Don’t let God be the bandaid where stitches and social justice is required!

James 2:6 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

I came across this photo on Matthew Paul Turner’s website earlier today;

It utterly rocks me to my core and pisses me off, because I have been there before. I have been in this woman’s shoes where the church I was a part of threw some Bible verses and something about God in the mix…and that’s it! No social justice where I needed it, no comfort and certainly no love. I am speaking to myself first and foremost in this, because there have been times where I have applied God as a band-aid where stitches and social justice were required, I have made God cheap and my excuse NOT to help someone in need.

So seeing the self-hypocrisy in me with this Facebook interaction between a woman who is in need and quite possibly the church she was going to (I wonder if she’s still attending, and part of me hopes she did the wise thing and leave – this church as well as her fiance). The woman does point out she “needs prayers” but she also says she needs “help” as well, her help is quite evident and yet this church just pours acid on this woman’s open wound which is already infected, then they wrap it up with a horrible maggot infested cherry on top; “Here’s a bright spot before you go to bed for the night: You didn’t miss Summer of Revival! Hope you can make it tomorrow night for prayer & worship.” Or as translated by me; you’re life is shitty but we’re not going to help you out, feel free to come to us because we certainly aren’t going to help you out, oh and come to our event at church tomorrow night.

In my mind and my heart I am slightly worried, what she described about her circumstances could result in a physical altercation between her fiance and her, what if “tomorrow night” she’s dead because of the guy?

What if there was no tomorrow for this woman because of her fiance? What if there was no tomorrow for her sons?

***

Life is tough already, life does not need to be made even more tough by followers of Christ who don’t heed the call of tangible social justice. As Brennan Manning so eloquently put it;
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle, that is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
How can we truly show the love of God when we deny Him and others in our lack of caring for each other? No wonder we’re looked at as being hypocrites when we truly don’t help out those in need, but rather we slap “God” on the situation and consider our work to be done.

If this woman was a member of my church and I knew what was going on I would help her and her boys escape the clutches of her fiance and the church, because no one should be put through such bullshit and unChristlike treatment.

I hope that in time I am financially capable to put people up when needed, because I know what it’s like not to receive such help; I know what it’s like to try to sleep in the backseat of my car in the winter time and it’s cold out as well as inside, I know what it’s like to go hungry. I’ve been the one rejected by church people who heard my plea for help and did jackshit. No one should be put through such hardships alone especially if the body of Christ knows what goes on and does nothing, and so it begins with me, the change I want to see begins with me.

~Nathanael~

I don’t thrive off of compliments (but it’s nice to hear praise for what I’m doing every now and then)

The other night I had an awesome meeting, and while that might sound like an oxymoron, I did.

The high school and middle school leaders of the youth ministry I’m a part of got together to just hang out, eat dinner, do some team building exercises and discuss the future of our youth groups together. It was a very good time for me as well as my fellow leaders, my friend of 18 years oversees the high school and middle school youth ministries, but the guy who oversees all the children’s ministries is a great guy as well!

Near the end of the meeting one of the middle school leaders approached me and thanked me for my involvement in the high school youth group that two of her daughters attend, she thanked me for the rapport I have with them and the friendship I’ve extended to them as well. I was a bit surprised to have someone’s parent thank me for my involvement in youth ministry and in the lives of their kids, I hear it every now and then.

Thing is, I don’t thrive off of compliments, but I do appreciate a kind word every now and then, it validates what I do and it certainly lifts me up and fuels me a little. 🙂  I like how Solomon worded it in Proverbs 16:4; Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. I recognize the power good words in someone’s life has, it can help them out if social justice isn’t required, it gives them that extra push and I enjoy complimenting people where compliments are due.

Take it from me when I say that those in ministry need to hear our thanks for what they’ve done, they need to hear it more often than not. So if you want a challenge, tell your spiritual leader[s] thank you for what they do, I’m sure they will appreciate it greatly.

~Nathanael~

I’m on the fence with homeschooling

Editor’s note: I was homeschooled all the way from K to 12th grade. I’m just using my blog to post some of my insights and I hope that if this offends you in some shape or form you’ll talk to me about it. I don’t aim to burn down any bridges, but some of these things need to be addressed. Thank you.

***

I think that homeschooling is a perfect alternative to public, private, parochial schooling- that is, as long as the parents are capable of teaching and have some capabilities in the teaching field. I was blessed to have a mother who had a sense of what she was doing when she was teaching because to some degree that was her profession prior to us kids being born. Her previous teaching did her well when it came to us kids, but granted there were a few shortcomings in the area of math and science, but she did well with what she had.

I think this is important when considering homeschooling, because the education you provide your children will be for the most part will come from you teaching them, it helps to know the subject material to some extent, and they will learn what you have to teach them, so it helps if you have the capability to teach.
I recognize that some of my friends who were homeschooled had parents who had their thoughts about the public school education system, and while maybe some of them were valid, good intentionsalone without any capability or capacity of teaching won’t trump a well-rounded education; wanting to teach your kids without knowing how to will only delay your kids in the learning environment of the classroom.

I saw this was particularly true when some individuals I knew being sent off to the local community college in their early high school years, their parents feigned that they were still being homeschooled, but this outlet would help them acquire college credit for their studies. It is a disadvantage to send your kids off to college when they’re in high school, apart from the sham of still calling this homeschooling there’s also the element where they don’t have peers who are their age, but rather individuals who are in their 20s or older.

Another issue I had with the homeschooling system around me was that the mom was both teacher and principal, there wasn’t much involvement on the father side of things. It wasn’t this true in all cases, but so much I saw was simply one-sided forms of teaching, which that kind of stress on a woman, to take on the teaching of her kids alone is not a good idea.

In my own life I wanted to enter the local public high school, but my intentions and desire to do so was shut down. I did have friends with the extra curricular activities I was involved with in my homeschooled days, I wasn’t the so-called stereotype which is an ostracized kid who has no social life let alone social queues as how to function and interact, I did well and I think I came out ahead.

***

I probably will not homeschool my kids someday, granted this will be a discussion my wife and I will have but I know I’m not up for it because:
– I am good at helping with homework, not necessarily teaching in a school setting.
– They will have a chance to have a well-rounded education that I couldn’t provide for them.
– It will give them the opportunity to hear different views and make up their own minds instead of somewhat coercing them into thinking what I think.
– They can become their own person over time, they can question more and ponder deeper than I ever could.

***

So if you’re considering homeschooling or are homeschooling or were homeschooled, I’d appreciate your feedback, because my view is limited and I’m willing to dialogue about this subject matter with you. 🙂

Education is important, so do what you can to give your kids the best!

~Nathanael~

Get out out of church and get to a Gay Pride Parade!

If you are a follower of Christ who desires to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, I advise you (since most of the parades fall on a Sunday) to get out of church and get to a Gay Pride Parade.

It’s one thing to say to yourself and others that you want to engage individuals who have been hurt by Christians, who have been marginalized and maybe even rejected, that you want to build a bridge, that you want to bring about some form of reconciliation and restoration…but if you don’t do it, what good are your words?

Words can lead to ideas, ideas can lead to plans, so why not make your words tangible and go to a Pride Parade and simply take the time to apologize to the individuals around you and even in the parade that you’re sorry for the way Christians have been unChristlike, heck if you personalize it (if you’ve been on the side of judgment and being unloving) and share where you’ve been and where God is leading you, I bet that will go a long way!

I don’t know when all the Gay Pride Parades are, so you’ll have to Google search your city plus Pride Parade.

In 10 days Chicago will be having their Gay Pride Parade and I intend to be there with some friends, The Marin Foundation and Andrew Marin. We’ll probably be in front of the IHOP in Boys Town. I am a follower of Christ and it is my desire and passion to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, will I be skipping church? Yes I will! I have no qualms about it, here’s why…

In Jesus’ telling of the parable of the prodigal son, the father doesn’t wait around for his son to come back to him, but rather when he sees his son in the distance he runs full of compassion to him. Too often I think the church sits back and waits for people to come through the doors and doesn’t budge from its seat, but that’s now how Jesus lived! Jesus engaged the people where they were, he went to them, he lived and functioned amongst them. Sure there were times when Jesus needed a breather and so he and his disciples would get away from it all for a short while, but then he would go back to the people, to humanity.

So like the father in Jesus’ parable I run! I choose to engage the LGBT community where they are and not waiting around for them to come to church, if they do, that’s great! But I rather go to the LGBT community, to the Gay Pride Parade, where the rubber meets the road…and guess what? “Where two or three are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of them” (italics are mine) God’s already at the Gay Pride Parade, he invites me and my friends and others to be a part not be apart.

Don’t let church get in the way,
Be the church at your local Gay Pride Parade this year!

~Nathanael~

Christian drama; so much for living together in unity

Psalm 133: 1 – How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!
John 17:21 – I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

The other day I found out that one author/blogger (John Shore) on the internet wrote a scathing blog post about another author/blogger (Andrew Marin). The content of what John wrote can be found here, but essentially the issue boils down to that John is verbal about his stance about whether being gay is a sin or not by stating from what he believes which is that it is not a sin to be gay, to which he tried to rip Andrew a new one for not putting it out there. Andrew doesn’t put out his stance in this matter, but it works splendidly for him, as it doesn’t isolate as many individuals as if he put out whether he thinks being gay is a sin or not.

It does piss me off that there’s this e-tension online right now because of Andrew Marin not putting out a definitive stance, I love Andrew Marin very much and interacting with him I am certainly biased in leaning on his side of things rather than John’s. My issue isn’t so much the nature of this e-tension, my issue is that it goes against unity as followers of Christ.

Jesus before he went back to God prayed that we would be one, the Psalmist David acknowledges how wonderful and pleasant it is when we live together in harmony/unity. Harmony and unity doesn’t mean that we as followers of Christ will always see eye-to-eye on issues, but it does lean to that we share a commonality, that is faith in Jesus Christ, we are to be brothers and sisters in Christ and we should love one another as Christ loves us.
Ripping apart someone online hardly demonstrates Christlike love and humility, it’s okay to disagree with your brother or sister in Christ, live in that tension but don’t go e-spewing this to the world because it doesn’t add to the love of God that has been richly poured out on all of humanity, it takes away from it.
How are we going to expect to see change in this world if we can’t learn to get along? It takes away from our witness to others when we bicker and argue instead of getting along despite our differences.

Truth to be told, the only one who is pleased by this is the devil, he wants to us who are followers of Christ fight with one another because that takes away from our ministries (personal as well as public). When we lose our focal point, Jesus and what he did and how we can live to be like him, our ministries become about us and not about God.

John – please engage in dialogue with Andrew Marin in person, he’s a swell guy and even at the end of the day if you don’t agree, learn to accept it and not be hung up about it. I love you and so much of what you write, but it hurts and saddens me that your actions aren’t aligned with being Christlike.
Andrew – Keep the faith, hang in there, I love you and what you’re doing, may God be honored by the actions you and The Marin Foundation are taking to build bridges.

~Nathanael~