The World According to kcillini77

November 9, 2008

It’s time to stop shouting and start listening.

Filed under: Abortion,America,Christianity — kcillini77 @ 6:23 pm
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Based on some conversations I had with a couple people who read my last post, I thought it would be appropriate to make some clarification on my stance regarding voting for pro-life candidates.

My last post could very well be construed as saying that it was not worthwhile to vote for people with a pro-life stance and perhaps even as advocating the position of the pro-choice lobby.  That was not my intent at all.  And I’m not against overturning Roe.  I just think that we need to be working to get on base first before we start trying to hit the home run.  What I do think is that we need to hold pro-life candidates accountable for making small steps where they can to hold off the extremist views held by some of the pro-choice lobby.  The loophole surrounding the “health of the mother” in the third trimester needs to be beefed up.  We cannot have people like George Tiller in Kansas having people travel from out of state for third trimester abortions because he is willing to claim every woman that visits him is in grave danger of dying if their baby is not terminated.  So we should be pushing candidates to introduce legislation requiring some sort of ongoing accountability and scrutiny on those doctors performing third trimester abortions to make sure that it is only done when there is no other way to keep from the mother being harmed (which will make these abortions MUCH rarer).  Any legislation that has a chance of making abortion rarer should be examined and pursued if logical and enforceable, so long as it does not go to the other extreme (I wouldn’t support anything that involves punishing mothers who had an abortion.)

My main point regarding the focus of the pro-life lobby is that, while the overturning of Roe v. Wade may be attainable in our lifetime, it should not be the goal we focus all of our efforts on.  If by some means that were to be achieved right now, it would be by the slimmest of margins in terms of public opinion.  Granted, right and wrong are not determined by opinion polls.  But we live in a democracy, not a theocracy or a dictatorship.  The only way we will truly as a country come together and end abortion is to come to a place where the vast majority of Americans agree on when life begins.  If we can agree on that, we will agree that abortion of a life is murder.  We won’t come to this place simply by forcing a law into place.

We have to get there by changing hearts and minds.  We won’t do that by shouting.  We have to stop demonizing those who hold a pro-choice position.  We seem to currently be at a place where we think we know what the other side is, we find it reprehensible, and we’ve stopped listening.

But there’s hope.  I encourage you to read this opinion piece that I read in the KC Star yesterday. The author holds a pro-choice view.  Even after reading it, you may not quite understand how she can hold the position, but you will notice some concessions.  To quote from the article, “Medical advances continually push back the date of viability. I acknowledge that my position is difficult and dicey.”

Lots has been learned scientifically since Roe, and it leans very favorably toward the view that life begins at conception.  Even pro-choice advocates are starting to realize that.  If we do away with the “us vs. them” mentality and start listening, I believe we can start making headway to reduce the number of abortions in this country significantly. But the longer we stick to demonizing pro-choicers and going for the home run of overturning Roe v. Wade, we keep the conversation from occuring.  We need to listen.  We need to love.  We need to do our part in small ways and stop thinking that the answer is purely in getting a court decision reversed.

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November 6, 2008

God is fiercely Pro-Choice and fiercely Pro-Life

prolifeantiobama

Never fear.  There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it.  Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.  No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.  Those who seek find.  Tho those who knock it is opened.  C.S. Lewis, “The Great Divorce

One of the principle tenets of our theology is free will.  God steadfastly refuses to use his omnipotence to make His creation follow him.  If there is no choice, there is no love.  Conversely, it also means that humans are capable of great evil and our history has borne that out.  But despite the atrocities committed over the centuries, God remains fiercely committed to allowing us to choose good or evil.  And because we ALL choose evil, he sent His Son to shed His blood and cover that sin for those of us that seek Him.

Knowing this nature of God, I think the doom and gloom I hear from many conservative Christians due to the election of a staunchly, even activist, “pro-choice” candidate is misplaced.  No, I’m not saying Barack=God.  Hear me out.

Life begins at conception.  Intentionally aborting after conception is killing a human.  It’s murder.  It’s a horrible choice to make and the numbers of abortions performed annually amount to genocide.  I know.  And I understand the one-issue voter who will only vote for candidates that support an overturning of Roe v. Wade are sincerely trying to save countless lives.  But before we proclaim a curse upon the land for voting in someone who has vowed to sign the Freedom of Choice Act and start devoting lots of time and energy to finding and grooming new, attractive, pro-life candidates, we should ask ourselves a huge question.  Are our political activities in response to the scourge of abortion what God wants from us, or is he calling for us to refocus our efforts?

