Rick Warren – “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
I’m glad soon-to-be NFL player Michael Sam came out as gay on Sunday. We’ve always known just based on statistics that there’s multiple, gay professional athletes. So I think it’s a good thing that we finally have a gay, male athlete who is currently active in a team sport (Jason Collins was inactive and out of the NBA). Now we can all acknowledge the obvious, let other guys come out and move on without all the speculation, rumors and gossip.
Moving forward, my hope is that we can have a national dialogue that leads to healing in our culture of multiple fractures. To see my hope realized though, we’re all going to have to take a step back and realize what it will take to heal, namely that tolerance is a two-way street. As defined, tolerance is “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with”, which means we don’t all need to agree on everything and when we don’t we should “tolerate” those opinions that are different from our own.
Healing also means understanding, for those that have been dug in, that homosexuality has been used as a wedge issue between Right and Left for too long, and that needs to stop. For too long, there has been too much irrational anger, hostility and crazed attitudes on both sides.
On the Left – because there are those of us who believe that sexual expressiveness (not attractions) outside of male / female relationships and marriage is outside of God’s designed plan doesn’t make us “intolerant, hateful, homophobic bigots. If you are reading this and you buy into this caricature, then you’re part of the problem.
On the Right, homosexuality isn’t the be all, end all sin leading to the destruction of Western Civilization that so many of you think it is. God doesn’t differentiate when it comes to sexual sin. If you are reading this and you buy into this caricature, then you’re part of the problem.
I would personally submit that pro athletes, who young people look up to as role models, fathering multiple children with multiple women has a far more disastrous impact on the culture than pro athletes living openly homosexual lifestyles. I repeat, God does not judge nor categorize sexual sin. The homosexual can be a saved Christian the same way the heterosexual adulterer, fornicator or the heterosexual who lusts in his / her mind or on the internet can be a saved Christian.
The litmus test for me on how we should treat others, I believe, is how we would want people to treat our children. The litmus test for how we should love others, I believe is how we love our children. I personally would not demean my children in any way. And regardless of decisions, choices, attractions or the lifestyle that my children choose, I WILL ALWAYS LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY. Why? Because God loves me unconditionally, without fault nor blemish.
Ultimately, we are all sinners. As Christians, our only job is to point people to the Cross, the Truth of the Gospel message that (see Romans Road): We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” That the “wages of sin” is spiritual death and eternal separation from God. That the Good News is that while we were STILL sinners Christ died for us. That if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that we’ll be saved. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
The Gospel is truth, love, grace and mercy. Too many Christians know the truth and are good as plank-eyed saints in wagging their finger in people’s faces. But if you don’t show people the love, grace and mercy of Jesus, then they’ll never accept the truth of who He is.
Bill is on staff with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a Deacon at Eagles Landing FBC in McDonough, GA. He lives in Locust Grove with his wife Amy and their three children. You can follow Bill on Facebook or Twitter @billrenje and learn more about him at his website www.achosenbullet.com
February 11th Posted in: Uncategorized with 2 Comments
1 – What’s going on at inner city high schools? – Tuesday, December 10, 2013
2 – Empowering young athletes goes far beyond the field of competition - Tuesday, December 17, 2013
3 – Empowering young black men, the fix – Tuesday, January 7, 2014
4 – Fulfilling MLK’s Dream – Tuesday, January 21, 2014
January 22nd Posted in: Uncategorized with No Comments
I think most people are deeply disappointed with the ineptitude in Washington D.C. Nowhere, I believe has this played out more than the recent government shutdown. I, for one, am completely sick and tired of all the finger pointing and if you’re one of the ones pointing fingers at “the other side”, than you’re part of the problem, not the solution.
So if I were to write an open letter to our nation’s leadership I would plead with them:
Please stop placing blame on your political foes and work together to the very real problems that threaten to bring this once great country to its knees and break our collective back. The sooner you all look in the mirror and realize each party is equally to blame for the mess we’re in, the sooner our nation can heal and move forward with fresh ideas towards a brighter future for our children.
