Cecil the Lion, Planned Parenthood and Beards

I know you may be wondering how the three things mentioned in the title of this post relate. Bear with me, we will get there.

Cecil the lion

Let’s start with Cecil the lion. Cecil was killed a few weeks ago. Cecil was a long time tourist favorite who called a Zimbabwe national park home. As long as he was on this dedicated portion of land, he was protected from hunters. He had a pretty good life I’m told.

A few weeks ago he was lured out of the park, according to news reports, and once out of the safety zone, he was promptly shot and killed by a dentist from a small town in Minnesota. Now, I am sad for Cecil. I’m sad for all the tourists who will never get to see him. He shouldn’t have been killed and from what I’ve heard, those who arranged for all this to happen are going to be charged with crimes.

Cecil’s untimely death has caused a deluge of anger to be released. People are mad at the poachers and the dentist. So mad, that they are organizing protests, calling in death threats, demanding that the dentist’s patients drop him and go elsewhere for their fillings. Big name supermodels, animal rights activists and politicians are seething in anger, wanting to exact revenge on someone who could do such a terrible thing. They are up in arms over this, rallying the troops, sending out email blasts, swamping social media and making headlines with their passion for the cause.

Planned Parenthood

Then there’s Planned Parenthood. This group has been in the headlines a lot recently. This is a group of purveyors of death who specialize in killing innocent babies and then, apparently, selling the organs of those babies for profit, in the name of research. Not only is all this an abomination, marketing the body parts is illegal. Yet, you find them defending themselves and being justified by others. Its really crazy. Millions of babies being killed, yet public outcry is minimal.

Of course, now that the news of what they have been doing is out, sponsors and donors are jumping ship like fleas in a creosote plant. There has been a small public outcry but the media and politicians  immediately condemn anyone who takes a stand against such atrocities as outdated and dumb. Pro-abortionists loudly and proudly proclaim their cause and are using what should be a negative to further brainwash a new generation.

Beards

Okay. So here’s where it gets a little crazy. On Facebook the other day, I ran across this link to a blog written by, as his site notes, a pastor, evangelist, conference speaker, camp meeting speaker and banquet speaker. I will not reveal his name. In the post I am referring to here, he goes on a little rant about how beards are making a comeback in the church. He uses historical, cultural, and ethnicity arguments to prove his point that facial hair on men is not, in his words, “expedient.” I find it interesting to note he did not produce one scripture to back up his inference that facial hair is a sin. Maybe its because there is none.

I was also intrigued by the responses he got to his post. One person said, “…and I feel the same with colored shirts on the platform.” This comment brought a flood of responses from people who declared they would never wear colored shirts (white shirts only) on the platform. One even had a divine revelation. Another wrote that he would never wear a short sleeved shirt and only occasionally would he roll up his long sleeved shirt. One lady said, “Take it from a woman, facial hair on men is gross.” Another said. “The reason I don’t grow/wear facial hair? Most backslidden preachers do.” Then, here was the kicker. “Put your finger in your ear. If your sideburns are lower than your finger; it’s facial hair.”

Okay, Okay. I know you’re wondering where all this is heading. I also know I am opening myself up to criticism and judgement. I can live with that.

  • So, there are 42 million abortions performed every year around the world. In 50 years between 1 and 2 billion babies have been murdered at the hands of abortionists.
  • Between 20 and 30 million humans are being trafficked in the world today. 80% of them in the sex trade industry. 80% of those are women and 50% of those are children. Human trafficking is the third largest crime industry in the world behind drugs and arms trafficking. (Dosomething.org)
  • Drugabuse.gov estimates there are 24.6 million drug addicts in America.
  • NCADD.org estimates there are 17.6 million alcohol abusers in America.

On and on the list could go, of things that are wrecking lives and creating havoc in our world.

What bothers me is where our priorities are. People are dying because of drugs and alcohol; Children and young people are being abused and used as instruments of commerce to satisfy deviant behavior; Christians overseas are being beheaded and burned alive because they will not denounce the name of Christ; Politicians and judges are playing with our lives and freedoms; Poverty is being perpetuated by governments for the sake of power and control; We are losing our children to the ideologies and lies spread by the purveyors of hedonism and pornography and Hollywood idealism, and what are some churches and people doing? Debating the nuances of facial hair on men. Come on! Really?

This is why Paul said in Romans 2:24  As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Read Romans 1 and 2 for the context)

Thankfully, not everyone is caught up in religious moralism that is graceless and all about self-preservation. If  you want to be part of that mentality, that’s your prerogative, but there is a movement that, without compromise, lives out the true meaning of Christianity.  One that does not throw stones because the people who make it up recognize their own messiness. This is the movement I want to make sure I remain a part.

Our responsibility is to PREACH THE GOSPEL, to spread the Good News and to live into His righteousness, which is His gift to us (Romans 5:15). If we will live into that gift, which by the way is not deserved (we have it because of grace) or earned, we will then bear the fruit of His righteousness in our lives.

So, let’s get our priorities in alignment. As my spiritual mentor often says, “Let the main thing be the main thing.” Here’s my recommendation. Make friends with some sinners. Quit just hanging out with your “Christians Only” club. Be with some real people for a change and it will change your perspective. Hang out with some people who’ve been raped, abused, used and discarded. You might just find out that there are more important things to get “hung up” on.

