It isn’t the same

I know I am a bit late in writing this post but after sitting on it for a few days I have come to the conclusion that I have to write this post simply to be fair. If you have read some of my older writing you know I have had issues with both sides of the political spectrum. Which is what brings me to the topic of today’s post. Joe Biden’s own abuse of scripture as President of the United States. 

In a recent speech praising the work of the brave men and women helping people evacuate Afghanistan he quoted Isaiah 6. Now I think the men and women working to help those fleeing the Taliban are heroes but they did not answer the same call as Isaiah. Isaiah’s call was to warn the people of Israel of impending doom. He was there to call the nation to account and to tell the Isrealites of what was to come. Not only did Isaiah have a different call, Isaiah had a different caller. 

You see, by equating the men and women of the United States military to Isaiah Joe Biden essentially placed the United States on the same level as God. While I am not bold enough to say that this was his intention I do know that it at the very least shows poor theology. This kind of thinking is what leads to the idea that the United States is somehow better in the eyes of God than any other nation. This further leads to a view that anything we do as a country is the will of God. This allows us to excuse things that should be called out because well if the United States did it then it must have been right. 

This theological mistake also makes it much easier to villainize and dehumanize anyone who lives in a country that is not one of our allies and to a lesser extent this could be done to people who are from an allied country simply because they aren’t citizens of the United States. This inadvertently leads to division in the church as Christians from the United States write off whole nations as unChristian simply because they are at odds with the United States. On the flip side this allows us to overlook the need for evangelism in the United States. 

While you may say this isn’t true of you I would ask if you act like it? This clearly led to many issues in the past with how American Christians have interacted with both the world and their fellow citizens who do not follow Christ. We must remind ourselves that Christ died for all and that nothing about a person’s race, nationality or geographic location dictates whether or not they can be saved. 

Inauguration Day

So it is Inauguration Day 2021. At the time I am writing this Joseph R. Biden has been President of the United States for about 4 hours. The election results have been certified, court cases denied due to lack of evidence and Donald Trump has gone back to Florida. Yet, there are still Christians questioning the legitimacy of the Biden administration. It is no secret I was skeptical of Trump from the time he announced his candidacy and in the last days of his term a critic but I never once doubted that God had put him in the seat of power. I prayed for him and submitted to his authority like I will for Biden despite dislike for the man because scripture tells me that is what I should do. 

Romans 13:1-2 states: Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those who exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement.  

Those are pretty strong words. There are of course obvious exceptions to this. If the government tells us to not spread the Gospel or to violate one of the two greatest commandments then sure we can disobey those laws we may still face the consequences but we can do so with a clear conscience. However in the everyday status quo we are to submit ourselves to the governing authorities. 

I am sure few Christians would argue against that but the bigger argument is with the legitimacy of the Biden administration. There are arguments for the legitimacy from a legal standpoint but those won’t get us anywhere. If you believe the vote was accurate you won’t be persuaded otherwise and vice versa. I am not here to argue the merits of the cases the Trump administration tried to bring against the election results I am here to talk about the Christians submission to authority. We as Christians are called to submit to Biden’s authority. How do I know? Because as the previously stated verse tells us all authority comes from God. 

Joe Biden for better or worse is the President of the United States and he got there one of two ways. Either he pulled a fast one on the all powerful all knowing God of the universe, or that God placed him in the position of authority. I don’t know about you but I am not willing to question the supremacy of God. 

So what do we as Christians do? Well we obey where we can obey and if we need to violate the law we do so in a way that shows Christ’s love. We do not resist the government simply to  resist God condemns that. We pray for Biden, Harris and the rest of those in power. We do our best to help them succeed because that success can lead to the blessing of those in need. We hold our leaders accountable, either by telling them what we believe they should do on our behalf or by voting them out when their name appears on a ballot. We do not take up arms against them and seek to overthrow the government. If the Apostles submitted to a government that at times actively sought to kill them we can submit to a government that disagrees with our beliefs from time to time. 