Ever since I was a child the majority of campaigns I have seen coming out of churches in an effort to save lives lost to abortion have focused on either protest or election of certain candidates.  These efforts have been going on for many, many, years.  We have elected countless pro-life candidates.  Abortion continues at an alarming rate.  Most people who point this fact out are told something along the lines of, “Yes, but the key is that the President nominates Supreme Court justices.”  The hope is that there will some day be enough justices on the bench to hear a case and overturn Roe v. Wade, declaring abortion illegal.  That would be considered the ultimate victory to most pro-lifers.    When the pro-choice lobby raises hypothetical scenarios about an overturning of Roe v. Wade involving back-alley abortions, millions of kids on welfare, suicides by potential mothers, etc. they are generally dismissed by pro-lifers as rhetoric.  But in the absence of changed hearts they are very real situations that will need to be dealt with in a post-Roe U.S.  Do we have a thought-out practical answer to how to deal with them?  And what will be the legal consequence of having an illegal abortion?  Rather than treating a scared teenage mom who made a bad decision with compassion and grace, will we throw her in the slammer to punish her further?

My wife volunteers time at a pregnancy center that I think models what our response to abortion should be.  It’s a place where women are educated about what is growing inside them and how valuable that baby is.  It’s a place where they are loved and encouraged to carry the baby to term.  They are mentored and supported on an individual basis according to their needs both before and after the birth of their child.  Low-income mothers are helped with obtaining the things they need to care for their child, or helped with the process of adoption should they choose that.  And women who have had abortions are greeted with open arms and grace.

What if all of the people who vote pro-life as a rule and mourn the deaths of innocent children volunteered for organizations such as this, started new ones, and made it such that there was one in every small town and dozens in every large community?  I think a massive movement of genuine care, love, grace, and monetary support for women and children would do FAR more to lead toward the eradication of abortion than an overturning of Roe vs. Wade.

Choice is not the enemy.  God allows us to choose all sorts of evil, even murder.  Without choice we cannot love.  So those of us who are pro-life should adamantly and proactively choose to love.  We don’t show our love by protests and voting.  We do it by, well, loving.


James 1:27 in action

Filed under: America,Christianity — kcillini77 @ 6:14 pm
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In the middle of all the politically based letters to the editor in today’s Kansas City Star, I also found this:

I’m an 81-year-old widow. On a recent Saturday I shopped at Target. At the checkout counter I reached into my purse to get my credit card. It was gone, and so was my checkbook. I told the cashier, “This is not going to ruin my day!” She put my three bags aside until I came back with the payment.

As I was getting into my car, a woman called to me: “Here are your groceries.” Assuming she had been behind me at the checkout and thought I had forgotten them, I said, “Thank you, but I have not paid for them.” She replied. “I did.”

I asked for her name, but she refused. I called after her, “God bless you,” and drove home with tears in my eyes.

That incident was a jolt. It happened for a reason. I’m waiting with trembles for God to point out what my payback opportunity will be.

P.S. I found my credit card and bank book where I left them.

Gayle Spellman
Lenexa


October 13, 2008

My latest gig

Filed under: America,Christianity,Church,Westside — kcillini77 @ 9:31 pm
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I’m writing the daily devotionals this week corresponding to our church’s series, “Scandalous Grace”.  Check in daily at this website if you are interested.

September 30, 2008

Rejoice!!!!

Filed under: America,Christianity,Money,Stock Market — kcillini77 @ 5:12 pm
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Heaven is now a little more attainable.

September 26, 2008

Country First

Filed under: America,Christianity — kcillini77 @ 11:02 pm
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Dear Friend in Christ, we are delighted that you will join us in prayer for spiritual
revival and national renewal. Our nation is in need of both. Jesus declared
that His followers are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt.
5:13-16). We must become engaged in this battle for our nation’s soul.
However, until as Christians we experience revival in our own lives, it will be
extremely difficult to restore our nation’s moral foundations.


The battle for our nation’s soul is not just about voting booths. This is first and
foremost a spiritual contest. A spiritual battle is being waged across our nation,
and it must be met first of all with spiritual weapons. God’s people must pray
for a great outpouring of God’s Spirit on them, the churches, and the nation.
Then, when God has responded with His outpouring, His people will be
empowered and motivated to do the hard work of restoring our nation’s
moral foundation.