After continuing to watch what look to be more like a campaign policy speeches well after the 2012 election, I’ll start with my frustration with you Mr. President and my Democratic friends. Please, both directly and indirectly, stop blaming your predecessor or Congress for our current woes. Our country needs leadership, Washington D.C. needs leadership and our nation’s youth needs leadership. You’re the leader of this nation. So LEAD us! Yes, we have a divided nation and divided government. But your Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton had a divided government with a G.O.P. led House that shut down the government on him. Yet, he found a way to lead and got things done.
To my Republican friends (especially those of you who are Christians), you need to show the nation what you’re for and not just what you’re against. There’s a lot of ugliness out there. Nowhere has the ugliness been more evident than with “Obamacare”. I don’t like law overall and think it’s headed for disaster. But everybody has agreed the healthcare system in this country is broken and needed reform badly. So put up or shut up when it comes to a viable alternative that addresses issues of spending caps, costs and covering pre-existing conditions.
To all sides, governing is not a sport. The goal should not be spike the ball in the face of the other party. When the goal of both sides is to “win” at any cost, the American people end up as the biggest loser.
October 23rd Posted in: Uncategorized with No Comments
When I was growing up the 1970s, most intersections where straight-forward four lanes of traffic going north, south, east and west. As the population and subsequently the traffic grew, many intersections added a turn lane. Fast forward to when my family moved from Florida in 2011 and the closest intersection to our house had 24 lanes of traffic! And yet the most dangerous intersection in America is still a four lane intersection. It’s an intersection where growing permissiveness, technology, unsupervised homes and an increasing spiritual void meet.
In an era where there’s little shock value anymore, many of us were horrified last week by two separate murders (more of us would’ve heard of the brutalities had they fit into the media narrative of racial violence). Australian Christopher Lane, in the United States on a baseball scholarship, was gunned down in cold blood by three teenage thugs looking for a thrill kill. Likewise, Delbert Belton – an 88-year-old World War II hero – was senselessly beaten to death by two teenage thugs for no other reason than that they were thugs. The commonalties were similar for the teen murderers: they all reside at America’s most dangerous intersection.
The traffic at this intersection is increasing by the day. Although the violent crime rate is down over the last twenty years, the corresponding reason is a prison population that has tripled. We should expect to see more horrifying carnage as more kids grow up in supervised homes where an education is too often not fostered or prioritized as evidenced by the 50% high school dropout rate in our urban areas. Sexual and violent permissiveness is more rampant as well as easily available through technology, readily delivered by a profit-driven entertainment industry. When you add to it that people are looking everywhere but in God’s Word to seek a plan and purpose to their lives, we’re reaping what we’ve sown as a culture.
Using tactics like class warfare to divide us may make for good politics and help to win elections. But they do little to improve the conditions on the ground. Somehow, someway, through good parenting, role modeling and community service we must work to create the conditions of self-empowerment, personal responsibility, drive, will and ambition that – despite their flaws – built The Greatest Generation. The only way back is a gentrification project to completely restore and overhaul the American family. Strong marriages = stable families = a healthy community where children are incentivized to stay away from that four-lane intersection and its disastrous consequences. That model needs to be built within the Church if we’re truly going to impact the culture, not by changing laws but by changing hearts.
August 27th Posted in: Uncategorized with No Comments
For those that haven’t seen it, I would recommend watching this 60 second MSNBC Ad where a network host and university professor shares her vision of what’s best for our children. If you don’t have a chance to watch it, here’s the quote “We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everyone’s responsibility, and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.”
Frankly, while being engaged spiritually with what goes on in this nation, there’s little that surprises me anymore. But this ad was shocking and frightening to me. So much so, that I watched it five times in a row because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She was talking in the context of education (as if “better investments” and not stronger homes conducive to learning is what’s needed to fix our ailing education system). But this communal approach or collectivism is right out the socialist or communist playbook where the state knows what’s best for us.
