The World According to kcillini77

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.

August 9, 2008

Carol Kent on Steve Brown, etc.

Filed under: America,Christianity,Church,Family — kcillini77 @ 10:07 am

If you haven’t heard Carol Kent’s story, you need to.

It will encourage you whether you are in the midst of a storm or not.

This story will take you 40 minutes to listen to, but it’s well worth it.  Go to this site, and you can either download the mp3, press the play button to listen to it directly on the site, or click “Play in Popup” to get a popup screen that will start the show.

May 25, 2008

Next Up on American Christian Idol: The Family!

Filed under: America,Christianity,Church,Family — kcillini77 @ 8:39 am
Tags: , , ,

Try this some time. Tune into your local Christian talk radio station and listen to the commercials for a couple of hours. Do these sound familiar?

“Want to spend more time with your family? Shed the corporate world and work from home with no cold calling by joining our innovative home based business!”

“Everywhere you turn the family is under attack by liberals and homosexual agendas. Tune into our next program to learn how to protect your family.”

“Looking for homeschool curricula? Call us at…”

“On our next episode, learn about the latest reason you need to contact your senator and representative to let them know that you stand for family values.”

Many of these are, in fact, real issues that need to be addressed.  But if we really looked at the Word that these stations ostensibly exist to spread to the world, we would see that God is much more concerned with the Gospel than with family values.

What if we were more concerned with telling our neighbors that God loves them despite their screw-ups instead of making sure they know how much they’re screwing up?

What if we taught our kids WHY we believe Jesus died and rose again and WHY we believe God created us so they can help their friends find grace IN school instead of keeping them OUT of school?

What if we had conversations with our coworkers and showed them love as they go through their divorce instead of whispering about it behind their back and dreaming of the day that we can work from home and never have to deal with those people again?

What if we took our kids to visit AIDS patients and gave love to people who have sinned and are sinning just like we have and continue to do?

What if instead of giving a tithe to a church to make sure they can pay salaries for multiple youth pastors to provide safe fun in a positive environment we gave our money to feed children in a poverty stricken area and involved our children in the process?

What if?

March 7, 2008

The Weaker Brother…

Filed under: America,Christianity,Ethics,Family — kcillini77 @ 11:23 pm

Recently I had a discussion with a friend regarding Romans 14.

I’ve heard this passage used many times to suggest, for example, that even though Christians are free to consume alcohol (and it is mentioned multiple times in the Bible as a gift from God), discretion is necessary in public. The thought is that because a “weaker brother” may see us, we shouldn’t order that beer with our dinner at Applebee’s, though we might consume it at home behind closed doors.

My friend posed the scenario of a music pastor who believes that certain modern styles of music are inherently sinful. Though my friend believes music genre to be amoral, he contends that in this instance, he should consider the music pastor a “weaker brother” in regards to this issue. While he feels free to listen to the music he desires on his own time, he believes if he were to give the pastor a ride in his car he should not play a Casting Crowns CD out of deference to the pastor. He also contemplates whether he should take the added step of hiding the CD under the seat so that it is a non-issue.

I’ve spent some time reading and rereading that passage as well as some other writings of Paul and actions of Jesus in the gospel trying to come to my own conclusions. So far, here are my thoughts:

In Romans, Paul is speaking to a community that consists mostly of Jewish Christians. The Jews had lived their whole life learning and following the law, which included dietary restrictions, and so naturally there was some distress among new believers in Christ when they were told – hey, now you can eat this meat. The “weaker brother” is a Christian young in the faith who does not yet have a full understanding of the freedom that is in Christ. The implication is that as the weaker brother grows in his faith he will learn not to call that which Christ has declared clean unclean. But as the new Christian grows, the stronger brother is not to flaunt his freedom, and should not raise a huge stink over dietary issues, because they pale in comparison to the gospel.

There are lots of applications in today’s world. We should not drink in front of a brother we know to be an alcoholic or someone who has a past they don’t want to relive that was centered on alcohol. We should be careful with how we relate to someone coming out of a legalistic upbringing. If someone has been taught all their life that rock music is sin we shouldn’t crank up the volume and try to make sure they know what they’ve been missing out on.

From Romans 14: 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

At the same time, we should gently nudge someone who holds legalistic views toward the truth that they ought not to judge someone who partakes. We should also encourage them to go deeper in the Word and discover whether the particular action or item they are against is truly forbidden. Often, it could in fact be a gift from the Lord, and the fear of abuse has prompted the prohibitions they have depended upon.

I do not see my friend’s pastor as the weaker brother. As someone who has been a Christian long enough to go through seminary and be elevated to a position of authority, he is accountable for his understanding of the gospel. He has chosen to take a moral stand on an issue of little consequence. I am not saying he is not a brother in Christ, but I am saying that from his position of authority he may be imparting unnecessary guilt and shame to his brothers in Christ who are merely exercising their Christian liberty. In fact, many of those people are experiencing the joy of Christ through the music they listen to, and he may be drawing them away from that joy by his insistence on this principle. I don’t mean to suggest this man needs to be accosted and be brought to an understanding, but that in truth and love the issue should be gradually addressed by people he comes in contact with.

Now, while I wouldn’t suggest my friend pump up the volume on his pastor in the car, the thought of hiding anything strikes me as a very misconstrued interpretation of Paul’s meaning. Anything we do for pleasure that we hide has connotations of being shameful. And if we hide our actions from a brother and he later discovers the truth about us, where does that leave us? We’re in a lurch trying to explain deception, when the action should have been a non-issue to begin with.

So, what are we to make of Paul’s exhortation in Romans 14? Be conscientious. Enjoy what God has made without abusing it. Accept those who haven’t fully comprehended the Gospel of Christ and its freedoms. Don’t flaunt your freedom in front of those who are still learning. But continue to encourage them to learn and grow. And if they are truly growing, they will eventually realize that the legalism they cling to is a crutch, and they will one day throw it to the side and walk alongside you, unencumbered.


March 4, 2008

Gratitude

Filed under: America,Faith,Family,Home,Kansas City,Prosperity,Shawnee — kcillini77 @ 9:16 pm

    Last Thanksgiving our furnace went out and we had to buy a new one.  It cost us $3,200 that we didn’t have.  I bought it on a one year same-as-cash deal figuring that I would just time the market and take it out of my 401k sometime this year when we were on an upswing.  Well, as you may know the market hasn’t been doing so well and our 401k is down about ten grand from where it was Jan. 1.  So I decided I should rethink my strategy.

Well, after doing my taxes, despite the effort I made to get as much out of my paycheck as possible and NOT get a refund, I somehow failed and between the feds and two states we are getting about $2,000 back.  And thanks to the Bush economic stimulus plan, it looks like we will be receiving an additional $1,500 in a few months.  Problem solved.  What a great blessing!  God is in control!

Except our reaction is not excitement or gratitude.  We look at that $3,500 and think, ‘Why do we have to spend that on something boring like a furnace.  That would be enough to get some of the furniture we’d like for the house, or an AWESOME HDTV, or even really jump start our savings toward our next car.’  Our natural reaction is pity that we have to spend this money on something that “just” keeps us warm through a bitter winter.

God, forgive us for our selfishness.  Forgive us for our greed.  Thank you for providing what we don’t deserve.

January 12, 2008

On the Second Trimester of Life

Filed under: Brinton,Family,Kansas City — kcillini77 @ 6:04 pm

Brinton and Dad at Union Station

There are times when I miss the happy hours, the church singles social events, the possibility of meeting some girl that could be “the one”. Those times last for about 1.35 seconds. When I talk to my single friends who don’t want to commit or my married friends who just aren’t ready for kids, I can barely empathize with them anymore. I was there once. It seems like a long time ago.

Brinton’s down for a nap right now, but I have him for the day while my beautiful wife has a well deserved girls’ day out. Today, my son and I headed out for lunch at Chick-Fil-A. I was passing an area with a train track (not pictured, I’m talking about a real one) and I decided to stop. We got out of the car and walked over to a fence bordering a small farm nearby. A donkey came toward us and Brinton got a big kick out of watching it. Then we heard a whistle in the distance and we hustled toward the tracks so we could watch a massive freight train approach and pass us. I held him in my arms and as the train came close it blew its horn. I’d forgotten how loud they could be. Brinton buried his head in my chest, a little frightened. Then he straightened up and watched the cars rumble along the tracks. He pointed and said “choo-choo.” As the last car passed he waved and said, “bye-bye”.

We went back to the car and headed to the restaurant. Brinton decided to be ornery and eat only one chicken nugget and no fries (go figure). He wanted the wheat bun on my sandwich. We try to be firm about eating what he’s given, but when what he’s given is fried potatoes and he prefers wheat bread, I suppose it’s not a bad decision to let him “indulge.” After eating he played in the toddler playland, clearly marked “FOR CHILDREN 3 YEARS OF AGE AND YOUNGER”, and filled with massive 5 foot tall 3 year olds, some of whom had cracking voices and I could have sworn one had some chin whiskers. He smiled and laughed and climbed to the top and waved to daddy from the windows in the playland and got knocked to the ground by the behemoth 3 year olds playing tag in the tunnels and came down the slide laughing and smiling. He tested my patience a little as we were leaving by refusing to carry his sippy cup out to the car.