So begins the prayer guide the Southern Baptist Convention has released for their 40 Days of Prayer campaign that began on September 24.  So, if my Southern Baptist church had been paying attention at the convention they would have passed these guides out and today I would have been praying along with my fellow parishoners that God would:

• Search through my life and reveal any sin
• Help me be honest with Him about my sin
• Fill me with a deep desire for holiness
• Help me hate the sin in my life
• Help me surrender sinful thoughts and practices
• Help me live more faithfully
• Restore any lost joy in my walk with Him

Hey, I was on the path to being my usual cynical self, but these are things that I really should be praying.  Maybe this is a guide for my prayers I can really use.  Yeah, this first week looks pretty good – kind of an examination of my life in the eyes of God.  Let’s see what we’re going to pray about the other weeks.  Next week we pray for Church Revival.  Not quite sure what we mean by “revival” here, but I guess I’ll look at some of the things we’ll pray for this week and see:

Sept. 30: For Your Church 2 Cor 13:9; Eph 3:17b-19; Ezek 37:4-6 (p. 12)
Oct. 1: Churches in Your City Phil 1:9-11; 2 Cor 13:7-9; 1 Thess 4:4, 7 (p. 13)
Oct. 2: Churches in Your State Phlm 1:6; Gal 5:13, 22-23; Heb 12:14 (p. 14)
Oct. 3: Churches in the Nation 2 Thess 1:11-12; Eph 1:17-19; Jer 42:2-3 (p. 15)
Oct. 4: Church Friends Who Need a Touch from God 3 Jn 1:2; Jas 5:13,16; Matt 9:27-29 (p. 16)
Oct. 5: God’s Revived People to Register to Vote Matt 22:20-21; Matt 5:13-16; Rom 13:1-7 (p. 17)

Hmmm, let’s see what the Bible has to say in Matthew and Romans about God’s people registering to vote:

Matthew 22:20-21
“20 ‘Whose image and inscription is
this?’ He asked them. 21 ‘Caesar’s,’
they said to Him. Then He said to them,
‘Therefore, give back to Caesar the
things that are Caesar’s, and to God
the things that are God’s.’”
Nothing about voting here. Must be in the next one:
Matthew 5:13-16
“13 ‘You are the salt of the earth. But
if the salt should lose its taste, how
can it be made salty? It’s no longer
good for anything but to be thrown
out and trampled on by men.’ 14 ‘You
are the light of the world. A city
situated on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 No one lights a lamp and puts it
under a basket, but rather on a
lampstand, and it gives light for all who
are in the house. 16 In the same way,
let your light shine before men, so that
they may see your good works and give
glory to your Father in heaven.’”
Oh, I see!!!  When Jesus said we should let our light shine before men, he meant I should VOTE for the right candidate (a good work) so that that would be seen by others and they would give glory to my Father in heaven!  It’s starting to come together.  And Romans 13 must be full of voting insight.  Well, it says we should submit to the authorities over us, but I’m sure Paul assumed we already voted the godly men into office.  So it all makes sense.

Scanning the guide, over the 40 days participating SBC members will ask God to:

• Lead church leaders to preach on the importance of Christian involvement in the election (instead of another boring sermon on grace)

• Compel Christians to take the time to register to vote

• Help churches find creative ways to encourage Christians to register to vote (and if there’s one thing the church could use it’s another creative way to get us to do something)

• Help you talk to your Christian friends about the importance of voting (Uh, guys, I think we should vote.  What do you think?)

• Confound the efforts of people who try to stop Christians from getting informed in the churches (yeah – stick it to those pesky heathens who think our tax exempt status is supposed to enable us to better serve the poor, when what we really need is to be told who to vote for.)

• Help churches to discover more effective ways to reach the lost (because if God would just bring to mind a better advertising hook we’d be reaching more people with His Word)

• Burden Christians to support national efforts to bring people to Christ (Already underway – just looking for a good slogan)

• Raise up new entertainment personalities who promote godly values (We could really use another Stephen Baldwin to help us win more souls to Christ).

• Convince policy makers that His moral code makes strong nations (Like modern day Israel?)

• Convict people to dress modestly in public (Modest IS Hottest)

• Help you communicate your concerns regularly with your elected representatives (About the potholes and streetlights or just about literature with swear words in the schools?)

• Expose ungodly influences affecting public officials (Just not our own ungodliness?)

• Burden churches to help public officials work toward good goals (Like new roads to lead to our new megachurch)

• Give Christians who run for public office favor in the eyes of the electorate (Just like He did with W.)

• Confound the counsel of candidates who don’t support biblical values (Maybe they could speak in tongues)

• Lead churches to encourage their members to run for public office

• Discourage ungodly people from running for public office (Don’t even try it Buster – only churchgoing folk in this position!)