This kind of mindset is very frightening to me and I think dangerous to the future of this nation. I’m all for entertainment (exhibit A is my sporting interests). But while we as Americans saturate ourselves with our busyness and our various bread and circuses, this is the kind of thought embedding itself into our culture. What makes it even more frightening is that it wasn’t a “mis-speak” that we see when people speak impromptu in news interviews, etc where they inevitably walk back their word choice. This however is a pre-planned, well thought out script by a media figure and university professor – reviewed by layers of editors and producers – for a media outlet owned by NBC!
Where as this global village agenda was once coded and covert it’s now blatant and out in the open for all to see, as secularists have been emboldened by recent national elections and polling on once taboo social issues that are now mainstream. Look, our children are PART of the community and PART of the global village. They and we should all learn to invest in others and give back while tolerating opposing views. But our children are OURS and nobody else’s. If this women as part of a “church community” and used the exact same phrasing, she’d be branded a cult leader!
Regardless of one’s political beliefs, we have to recognize as Christians what God’s very specific Biblical plan is for strong communities, marriages and families. And we need to be willing to fight, albeit with respect and gentleness for God’s truth. But beyond that, we have to MODEL to a lost world always seeking new and different “solutions” that the best solution for stronger community and families is what God gave us in His word!
April 11th Posted in: Uncategorized with No Comments
I’ve typically found insufficient, the dialogue from Christians when it comes to the concept of same sex marriage. We either hear nothing, especially in recent years with the inevitability of where the culture is going, or we hear inflamed hostility which does nothing to advance our cause and support for traditional marriage and, in fact, just does further harm. So my attempt today is to offer a diplomatic and reasoned dissent beyond my thoughts offered Here after the Chick-Fil-A fiasco last summer.
Going back almost 60 years in this country, Conservatives and Christians in particular largely dropped the ball when it came to the Civil Rights issue for people of color in this country. Giving credit where it is due, our liberal and progressive friends were on the right side of history on this issue. We as conservatives were not and have been playing from behind ever since as we’ve been demonized every step of the way in the compassion debate by those who co-opted the moral high ground after the Civil Rights movement. So historically, we really have no one to blame but ourselves for not standing alongside our black, brown and red brothers and sisters so long ago.
Unfortunately, shortly after the Civil Rights issue was resolved in the mid-1960s, liberals “progressed” from seeking equality and not judging solely based on skin color, to granting so-called equality across the social spectrum by not judging period (extending from not only judging based on skin color or ethnicity to not judging behaviors, lifestyle choices, so forth and so on).
As Christians, we believe a healthy, stable functioning society is based on four strong pillars: Faith, Family, Marriage and Communities. And for 50 years, this pillars have been very slowly, very gradually, very stealthy chipped away at; reminding me of the story of the frog in the pot of water which tells us that if you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, he’ll jump out. But if you throw him into a pot of water and slowly raise the temperature of the water to boil, the frog will not jump out and instead will die. Such is our slowly boiling and decaying society.
Biblical Faith has been undermined by progressives who hold the view (simplifying for the sake of time) that if Christians were largely on the wrong side of race relations in this country going back to slavery, we need to disavow any and all attempts to have the Christian faith involved in the future of this nation. And so, rather than reform, we’ve had a systematic effort by liberals to rid this country of the Judeo-Christian principles, such as a strong family unit, in which it was founded upon. In essence, the baby has been thrown out with the bath water.
Taking family, marriage and communities together, the same liberal-progressive movement gave us the sexual revolution – again, extending the realm of “not judging” to behavior. Gender equality has blurred the roles between men and women. Christians believe that there are unique characteristics passed on and instilled in children by fathers that cannot be fully passed on by mothers and, likewise, that mothers pass on and instill traits that cannot be passed on by fathers. But society today no longer sees a father as necessary to properly raise a child.
