Are you familiar with the saying, “Your arm’s too short to box with God”? I guess I first heard that phrase sometime in the 1970s or 1980s but I wasn’t sure of its origin. When I looked into it, I was a bit surprised to learn that it came from a sermon, entitled The Prodigal Son, by civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson. It was published in 1927 in his book of sermons, entitled God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. Regardless of where it came from, its core message always seemed apparent to me … It’s ridiculous to disagree with God; you should just accept His will and get on with life. As a result of a Bible teaching I got to take in recently, from Exodus 32 and Exodus 33, I now see that my thinking this way has been off-the-mark and that it’s been very limiting to me in truly getting to know God.
GOD AND MOSES
The Bible teaching I mentioned was from Pastor Dave Rolph, of Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills. His lesson on Exodus 32-33 is from a series he is doing on Bible stories. This one is called The Heart of Moses. The story starts when Moses is up on Mt.Sinai receiving the law from God while Aaron and the people are below worshipping a golden calf they’ve made. When that happens, God switches from giving the law to Moses, to telling him he has a problem. The rest of the story covers what happened from that point forward and it focuses on the related interaction between God and Moses. Continue reading
A few months ago, I heard Pastor Dave Rolph start his Sunday morning teaching on Matthew 7-1:6 with an anecdote about people watching. Comments in his opening remarks included: “People watching. It’s fun. It’s really easy to read people and categorize them. But sometimes you can be really wrong.” To illustrate this, he told the following story:
One Sunday morning, when he was an Assistant Pastor at another church and he was with a group of Pastors who had gathered to count the Offering, he started talking about, Pastor Don, a widower on staff who had a new girlfriend. Other Pastors talked about how beautiful she was but Dave said, “Yeah, you know, but there’s something weird about her. The way she looks at you is kind of strange. You ever notice they always sit on the front row, like they just want to be seen? But the creepiest thing is, you guys, if you notice, when you’re up there praying at the pulpit, she starts to bow her head and then she just stares at you. She’s like obsessed with you the whole time you’re praying and then, right at the end of the prayer, she bows her head like she had her head bowed the whole time. That’s just weird.” Then, a couple of the other Pastors joined in agreement, saying, “Yeah, that’s strange!” Shortly after that, Pastor Don arrived to help with the counting. Of course, the other Pastors changed the subject and as they did that, Don mentioned, “My girlfriend, Leslie, because she’s deaf, …” With that, of course, the gossiping Pastors realized, as Pastor Dave said, “She sits on the front row because she reads lips! She stares at you while you’re praying because she’s reading your lips and she looks kind of funny because she’s just intently reading what it is that you’re trying to say.” Continue reading
In the recent controversy related to Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, there were two major learning opportunities (one for each of the opposing sides on this issue) that seemed to be completely overlooked. I know, considering the Second-Coming-level of attention this was given, it’s hard to believe that even the slightest detail could have been missed. However, particularly with the reactions I got to my stated position on the matter, I did see a couple of openings for teachable moments that I thought, if utilized, could result in a very meaningful silver lining coming out of this brouhaha. So, now that A&E has reversed their original decision, before the dust completely settles, I want to explore these learning opportunities, in hopes of capturing the gain they may hold.
LESSONS FOR ROBERTSON’S OPPONENTS
One of the first related discussions I heard was among the panel members on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News program, the Kelly file. Their focus was on the comments made by Phil Robertson, in the GQ article entitled “What the Duck?” The apparent anti-Robertson participant was Bernard Whitman, who described himself as a double minority, “… gay and Jewish.” Hate was the word he used to sum up his views on Robertson’s comments related to homosexuality in the article. He, also, said that the behavior exhibited by Robertson in the article was not Christian. Neither of Whitman’s stated positions rang true with me. I had read the GQ article word for word and I couldn’t see how anyone could come away from reading it with a sense of hatred on Robertson’s part unless they went into their reading looking for something to interpret as offensive. And, I think my take on this is soundly supported by the fact that the article’s Writer, Drew Magary, doesn’t give even the slightest hint that there was hatefulness in Robertson’s words and behavior, though Magary wasn’t in complete agreement with Robertson’s views. Furthermore, though I suspect Whitman may only be Jewish ethnically, even if he is a devout practitioner of the Jewish faith, I don’t see him as having authority to define what is Christian behavior and what isn’t. Continue reading
Father Jonathan Morris is an American Catholic Priest, currently serving in the Archdiocese of New York. He is probably best known as a contributor and analyst for the Fox News Channel. Last weekend, in the interview captured in the video below, he was asked to comment on recent news-making statements from Pope Francis, urging more understanding for homosexuality. Father Jonathan’s commentary included him reading a touching letter from his sister, who, he explained, “was legally married, in the eyes of the law in Washington D.C.,to another woman earlier this year.” What I heard through Father Jonathan moved me deeply and in a fully unexpected way.
Since I’m an Evangelical Christian and not Catholic, I don’t look to Pope Francis, as my spiritual leader. So, when Father Jonathan said, “He (Pope Francis) is inviting us, he is inviting me, he is inviting Christians to give a new emphasis on mercy, oncompassionate kind expression of the Gospel of Jesus and that means changing the way we’re doing things.”, I was skeptical. I wondered if the change he was encouraging was doctrinally sound. However, listening to what Father Jonathan shared about his correspondence with his sister, regarding the Pope ‘s statements, convicted me. Here’s a summary of what Father Jonathan had to say on this: