Waffling over Waffle Fries?

Not to jump on the bandwagon of controversy, but someone I love very much was struggling today over the issues I discuss below. This is for her…and you!

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I don’t know about you guys, but after a week of news stories, blog posts and Facebook statuses about Chick-fil-A, I’m a wee bit tuckered out.

Not physically, as most of them have been read as I sit on my bum, staring stupidly at a computer screen, with a cup of coffee or some M&M’s or a giant canister of sugary cereal by my side…

But emotionally.

And yes, spiritually.

I’ve been (through generalization, not directly) outraged, I’ve been confused, I’ve been labeled a hypocrite, I’ve been convicted, I’ve been humbled, I’ve been happy, I’ve been saddened, and I’ve been hungry (seeing references to Chick-fil-A nonstop for a week will make a girl positively pine for some waffle fries).

And as my fellow believers have also grown tired of all the controversy and all the opinions and all the nervous chatter, many have expressed their frustration with all this noise in beautifully written and passionate articles beseeching the Christian community to pipe down and, in a sense, remove the log from their own eye before hypocritically pointing out the speck of sin they see in our culture.

I agree with what these brothers and sisters are saying, and I adore their hearts. These needed articles resonated with me, and I know that, when read correctly, they can absolutely spur us on to love and good works. I also understand that they are speaking to a specific audience, i.e. the professing believers who make a bunch of racket, who rail at those who have different sin than they do, and who seem more concerned about the sin that the world is in love with (namely, homosexuality) rather than the sin that they hide in their own lives between church services (namely, gluttony, gossip, bitterness, pornography, etc. etc. etc.). I get it. They are making generalizations about a group of people who actually do exist and who are a major problem in our churches and in our culture.

That said, when people like me (I’ll explain in a second) read these articles, regardless of the authors’ intent, we can sometimes begin to feel guilty for being politically active. We can begin to feel ashamed for spending our lunch money on a chicken sandwich on Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. And worst of all, we can even begin to feel afraid to speak the truth – at all! – to a lost and dying world. And so I want to encourage those of you who are in my boat with a few more thoughts on the subject, hopefully tempering the blog messages I alluded to above for those who need a little boost…

What if you do meticulously see to your own marriage and seek to honor God in your family life?

What if your church disagrees with divorce as much as it does homosexuality?

What if you are not rude or hateful to homosexuals?

What if you take your own sin so seriously that it causes you to weep?

What if you do examine your own heart before pointing out the sin of another?

What if you’ve never resorted to ‘boycotting’ even when it was the popular thing to do?

What if you, by buying a chicken sandwich last Wednesday, were simply trying to encourage a Christian brother who had been unfairly criticized in the media and by elected United States officials?

What if your prime concern in political activeness is to defend the God who made this world and all the people in it?

What if you, too, are trying to live like Jesus did and to represent Him well?

What if you are loving your neighbor by pointing out his/her sin, and go about it in a Biblical manner?

What if you do care as much about the poor and the orphaned as you do about the Cathy family?

Of course, we fail in all of the above just as we fail in every area of godliness this side of heaven, but many of us who are concerned by the current political vibe in America and by what has taken place in the media these past couple of weeks are not necessarily the people who are mentioned in the articles I read this week.

We are sinners, saved by grace, and we know it.

We are concerned for our culture, because we love it.

We love and abide by the law of God, because He has miraculously changed our hearts and caused us to walk in truth.

We are stepping heavenward and striving to glorify God through each passing day, sharing the gospel on Monday, giving to the needy on Tuesday, buying a chicken sandwich on Wednesday, spending time with our family on Thursday, praying and fasting on Friday, engaging in discussions of truth concerning abortion and homosexuality on Saturday, and engaging in discussions of truth on gossip and divorce and bitterness and gluttony on Sunday.

My point is, Chick-fil-A Day was just another day in the believer’s life, and however you chose to spend that day was your prerogative, so long as you were honoring God in your heart and in your thoughts and are continually striving to be a good steward of what He has given you.

{The funny thing is, I did not go to Chick-fil-A on Wednesday! Too far away…}

I’ve heard a story from the Bible mentioned several times this week in reference to the Chick-fil-A debacle, in which the scribes and Pharisees brought the adulterous woman to Jesus to test Him that they might accuse Him, and He told them “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” As usual, He deflated and defeated these so-called beacons of righteousness in a sentence, bringing to obvious light their ridiculous hypocrisy. But do you know the last words that Jesus told the adulterous woman once the room had emptied of her accusers? “Go and sin no more.”