The day “evil did what evil does” (Lafayette, Louisiana Theater Killing)

On Thursday, July 23, 2015, in the beautiful city of Lafayette, Louisiana, evil did what evil does. Actually, evil had been hard at work weeks, months or even years before that fateful Thursday. Somewhere at some time, evil crept stealthily into the mind of a broken man. Evil then stalked him, waiting for just the perfect moment to make its ambitious move.

Finally, on a gorgeous day in a Lafayette motel, evil saw the opening it had been looking for. With seductive glee, evil whispered into the ear of a desperate man and convinced him to carry out a diabolical plan. “Go to a local theater, buy a ticket to a movie, and oh yeah, don’t forget to take your gun. When you go into the theater, sit near the back. Wait until the movie has reached out and grabbed the audience, then stand up and start shooting people. It doesn’t matter that those people are innocent. As a matter of fact, that’s even better,” evil says. “That will enhance my reputation even more.”

“And,” evil continues, “you can get away with it. Park your car near an exit. Then in the confusion caused by your grand surprise, mix with the crowd and make your escape. You’ll be famous and you’ll finally get some degree of satisfaction that somebody is finally paying for all the bad things people have done to you.”

So the man does as evil commands. He stands in line with innocent people, young and old, who are just out on a hot summer Thursday to enjoy a movie and maybe some popcorn and a cola. He then makes his way to Theater 14, finds a seat near the back, checks to make sure his gun is still where he put it, and sits down. He watches as about a hundred people find there places. There’s lively chatter and laughter in an atmosphere punctuated by low lights and the smell of buttered popcorn.

The man is probably nervous as he thinks about what he is about to do, but the voice of evil comforts him by telling him he’s doing the right thing. After all, people like those he was sitting with were responsible for his misery. Somebody needed to pay.

The movie starts and the man waits for the moment. Finally, twenty minutes or so in, evil whispers, “Now!” Like a robot, the man stands and starts shooting. One, two, three shots ring out and now he loses all control. He keeps pulling the trigger and watches as a chaotic scene unfolds in front of him.

When its all said and done, two beautiful young women are dead and many others are wounded. Seeing that evil had lied to him about escaping, the man turns the gun on himself, pulls the trigger for a final time, and just like that, its done. Evil grins and mutters, “Mission accomplished.”

How should we respond to heinous events such as this one that occurred in my hometown? Our initial reaction is of course, disbelief. How could this happen, not just in Lafayette, but anywhere? After the initial shock, then comes the anger. This is where we must be careful. In our pursuit of justice, we often lose sight of the real enemy. We naturally think things like, “The killer deserved to die.” And certainly, he did deserve to pay for his actions. We also must not, (and we will not), forget the innocent victims and their heartbroken families.

The real villain here though is not the man who pulled the trigger. The gun is not the villain either. If we blame the gun, we also must blame the car that took him to the theater, the motel that allowed him to rest and scheme, and the contractor who built the theater.

No, the real villain is the culture of evil that was born when the first person chose to not do good. God did not create evil as some would suggest. Everything He created was “good.” Evil is simply the absence of good and our world has created an atmosphere where, even though its the way of cowards, self-gratification is more easily attained by choosing to shun good even though it may come at the expense of someone else’s success or even their life.

So, is there hope? Evil seems to be winning. It seems to be winning with terrorism. It seems to be winning with poverty, hunger and politics. I believe good will eventually prevail. As Christians we must never forget the promises God has made to His people.

Ps 37:7  says, “Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.” NLT

Because we have and believe God, the proper response to tragedies like this should reflect our faith in His Word. While we must abhor evil, we cannot forget that our purpose on earth is to preach the Gospel, especially in times like these. While we cannot give people faith, we can give them hope and hope is where faith is formed.

So, if evil exists only in the absence of good, our comeback to evil should be a response of good. Let the volume of good be louder than the volume of evil. You see, darkness does not chase away the light, light defeats darkness. Darkness does not exist, only an absence of light.

So our response to the evil, while including mourning with those who suffered injury and loss, will be with good. We will love those who persecute us. We will pray for those who hurt us. We will spread the hope of Jesus Christ.

The events of July 23 should serve to unite us. No matter our ethnicity, culture, religion or lifestyle, we have a common purpose and that is to combat evil. So evil, we serve notice to you. Our troops are deploying, but we are not coming with knives, guns or civil disobedience. We are coming in the name of what is right and good and in case you haven’t noticed, good always prevails in the end.

To the people of Lafayette, God is not mad at you. He loves you. He has a plan, it’s brilliant and we are all in it. Of course, His plan did not include the murder of innocent people, but in view of the fact that someone chose to not do good, God is present and ready to help the suffering cope with their loss. He will use present circumstances to unite us in cause and spirit and if we allow, He will help us defeat the spirit of evil that is out to destroy us all.

To the injured, and to the families of  Jillian Johnson and Mayci Breaux, though we cannot fully grasp the depth of your grief, our hearts are broken for you. We are praying for you and we know God will bring the comfort that only He can give.

To the family of the killer, John Houser, we pray also for you. May the grace and mercy of God be with you.

And, to Westboro Baptist Church, if you decide to visit our beautiful city, do not think that just because we are a Happy City that we will just lay down and let you spew your hate. We will rise up, but our rising up will be with the banner of God’s love and mercy and His unbounded grace. We will drown you out and send you back to your hole in the ground with your tails tucked. Know this!