Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Tough, but entirely right stance on cohabiting couples:

A friend of mine, a good guy who loves the Lord, and is a fine pastor, recently told me that in relation to couples living together who present themselves for marriage, that he "wimps out." What he means is that he doesn't tell the couple that if he is going to be involved--as in doing the wedding ceremony--that the couple needs to stop cohabitating, and live chastely until the wedding.
I don't say this to be critical of my friend. It is a tough issue.
A colleague of mine has a young relative involved in a relationship, in other words he is living with his girlfriend. Both he and the young lady make a weak profession of knowing the Lord, but show no willingness to obey the Lord in the matter of sexual chastity. Their pastor, or perhaps more accurately, one of the couple's parent's pastor, figures that by working with them he continues to have a thread of contact and influence. He is quite right in his conclusion that this couple will get married--at least that is their clear and absolute intention right now, and they have made known that one of them won't move out. So, he reasons, this way he has an opportunity for ministry.
I remember several years ago working with some missionaries. We were trying to figure out an appropriate response to news about a couple from the people group we were trying to reach. Was it a good thing that Bobby had moved in with Sue? Both claimed Christ as Savior. Did that mean they were married now? Or was it fornication? The customs related to family life in that culture weren't familiar to us yet. Since then the Christians in that people group have been making clearer distinctions between those who are married and those who aren't. My culture is going the other way.
What should I expect from people of my culture? Is there a point of decline when we get to the place where that developing culture was--where nothing is clear?
What should my response be?
At present my response is that a "Christian marriage" involves more than a preacher saying some "holy" words. "If you want God's blessing you need to go God's way. One of you needs to move out." On some occasions I conclude that an immediate marriage--Virginia has no waiting period--is appropriate.
Chuck Colson has a commentary on the matter. I plan to get the book he mentions.
I'd appreciate the thoughts of others.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's not just somebody in the news:

I don't know about you, but sometimes when I read about the big court cases, etc. I fail to realize that these are real people--somebody's mom, dad, child, neighbor.
I had read about Lisa's situation in a news magazine, then I found out that some folk who are members of the church I pastor are her close friends. In fact she and her daughter Isabella recently visited with us here at Covington Bible Church.

In a nutshell, here is her story. I'm sure there are details that are left out, but this is the gist. Lisa and her lesbian lover entered into a civil union in the state of Vermont. Lisa was impregnated by artificial insemination, resulting in the birth of Isabella. At some point there was a seperation. Lisa and Isabella live in Virginia, which does not recognize civil unions of this sort. Lisa came to know Christ as Savior and has rejected her former lifestyle. As a single mom, she is seeking to raise Isabella in a Christian home.
There is a duel between court systems. In VA Lisa has custody of her daughter. In Vermont there has been another decree. In the past, maybe still, if Lisa entered Vermont she could be arrested for failure to obey the decree of the court there. Lisa is fighting for the right raise Isabella in a Christian home. Her former partner has no real claim--other than a civil union which never should have taken place--on Isabella. She is not her mother, and obviously is not her dad. Yet Vermont courts have awarded some form of custody to Lisa's former partner.
Below is a prayer request I received from Lisa:

Please feel free to forward this email to those who you feel will pray for the upcoming hearings.
Dear Family and Friends in Christ,

March 12, 2008
Please remember Dave Corey in your prayers as he travels to Vermont to represent me tomorrow in my upcoming Vermont Supreme Court hearing. We have only 5 minutes to "argue" our side of the case. Our side is simply put as "what is happening in Vermont should not be happening". In other words, the civil union should be null and void due to their state law which reads something like the following:
if a home state does not recognize a civil union then the civil union is null and void in the state of Vermont.
When I entered into a civil union I was living in the state of Virginia. Therefore, the civil union should be null and void. As we know, however, this is not the stance that the Vermont Supreme Court or the Rutland Family Court (Judge Cohen) has taken.
Please pray for God's will as David argues this valid point. In addition, please pray for a miracle as the "non-denigrating statement" (this is what it is actually called in the court documents) in on the table as well. In August 2007, Judge Cohen in Vermont mandated that I was not allowed to speak of homosexuality as a sin, nor am I allowed to teach Isabella, my daughter, that anything is wrong with homosexuality in God's eyes. Even if Isabella asks questions about the homosexual lifestyle I am not allowed to answer them with a Biblical answer because the opposition states that it denigrates Janet and other homosexuals. This non-denigrating statement basically prohibits me from sharing with my own daughter how God saved me from my sinful past of homosexuality. This non-denigrating statement, if not overturned, will allow the gays and lesbians to further their agenda in regard to passing the hate crime bill which in turn will prohibit even Pastors from speaking about God's will in regard to the sin of homosexuality.
Please continue to pray for the upcoming Virginia Supreme Court which is scheduled sometime during the week of April 14, 2008. As soon as I know an exact date I will let you know. Please pray particularly for Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Hassell. He is a God fearing man and he needs our prayers!
Thank you for your prayers.
Joyfully Serving Christ,
Lisa MillerMatthew 18:19-20

Guys, Don't blow it! Some thoughts on Eliot Spitzer:

I begin this post by quoting from another STTA (See last post for more info.)