• Provide the resources godly candidates need to win elections (We know you’re God and all, but we don’t want to ask you to actually put our man in office – just send him enough money to advertise that he’s Your man for the job.)

• Confound the plans of the enemies of the United States

• Help the United States continue to be the world’s leader in promoting freedom for all people. (Because we wouldn’t want anyone from any of those heathen countries pushing freedom on the rest of the world and Bono’s already stolen enough of our thunder. )

There are many more things in this guide to pray for, and now that I look at it, I think it really is a guide that I can use.  You see, the very last thing it says we are supposed to do in each and every prayer is “trust that God is at work to accomplish His will.”  That, I can use.  See, I’m not really cynical about this prayer guide.  It’s just 83 pages too long.

Note:  If you were offended by this post, it’s not my fault. The Internet Monk made me do it.

September 25, 2008

Here’s what I’m thinking about today (or, I’m posting something so you know I’m still here).

Filed under: America,Christianity,Sports — kcillini77 @ 8:32 pm
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I was listening to sports radio on my way home from work tonight and some caller started talking about being a man of faith.  Something along the lines of, “I’m a man of faith – I play baseball at a Christian college, and just because people of faith aren’t into doing things other people are into doesn’t mean we can’t be competitive.”

I had just turned on the radio so I heard this out of context with whatever prompted the call.  But I found myself thinking less about his overall point than his contention that people of faith aren’t into what “other” people are into.  Why do we have to keep drawing lines in the sand between us and them?  Why is the mark of a Christian that we’re not doing some particular sin?

As I understand the gospel, the difference between a Christ follower and the “other” people in this world is that we have recognized our frailty, our rebellion against our creator, and our utter helplessness to conquer sin on our own.  We’ve accepted forgiveness.  That’s it.  Have I missed something?

September 13, 2008

I’m a Christian – Let’s do Business!

Filed under: America,Christianity,Church — kcillini77 @ 5:27 pm
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Yesterday, I got an email from someone I don’t know.  Of course this happens all the time, but the subject caught my eye enough to open it:  “Buying a car? Support a local Christian car salesman!”  Judging by the other addresses on distribution, this is either someone who goes to our church or found some other way of getting email addresses of multiple people at our church.  Here’s the text of the email message, with personally identifying information removed to protect the guilty (and innocent family members).

[Link removed] is the home of car salesman John Doe. John is a former full-time youth pastor. After an unexpected change, John is selling cars. He is happily married to Jane and is the father of three children – John Junior, Jack, and Jill – with one on the way in May!

If you or a friend is purchasing a new or used vehicle, please give me a call. I strive to display the love of Christ even in a car dealership! If you are looking for a fair, honest, and hassle-free environment, please contact me!

John Doe – 555-555-555

This email instantly angered me.  I mean, royally pissed me off. Not because it was junkmail, but because this person was using Christ as a direct marketing ploy (I realize one could claim many or most churches do this too, but that’s another topic for another day).

My first exposure to this kind of use of Christ was the “Shepherd’s Guide”, a relatively innocuous looking phone book that was (and still is) available at Christian bookstores for free.  I remember having a copy of it in our house growing up, and I didn’t really think much of it.  But over time, the more I have seen Jesus fishes and crosses on service vans and business ads, the more the practice has bugged me.  What is supposed to be the benefit of choosing a business that claims Christianity in their advertising?  A salesman who will give you a fair price and won’t screw you over?  Giving your money to someone who is more likely to tithe a portion of it to a church?  And how does management make sure all of the company’s representatives are full of the same charitable Christianity that they are advertising?  These have all been questions I’ve had, but the anger has never overcome me until I got that email last night.

Chick-Fil-A is run by a Christian businessman and his policies and life bear that out.  But they advertise with funny cows saying “Eat more Chikin”, not with crosses and fish.  The guy who replaced my furnace last winter was a very honest man who inspired conversation, and I came to find out that he was a Christ follower in the course of talking to him.  But there’s no mention of that on his website or his vans.

Be honest, treat your employees or employer well, and be fair.  Seize appropriate opportunities to share your love of Christ in the workplace when they present themselves.  But don’t use your Christianity to bring other Christians to you.  When you do, you are just using the name of Christ for money, and I’m pretty sure He’s not a big fan of that.

