So peaceful looking, and I remember it just the way it looks.
So peaceful looking, and I remember it just the way it looks.
The Photo of the Day today is a very small red and yellow wildflower found in the southeast, usually in the spring to early summer in the shade, called an Indian Pink or Maryland pinkroot, and woodland pinkroot. Better known by its Latin sir name Spigelia marilandica this little guy was blooming over at Chewacla State Park all over the place once we took a look around. Shot with a D7000 and a Nikkor 35mm 1.8 (EXIF details can be found over here) if you are like me and so inclined to read that sort of stuff. I have some shots of the waterfalls but haven’t gotten around to post-processing on those yet. This has already been a crazy busy week and it’s only going to increase as the week goes on unfortunately. It’s not really unfortunate, it’s just the way the week is this week.
Of course this is utter ridiculousness, but, that severely flawed logic seems to be what is prevailing in our culture today. This topic, which I usually just tend to leave alone, is overpowering the news, blogs, and culture lately (and is certainly nothing new under the sun, gay’s have been trying to justify their actions for millennia, see Why is Being Gay a Sin? for a civil discussion, Does Romans 1:26 Condemn Lesbians? for the absurd justification, and then an honest “Christian Perspective”, not forgetting to throw in Anne Rice who recently “quit” Christianity on Facebook [comments in pdf,] with Mark Driscoll’s response for the Washington Post, because she didn’t want to be “anti-gay anymore”, and the countless trash talk about Proposition 8 in California).
With Proposition 8 being overturned by the California courts, this seems destined for the Supreme Court (where they probably don’t want to deal with it either). The Boston Globe did a huge photo spread called Same Sex Marriage about a week ago and the responses to that article show why this, unfortunately, is THE topic of our day for Christians and the church. This discussion really wasn’t intended to launch into whether being gay is a sin or not, but to show the absurd arguments on both sides, which lack any careful thought.
This comment below is typical when reading trash talk on the news sites, and was made by someone who used the title “I Feel Drawn Towards Christianity, But I’m Gay”, which then received very complimentary responses, with little question for the lifestyle itself, or with sound argument for or against Christians and the homosexual lifestyle, and what scripture has to say about it’s effects and consequences.
I was surprised in a few ways, one by how openly acceptable the Christian responses were to this person. Not that they were accepting of the person, that’s great, but accepting of all aspects of the persons lifestyle, with not much need for contemplation (although some did suggest the person generically seek God’s direction). The other surprise was how utterly weak the reasoning and arguments were that were used on both sides.
I am certainly no expert on this topic whatsoever, and there are many who can soundly argue, on both sides, but those seem to be few and far between. No gay person I talk to (and many Christians for that matter) can give a sound theological argument, backed and based on scripture (since this person “feels drawn to Christianity”). The majority of the arguments put forth are emotional arguments, which are impossible to argue against in a rational manner. This is the argument that was given in this particular case:
The Bible also condemns divorce, the eating of pork and shrimp, and says that men shouldn’t sit on the same chairs as women who are menstruating.
The argument seems to lack even a surface level study of scripture, but most Christians responded with nothing other than an emotional response. As with much of Scripture in our culture today, these verses are taken so much out of context for the use of the argument for a homosexual lifestyle I am surprised they were made? I am not being mean or hateful in spirit here, but seriously, if you are gay, this is your argument?
There are so many things that could be addressed but at the basic level, in Mark 7:18-19 Jesus declared all foods to be clean, he didn’t declare all forms of sex to be clean. A better argument that perhaps shows a little more clearly why scripture says that the homosexual lifestyle is sinful in God’s eyes (and there are many things that are actually still seen as sinful in God’s eyes today, besides homosexuality), would be:
Point 1 on Sin:
Point 2 on Marriage:
I rarely see those “hateful” Christians everyone seems to refer to today that will acknowledge that the last three are equally sin, and equally condemned by scripture, but, that doesn’t mean that either is less or more acceptable to God as a way to live that honor’s God. I do not say that in a hateful manner but in an examination of scripture. I also recognize that many, or most, “gay Christians” will take issues with my argument above and defend it away in some manner. The statements above are all based on scripture and can all be backed theologically with sound argument.
Our culture as a whole is continually refusing to see objective truths in the Bible today. Whether we like to ignore them in our day or not, they still exist, there are still things that God says are good, and those things God says are bad, we just seem to have so much knowledge in everything that we have no knowledge in the actual truth anymore.
We all know that living a life of discipline is important for many reasons, but this topic is not something traditionally touched on Sunday mornings, how learning to live a life of spiritual discipline is just as important in the Christian walk. Often we think we can only worship on Sunday in the church building, or only pray when we get on our knees and fold our hands. That is a slight over exaggeration but we know that scripture says in 1 Thess 5:17 to pray without ceasing, so how can we do that if we only participate in prayer or worship on Sunday mornings?
The photo I shot below was taken on a beach in Orange County California several months ago. It was almost deserted except for a few surfers and after a long day of work it was a great place to worship and pray while I watched the beauty of God’s day come to an end (other photos from that afternoon of worship are posted in Pacific Coast Sunset in OC // Friday Feet).