Love your enemy

I was angry yesterday. I am still angry today. The government of the United States of America was attacked yesterday by terrorists who can’t accept the fact that their chosen candidate lost an election that they have failed to prove in court was fraudulent. I am angry because there are people who claim to be Christians supporting this movement and the violence that it led to. I have been struggling internally a lot recently because of the amount of us versus them talk that has come out of Christians around me. I have had enough. 

As Christians we are not called to only love those who think and act like us and we certainly are not called to violently attack those who disagree with us. We are in fact called to the exact opposite. In Matthew 5 Jesus tells us to love our enemies and those who persecute us. (Side note CHRISTIANS IN THE UNITED STATES ARE NOT BEING PERSECUTED.) But Jesus doesn’t just stop at telling us to do this he then tells us that if we only love those who love us we are no better than the world around us because they do that as well. It is easy to love those who love us. To treat someone who loves you poorly is not only strange its unnatural and dysfunctional. 

Maybe that passage isn’t enough for you. Maybe you need more of Jesus words to convince you well lets jump to another story. In Luke 10 a teacher of the law decided he wanted to test Jesus and try and trap him in something. He asks Jesus what he needs to do in order to gain eternal life. The outcome is Jesus affirms that you must love God and love your neighbors. That wasn’t enough though the teacher of the law decides to try and find a loophole he asks Jesus who his neighbor is. To which Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan. For those who don’t know the story here is a basic rundown. A guy is traveling, he gets mugged beat up and left for dead. Two of the religious leaders of Israel see him dying and don’t just pass him they cross to the other side of the road. Then a guy who is this guys enemy comes along sees him and decides to help him. The enemy patches the guy up and takes him to a hotel in town to recuperate. The enemy gives the innkeeper some money and tells the innkeeper that he will be back to pay for anything else needed in order for this guy to get better. 

This is radical. The animosity between these two men would have been palpable but Jesus flips it on its head and the enemy becomes the caretaker. This looks nothing like the way I see many Christians acting right now. 

This makes me more angry than any attempted coup on the United States government. I enjoy living in this country. This country is by no means perfect but it has a lot of potential if we can continue to progress in the areas we have fallen short. However, this country is not my home. The United States does not have my ultimate loyalty. The kingdom of God is my home and does have my loyalty and that means living by the commands of my King. My King demands I love my neighbor and my King defines my neighbor as my enemy. 

Election Day

I have already cast my vote in the election. I early voted because all indicators point to this being an election with a high turnout and because the polling place is right next to my daughter’s daycare, so it was extremely easy for me to vote. I without a doubt hope that my chosen candidates win their races. I believe that they will work to progress my values better than their opponents. Do I agree with everything my chosen candidates have said or believe? No, but as they fit my worldview better, I have a clean conscience. While I obviously want them to win and will be somewhat disappointed if they do not it will not cause me to lose any sleep.

Honestly if you are a Christian, I believe you should not lose any sleep over who wins the election. Disappointment is one thing; despair is another. You see, as a Christian, our hope is not in the elected officials of this or any other country, despite what the QAnon cult says. I firmly believe based on Romans 8:38-39 that neither Joe Biden nor Donald Trump has any impact on my salvation. Do I believe that either candidate can attempt to harm the church? Yes, I do. I believe that both Donald Trump and Joe Biden would turn on the church if it served their purposes. With that said, I want to challenge you as fellow believers to do three things.

First, I want to challenge you fellow Christians to hold your leaders accountable. If Trump wins the election and he continues to act in an unchristlike manner make your displeasure known. In the past it might not have mattered but with Trump you can call him out on Twitter and there is a higher than normal chance he will see it. If Biden wins the election and tries to enact legislation that you believe goes against Christian values make your opinion known.  The more way to do this would be to contacting your state’s congressional delegation. To be fair, you could reverse those situations just as easily but I think the way of calling them to account and making your voice heard differs based on the candidate.