September 2, 2008

If you can read this you’re too close

The announcement that Sarah Palin’s teenage daughter is pregnant has the blogosphere and radio waves abuzz.  A few days ago no one outside of Alaska really knew anything about her, but now her statements in support of “abstinence-only” sex ed are fuel for the fodder that, SEE, we need comprehensive sex ed that includes education about birth control methods and techniques so that our kids don’t wind up knocked up.

Sex education has long been a hot-button topic.  It seems that the vocal opinions, as the political climate seems to dictate, are always at polar ends of the spectrum from each other.  One choice is to sit our kids down, give a cursory overview of fallopian tubes and vas deferens in front of a diagram,  give them statistics on teen pregnancy and STDs and the many dangers of sex, and remind them that the Bible says sex outside of marriage is a sin.  So DON’T DO IT.  Phew, now we can get back to boycotting Hallmark.

The other option is to give a cursory overview of the potential dangers of sex, then tell them we’re smart enough to know they’re going to do it anyway, so here’s a manual on sexual positions, 50 condoms, and oh, yeah, you need to pass a test by demonstrating you can roll one onto a banana.

I think there’s a middle ground.  I’m not sure where it is, but I think it’s there and we, especially those of us associated with American evangelical Christianity need to find it.

The biggest problem when it comes to American Christian parents relating to their kids in the area of sexuality is that we are presenting them with an impossible double standard.  We want them to follow the straight and narrow path of avoiding all forms of sexual immorality and save themselves for marriage, BUT we also want them to achieve financial independence and be educated for a great career before they enter into a marriage covenant.  We’ve bought into the American Dream, and we are trying to fit morality into that dream.

Let’s say your daughter comes to you at the age of 17 and she says, “Daddy, I’ve met the greatest guy in the world.  We have the same hopes and dreams and values, and we want to get married.”  What are you going to do?  You’re going to give her sage advice and say, “Honey, you have your whole life ahead of you.  You don’t even know what love is yet.  This is infatuation.  You have a scholarship offer and you’ve always wanted to be a doctor.  This is puppy love.  Go out to movies and have fun (not too much) and you’ll meet a great guy later in college.”  This is wise in the way of the American Dream.  But you’ve provided no solutions to a girl who loves a guy and has raging hormones (designed by God).  You expect her to find some way to remain physically chaste, but you know there is no human way possible that she will live up to the standard set by Jesus.  You know she will lust.  You know he will lust.  But you want them to figure out a way to suppress that for the next 10 years until they can have good-paying jobs and are able to start out life on the right foot.  Then they can put rings on their fingers and start enjoying the sexuality that God intended for them.

So what’s the solution?  Do we sign the papers so our son can get married while he’s still on the JV football team?  Do we just go ahead and let him sleep over at his girlfriend’s house and figure he can ask for forgiveness from his future wife for all the past girls he remembers?  No.  I don’t think so.  But maybe we do our best to foster an open dialogue on the good and the bad.  Maybe we don’t go ballistic when they fail.  Maybe we admit that we are all a part of an oversexualized world and we all struggle with temptation.  Maybe we believe a marriage can make it even when they seem too young.  Maybe then when all of their Christian friends say, “They just got married at 19 so they can have sex,” they can smile at them and reply, “Well, that wasn’t the only reason, but rest assured I ain’t going back to single life!”

September 1, 2008

Let it go.

When I heard that Hallmark was introducing cards geared toward gay marriage and commitment ceremonies, my first question was, “How long before the religious right starts the boycott calls?”  Well, surprisingly I haven’t seen an official boycott call, but the American Family Association has interpreted this as Hallmark “pushing same-sex marriage” and is asking people to call the company to tell them this is a “bad business idea”. They remind us that gay marriage is illegal in 48 states, that this move is obviously driven by greed, and that we should ask them to stop promoting this unhealthy lifestyle.

The American Family Association and well-meaning Christians everywhere think they are sending a loud and clear message that homosexuality is a sin as stated in the Bible and that God will not be mocked.  That message is a true statement.  But that is not the message that is being sent.

The message that is being sent is that homosexuals are subhuman creatures who don’t deserve the dignity of being able to buy or receive a simple greeting card.  That a person with friends who have adopted a homosexual lifestyle is better off to ignore them than to send them a simple note acknowledging their decision and wishing them happiness.

We all know that we need to choose our battles.  Legislation protecting the definition of marriage is worth fighting for.  The decision of a greeting card company to offer cards that acknowledge a friend’s or family member’s decision is not a fight worth engaging.  You won’t win, and you only make yourself out to be a hypocrite to the world – preaching Christ’s love in one breath and declaring someone unworthy of a simple greeting in the next.  Let it go.

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