I just finished one of the best small books I have read recently called Spiritual Life by Westerhoff, and in his book he explains 6 different ways we go about learning to live a life of spiritual discipline. Silence and solitude, preparation, writing, reading, and several others are all ways we can experience God’s presence, and in turn grow in our spiritual relationship with Him. I for one am excited to be able to worship the God who made this sunset, it was an afternoon between me and His presence that I won’t soon forget.
If you would like to read my extended comments on this topic I have made them available in this short essay called Spiritual Formation, Learning to Live a Life of Discipline in a pdf download. I have a long way to go, but love knowing that I can worship our Lord anywhere, anytime, and he hears my prayer, and he hears yours as well.
Link to pdf Download.
What do we strive for that lasts? Nothing that moths and rust can destroy of course. So, taking the “treasures” out of the topic for the moment, I would personally hold knowledge and love about as high as they can go but Paul (among others) tells us of the two, love is the greater. Through several different experiences this week I have been reminded that Paul teaches us to hold love over knowledge in 1 Corinthians 8:1-3). With knowledge can come what C.S. Lewis refers to in Christian Behavior as the “the greatest sin”, pride.
the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others… and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility
To me, Pride & Humility (which seem to be interchangeable), and Love are matters of the heart, but are things to keep in the proper order of importance. How? Have no idea, but at least if I keep reminding myself, I might be able to keep them in the proper order.
The photo above was a shot I took at sunset on the beach in California a few weeks ago while I was in Orange County. At the time, nothing was more important than this.
Love caught, and frozen in time.
I wanted to post an update of the books that have made it to my read (or reading) list. I was planning on reviewing each one but just ran out of time. Over several months prior to my official start of Seminary (a topic I haven’t posted about yet, but will at some point) I tried to get back into the habit of reading, a lot. In my first two seminary classes I had a combined 8 books for eight weeks of class, so getting into the habit of reading, all the time, has been very helpful.
One of the books I am almost finished with is Craig Groeschel‘s book called Confessions of a Pastor. Published back in 2006, Confessions has a great combination of self deprecating humor of his own sin with real teaching and application of God’s principles for life in general. What got me interested in reading Craig’s book wasn’t really the topic but meeting Craig and listening to him speak in Atlanta and most recently at Catalyst West Coast in Orange County California.
Here are some images of Craig speaking at Catalyst West Coast I took a week or two ago.
I haven’t made it to the end of Craig’s book yet but one of the last sections in the book, “I’m Afraid of Failure” had one of the best examples of how we condition ourselves for failure before we even begin (read the section called Failure by Numbers).
To avoid potential failure and pain, people abort their dreams. They stop trying.
Confessions of a Pastor is a great church leadership type book, glad it made it on to my “read” list.
On my recent trip to California I decided to continue my 50mm airport series I started a while back. I generally carry all my equipment with me on the plane since a lost bag will result in a non-existent photo shoot, and a few trips ago I started trying to get the creative juices flowing by using one camera and one single fixed focal length lens (a standard 50mm) to cover each new airport.
This past week the new airport was Orange County’s John Wayne Airport (SNA). I have usually flown into LAX and since I had not been to John Wayne in a while, it was next on my photo list (ATL has long since be shot, see my post Atlanta Airport Photos and a 50mm Lens // Part 1, if that is your interest). For the extremely busy location of southern California, Orange County is a great place to fly in and out of and almost has the feel of a Midwestern Lubbock or Amarillo feel to it as far as the traffic goes. I also didn’t get harassed by security, police, FBI, or any other uncomfortable PAX in the area, wonderful.
This is hardly where I spent most of the day on Friday, but then after Catalyst West Coast was over I was so exhausted I decided to drive over to the coast to watch the sunset. I ended up down near the Balboa Peninsula on the PCH and walked out to the beach just in time. I have been in Southern Cal for 4 days, it has been cold and cloudy the whole time (after it was 100* the day before I got here) and late on Friday the skies just opened up. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I had witnessed in a long time and I will make it my Friday Feet post for this week.
For those looking for Catalyst West Coast images… I will start to post some of those when I get back. I am on my way to the airport right now, thanks to everyone at Catalyst and Mariner’s Church that made this week such a inspirational time.
I only thought yesterday was a long day. Today was a great day and all I have time to do is just decompress a little bit. It was a non-stop packed day with Hillsong United from Sydney Australia (I am now an official fan), The Fee Band which came over from Atlanta (who sung their new song “Glory to God”), and a whole host of fantastic speakers like Guy Kawasaki, Andy Stanley, and many more.
I wish I could go through the whole day here but I can hardly keep my eyes open at this point. I did want to post a few photos of the bands. The first of Hillsong United, the second is Steve Fee. I will have to do several more posts at a later date but for now, here are a few shots from today. See more photos of the Steve Fee Band at Catalyst.
I can’t quite remember a day that lasted this long since my last trip to Las Vegas when we arrived at 2am after leaving Atlanta early in the morning. Today at least I did arrive in the 3pm area but not it is 12:30am at home and I am just trying to process everything that went on today.
I did take a tour of Mariner’s Church for tomorrow’s main event. It was very great to get an early walk around and I did get to see some familiar faces from Atlanta over here in Orange County. After the labs ended today the kick-off event started with Carlos as the MC.
Below are just a few photos form the evening. The last shot is the chapel here at Mariner’s Church. At night it was transformed into this incredible flood of colors and I may do a post with just shots of this chapel, it is very beautiful.