Archive | May, 2015

Remembering a most special Memorial Day

25 May

Memorial Day is a day that America has set aside to remember those who died while serving our country in the armed forces. From what I have read, Memorial Day originated after the Civil War as an effort to remember those who had fallen in that way, and by the turn of the 20th century had become a time for our nation to remember all of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.  On this Memorial Day 2015, I am spending a relaxing day off with my family.  However, on Memorial Day 2012, my family had an awesome privilege that we will never forget.  On this day three years ago, we were here…

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Yes, we had the privilege of visiting Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. If you have never been there, pictures and words cannot describe it. If you have been there, you know what I am talking about!  All of the ceremonies had taken place earlier in the day, and we arrived in the late afternoon and enjoyed a couple of wonderful hours there with light crowds.

Later on our trip to Washington D.C. we visited the Vietnam Memorial.  I had always wanted to see it particularly because I have a family member whose name is one of 50,000+ inscribed on that wall.  My mom’s brother, Royce Hall, was drafted during the Vietnam War and died there.  My mom was pregnant with me when that happened, so I never had the privilege of meeting my uncle Royce. It was a great privilege to take my boys there, find his name, and spend a few minutes remembering him.  Below is a photo of Daniel tracing his name on the wall.

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On this day, Americans often say that “our freedom isn’t free” but three years ago today my family was reminded of that in a very tangible way. On this (and every) Memorial Day, we remember and we say, “Thank you” and “May God bless America.”

Encourage a mother this Mother’s Day

8 May

Sunday is Mother’s Day 2015.  My Mother’s Day sermon is ready and plans are made to honor our mothers here at Lakeside on Sunday. I am so very grateful for my own mother, Janice Corbin, who raised me to love the Lord and provided for me in countless ways. I am very grateful for my wife, Becky, who is a great mother to our two boys. So, Mother’s Day is a happy occasion at our house.  For some reason, this week I have thought about the fact that Mother’s Day is a hard day for many mothers – or those desperately desiring to be mothers.

So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar, putting them on her shoulder, and gave her the boy, and sent her away. And she departed and wandered about in the wilderness of Beersheba. When the water in the skin was used up, she left the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away, for she said, “Do not let me see the boy die.” And she sat opposite him, and lifted up her voice and wept.” (Genesis 21:14–16, NASB95)

I won’t take the space to go into the details of this particular Old Testament passage, but suffice it to say that Hagar was caught in a very difficult family situation and she was left as a single mother who did not know how she would provide for her son. She wept. Unfortunately, there will be many ladies who are weeping on Mother’s Day.

Single mothers. Whatever the reasons, there will be many mothers in church on Mother’s Day who are single moms. For some, it could be their first Mother’s Day as a single mom.  Many single mothers have been through terribly hurtful situations and struggle financially. The overwhelming majority of single mothers never dreamed they would ever be single mothers, but they are and it is not easy.

Those who have lost their mother. I have known very faithful Christians who stay away from church on Mother’s Day because it is just too painful. Many others come on to church on Mother’s Day, but they fight through their own tears during the entire service.

Those who have lost children. No matter if it was an infant or a grown adult, the trauma of burying a child never goes away. Mother’s Day serves as yet another reminder of their loss.

Those who struggle to have children. The pain of infertility is very real. Mother’s Day is not a joyous day for those couples who want a child more than anything.

Broken relationships. Sometimes we forget that not every son or daughter goes to see or calls their mother on Mother’s Day.  These mothers live with the pain of broken family relationships every day.

This list is certainly not exhaustive, but these five scenarios came to mind as the most common reasons that many struggle on Mother’s Day. If your church has more than 50 people in attendance, I will near guarantee you that each of these five scenarios will be represented in the pews on Mother’s Day. Sometimes those of who who look forward to Mother’s Day don’t think about that fact.

So, this Mother’s Day make sure you honor your own mother, but why don’t you take it a step further. Encourage another mother who is hurting this weekend. It could be as simple as a good word of encouragement or it could mean blessing them financially or otherwise. Think about it. Pray about it. Then do something!

Challenging trends in the same-sex marriage debate

1 May

As a pastor, I use words every week in my speaking and writing. I am also an observer of the words people use, the arguments people make, and how they make their arguments. In recent months, I have seen a definite shift in terms of the debate regarding same-sex marriage in our culture. As a Christian pastor who believes the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, I stand solidly and publicly with those who believe that marriage should be defined only as the marriage of one man and one woman for life. This post isn’t arguing that point. This post is about the trends that I have seen develop in how this debate over marriage is playing out in our culture – even here in Alabama. I will not link to any specific articles or blogs. Suffice it to say that I have seen multiple examples of each of these trends. Again, my focus is on the shift of how the argument is being made.

1)  The argument has shifted from the legitimacy of same-sex marriage to calls for opponents to cease opposition.  It wasn’t that long ago that the most common argument in an article supporting same-sex marriage was that same-sex couples deserved the same rights as heterosexual couples. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in 36 states (with Alabama briefly becoming #37), those of us who advocate for the Biblical definition of marriage are told to accept the inevitable, get on the right side of history, or “get over it.”  Increasingly, we are told all three of those things in the same column.

2)  The argument is made that opposition to same-sex marriage can only come from bigotry.  I have seen several columns and blog posts recently who leave no room for any sincere opposition to gay marriage. In their worldview, the only possible explanation for opposing it is a deep seated bigotry.  In their worldview, it is not possible to love homosexuals and yet oppose same-sex marriage.

3)  Using Old Testament passages as a club to shame and silence.  Increasingly, I see advocates for same-sex marriage pull a verse from the Old Testament law and say something like, “This is in the Bible too. If you want to take the Bible literally then what do you say about this verse?”  There is no understanding or at least no explanation of Biblical theology, progressive revelation, historical context, scriptural context, etc.  The end result is confusion and silence for many Christians who might not understand the theological issues involved and how the narrative of scripture unfolds.  The clear implication that is intended is that those of us who believe in the Biblical definition of marriage should not be taken seriously because we hold views that are dangerous.

4) Ridicule and disdain in place of a coherent answer.   The scenario is the same over and over again.  A person makes a logical, thoughtful, gracious argument in favor of the traditional definition of marriage, and their arguments aren’t really answered. They are simply mocked and dismissed as being “on the wrong side of history” or “out of touch with civilization.”

These trends and others like them mean that those of us who advocate for Biblical marriage face increasing difficulty in even having our position heard in the broader culture.  Furthermore, when it is heard, our position is often misrepresented, distorted, and twisted beyond recognition.  On one hand, there is nothing we can do to control what is happening, but on the other hand it is helpful to understand what is going on and seek to be as wise as possible. These are challenging times indeed. None of us know where all of this will end.  However, our response to these issues must be guided by a principle that we do know for sure…

We are not called to be popular, but rather we are called to be faithful.