Saturday, July 9, 2011

Casey Anthony and My Reaction To Trial & Verdict

I must confess that I gave in to my flesh during the trial and after the verdict for Casey Anthony for the murder of her daughter. I forgot about the mercy God has shown to me and I engaged in comments that do not reflect Christ, or the Christian walk I want to represent.

Someone recently stated that my opinion on Casey's guilt or innocence isn't important, and he was right. I do not know all the facts; I wasn't there! However, God was, and He will have the opportunity to face the person responsible for the death of a sweet, precious, innocent 2-year-old child. And woe be to that person; Jesus warned us about harming the innocent children, and I believe there are special circumstances waiting for those who do so. But, it is not my place to judge anyone, even if I knew for certain their guilt. Christ removed all my guilt and gave me a clean slate to start again, so how can I, then, stand in judgment of others? Should I not portray the same mercy and grace to them that was shown to me?

Besides, as Christ pointed out, I'm human and I have a plank in my eye, so how can I attempt to remove the speck from someone else's? I can't see their face, much less the speck in their eye due to the board that is clouding/blocking my sight. Whether Casey murdered her daughter, whether Casey's father covered up an accidental death, or even if he knew of a murder and covered that up, I do not have the standing to pass judgment. All I can do (and it is what I am supposed to do from the very start) is pray for Casey, her parents and everyone involved. And pray that God will bring the person responsible for the death of Caylee to justice.

One way or the other, whomever that person is, they will have to stand before God and answer for what they've done. If they don't have Christ in their heart, I pity them for they will spend eternity in hell. But, no matter, they will not escape answering for what they've done. In my flesh I want them to face justice on this planet, as well as the next, but that's not Christ-like. To be like Him, I am to want them to find peace, grace, mercy, love and forgiveness. And if I expect to be forgiven for my sins, I have to forgive them for this.

I pray we can all come to the understanding that these media frenzy cases don't give us all the facts or truth, but recognize that God knows all truth, nothing escapes His attention, and we will place all of these things in His capable hands. He will handle it all, while we simply love our brothers and sisters (all mankind) and help each and every one of them to find peace, love, mercy and grace.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

How Can The Church Be Wrong, So Often?

I recently heard a man talking about how he couldn't believe anything coming out of the pulpit of a church because the "church" has been wrong so many times throughout history. My initial reaction was to challenge his statement, but I was checked on that because the church has, in fact, come down on the wrong side of many issues. Let's take a stroll through our recent and not-so recent history.

Most recently, the church was wrong when it taught, and actively worked, against inter-racial marriage. As recent as the 1960's & 1970's, it was taught from the majority of pulpits in this country, and the world, that marriage between blacks and whites was against Biblical teaching. Note they didn't teach, at that time, that marriage between whites/blacks and Hispanics or Asians or Middle-Easterners was wrong, though at different points in history all of those marriages were also condemned using Biblical principles. In 1966 there were 17 states with laws that prevented whites from marrying someone of another race, though the strictest enforcement was white-black marriages. In fact, it was only by a Supreme Court ruling that the last Anti-Miscegenation law was removed from the books, in the state of Virginia. Many preachers taught from the Word of God that marriage between whites and blacks were forbidden; even today, there are some who refuse to perform such unions, though they seem to have no problem presiding over the marriages of whites and Hispanics or whites and Asians.

Where did this teaching come from? In the Old Testament, God forbade the Israelites from marrying other races, but He was speaking more in terms of their religious beliefs and customs, not the color of their skin when He gave this command. Why? Because He knew if the descendants of Abraham married those who were living in the land of Canaan, they would wind up falling into idolatry and worshiping false gods because of the beliefs and customs of the natives of that land.

Another example of where the "church" got it wrong was The Crusades. I know, I know: the Crusades happened centuries ago, but the problem is we are still following the same philosophies and ideas which led to them in the first place. The Crusades were carried out by Christians who were determined to convert Muslims; if the Muslims wouldn't convert, they were slaughtered. Sound familiar? It's the exact behaviors and mantra that we, today, ascribe to Muslims and we wonder where they got the idea!

