Wednesday, October 28, 2015

the new gospel

Dear Abigail, Benjamin, and Elizabeth,

The reason Jane Eyre is such a good book is because she didn't compromise her faith for her feelings. 
We were watching a show that I checked out from the library the other day..a Masterpiece Mystery to be exact.
(Side-note: I love how the beginning of BBC Masterpiece Mystery has remained the same over the years. That creepy Gothic animation makes me think of my Grandma and how much she loved a good mystery.)
I've noticed that the Brits love a good mystery too, especially a mystery involving the clergy.
The scene is set...
the tranquil English countryside, a sleepy little hamlet, the narrow cobble stoned streets, the stone church, the gossipy congregation, the subdued Vicar, and (gasp) what's this?
Oh yes..."murder most foul".
And who, pray tell, finds himself up to his white clerical collar in the blood of the innocent victims? None other than our unassuming man of God.
It's our hero, the humble priest, who cracks the case and finds some sort of spiritual application for the Sunday sermon while he's at it as well.
Wholesome suspense at it's finest... until now.
Enter the newest BBC Masterpiece Mystery called, Granchester.
I will begin by saying that I love the idea and premise behind this series.
The main character, a handsome World War II Scots Guard veteran turned priest, Sydney Chambers, finds himself drinking pints and solving mysteries with Geordie Keating, the chain smoking gruff detective with a knack for backgammon.
Throw in an adorable English black lab puppy known as Dickens and you have a show with some promise...
And here it is again...
an insecure curate, Leonard Finch, who just came on to the Granchester scene is portrayed as the male effeminate trying to suppress his sexual desire for the same sex because, according to what he has interpreted from the Word of God and the church, "God hates homosexuals" and "homosexuals go straight to hell"... and what better way to run away from (in his own words) "debase" tendencies than devote himself to the church?
This show was good until it offended me.
Granchester offended me in the attempt to serve up lumps of immorality poured into a pretty little English tea cup of the Christian faith...
"you can have your cake and eat it too" kind of faith.
Yes, two men making out offends me (how can I be so narrow-minded!?),
but what offends me even more is the way that this series portrays the church and homosexuals.
The Bible says that homosexuality is a sin,
just one of the many sins that nailed Christ our Savior to the cross.
So all of us who have put our trust in the redemption of the cross of Christ are sinners saved by grace through faith.
All of us.
Because we have been saved we turn away from our old desires that once ruled us. 
We now live to serve Christ.
To present a message that potentially portrays a practicing homosexual ministering in the body of Christ and believing that his or her life lived out as a homosexual is glorifying God and fulfilling His ultimate purpose for their life goes contrary to the Gospel message.
This new gospel message draws a line right down the body of Christ and divides us into separate camps;
The gracious Christians who except homosexuality as a union blessed by God,
and The ungracious Christians who oppose homosexuality as a union blessed by God.
Something deep down inside of me revolts when I begin to understand the agenda behind this new message.
I'm not naive enough to believe that offending a Christian really matters to anyone anymore, but...
Granchester has wrapped up homosexuality in a pseudo evangelical package in hopes to convince the Christian viewer, like me, that his or her ideals are not only ignorant but un-biblical.
It appears to me that the goal of media today is the desensitizing of any morals contrary to mainstream ideals.
This agenda is everywhere, the impetus being a generalized evolution of sorts towards a society that can embrace all forms of sexual orientation.
A couple of weeks ago Aaron and I were able to go to a Jennifer Knapp concert.
Jennifer Knapp is an incredibly gifted artist.
The concert was one of the best I've ever been to.
Aaron and I have been to Jennifer Knapp concerts in the past.
But this one was different.
Many years ago Jennifer was signed with a Christian label.
She only played at Christian concerts.
Concerts with masses of people.
Those concerts were not my favorite.
But she was.
Then Jennifer kind of dropped off the music scene for a while.
And the rumors spread like wildfire.
My own Christian brothers and sisters were slandering her,
shaking their fists at her,
stones in hand.
Because Jennifer Knapp "came out" as a lesbian.
So she stopped singing for people.
She stopped sharing her gift for years.
The concert we attended the other night was in a small bar.
Aaron and I went because we wanted to hear Jennifer share her gift.
We wanted to hear her story.
In her own words.
Her struggle to reconcile the gospel she still believes in alongside her lesbian lifestyle is apparent.
She wants both.
Her message is about living as a follower of Christ who also embraces the homosexual lifestyle.
I'm so grateful we went to hear her.
She is still my favorite.
But I disagree with her message. 
And my heart is grieved with this new gospel that is being presented everywhere.
After watching Granchester and listening to Jennifer Knapp the message is clear..
God accepts me and loves me just the way I am.
But thankfully the truth of the Gospel message does not stop there.
God loves us and receives us just the way we are,
but then He does something only God can do. 
He gives us a brand new life.
The promise of eternity with Him.
And fully glorifying to Him.
We are accepted by the Father, 
not as we WERE, 
but as we now ARE. 
In Christ. 