Second, no matter who wins seek unity. There are people on both sides of this election who claim Christ as their savior and hold to orthodox Christian beliefs. I know because they are my friends and family. As Christians we are called to love one another, serve one another, and seek unity. You may disagree and that is fine.  Not everyone in this world agrees with you on everything and guess what your probably wrong despite which side you are on. If we as the body of Christ allow a political election to come between us and harm the body, we are dropping the ball and allowing something else to take the place of Christ.

Finally, I think it is time we as the church divorce ourselves from political parties. No party fully represents Christianity. I would argue that this is truer now than ever before. I would argue that no party has every truly represented Christianity in the United States despite what many believe. I believe that as Christians allowing ourselves to be bought and sold as a political commodity distorts the gospel and its message of hope and healing.

So, while I have not always been great at some of the things I have listed above I ask you to join me in reclaiming our faith from politics. I firmly believe that our faith should dictate how we vote however that does not mean that I will always vote the same way as you. That does not mean I love you as my brother or sister in Christ any less. I believe it is time for the church to step up and be the light it is supposed to be. We need to work to bring truth and love to the world. We need to stop being the pawns of political operatives and remind them that they would not have power if it were not for the God how grants it to them.

Stand up

They say you should never meet your heroes. However, one of my biggest heroes is such because I knew him. My great Grandpa Henry McCarty, known to my brother and I as Papa Henry was and is to this day one of my greatest heroes. When I was a child growing up it was because he had cool stories about living in 1900’s Oklahoma and being a ranch hand. As an adult it has morphed into an appreciation for the stories that he told me that I did not understand as a kid.

Henry was born in 1910 just north of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I remember being at his house one day which was a short bike ride from my dad’s house and somehow the Tulsa Race Massacre was brought up. Henry would have been 11 around that time and he still remembered it well over 70 years later. He told us that since they lived close to the railroad, he remembered seeing the people fleeing north as the smoke rose over north Tulsa. I did not realize how significant it was that he was telling us this story at the time. I honestly did not realize how significant it was that I knew about this dark time in my state’s history until the last couple of years. I just assumed everyone knew about this tragedy. However, this was not an isolated incident. The Tulsa Race Massacre did not occur in a vacuum. I learned from my great grandpa that racism had been a big part of the area around Tulsa when he was a kid. He told us of the existence of the KKK and how our family had stood against them many times leading to threats against the family.

Those were the extreme stores but there were others that he would pass on to us that carried a similar message, stand up for what is right. It might not always be easy, and you may be faced with violence or threats. He made sure that my little brother and I knew that was what we were to do as men. Based on the lives of his descendants I would say he taught that lesson to many of us as I can see that example in the lives of my grandfather, father, uncle, and cousins.

I believe that as a Christian this even more important. Those of us who follow Christ have his example to obey. Throughout the Gospels Christ calls out the religious leaders of the day and their neglect of the poor. He delivered sermons talking about the importance of taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves. In fact, Christ went so far as to say that if we neglect those that society neglects, we are not his followers. For Christians though this idea is not just found in the teachings of Jesus. We find it all over scripture. We see prophets calling out the people of Israel because they allowed injustice to spread throughout the people of God. We see Apostles call out churches because they were not practicing justice. One Apostle even calls out another for actions that are exclusionary.

I am thankful for the legacy that has been passed on to me. It makes understanding what Christianity is supposed to look like easier sometimes. I look forward to telling my daughter the stories of here great great grandpa Henry McCarty. Some of them will just be fun to tell because they are awesome stories, whether they are true or not. Others will be difficult conversations. I hope by the time she is old enough to understand some of the harder stories that we have changed as a nation and are better at understanding each other. Regardless of what happens in the world as my daughter grows up I fully intend to pass on to her the legacy of standing up for what is right.

