Monday, November 02, 2009

Pimped out Princesses

On Momentum magazine's site they had an old article from the New York Times posted. I read with heightening interest.

There is confusion across the board over gender roles, parenting styles and appropriate play for boys and girls. Peggy Orenstein brings a whirlwind of rigor and thought in her article "What's Wrong with Princess?" In the midst of interesting statistics and a brief glance at Disney's recent marketing strategies, Orenstein stands alongside every other mother and father in America trying to raise a daughter through the thick of marketing campaigns aimed right at daughters. Surprisingly I agree with a quote from her article that as young girls grow up as Princesses, their shade of pink gets more risque.
What you’re really talking about is sexual purity. And there’s a trap at the end of that rainbow, because the natural progression from pale, innocent pink is not to other colors. It’s to hot, sexy pink — exactly the kind of sexualization parents are trying to avoid.

Apart from definite roles of gender in manhood and womanhood there will be confusion for children to understand their sexuality and identity. Parents have to teach their daughters and sons identity in the roles that God has created and designed for them to be most fulfilled.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Loafing it with Everybody in the church

My wife wrote an excellent blog on our adoption blog, The Road to Ethiopia. I wanted to share it with other readers and those on Facebook. There is a mission before us to take the Gospel to a lost and dying world, to love people who aren't easy to love and serve people in difficult places. Read through Karen's post and consider how you and your church are carrying Jesus' message and love because you know the objective reality of Christ's love and grace.

One year ago today, we had just submitted our online application to America World Adoption with the non-refundable $250. We were waiting to hear if we had been approved into the Ethiopian Adoption Program. Here we are today, 366 days later & all in at about $25,000 thus far & waiting. We’ve done a lot of waiting over the past year….not just waiting in line for popcorn at the movies or waiting in a really long line to pay a toll booth fee (neither of us miss the traffic aspect of Chicago).

This past year has been filled with HIGHLY stressful waiting…big, big WAITING….and right now, we are again waiting. I feel like I've had some real experiences with waiting prior to our adoption, and most of them centered around my education. I waited to hear about grad school applications...waited to hear about my residency placement....waited to hear if i passed the national licensure exam (very stressful)...waited 9 years for a degree and a real job. I'd describe all of those experiences as difficult and stressful. But I’d much rather do any of that type of waiting all over again than do this kind of waiting… the lack of 100% assurance is indescribably difficult. Don’t get me wrong… He IS our son. Even if the most horrifically awful thing occurred, and Ethiopia closed their borders for international adoption, and if we were not allowed to adopt him… HE IS OUR SON. I’m guessing at that juncture John Mark would initiate some commando/rambo-like operation to get him ….

MY point is the lack of assurance is so difficult. At times if I allow my thoughts to wander, it's quite unbearable. But, our thoughts are guarded and our assurance and our peace are grounded in Jesus. I know that sounds cheesy or real "Sunday School-ish," but honestly our thoughts really are and have been focused throughout this entire journey on God's sovereignty and HIS plan for our lives & our family. I'm not sure how anyone could navigate this experience without faith, trust, and assurance that God is on the THRONE. However, even with faith & trust, it’s still really hard...REALLY hard, but then again we never expected & certainly weren’t promised anything different.

I think John Mark & I have learned quite a bit from our multiple times of waiting this year. I know we’re both stronger in our walk with the Lord, and I know our hearts are even more burdened for orphans & for people who do not know Jesus as Savior and brother. We’ve become even more aware of the fact that OUR LIFE IS NOT OUR OWN, and that the materialistic things (which I definitely placed value in during portions of my life) are so incomprehensibly pointless when compared to providing a hope and a future for a child without a mother and father. Personally, I’ve learned that everyone isn’t passionate or burdened for orphans or the priority for Christian families to advocate for adoption in some form or fashion. That’s been a very difficult lesson for me. To be quite honest, I’m still working on this one, and it's really hard for me. I think for most people, Christianity is so very easy ~ especially in middle class America. We buy our multiple SUVs for one family, sport our 7 jeans, and have all of the latest electronics. Then, maybe we give a little here and there to the church or maybe twice a year give a little to missions (if your church even provides an outlet to give to missions or educates its members on the importance of giving to missions for the Kingdom of Christ)....all the while most churches struggle to pay bills and there are 147 million orphans in the world, and there are people dying every day who don't know Jesus. I heard or read somewhere recently a statistic that there is some ridiculously large amount of missionaries wanting to go & serve, but they are unable to go & proclaim His glory among the nations because there isn't enough funding. That's sick....