Just a couple of weeks ago we looked at the sad tale of David and Bathsheba in our Wednesday night Bible-study/Prayer time. Then in the last couple of days I saw the equally sorry account of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s corrupt dalliances with high-priced prostitutes. There are many parallels:
  • Both were powerful men who thought they could get away with their sin.
  • The governor and the king make clear that it is not, “Just my business.” The people who can be hurt are many.
  • Over both accounts there is the obvious question, “Why?” As we—at least we guys—seek to honestly answer that question, we find the answers disturbing. There are too many ways that these guys are like us.

Perhaps above it all, there is the reminder that when we find ourselves, looking down from the roof, or on the computer screen, at a woman we shouldn’t be looking at in that way [Proverbs 15:20], that is the time to quit. In fact it is five minutes past time.
It’s STTA.

Years ago I had the privilege of speaking at my friend's, Dave King's, funeral. An older, wiser colleague, who was also Dave's friend cringed when he figured out where I was heading. But as I look back over two decades, I can't improve on David's--my friend, not the king--wisdom. One time when David and I were talking about preachers who had blown it morally, Dave said. "You know, when a guy starts unzipping his fly he has to know he's doing something wrong." I said, "Amen" when my friend shared that thought. At his funeral I quoted him to honor him for his commitment to purity, and his desire to hold the rest of us to the same standard. I remember it now. It has helped me over the years.

The utterly lame excuses that guys offer about something sneaking up on them, or their getting involved before they knew it, etc. Are lies. Before they ever get to the point of doing something that can be technically defined as adultery or fornication, they have chosen to ignore many flashing red lights on the dashboard of their conscience.

We are too easy on ourselves. Jesus said, cut off your hand, gouge out your eye. We seem unwilling to endure a hangnail's worth of suffering. "It is too hard." we say, and give in. It could be that is when it really gets hard. Just ask Eliot Spitzer.

Billy Graham never traveled alone. He always had staff check out hotel rooms before he entered. Extreme? Yes. But he is an old man with a spotless record on this matter. It is one thing for a politician to get in bed with the wrong woman--tragic, but not unexpected--but when one of us who is supposed to be a man of God shows himself to be very much a man-of-the-flesh, all of us have to pay the price.

I would appreciate your thoughts.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Five days a week, mostly, sorta, I do a one minute radio spot on our local station WIQO FM, Covington. I also send these spots out in text form via email. There is a link on this blog-page where you read some samples and subscribe to receive the daily thought.
These spots are about life--mostly my life, since that is the one I know the most about, culture, church, theology--pretty much the sky is the limit. It is hard to get everything in a minute (To be honest some of the email versions would take as much as a minute-and-a-half to broadcast) so often these pieces are short on answers. I try to make them what the name implies, Something to Think About, STTA.
Here is one I sent out today, with a few thoughts that follow.

Something to Think About, March 3, 2008
Here is a troubling finding:In a recent survey the Barna Group found that the three characteristics most associated with Christians are that we are: anti-homosexual, judgmental, and hypocritical.Rather than immediately rising up to defend our honor, how about if we followers of Christ bow our heads and ask for forgiveness. Our Lord was known as the friend of sinners. He was castigated for hanging-out with prostitutes, and tax-collectors. The Pharisees pointed out that he was lax about enforcing the man-made rules that cluttered their religion. And, as to hypocrisy: At his trial--amid the leaders, who pressed their trumped up charges, and the witnesses, who told lies, because that was the only way they could say anything bad about Jesus, and Pilate, who "washed his hands"--Christ was the only non-hypocritical person there.While we are still on our knees let's pray that God would help us to live so that we would be known for our love, our example of purity, and integrity.It's Something to Think, Pray, and Do About, from the CBC.
I am reminded of an experience of about 11 years ago. I was on a train traveling through a snowy night in Ukraine. A Russian civil-engineer got on board, and took a seat in our compartment. He was almost totally covered with the white stuff. After thawing for a few minutes, a lengthy conversation took place between he and my translator/traveling companion. After talking for a time our new companion settled in for a nap.
When he knew that he was sleeping my friend, Slavic, gave me a report of what had taken place. Slavic had asked the engineer if he knew what it meant to be a Christian. The man replied, "Yes, they don't do abortions."
I remember a mixture of emotions. I was pleased that my brethren in that part of world, where there were more children aborted than born alive, had the reputation that they are pro life. At the same time, however, I was bothered that so often our Christian message comes out as what we are against, rather than what we are for, or even more important, what Christ has done for us.
Lord help us to communicate the core of the story.