himself in Christ and the written Word, and many people play along like its real … not that they actually have considered it to be. But God’s work of redemption in this world through the life of Christ – this is the true reality.

March is here, the weather is warming, and the winds of Spring are blowing … we are headed toward Easter and the celebration of the central truth of the faith – the resurrection of Christ.

“If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. … If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

Marriage, Scripture, the State, and the Church – Complicated!

Last week the Maryland Legislature narrowly passed a bill allowing for same-sex marriage, and the Governor has signed it, as expected. This is not a subject about which the Scriptures can somehow legitimately be twisted to authorize. An appeal to referendum process will be pursued with this, though the pressures for legalizing such marital status is felt everywhere in the country. The increasingly secularized culture may provide for same-sex marriage proponents the weight of opinion in their favor, and thereby eventually prevail everywhere.

This is not the only issue that raises conundrums within the institution of the evangelical church. In my pastors’ email loop this week, a question was raised (too complicated to detail here) that certainly did not have an immediate easy answer. The scope of the question involved what is the nature of marriage:  A. in the eyes of the state, versus B. in the eyes of God.

Currently, when we (as a church) do a marriage, we are doing so for both a spiritual connection in the eyes of God, while also performing a civil ceremony in the eyes of the state. I believe that multiple pressures and difficulties are arising that in some fashion, these duties are going to be separate events at some juncture. I don’t know what that will look like exactly; nor do I know that it answers any and all questions. I would like to believe that it puts us in a better place. I have long said that we need an entirely new paradigm of the “Christian Wedding.”

None of this is as easy as it was some decades ago. I know that I now do ceremonies on occasion that I would have refused to do 30 years ago … now reasoning that working with people, who are going to get married whether I’m involved or not, gives me at least some opportunity to have a biblically-based impact in a transitional moment of their lives. I cannot say I’ve always been sure that God was pleased with me; though I don’t just want to be the guy who takes the easy way out and just says “no” to anything short of ideal (yet I would not facilitate for anyone who is writing off God and not stating their desire to follow Him).

I’m looking forward to the annual pastors’ gathering of E-Free guys that I go to each Spring. I believe this will be one of the top discussion items, as it has attracted the attention and thought processes of our denominational leaders – who were also weighing in with their thoughts on our loop.

I am amazed at how in the lifespan of one person (ME!), ministry has gotten much more complicated!