From a clinical perspective, I think a variation of the social psychology term “social loafing” applies to most American Christians. Social loafing theory describes a tendency related to group dynamics and performance. For this example a group would be the overarching group of Christianity along with the smaller grouping of a local church. Social loafing theory suggests (with years of empirically supported data) that there is an overarching tendency or phenomena for people to make less effort to achieve a goal or contribute less effort when working in a group. In other words it’s the tendency for people in a group to simply rely on others to “get things done.” Social loafing is seen as one of the main reasons groups are sometimes less productive than the combined performance of their members working as individuals.

Yikes…that’s a pretty scary idea for the church when it comes to tithing, giving, supporting missions and orphan care, and all around giving for the Kingdom of Christ. It's also pretty scary when it comes to serving, evangelism, and discipleship. But, I think it’s a very important theory /notion, particularly for the church since our American society is so extreme with egocentrism, entitlement, materialism, and decreased Christ-centered uses of His money. Yes, I said it. I said that something not only from secular psychology but SECULAR SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY has really important implications for the church! Blam…there it is…I said it, and I stand by it.

People aren’t giving, going, or placing Christ at the REAL center of their lives because we expect others to do it. "Group members" are not teaching children on Sunday mornings or helping disciple teenagers because "well, someone else will do it... good ol' jimmy, he's always helping out with those loud teenagers on Wednesday nights; he'll do it." Those of us that profess Christ as Savior and Brother, are all in this group of Christianity and hopefully we're in the subgrouping of church. But, the majority of us are stuck expecting other people to get the job done. I wish more of us would see there is so much more…. I pray that I will see in bigger, deeper ways that there is SO MUCH MORE. I’m learning adoption & orphan care isn’t going to be everyone’s “thing,” but I really believe all Christians need to have their “thing.” Don’t be a loafer…. Pray about it! Find it!! Get passionate! Be passionate!! Stay passionate!!!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Further News

There have been several news stories about the merger of St. Paul's Missionary Baptist Church and Shively Heights Baptist Church. Check out this story from Baptist Press regarding the merger.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seeing the Gospel

Sunday Karen and I travelled to Louisville for a highly anticipated worship service. I had formerly served as youth pastor at Shively Heights Baptist Church. In June I ran into Mark Payton, the pastor, and he told me about the exciting way God was working. I was excited to hear that Shively Heights Baptist Church and St. Paul's Missionary Baptist Church were merging together. On Sunday, St. Paul's Missionary Baptist Church and Shively Heights Baptist Church celebrated their first gathering in worship as one body. The church merger glorifies God as people unite around His message and His name.

What makes this church merger so noticeable is the make up of the individual churches. Shively Heights Baptist Church was a church of older, white people while St. Paul's was a church of black people. The new assembly of people is now led by Rev. Lincoln Bingham and Rev. Mark Payton. These two men have been friends for over 25 years. Together they have always worked towards racial reconciliation. This merger is a crowning mark of their lives sharing the Gospel and seeing people united in Christ's love.

The two pastors are united in their common mission to share Jesus Christ with people in the community and around the world. "We hope we can get to the point where we no longer say, black church, white church but the church. We’re just fulfilling the prayer of Jesus that we would be one and he and the father are one. He wasn't just talking to his 12 disciples. He was talking to the future church and future different nationalities and races of people, wanting us to be one," said Mark Payton.

"I don't like the term colorblind. I think this diversity of color, variety of color, racial ethnicity is the way God designed it. Respect color but see us as equals," said Pastor Bingham. In the inaugural message of the St. Paul's at Shively Heights, Bingham let people know there would be hurdles to overcome and that things will be done differently. He noted the things that God has blessed the church with in facilities, gifted musicians and talented singers, but the church has to be a church that lifts up Jesus as God and Savior. He encouraged unity around the Gospel message throughout his sermon.

Fifty-five years ago a black family moved into a house in Shively. Shots were fired in the house and a bomb was set off under the home. Racism is still a real thing in the hearts of men and women. Today, however, it is much more subtle and cunning. I thank God for His grace and mercy to reconcile people to Himself. His grace goes out to all people, and we take His message of love to ALL people. Not only do we take the message, but we live in love and unity WITH people. St. Paul's Baptist Church at Shively Heights is a testimony of God's love in a community that has been marked by hatred. When the Gospel is heard this is a picture of what the Gospel looks like.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Name of God

I read on Justin Taylor's blog that Sovereign Grace is releaseing their third album of the summer entitled "Sons & Daughters". Sovereign Grace's album focuses entirely on the grace of adoption. J. I. Packer writes in Knowing God on just how integral understanding adoption is for Christians.

