THIS THING ABOUT HATRED AND BIGOTRY

The recent personal views of Chik-Fil-A’s CEO on same-sex marriage created a flap of unprecedented proportions on the issue. Normally, I would not write anything here about something so controversial. But there is something that causes me great concern. You see, if we take our cue from mass media and homosexual activists, one would have to conclude that Christians are absorbed by bigotry and filled with hate toward homosexuals. Has no one noticed that this is awfully one-sided to say the least?

About 40 years ago, Anita Bryant—singer, former Miss Oklahoma, and spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Industry—took a stand in opposition to “gay rights” legislation in Florida. She publicly stated that as a Christian she did not “hate” gays, but did believe it was sinful behavior. She received a ton of hate mail and phone calls laced with profanities, and involving death threats as well as threats to harm her family.

Just a few years ago, a Christian church near Chicago held a seminar to discuss homosexuality from a Biblical perspective. The public was invited. TV news reports showed an angry crowd outside the church shouting profanities, threats and accusations of hatred and bigotry. All the while several church members were calmly and lovingly serving water to the crowd from a booth on the church lawn.

Recently, Brad Pitt’s mom publicly expressed her beliefs about same-sex marriage and her opposition to abortion. Her son holds differing opinions but that didn’t stop the “gay rights” gang. She, too, has received hate mail, been abused on Twitter (including death threats) and portrayed as a hate-filled bigot.

Are there Christians who are bigoted and hateful? Yes. But my experience shows them to be in a minority. “Gay bashing” has taken place, but when I have been able to look into the lives of those who were guilty, I would not call them Christians! Most Christians believe homosexuality is a sin but don’t hate those who practice it. In the meantime, a large number of “gay rights” activists spew hatred and intolerance, and hypocritically accuse anyone who disagrees with them as bigoted and hate-filled. Our mass media—both TV and print—sheepishly echoes that view. The American public deserves a more honest and balanced report on this issue than we are getting.

Yours for honesty, integrity and Christian love,

Lloyd

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I’ll Spit On …

I’ll Spit On His Grave

By Lloyd Cain
[names and places have been changed to protect the guilty]

“I’ll live long enough to see him dead and I’ll spit on his grave.” Thirty-nine-year-old Brian spoke of the vow he had made while still a small boy. His dad had abandoned the family to take up with a younger woman. Brian felt unloved, unwanted, and bitter.

During the next fourteen years father and son lived only a mile apart in the same town north of Dallas but never visited or spoke to each other. Dad moved to Oklahoma and an additional twenty years drifted by. Both father and son maintained their stubborn silence, stifled their feelings, and anesthetized their hearts.

It all began to change with a phone call. A restrained, apprehensive voice spoke these few simple words, “Dad? This is your son. It’s Brian.”

There was a long pause. “Yes, what do you want?’

“I want to come see you—talk a minute.”

After another long pause, the reply was a hesitant, “All right, come on over.”

The drive to Oklahoma took a little more than an hour. “Dad, I’ve made a big change in my life. I’ve found something different, something special.” Brian didn’t reveal it was Jesus. He had heard his dad was antagonistic toward religion, although dad had once been an active Christian. So, at this first strained meeting, Brian thought it best to simply show his faith. Talking about it could come later.

Brian extended his hand, “I haven’t acted right toward you and I think we need to shake hands and start over.” His father took Brian’s hand, limply at first, then more firmly.

Instantly, a balm of compassion and forgiveness gently brushed across years of emotional abrasions. Healing began. Father and son were freed to rebuild a long-neglected relationship.

Eventually, Brian did share his faith and, to his surprise, it was warmly received. Within three years his father died from cancer. Toward the end, he indicated that his once active faith in Jesus was only a memory. Together, in prayer, they renewed that relationship too.

A few days before his father died, Brian spoke with him briefly. He ended the conversation by saying, “I love you, dad.” There was a brief pause and his father replied, “I love you too son.”

These were words that would never have been uttered if Brian had not met Jesus Christ. They were joy-producing words that could never be spoken until Brian forgave an undeserving father—until he forgave just as he had been forgiven by the Lord.

Brian attended the funeral and the graveside service, but not to spit on his father’s grave. Instead, as he gazed at the simple coffin, he softly repeated the words that were such a long time in coming, “I love you, dad.”

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MY FRIEND KYLE (a story)

The following story has been circulating on the Internet for a while. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s fiction. But the message is powerful. The author is unknown. While I’m not a professional editor, the story did seem to need a bit of editing. So, the following is my edited version . .

One day as a freshman in high school I noticed a kid from my class walking home from school. Later, I leaned his name was Kyle. He appeared to be carrying every one of his school books. I thought, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on Friday? He must really be a nerd.”

I had quite a weekend planned—parties and a football game with friends tomorrow afternoon—so I shrugged my shoulders and walked on. That was when I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They barged into him, scattering his books and dumping him into the dirt. His glasses flew off and landed in the grass about ten feet away.

He looked up with a terrible sadness, resisting the tears that formed anyhow. My heart went out to him. As he crawled around looking for his glasses I jogged over, found his glasses and handed them to him. “Those guys are jerks. They really should get a life,” I said.

He looked up at me and, with a big smile that showed real gratitude, said, “Hey thanks!” I helped him pick up his books and asked where he lived.

As it turned out, he lived nearby. So I asked why I had never seen him before. He said that, until now, he had gone to a private school. We talked all the way home and I carried some of his books.