We stopped by the scrapbooking store where his mom is spending the day. She and her scrapbooking friend were across the street picking up some things from Hobby Lobby, so I had plenty of time to change a particularly ripe diaper in a bathroom with no changing table while we waited for her. We spent a little time with mommy, and then I brought him home for his nap and he decided he was now ready to eat his chicken nuggets and his fried potatoes. I figured Love and Logic could wait until he can talk, so I gave him his lunch (again) and then put him down in his crib.

If my single friends or “not ready for kids” friends wind up on this page, I’m sure they’ll skip to another entry. And I understand. But would I trade this Saturday in January for one day sleeping in and waiting to go out to the movies or a bar? Or for the kind of extra cash I used to have that would let me watch tonight’s Patriots-Jaguars game on a 60-inch plasma screen instead of a much smaller analog TV? Never. This is my life now, and this is living.

December 13, 2007

I suppose I owe an update…

Filed under: Family,Me — kcillini77 @ 8:44 pm

…after my “pouring it on” post.

We have a new furnace and it works.

The car had a faulty water pump and some other stuff going on.  It was a $700 repair but not catastrophic.

Brinton developed pneumonia, was treated with antibiotics and is doing very well now.

The washing machine also had a faulty water pump (what is it with us and water pumps) but that is now repaired as well.

So, we remain cash strapped for the time being, but we have our health, shelter, and each other, and therefore all is good.

November 26, 2007

Pouring it on

Morton

When it rains it pours.

Everything happens in threes.

Well, here we go… in the span of the three days since Thanksgiving:

1) Furnace goes out… could be fixed to function for $500, but also has cracks in the heat exchanger meaning if we continue to operate the furnace family could die in the night from CO poisoning. Family got to spend 3 nights at the in-laws, and I’m home from work now typing as our brand new furnace that I don’t have the money for is installed.

2) Jen’s car has been leaking coolant for a couple weeks. Assumed it was a cracked hose and topped it off a couple of times. Finally got up under it yesterday and found it’s not a cracked hose. Don’t know what it is, but have an appointment to take it in to a shop tomorrow. My pessimist brain has already determined that they’ll probably tell me it’s a crack in the engine block and I pretty much need to buy a new car. Which I certainly don’t have the money for.

3) Brinton woke up from a nap yesterday with a 103.2 degree fever. For those of you without kids, they would send us home from the emergency room if we had taken him in – they don’t get too anxious about fevers in young kids under about 105, but another thing to add to the stress. Oh, and we did take him to see the doctor today – which means a copay – and a prescription. Which I have no money for anymore. See (1) and (2) above.

Anyway, here I sit in a house full of things with a family that loves me waiting to come home when the heat returns and complaining about how rough I have it because for pretty much the first time in my life I have some uncertainty about how I’m going to pay for something I need. And I’m reminded of all the people that do not have what I have and that don’t have people to love them and I feel selfish. And blessed. And undeserving. And angry with myself for my lack of faith. And stressed out. And fat. I ate too much this week.

There’s a lesson in here somewhere. Comment if you find it.

August 7, 2007

How does someone deal with this?

Filed under: America,Baby,Family,Kansas City,Shawnee — kcillini77 @ 10:27 pm

In the wake of the Minnesota bridge collapse tragedy, I came across this article in the KC Star and it struck me hard.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot ever since.  The house where this occurred is about 2 miles from mine, and on some longer walks we end up in that neighborhood.  I just keep thinking about how the parents must feel.  From the outside looking in, it’s easy to say to Mom “It’s not your fault.  Accidents happen.”  But how does she recover from this?  How does she come to grips with what happened?  How does the dad keep himself from blaming his wife?  How do they return to normalcy?  I don’t know.

July 15, 2007

Ecclesiastes 7:3

Filed under: America,Christianity,Family,Me — kcillini77 @ 6:47 pm

Sorrow is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.

I’ve had a few people comment to me recently that they have looked at my site and seen no entries. Why is that? I really didn’t know – I just hadn’t been extremely motivated lately. As I looked a little deeper into my recent thought patterns, I realized that lately I’ve just been a little, let’s say blah. I haven’t been particularly depressed – I’ve had a great time vacationing and spending time with family, but I just haven’t been feeling very wordy or worthy. And then I came upon this wonderful post of lament from iMonk, and I understood. I haven’t been posting lately because I tend to write when I feel close to God and when I’m “at my best.” If I’m going to be authentic, I need to start putting my thoughts down even when I’m not feeling up. That’s probably when the best stuff will flow too. So I apologize for my absence, and I look forward to sharing again.

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