If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God's child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. "Father" is the Christian name for God. … Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption. (pp. 201—202)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Giving for the Gospel

My cousin Michael York posted a blog last week about the International Mission Board and our role in giving so that the Gospel can go to people that need Jesus Christ. The Gospel shapes our entire life either we are impacted and changed by it totally or there is simply a cognitive recognition of what the Gospel is. It's easy to have a "relationship with Jesus" when the most pressing worries about our future have to do with the size of our retirement fund. With eternity in view, our treasure will never run dry. Give for the Gospel.

Proverbs 16:18

Inerrancy. Necessary for a believer?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vick Returns

Michael Vick has been reinstated to the NFL. I've been a Vick fan since his Virginia Tech days. Since then you could count me on the Vick band wagon. When his arrest and crimes were brought to the public's eye I like most people were horrified. However, Vick has served his punishment.
The part of Vick's reinstatement and his life that I am most excited about, which is not on his athletic skills, is that Tony Dungee is his mentor. My prayer is that Michael Vick will claim Christ and his entire life will be devoted to the glory of God.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


My life has taken an unexpected turn as of last week. I'm slowly realizing the surprises of aging. While I'm not "old" my body isn't the same as it once was. Balding showed it's ugly head a few years ago. Stretching is an absolute must before and after working out or my body screams relentlessly at me. Now the biggest mark of my body age's came from my doctor. For our adoption Karen and I had to get a physical (No, I'm not that old, yet). We have to get various tests documented for our home study. Karen called to inform me of bad news related to my medical report. The first thing I thought of were potential problems this could cause for our adoption, but I noticed in Karen's voice a subtle jubilation. She's smiling while about to tell me bad news.
Karen had hoped this news would come two and a half years earlier. She had been strongly encouraging me to get my cholesterol checked since we were married. Before we moved to Chicago, I did get checked so that I might calm her fears and worries stemming from my family history and my poor eating habits. To her surprise and disappointment, I was in great shape with a level of 182. Her response, "you're joking me?"
Her good news and my bad news was finally here - 250. The shock didn't set in until Karen and I had lunch after our doctor's appointment. We're in line at Subway and I have to figure out what kind of sauce I can get on my sandwich - definitely no chipotle sauce. As I stood there, I looked at all the people around me in disgust secretly judging my health against theirs. Alas, it doesn't matter one slice of butter if I could out run the three obnoxious women in front of me or lateral toss the tattooed and pieced twenty-somethings sitting to my left. All that mattered was the end of the line. When I stepped down to the end of the line, I declared mustard.
This decision was the first of many decisions I am now making. I can't answer what's going to happen when friends and family come to visit and want to eat the forbidden buffet at Moonlight. I don't know what every meal is going to look like, but I'm well on my way to being a healthy father and husband. There is one goal in focus - loving my family. I can't stop aging, but I can age wisely on matters within my control. I'll say good-bye to butter and welcome leafy greens. May I never eat butter again so that I might love my children and my wife, and may God grant me a long life with which to love them.

Friday, January 09, 2009

According to what?

Yesterday marked fifty-three years since Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, and Ed Mcully were killed in Ecuador by the Waodoni tribe. Their desire was to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a people known to be hostile and dangerous to all outsiders. Despite potential danger, these men, their wives and children moved to South America with the intent to establish relationships with the Wadoni tribe and see them live for Christ.
However, the warnings about these people proved fatal for the three men. They died making contact with the tribe. Of all the ways these men could have lived a life of ministry they chose something extremely dangerous knowing they could leave their family husbandless and fatherless.
What makes such a lifestyle choice acceptable and rational? Clearly these gifted men could have been missionaries in many other areas where people had never heard about Jesus Christ and been faithful to Christ as well as possibly seeing people accept the Gospel. But they chose to follow a calling that many people, even in the church, may say is unreasonable. I don't recall their friends' and families' response to their move and mission so I am merely bringing this topic up to encourage people to think about the values with which they seek to live their lives. Is the love of Christ the constraining power driving you? Or is natural reason or selfish motives driving your decisions?
Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." May the love of Christ and His call to love move us beyond human rationality to godly wisdom.