He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked if he wanted to play a little football with my friends. He agreed. We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him. My friends felt the same.

Monday morning there was Kyle with that huge stack of books again. I said, “Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!” He just laughed and handed me half the books to carry.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors we began talking about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown and I was going to Duke. He planned to become a doctor. I was going for a business degree on a football scholarship. But I knew that we would always be friends. The miles apart would never be a problem.

Kyle was valedictorian of our high school class. He deserved it but I teased him all the time about being a nerd. Naturally, he had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was just glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.

Graduation day came. Kyle looked great. Over the years he had filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He was one of those guys who really found themselves during high school.

All the girls loved him. He had more dates than I did. Boy, sometimes I was jealous! Today was one of those days—except for the speech.

Kyle was obviously nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me with one of his really grateful smiles and said, “Thanks.”

When it came time for his speech, he cleared his throat and began . . . “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years—your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach, but mostly your friends. I can say to all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. And, I want to tell you a story.”

I looked at my friend Kyle with disbelief as he told about the first day we met. He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He had cleaned out his locker so his mom wouldn’t have to do it later. That’s why he had all those books.

He glanced my way and gave me a little smile, “Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.”

A gasp swept through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told all about his weakest moment in life. His mom and dad looked at me with that same grateful smile I had seen so often on Kyle. Until that moment I had not realized its depth.

So, never underestimate the power of your actions. With a single small gesture you can literally change a person’s life—for better or for worse. It’s fair to say that God puts us on this earth to impact other people’s lives in some noble way.

Look for God in others. Look for the good. Compliment them. Encourage them.

Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to our Christian brothers and sisters. Galatians 6:10 (New Living Translation)

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TO CHANGE, OR NOT TO CHANGE, THAT IS THE QUESTION

“Change is not always growth, just as movement is not always progress.” The author of this statement is unknown although some variant of it has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln and others. A Google search will, indeed, find the first part quoted by a large number of individuals. Regardless of who said it first, or who said it most, it is true.

In church circles, perhaps, we use it most often whenever something comes up we disagree with. Our hope is that the comment will put an end to change we don’t like. However, what isn’t said at such times is the fact that there is a flip side to the statement. The flip side is simple—not all resistance to change is healthy.

In fact, Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” Anwar Sadat (president of Egypt 1970-1981) said it like this: “He who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality and will never, therefore, make any progress.” Change is inevitable. That’s simply the world we live in. And how we handle it makes all the difference.

We see this flip-side truth in a real life example. Discount retailers were on the scene long before Wal-Mart. Perhaps the earliest to go national was K-Mart and they enjoyed success for many years. Their troubles began when Sam Walton came along and quickly realized the value of computers to maintain and control inventory—computers could actually cut costs. By passing along these savings to consumers, Wal-Mart grew rapidly.

K-Mart’s top management saw the handwriting on the wall. So, they called in store managers and urged them to adapt to the computer age. By far, the majority refused. They insisted on sticking with the tried-and-true, the familiar, the easy (but labor intensive) hand inventory—done at least annually. Instead of replacing these recalcitrant store managers, top management buckled. The rest is history.

Despite an infusion of capital and merger with national retailer Sears, K-Mart is struggling to stay afloat in today’s modern economy. It’s questionable whether they will survive.

Change is risky. That, too, is a universal truth. The advantage we have in the church, however, is the possession of an infallible guidebook—the Bible. Proposed changes can be filtered through its eternal principles of life and behavior.

Change should never be resisted on the basis of personal preference or opinion. Unfortunately, many of the battles in today’s church fall into one—or both—of those categories. Resistance to change often comes from an attitude (mainly unspoken) that “we’ve never done it that way before”—or some variation of that theme—so it must be wrong.

Ever since the apostles, the church has changed. The church adapted to the culture surrounding it. Sometimes the change was good. Other times it was not. For example, the early church gradually adapted its organizational structure to reflect the top-heavy hierarchy of the Roman Empire (especially after Constantine became the first “Christian” emperor). The simple structure and autonomy of individual congregations (as described in the Bible—see, for example, Philippians 1:1; Acts 14:23) was lost. It began to be recovered only many centuries later with the Protestant Reformation.

On the other hand, some change has been good. Most of us enjoy the music of four-part harmony in our hymns and spiritual songs. But this innovation did not become part of the church until around 1800. And it was resisted every step of the way. Some thought it too worldly (four-part harmony became part of musical culture before it was introduced into the church). Others even considered it “unbiblical.” Nowadays, almost everyone realizes that four-part harmony can be uplifting and bring an enriching experience to worship. It is not a Biblical issue (and never was), but it is a matter of personal preference, pleasure, and enrichment.

I don’t have the time, or the inclination, to list all the ways we battle with each other in today’s church over issues that reflect personal preferences and opinions more than they do Bible principles. But I do hope this article will cause us to reflect on our perspective of change. And that we will be motivated to “stick with the Word.”

Final thought: “Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NLT)

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Guess I’m Irish

Many years ago a friend who had emigrated here from England told me that the double LL in my name indicated a Gallic origin. He also said it was pronounced with a sound something like you were clearing your throat followed by the letters “loyd.” And it is true that there are Irish ancestors on my mother’s side of the family. Pepper was her maiden name.

This is my first try at WordPress. Maybe something a bit more interesting to others on my next attempt. Have a great day.

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