The church leaders of the day used Scripture to not only justify, but to motivate and spur believers to pursue non-Christians and murder them if they refused to convert. And it wasn't just during the Crusades and against Muslims. The Inca, Aztecs and many other South American nations were completely annihilated because of their refusal to convert to Christianity. That was also coupled with the church's desire to amass all the gold they believed to be held by those nations. The Inquisitions were also examples of misusing Scripture to justify the rampant slaughter of people who did not believe the way the 'church' thought they should.

For centuries slavery was justified by quoting scripture. The churches of the Southern United States resisted abolition using the Bible to support their view that it was not only acceptable, but expected, for man to "own" human beings as property. How anyone can preach the freedom Christ gives while supporting the notion of owning another human being and still be able to sleep at night is completely beyond my ability to comprehend.

During the U.S. Civil Rights movement in the 1960's, many churches used the Bible to persuade their congregants that "separate but equal" was acceptable and sanctioned by God. Today, we find that position to not only be untenable, but also ludicrous and deceived. We, rightfully, declare that those who used scripture to support, defend and justify all of these issues were deceived, misinformed, uneducated or just plain violating the Word of God. Each and every time the Bible is misused in this way, the world is filled with tears and the streets often run red.

I have a simple solution for determining if the teaching of a preacher, church, denomination is authentically based on scripture and the Will of God: does it promote love, inclusion in God's kingdom, offer peace, rest, comfort, increase, fellowship? If it promotes anything that is contrary to those things, it's not Biblical. If it incites exclusion, pain, loss, it's not Biblical, it's not of God and it's definitely not God's will.

We need to bring love back to the church.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Why Is Nashville Overlooked So Often?

Music City USA! Home of Country, Gospel & Bluegrass! Capitol of the State of Tennessee! Health Care Capitol of the United States. Buckle of the Bible Belt! More churches per capita than any other city in America! Home to more denominational headquarters than any other city! The center for the publishing, banking and transportation industries. Home to a large number of colleges and universities, including 2 Ivy League schools. Home of the Tennessee Titans NFL team! All of these ways of describing Nashville and yet Nashville is overlooked in so many ways and so often, it is beyond belief. The use of exclamation marks after each of the descriptors is not overkill: I chose to use them to make the point that we have so many claims to fame.

I read a news item this morning about these websites that offer maps showing criminal activities in neighborhoods and one new service was highly recommended as being the most accurate and detailed, so I decided to check out the Inglewood Village section of Nashville, which is where I live. In the state of Tennessee, Memphis was the only city that was available. Really? The state capitol wasn't available? One of the 3 main entertainment capitols in this country wasn't available?

In May 2010 Nashville suffered what has been called a 500-year flood, yet the national news media barely reported on the devastation that was being endured by so many people in this great metropolis. Nashville is a metropolitan government encompassing the entire Davidson County. We have a total land area comparable to Los Angeles (526 sq miles vs 498 sq miles, giving Nashville a 28 sq mile advantage over L.A.). The population of the Metro area is 1,670,891, making it the 4th largest city in the Southeastern U.S. And yet it is consistently overlooked. Why is that?

Many of the residents of Memphis cry foul when Nashvillians complain about these things; they accuse us of whining and being overly sensitive. We're not overly sensitive, we're incensed! Nashville is the capitol of the state and has more claims to fame than most any other city in the world, yet we are still almost invisible when it comes to recognition and reporting anything on a national level. I know many will think I'm being silly or crying over spilled milk, but it's dismaying to me, and most Nashvillians, when we're overlooked so often. Almost 1¾ million people call this area home, including some of the wealthiest entertainers in the country, whether they're country, gospel, rock, rap or hip-hop, television or film stars. Williamson County, directly to the south of Nashville is one of, if not the wealthiest county in the country.

There are too many reasons Nashville should be included in such things as the Neighborhood Crime Statistics Mapping services and not enough for Metro to be excluded. I'm ready for us to get the recognition we're due, finally!