Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

Jack Phillips is the kind of gentleman that most of us would want for a neighbor. I know because I had the privilege of meeting Jack, visiting with him, and buying one of his cakes while recently in Denver.

Jack Phillips is an artist. He is gifted with the ability to paint and design masterpieces both on canvas and cakes. Jack owns and operates Masterpiece Cake Shop in Littleton, CO., and, in this way, has provided an honest living for his family.

Jack is a Christian who incorporates the teachings of Christ into his daily life and decisions. The masterpieces that he creates reflect Ephesians 2:10. So, on the day that Jack was asked to create a wedding reception cake for two men who had married outside of Colorado, Jack politely explained why he could not. Jesus says, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).

Jack is the kind of guy who invites others to believe what he believes, but does not force them. People of all colors, beliefs, and sexual identities come into Jack’s shop and he sells to all of them. But designing a wedding cake is very different from baking a brownie. “What I design,” says Jack, “is not just a tower of flour and sugar, but a message tailored to a specific couple and a specific event—a message telling all who see it that this event is a wedding and that it is an occasion for celebration.”

Jack could not celebrate a same-sex marriage and remain faithful to God. “The two men coming into my shop that day were living out their beliefs,” explains Jack. “All I did was attempt to live out mine. I respect their right to choose and hoped they would respect mine.”

They did not. Instead of tolerance, Jack and his family received hate mail, obscene calls, death threats, and a law suit. Jack and his staff were ordered to undergo re-education and file quarterly “compliance” reports to Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Jack stopped creating all wedding cakes and, suffering the loss of 40 percent of his income, was forced to lay off employees.

On December 5, Jack’s case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. As I await the decision, I know it will affect my religious freedom. It will affect the freedom to speak… or not speak… of us all.

The morning after Jack’s testimony before the U.S. Supreme Court, my morning devotions included Psalm 56. I could think of nothing better to give Jack than the words of this Psalm handwritten on a personal notecard:

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
All day long they injure my cause
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk; they watch my steps,
as they have waited for my life.
For their crime will they escape?
In wrath cast down the people, O God!
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?
Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?
For You have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God in the light of life.
(Psalm 56:1-2, 5-11, 13 ESV)

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May 5, 2011, is National Day of Prayer.   Many people of many faiths will be praying for many things.

I won’t be praying that God make this a Christian nation.  But, I will be praying that followers of Jesus Christ:

  • Turn their heads away from deceptive philosophy and deceit (Colossians 2:8)
  • Encourage one another and build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Train for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7-10)
  • Set an example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (1 Thessalonias 4:12)
  • Build our houses on the Rock (Matthew 7:24-27)
  • Bring little children to Jesus (Mark 10:14)
  • Love the Lord our God and our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31)

If we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ ask Him to help us live in ways that bring Him the glory, this country will be a better place.  A safer place.  Institutions of marriage and family, health, law, education, church, and government will be influenced for “the people’s good.”   

Generations will know the mercies of God.

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Every two weeks or so, I compile a two-page bulletin insert entitled “Christian Citizenship.”  The purpose is to help members of our congregation become aware of human care issues that beg a response from Christian citizens.  I’m very disappointed to hear that the insert is upsetting to some.  “We shouldn’t be putting this in our bulletin,” said one.  “We can’t talk about these things,” said another.

What things?  The topics highlighted in “Christian Citizenship” include abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, creation/evolution, health care insofar as funding abortion or Planned Parenthood is concerned, marriage and family, same sex “marriage,” homosexuality, and persecution of Christians.  I take special care to focus only on those issues where God’s Word speaks.  And, to make sure I stay on track, I submit every edition to my pastor for his approval or suggested changes.

I’m disappointed that some Christians are upset, but I’m not surprised.  Years of experience in Lutherans For Life have taught me that too many Lutherans specifically and Christians in general consider abortion, for example, as a “political issue.”  Abortion is not a political issue.  It’s a moral issue.  And God speaks to it: “Thou shalt not kill.”   A younger generation, more pro-life than their parents, acknowledges that abortion ends the life of a baby.  They’ve seen the ultrasound images.  They know that a baby’s heart begins beating 18-24 days after conception and brain waves are present at 43 days.  Lutheran students learn in confirmation classes that God “knits [us] together in [our] mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13b).  Roe vs. Wade may have legalized abortion and the media may try to politicize it, but only God can create life; therefore, only God can take that life.  Abortion is a moral issue and because God speaks about protecting the human life He has made, we must, too.