I know, I know...this is my third post on the subject. (And I've edited it about three times already!)
I just pray that you kids are reading this one day and understand just how much our unchangeable God loves you and that the beautiful purpose He has designed you for is way above and beyond anything that you could imagine. Trust Him.

Love forever,

Jennifer Knapp sandwiched between two Kookies

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Ben's Seventh Grade Moon Phases display. His teacher emailed us to let us know how impressed he was with Ben's project. "Proud Parent" moment for sure! 

Ben is an avid reader and already a gifted writer.
Ben loves to engineer.
He tells me that I shouldn't say he loves Lego's but that he loves what he can create with Lego's.
Ben loves anything that can fly. He and Daddy love airshows and air/space museums.
Ben is not afraid of heights.
Ben loves battle planning and strategy.
He loves hand to hand combat.
He loves going to Kempo on Wednesday nights with AbbySue.
Ben loves swords and spears and bows and arrows.
He prefers these weapons to guns because in his mind these require more skill in battle.
Let me take that back, Ben loves pistols and semi automatics rifles depending on the time period...because time period is a big deal to Ben.
He loves history.
Ben is very detail oriented when it comes to costume and set design.
He has his own collection of hand made costumes and weapons piled up in his closet for becoming...
a hobbit,
a dwarf,
a Jedi,
a World War II super soldier,
Indiana Jones,
Marty McFly,
Percy Jackson,
Jack Sparrow,
a Steampunk Scientist,
Tin Tin,
a Samurai Warrior,
and the list goes on.
He has his own fire pit on the acre under the tree house.
He loves to cook outside.
Ben loves the rain, the mist, and the fog.
These are his favorite days to play outside, preferably barefooted.
I love to catch little glimpses of him flying through the trees, swinging a sword at an orc or pointing a pistol at a Nazi.
Ben is always sneaking sips of our coffee and he loves to eat.
Ben is a foodie in every sense of the word.
In fact I think food may be his "love language".
Every time I make a meal he hugs me and he tells me that he can't wait to grow up and cook delicious food for his wife and kids.
And he wants a lot of kids.
He wants to live here in Silverton but on a big piece of property so that he can build Hobbit Houses for all those kids to play in.
Ben loves to draw.
His comic sketches seriously make me laugh.
Ben loves to hang out with his friends but he loves to have time to himself.
Ben loves Tuesday night Youth Group and a freckle nosed girl who steals his hat every week.
He never goes to youth group without his hat on.
Ben is fiercely loyal and not too thrilled about change.
Ben loves his sisters and his sisters adore him.
Ben is gracious but he struggles not to hold a grudge.
Ben is genuine but a skeptic.
Ben is sensitive but holds in emotions that might make him vulnerable to criticism.
I'm writing all of this today because Ben is on the edge of crossing over from a boy to a young man.
We can can see it.
I'm excited to see the man that he will become and how God will use all of these gifts in the future.
I understand that he has to grow up and that he won't be a hobbit outside for much longer.
I know that his costumes and weapons will be traded in for real life sooner than later and that before long I will be looking up to him,
but the mommy part of me kinda of wishes that our backyard truly was Neverland and that Ben's only battles would be against the "Captain Hooks" of his own imaginings.
The truth is, all that his blessed childhood has been is preparing him for the man that he is called to be tomorrow. And when tomorrow comes we will let him go...
filled with pride and gratitude to be known as Ben's parents.