Identity

 

Identity is something many people struggle with. For some they have no idea where they have come from or what has shaped their life. I have been blessed to never have this struggle. Both of my grandfathers were highly interested in genealogy. My Grandpa McCarty was the one who was much more vocal in telling his grand kids about who we are and where we came from. This knowledge has shaped a lot of who I am and how I view the world. My family came to the United States before the Revolutionary War, we fought on both sides of the Civil War we took part in the westward expansion of this country. We are also Native American and walked the Trail of Tears to end up in Oklahoma. All of these things have contributed to my view of myself for many years. I am part Native American; I am descended from the Irish High Kings these things have told me that I have the DNA of people who have been conquerors or who have overcome enormous obstacles to their survival. It was so important to my Grandpa McCarty that he included this reminder for his whole family in his funeral last November. I am grateful for this knowledge but there is another part of my identity that supersedes all of this and I believe my grandpa would agree given his career as a pastor. I am a Christian.

As a Christian there is no other identity that should define that. If I am a Christian than my American identity comes under that. I am not to live as a Christian who is defined by being an American. I am not a better Christian because I am an American, in fact being an American comes with its own challenges to following the way of Christ.  I am not to be identified by the label of Democrat or Republican. Despite what some faith leaders may say right now the way of Christ does not fall in line with either of these political parties and we should not be more inclined to follow a political ideology than our Lord and Savior. This extends into denominational lines as well. I am a member of a Southern Baptist church but if the SBC does something I believe the Bible disagrees with I believe that I should follow the Bible. This isn’t always easy, sometimes I like the safety of being in a more conservative tradition so it can be hard to accept what the Bible says. On the other side of things it can sometimes be lonely standing against one of the biggest denominations out there from the inside. I would argue that is true no matter what group you belong to religious or secular.

So then if these things should not overshadow our identity as a Christian what does our identity look like? This will be different for everyone but there are two things I think every man should know about his identity if he is in Christ. First, you are a son of the Most High God and brother of Christ. You are no longer a slave to sin. Christ’s sacrifice has freed us from this bondage by relying on their strength you can overcome the sin that tries to drag you down. Second, you have brothers and sisters that don’t look like you, understand your culture or speak the same language as you. Despite these seemingly major differences we have more in common ultimately with these brothers and sisters than with the unbeliever that works in the same building you do or lives on your street.

Passing on the Faith

Historically, men have been the ones who have overseen teaching the Christian faith to the next generation. There are a few exceptions in scripture, but this is not a debate about women teaching in the church but is intended to be a challenge for me to step up and actually have an active role in the spiritual raising of their children. I often get annoyed by talk about how the church has been feminized and we need a more manly Christianity. I do not think the church needs more men going to the shooting range or groups of men sitting around a table eating various kinds of wild game. I believe that if there is a masculinity problem in the church it is because men refuse to be involved not just in the church but in the raising of their children. To be fair I know many great men who are actively involved in church and in the raising of their children, but I have seen far more men check out of both contexts.

When it comes to seeing a man, who is an example of faith I got the blessing of watching my Grandpa John for the first 18 years of my life actively model what it means to be a Christian. John had grown up poor but had worked hard and became a successful businessman by the time I came into the family. He also had an incredible thirst for knowledge so much so that he had an impressive library in one of the rooms of his house that was predominately theologically focused. However, it was not the knowledge that had the most impact on teaching me how to be a Christian.

Until I moved to Joplin to go to bible college, I lived on the opposite side of a 10-acre farm from my grandparents. We ate dinners as a family and spent time together every evening. We also rode to church together every Sunday and Wednesday night. With this proximity I got to see my Grandpa John live out his faith. I got to see him pray, read scripture, walk by faith, and teach others. I got to see him confront people who taught things that were unorthodox as well as support those who took stances that despite being scriptural were not popular.

