Monday, April 19, 2010

Prayer for the Supreme Court

Today, I ask you to be in prayer for a Supreme Court decision. I received this from a higher up in the Nav office, so I'll just let them explain what's happening rather than summarize:

On April 19th, [that's today!] the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments to decide whether groups like The Navigators, InterVarsity, Campus Crusade and others can be removed from college campuses because they require their officers and voting members to share their core religious commitments. According to some universities these core religious beliefs violate their affirmative action policy.

Seventeen organizations and 13 state attorney generals are working together on this case. Pray for the justices to rule on the side of religious freedom. For more information on how to pray, go to http://www.intervarsity.org/news/campus-faith-freedom-alert. This case has far reaching implications for religious freedom in all areas.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Behind Closed Doors

I work at a movie theater, so it's amazing how often sex comes up. We're a "family establishment," so we don't carry anything above an R rating (although I've heard that Zach and Miri Make a Porno and BrĂ¼no were pretty close to NC-17). Still, both my co-workers and customers talk sex far more often than I previously thought was acceptable.

For example, on New Year's Day, a customer asked if I'd had a good night. I said yes. He asked, "Did you get any?" I said no. He said that it was not a good night. I didn't really care too much that he gauged my enjoyability of the night based on whether or not I'd had sex, but that he came into my place of employment and inquired of a perfect stranger about his sexual activity (or lack thereof). Why is that OK?

In another instance, a young co-worker of mine got asked his age. He answered that he was 18. The middle-aged women (*COUGH* cougars *COUGH*)that he was helping said, "Oh, you're legal." Later that night, this same co-worker told me about his first time and gave more detail than I cared to know. A completely different co-worker told me about his first time. And a different co-worker told all who were listening that he and his girlfriend had sex recently for the first time since she had his kid. This whole paragraph all happened in one night.

I guess this is why I get kind of uncomfortable when reading the Song of Solomon. I have no problem with what Solomon and his wife did, I just don't think that what happens in someone's bedroom should leave their bedroom. I thought that this was the norm, but I'm starting to think that not many people share this thought. I guess I should be surprised, since pretty much any rap song (and a bunch of R&B and rock as well) are littered with explicit sexual lyrics that would make Solomon cry. It's also all over a good deal of TV shows (I challenge you to watch an episode of Friends where someone doesn't sleep with someone else. Go ahead, do it).

I guess I'm turning into one of those crotchety old men who thinks that a couple who are sleeping together don't need to share it with others. I guess I'm just way old fashioned and think that what happens behind closed doors happens behind closed doors for a reason. Or I guess I need to grow up and realize that sex happens, and I should just embrace it because complaining's not going to do anything about it anyway.

Pardon my rant. It just frustrate's me that we have become a society so obsessed with sex that I can't escape it, on TV, in the movies, and apparently at work. I don't think that sex is inherently a bad thing, but we humans have taken something that God created to be good and have bastardized it so it doesn't mean anything. There's very little commitment involved anymore, if any. It's devolved from something that was meant to be enjoyed by two people joined together in holy matrimony to "just sex." Pretty soon, people will post videos on the internet of themselves having sex (my sarcasm hand is raised). I pray this is a trend that will soon be reversed, but I don't see that happening.

Friday, April 2, 2010

God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jesus

Genesis 22 has always been an uncomfortable chapter in the Bible for me to read. The gist of the story is that God tests Abraham and tells him to sacrifice Isaac, his son, as a burnt sacrifice to the Lord. This was slightly problematic because God had prophecied that He would use Isaac, Abraham's only son, to bring about a great nation, and that was gonna be hard to do if Isaac was dead. Nonetheless, Abraham took Isaac up to the mountain and was about to bring the knife down when God stopped him and provided a ram for the sacrifice. God was satisfied with Abraham's obedience and later fulfilled His promise to muliply Abraham's descendants.

I always find it uncomfortable around verses 7-10. In 7, Isaac asks his father where the lamb was for the burnt offering.
In 8, Abraham tells his son that God will provide it.
In 9, Abraham lays Isaac on the wood.
In 10, he raises the knife.

This is where I would fail. Even knowing the end of the story, I still wince whenever I think of Abraham raising the knife to slaughter his son, his only son, whom he loved (v. 2). I don't even have kids, but I can't imagine doing that. Even knowing now, on this side of the sacrifice, that God would provide the ram in place of the son, or even knowing that God could raise the son from the dead (Hebrews 11:17-19), I don't think I could have lifted my arm to offer my son as a sacrifice.

I was thinking about this this morning, and thinking about the many parallels there are between Abraham's offer of his son to the Lord and God's offer of His Son to us. The son carried the wood that he would be placed upon. The son had been prophecied to be a blessing to many nations. He was the one and only son, who the father loved. God provided the lamb for the sacrifice.

There is one main difference between these two. God stopped Abraham from going all the way. When He provided the lamb, Abraham got to take Isaac back down the mountain. On the cross, however, Jesus suffered and died. There was no other sacrifice to take His place.

I was thinking about how I'm always uncomfortable thinking about Genesis 22, but it doesn't phase me much when I think about how Jesus died. It's become almost old to me. I can say Jesus died, and not bat an eyelash. I offer up a "Thanks, God!" like I would thank someone for giving me $20. This is much bigger than $20. He gave His Son, causing Them to be in disunity for the first time in all eternity. That's big.

I pray that on this Good Friday that we will not belittle the Cross of Christ, but remember exactly what that meant to Him, not only the physical suffering and death, but that He took our sins and their punishment upon Himself. And praise God that it didn't all end there, because if Good Friday had happened without Easter, it would not have been good at all, and we are to be pitied the most of all people.

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" ...And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!"
-Mark 15:33-34, 37-39