These are the same words that Jesus has said to us, are they not? These are words of life, words that save, words that inspire repentance.

Likewise, Jesus ate with tax collectors and harlots, but He never glazed over their sin so that He might win an audience with them. He loved them, He loved them well, and He did so by caring enough about them to tell them the truth, even as He met their needs…and guess what? Only a few followed Him; the rest hated Him and later killed Him.

And so I just want to encourage you. The world may not be hating you because you’ve done something wrong or sinful or hypocritical or because you support Chick-fil-A; they may be hating you because they hated the One you follow (John 15:18).

So, please, do not be afraid or embarrassed to share the words of life to those around you. Do not feel stupid for supporting your friends at Chick-fil-A last Wednesday. Do not stop actively engaging in this present struggle if the Lord puts it on your heart to do so. And do not feel like you have to become a silent doormat in a culture that needs to hear what you have to say; after all, “they” are not the problem and “you” (and your supposedly sinless life) are their solution. Rather, sin (in you and in me AND in them) is the problem and Jesus Christ is the answer. If that’s your obvious message, dear friend, you’re not saying anything wrong.

We can do it all, you know…

We can be as concerned about “gay marriage” as we are about divorce in the church.

We can be as outraged about our own sin as we are the sin of the world.

We can admonish those in the church while evangelizing those outside the church.

We can love the poor and needy and our brother, Dan Cathy.

We can be compassionate and passionate.

We can be strong and brave disciples without being hypocrites.

All that to say, chin up, brothers and sisters. This week has been rough, the messages and opinions confusing and varying and tumultuous and heart-wrenching…

but we’re not facing anything new here; our current struggle is as ancient as its solution.

It is for this solution – Jesus Christ and the life abundant that is found in following Him – that we continue to engage our culture with kindness, boldness, and most importantly, truth.

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After writing this, I came across this outstanding and succinct post from Kevin DeYoung. I highly recommend reading it!

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As ever, I read all comments, but I do not publish those that might lead to controversy or lengthy discussions in this section of my blog. I would love to respond to you privately, but I do not have that option. Thank you for understanding, and for taking the time to share your opinion!

A Craving for America

I already published this very post a month ago for the 4th of July, but in the wake of the recent Chick-fil-a controversy, I wanted to rework it a little and share it once more, in the hopes that it will pull our eyes off of the ridiculous spectacle that is being fed to us on television and through social media. It might seem like America has gone off-the-charts crazy, but go outside and look down your street. Everything is alright. Keep standing for your rights, eat some chicken if you want, but remember how our battles are really fought…in the voting booth, in the education of our children, and in our rational and gentle discussions with those we meet face to face.

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We were pulling into a parking spot at Chick-fil-a last month when our 5-year old son, Gideon, reverently breathed from the backseat…

“Papa…I’ve never been this close to a ‘Kuhmerican’ flag before…”

Looking out the window, my eyes landed on a flagpole next to the fast food restaurant that went up, up, up…

and at the very top gloriously waved a humongous American flag.

My heart melted a little.

It doesn’t take much, does it, to capture the wonder of a child? Their little eyes have a way of appreciating the simplest things in life, and I was reminded in the midst of our busy day to look up for a moment and gaze upon the beauty of our country’s flag waving majestically in the wind.

“Do you want to touch the flagpole?” Mr. Gore asked him.

“Yes!” Gideon exclaimed, and all thoughts of lunch were momentarily put aside as our family took a tiny field trip to the Chick-fil-a flagpole, to reach out and touch the metal that hoisted that very important statement of our freedom seemingly all the way up to the sky.

It was a brief and random moment in an otherwise hectic week, but it seated itself in my heart and fanned a longing that I’ve been having as our nation continues to wade through murky political turmoil…

I’ve got a craving for America.

Not the one that is found in the partisan arguments between liberals and conservatives on news channels…

Not the one that is written between the lines of the biased and sensationalist story shared in the newspaper…

Not the one that is found in every other status update on Facebook…

Not the one that is found in the ruthless and hateful comments following every article and blog post on the internet…

The voices of the people on my television and computer screens have become so loud and so vitriolic that I don’t know who to believe anymore. I have grown callous to their arguments and suspicious of their intentions ~ do they really care? Are the statistics they are sharing from an unbiased source? Do they truly want change or are they trying to make a buck or a name for themselves? What is their agenda, really?…

And I’m not the only one who feels that way. The spirit of my countrymen has become so bitter and jaded that few are really listening anymore; we have become like partisan robots who immediately agree with everything our political party says or we vehemently disagree with our opponents. On every. single. issue.