While I saw all these things my grandpa didn’t necessarily sit me down and teach me each of these things, but he modeled them on a daily basis. He also passed some of these responsibilities on to me as I grew up. While he did these things, he knew what he was doing. He knew that by modeling these things his children and grandchildren would pick them up. As we grew, he passed some of these things on to us. He would have us pray at the dinner table; he would help us when we taught a Sunday school class of our peers by showing us how to interpret the Bible but never doing it for us.

I honestly learned more about faith and the Bible from my grandpa than I did in either bible college or seminary, both of those experiences were valuable but they really just gave me the resources to back up what I already knew and knocked off some of the hard edges. I say this about my time in Christian higher education because I want you to know that you do not have to have a seminary degree to teach your kids how to be a Christian. All you need to do is live your faith in front of them.

Fishermen

This weeks post is written by my insanely talented wife. When I first started talking about this series about lessons learned about Christianity from the men I have lost in my life this post just kind of came to her. Since yesterday was Father’s day and the post last week was about my father I think talking about my father-in-law is a good way to bookend the holiday.

A few weeks ago,my husband came to me with the idea of writing about biblical manhood and masculinity. The twist on this was that he would use earthly examples and talk about lessons he learned from them that apply to biblical principles in his life.

 

I immediately thought of my own father. As far  as I know, my father accepted Jesus. He grew up in the First Christian Church. As a child, I don’t remember going to church with him. My family started regularly going to church a while after my parents divorced.

 

I do remember something that I always woke up early with my father to do. Fishing. My dad loved to fish. He did tournaments,and had his own boat. There was also a rather sizeable collection of rods, reels, bait, and tackle in a corner of our living room. I don’t think I ever went in that corner without getting caught in a hook.

 

My dad was a hard worker, but also loved his sleep. I remember on fishing days, however, he’d be up with the sun. I loved when I got to go too. He would make sure everything was packed. We would have food and drinks as well for the cooler that was in the boat. Side note: I thought those were the coolest things. The coolers built into the bottom of the boat. He knew which bait would catch which fish. It was something thought out and planned. I loved riding on the water. I loved watching  his sonar fish monitor that was pretty high tech for the 90’s.

 

My dad was a contractor by trade, but I knew that fishing was his passion.

 

Years later, after I became a Christian, I found myself drawn to the story where Jesus first finds the disciples. I always loved this story, mainly because my Bible BFF Peter is in it.

 

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”[b] Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” Matthew 4:18-22

 

Peter and Andrew were fishermen when Jesus met them. I am sure they loved fishing, but there was something irresistible about Jesus that made them love Him and want to follow him.

 

When I was 17, the same thing happened to me. Head knowledge of God was not enough, and I desired to have a relationship with Him. I was actually baptized on Father’s Day that year.

As the daughter of someone who loved to fish, and a lover of Gospel of Jesus, I see many parallels. I am not surprised at all that he picked fishermen as His first disciples.

 

This set of verses is used a lot in evangelism trainings. A lot of my job at the BCM was hosting and leading people through these trainings. Evangelism is one of my spiritual gifts. 

 

When you set out to win souls for Jesus, you need to think like a fisherman. 

 

First,Be prepared. Just like you wouldn’t roll out of bed to fish without a plan, don’t roll out of bed to tell people about Jesus without one. I am not talking about a list so much as a preparedness of heart. Pray, read your Bible, ask God to soften the hearts of the people you are trying to reach. Just like forgetting to plan all the supplies you need to fish is bad, forgetting to include God in what your doing is worse.

 

Second, Be intentional. Like I said earlier, my dad knew what type of fish he wanted to catch. He used a fish finder to track them down. He used a pole baited for them. Sure he could have gone out into the middle of the lake and thrown a wide net. From that he may have caught some fish. Some people like to evangelize that way. There is nothing wrong with that. In my experience, I have been able to see God move in someone’s life I was trying to reach in a much greater way when I pray for that person, spend time with that person, and be intentional about sharing the Gospel with that person.