*"Benjinuity" is the word that Daddy came up with and we think it fits this brainy boy just right.

Friday, October 16, 2015


I see Zibby turning cartwheels down the same aisle of the church where Aaron and I exchanged vows over sixteen years ago.
I tell Zibby not to turn cartwheels in church, but inside I'm struck with beauty of it all.
Our little daughter had an impulsive idea that took over and she seized the opportunity.
I'm so glad she did.
Because life has been so heavy lately.
I needed to see her do something "happy" and "un-inhibited" and "fun."
She was comfortable in that place at that moment so, our painfully shy daughter traded caution for cartwheel mode.
Because sometimes you can't help yourself.
Sometimes you just gotta turn a cartwheel in the sanctuary.
It's the same joyous impulse that took over Aaron and I after we said our "I Do's" all those years ago.
We kissed.
We turned.
We smiled and,
throwing caution to the wind, we jumped off that last step, leaving the individual people that we once were up on the altar, and literally ran as one person down that church aisle.

If we had known then what we know now we wouldn't have believed it...
Although we were married at Emmanuel Bible Church we did not go to church there.
We met and fell in love at our beloved church...Calvary Chapel Christian Fellowship in Salem, Oregon when we were barely in our twenties.
Our Pastor, Mentor, and Friend married us.
We served together as worship leaders at Calvary Chapel for almost 20 years.
My family has faithfully ministered through Calvary Chapel since I was nine years old.
My servant hearted dad is an Assistant Pastor at Calvary Salem and my mom serves through worship, ministering to women, children's ministries, etc.
Our extended family all attend Calvary Chapel Salem.
Our closest friends and loved ones, all of those who have prayed for us, stood by us, encouraged us, those who have laughed and cried with us, they are all a part of our Calvary Chapel Family.
All three of our children were dedicated to Christ at Calvary Chapel.

So, the foreignness of seeing one of our children turn a cartwheel after service at a different church is, for us, a big deal.
The only other times in our lives together as a family that we have attended a different church were when we lived out of the state.
We never left Calvary Chapel in our hearts.
We always said goodbye with hope to return.
No hard feelings...everyone understood why we had to go.

Almost two months ago we made one of the hardest decisions of our lives.
We stepped away from all ministry at Calvary Chapel and started to seriously pray together over where our hearts were being lead.
That prayer and those convictions challenged us to leave the only church we have ever really called home.
We never imagined it.
But we had to obey.
All the reasons why we left are private and personal to us.
Every attempt I make at an explanation goes up in flames.
We simply had to go.
And we had to go quietly.
There are so many hard parts to this....but for me, personally, the hardest part is not being able to say goodbye or to explain.
The misunderstandings of it all keep me up at night.
I'm glad that God does not sleep.
It is not easy going to a new church when your own comfortable and familiar church is just down the road.
It's not easy to understand when you are 8, 12, and 14.
It's not easy to understand when you are 37 & 39 either.

But, Faith is the Substance of Things Hoped for, the Evidence of Things Not Seen. 
This kind of challenge is about Faith.
It's about Conviction.
It's about Honesty.
But above all else it's about Obedience.
And with each step of faithful obedience that we take our hearts feel that much more free.
It started with a step,
and then a leap that became a run,
and then a run that turned over into cartwheels of liberty.
And, like a kind of life cartwheel, we find ourselves full circle...
back at the place where our family began,
and at least that part of it feels like Home.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set is free..." Galatians 5:1