When we don’t get our way on those issues, we become fatalistic, as if America is dead. Freedom is dead. The “land of plenty” is a cursed wilderness…

But I’m looking around me, and even though I strongly disagree with many of the views our President stands for, and even though laws are being passed that cause my heart to painfully groan within me, and even though there are a thousand things I would change if I were given the power to do so, this is what I see…

I have good roads to drive on.

The mail is delivered to my mailbox every single day.

I am free to worship God as loudly and as consistently as I choose.

I have thousands of people I have never met who are training or are already trained to protect me – with their lives – if the need arises.

I have the right to school my children at home, and if I change my mind, there is a fully-equipped public school minutes from our house.

There are no bathrooms or water fountains in my town or my state or my country that can be used by only one race.

There are police officers, and firemen, and medical professionals a phone call away if I need help, day or night.

There is a grocery store down the street that contains more food choices in its tiny square footage than people have probably ever had in the history of the world.

I am a stay-at-home mom who is married to a pastor of a small church, and with our modest income, we still fit in the top 5% of the world’s wealthiest people. Because we’re Americans.

And no matter what the media says about which way our country is going, I still have my vote and I still have my freedom of speech.

I’m sure a Christian from ancient Greece or a suffragette from the 1900’s or a black man from the enslaved South or a Jew from Hitler’s Germany would absolutely love to trade lives with me, even if just for one day.

And so here’s what I want for my country as election day draws near…

some solidarity.

some patriotism.

some gratitude.

some respect for the office of President, no matter my political party.

some kindness.

I want to be heard without being labeled a close-minded conservative or a bigot or a nutcase Southern Baptist and I want to share my honest opinions and heartfelt beliefs without being called “judgmental”.

I want to hear the opinions of others with compassion and understanding, even if I know in my heart I will never agree with them.

I want to be well-informed and knowledgeable about our country’s state of affairs without being used as a pawn in a political game or to increase a show’s television ratings.

I want to use my most important tool of freedom, my vote, with pride and conviction.

I want to use my most important tool for lasting change, prayer, and faithfully beseech God on behalf of our nation and my fellow citizens, every single day.

I want to instruct the children in my sphere that change, in a democracy, always begins with you, not the folks in Washington D.C. or the people in high places.

I want to treat President Obama and his lovely wife the same way I wish my beloved G.W. and Laura would have been treated, disagreeing without disrespecting, keeping scorn and bitterness from my heart, and always remembering that presidents are not kings and will not sit in our White House forever.

I want to have faith and hope in a system of checks and balances and in a democracy that swings one way and then usually the other.

I want to enjoy hard work and stay busy enough that I stay out of trouble, and I want my neighbors and townspeople to do the same thing.

I want to worship the Creator as faithfully and boldly as I can while the opportunity is mine.

I want to study the unadulterated history of my country and teach it to my children, learning from our mistakes and celebrating our God-aided triumphs.

I want to use my rights to speak up – in a kind and effective way – for those who have no voice, specifically for those in the womb.

And mostly, I want to feel safe within my borders. Safe to speak, safe to live, safe to raise my children how I see fit, safe to worship, and safe to continue my personal pursuit of happiness.

And the funny thing is, when I tune out the voices on Fox News or CNN or in the comments sections of blogs and internet news stories or from the more out-of-touch celebrities on talk shows, I notice something: America, in my neck of the woods, is almost exactly what I’m looking for.

Of course there are things we must improve. There are freedoms and reforms we must continue to pursue like hounds. There might even be as much wrong as there is right…

But for a moment, I want to celebrate the good things, and thank God for this unprecedented chance to live in a free America, while begging Him for grace and guidance to use my freedoms and my blessings wisely and efficiently and, most importantly, generously.

I encourage you to unplug yourself from the talking heads (and mayors!) today and see with fresh eyes and a grateful heart what you’ve been given.

A beautiful homeland…

previously unheard of freedom and democracy…

a local community to support you…

hope for change…

and the most beautiful and breathtaking “Kuhmerican” flag that waves on nearly every corner, just for you to enjoy. Whether you are supporting Chick-fil-a in the weeks to come, boycotting them, or neither, I hope you’ll at least take a minute to stop and touch their flagpole…

And, if this post resonated with you, I just have to say it: “My pleasure!”

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As ever, feel free to share your thoughts with me, but I will only publicly share comments that will be edifying to my readers. Save the drama for another blogga.