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.  You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house” (Matthew 5:13-15).  The Christian is called to be “salt and light” in this world where many wrong things — like abortion — are called right.

If discussions of morality, i.e. abortion or same-sex “marriage,” can’t be had in the church, does it follow that we can’t talk about issues of faith outside the church?

To be continued in another “post”… on the journey.

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This morning, I stood at the Iowa Falls Veteran’s Memorial under a brilliant blue sky and surprisingly warm November sun.  It was the right place to be on this Veteran’s Day.  It was where my uncles would want me to be.   I owe them so very much.

My uncles are heroes.  Five of their names are inscribed upon the WWII Memorial wall.  Uncles Wayne, Oswald and Ronald have died.  But, Uncles Victor and Kenneth still live to remind me of a great sacrifice.  One that I’ll never be able to repay by anything other than my promise to live on as a grateful and involved citizen.

The debt I owe my uncles is surely difficult to comprehend.  But, I know this for certain.  We are a safer people who can worship, work, live out dreams, raise families, and build a future because of the price paid by Americans soldiers — in the past or present.

When the members of our local American Legion fired their rifles in tribute, many things came to mind.  My grandsons aren’t old enough to understand what patriotism really is, but I want to be able to tell them.  America isn’t a perfect a country, but she is a free country thanks to immeasurable human sacrifice.  That human sacrifice even allows those of liberal, global, and non-Christian persuasion to voice their opinions, practice their vocations, and choose their lifestyle.   Sometimes, when I’m on a road trip and cross state lines, I’m physically reminded of the freedom I have to come and go as I please.

My uncles and all the others who willingly step forward in battle against evil do so because they are compelled to protect women and children.  They are compelled to stand against fascism, socialism, communism, and terrorism.  They are compelled to protect the freedoms of American citizens who go about their daily tasks on the home front.  What is this compelling force?  What instinctively beckons them to defend home and family?  I believe it is the Creator of human life, God Himself, who calls and equips men to fight the battle for life.  That battle may be against an enemy on foreign soil, but it may also be against the evils of everyday life on domestic soil.

Men of faithfulness are needed on all battlefronts.  Just as they are needed to fight against evil ideas of men like Hitler and Hussein, they are also needed to fight closer to home against ideas, policies, and choices that threaten marriage, home, and children.

We may say my uncles were men from the “greatest generation,” but there is no generation of men (or women) greater than another.  Every generation has its faults because we are all tainted by sinful pride and selfishness.  In spite of human failures, however, thousands and thousands of men serve as examples of humble, yet strong and faithful manhood so that sons, grandsons, and nephews can do the same.

If you’re looking for a “teachable moment” for your sons and grandsons, order “The League of Grateful Sons,” an inspiring film shot on location in Iwo Jima.  Watch and listen as veterans who fought there re-tell the story to a younger generation.  You may order this DVD from Vision Forum.

Then, thank God for your grandfather, dad, uncles, or brothers who stepped forward to protect and defend home and hearth.  It appears I am leaving out the women who serve their country; but, I’m not.  I’m grateful to them, too, although I hold fast to the Biblical teaching that women are not called into combat.  Discussions with women in the military prove that there are ways for women to serve the country they love without being placed in the direct line of enemy fire.

Thank you, my uncles.  Thank you for being my heroes.  Thank you for enabling me to live my days in a democratic republic, celebrate freedom, and practice Biblical faith.  In the words of General Dwight D. Eisenhower,

The purpose of a devout and united people was set forth in the pages of the Bible… 1) to live in freedom, 2) to work in a prosperous land . . . and 3) to obey the commandments of God . . . This Biblical story of the Promised Land inspired the founders of America.  It continues to inspire . . .


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