 

Third, Be connected. How did my dad know which kind of  bait Bass like? He knew Bass. How did he know which of his tackle attracted Catfish?  He knew Catfish. How do we minister and share the Gospel to people around us. We need to know them. Know their family, their struggles, their interests. We need to care about them and not just about some checkmark in our book of people we’ve shared Jesus with.

 

The beautiful thing about Jesus in this story is that He met Peter and Andrew right where they were. He didn’t expect them to be educated  or even understand. He saw what they were doing and asked them to be part of something greater. That’s all you and I can do as well. Time and time again we see the fish and the water come up in stories with the disciples. I am not a biblical scholar by any stretch of the the word, but I can’t help but think that Jesus used this to remind Peter and Andrew of where He found them, and the abundant life He called them too.

 

My dad never preached a sermon. He never even read me a Bible story that I can remember. Jesus still used Him to remind me of how when we preach His Gospel that we need to be prepared, intentional, and connected.

 

With Joy,

Mrs. Kim.

Hospitality

The Bible is full of passages telling the people of God to show hospitality both to each other and to those who do not belong to the kingdom of God. In the Old Testament Israel was told to welcome the alien and to not take advantage of them many times. In the New Testament 1 Peter 4 tells Christians to be hospitable to one another and in Hebrews 13 we are commanded to do the same that Israel had been commanded to do and welcome those who are not like us. This is something that is supposed to mark the Christian community as different from the rest of the world. Sadly, though with all the evidence we have in scripture that hospitality is an important marker of Christianity, it is required of those called to be overseers, it may be one of the most overlooked pieces of Christian life.

One of the greatest examples of what a hospitable life looks like comes from my dad. I know this might come as a shock to some given the bad press, he has received in some of my previous posts. However, I always remember my dad showing hospitality. He loved having people at his house. One of my dad’s favorite things to do which also tends to be some of my favorite memories at my dad’s house was to host large parties where he smoked large amounts of meat, offered a few sides and had the basic drink necessities for an Oklahoma cookout. If you had a specific beverage you wanted, you may have needed to bring it but often you would not need to. There was no ulterior motive to these events just my dad wanting to enjoy the company of others and connect his friends.

Now I understand that most people cannot do this in their daily life. My dad owned a farm where he raised his own cattle and pigs for meat and thus, we always had and abundance of meat that could be shared. He also had the space which is something that can be hard to come by for many of us. For you, hospitality may look like serving on a church welcoming committee making sure people feel seen and safe when they come to your church. Hospitality could take the form of taking a friend to coffee so that they can have a safe place to find rest and understand that they are not alone in this world.

We are not called to hospitality because it is fun or easy. We are called to hospitality because our fellow humans need to feel seen and heard. By being hospitable we allow people to have their basic psychological needs met. This kind of safe place offers those in this world who need hope and healing to find these things in the only place that offers hope that does not disappoint.

Introduction

In the past I have just written posts whenever I felt like writing about something usually just to vent or process some sort of event in my life. However, I have now decided to start writing about Christianity and masculinity. Now to be clear I will not endorse overly masculine Christianity. I believe that there is too much time and money put into making the church “more masculine”. I believe that men need to act like Jesus and while Jesus was at times confrontational and spoke harshly he was also gentle and loving in fact more often than not Jesus erred on the side of grace towards others except for a select few groups.

My plan for this series of posts is to discuss things that we see in scripture as things that we are commanded to do and what that means for men. I will try to use examples from the lives of some of the men I have learned from. For now, I plan on only using examples from those I have had a personal relationship with that have died. Most of these men are family with a few exceptions. I do not expect to waiver from this group but if I do, I will let you all know at the beginning of the post. My goal with this is to hopefully challenge those in the church who have been apathetic about their role as men in the church and to challenge the current understanding of men’s ministry.