The sexual revolution for the first time in our culture embedded the attitude within society that “if it feels good do it”. Legalized abortion in the early 1970s gave us the “action without consequences” generation. No longer was the societal ideal of a stable relationship or marriage necessary to gratify sexual desires. All of which has led to a spike in out of wedlock births and children being raised in a one-parent household. To be sure, there are exceptions to every rule and many, many, many parents are single – due to no fault of their own – and do a tremendous job raising their children. But we have the evidence of a crumbling country with entire communities that are in disintegration with, not incidentally, out of wedlock birth rates approaching 75%, where fathers are nowhere to be found.
Adding to societal dysfunction and community breakdown, not only do we financially subsidize through tax dollars almost three generations of bad choices and decisions which further enslave people into dysfunction, we don’t even ask the right questions or seek the right solutions because – going back to the furtherance of Civil Rights from one of rightly liberating based on skin color to wrongly liberating based on lifestyles. If we can’t judge homosexuality as sexual sin, so the rational goes, then we can’t judge any sexual behavior as sin. By the way, this would be a good place to point out that people cannot choose their skin color or ethnic background. And while I do believe people cannot choose who they are sexually and emotionally attracted to, they can choose whether or not they pursue those attractions. (See article here – Catholic, Gay and Feeling Fine – on a courageous gay man who reconciles his Catholic faith by realizing he Biblically needs to “die to self” by giving up the pursuit of his sexual gratification).
So in summation in getting back to the title of this blog – Why Not Gay Marriage – any marriage not between one man and one woman is one more chip in the decaying pillars of society. No, gay marriage alone isn’t going to cause the end of Western Civilization as we know it. As pointed out above, heterosexual marriage isn’t doing very well either. But to legitimize one based partly on the rational of the dysfunction of the other isn’t the answer in my opinion. And once we inevitably legalize same sex marriage, where will the progressives lead us next? Should the third initial in the L.G.B.T quartet be allowed to marry one of each? Once we redefine marriage beyond one man and one woman, where do we extend that definition. Because in the end, if marriage can mean anything, than it means nothing and neither faith, families or communities.
March 26th Posted in: Uncategorized with 3 Comments
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” Galatians 5:22
If you’re bored at the end of the business day this Thursday, just camp out in your car in front of a Publix, a gas station, a roadside stand or anywhere you can buy a dozen roses for $10 or individual roses for $.99. The sight of frantic men in shirts and ties running in, and then out, of the store with their Valentine offerings firmly in hand are visuals to chuckle at; while the first thought is amusing, the second is “Really?”, is that how you’re trying to save face in rewarding your spouse for being married to you?
In case you haven’t figured it out, the above scenario is what to avoid when it comes to a fulfilling Valentine’s evening. As far as how to fulfill your Valentine – while I’m certainly not going to dissuade the romantic impulses inside you, I would say that if you’re taking care of business the other 364 days, than what you do or don’t do this Thursday night should have little impact within your marriage.
The best advice I can give (disclaimer – I haven’t always been the best at taking my own advice) is simply LOVING your spouse and by loving your spouse I mean loving them completely and totally unconditionally regardless of what they do and don’t do to you (disclaimer #2 – I realize there’s cases of physical or emotional abuse, unfaithfulness, etc.) and when I say “unconditionally” that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I am talking about is, by and large, we have to get past the “it’s all about my happiness” and “I have to do what’s best for me”, “pay for performance” attitudes that have so permeated our culture that they’ve seeped unknowingly into the church. So what we end up with are Christian believers that base their love of their spouse as conditional on what they’re getting in return.
The danger becomes when one spouse pulls back and stops meeting their spouses’ need based on not feeling fulfilled. The other spouse pulls back even further and an endless cycle of drifting further and further apart occurs until fingers are pointing and the marriage reaches a breaking point. The answer (disclaimer #3 – we have a way of always making things so much more difficult than they need to be) is simply, especially as men, loving our spouses as Christ loves the church, unconditionally and without fault or blame. When I’m abiding in Christ’s love and looking at my wife, as God sees her, I see a perfect woman, one that’s easy to love. And when I’m loving her with a Christ-like love, the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 follows which makes for a Happy Valentine in my wife as well as a wholesome and healthy marriage:)
February 11th Posted in: Uncategorized with 3 Comments
“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord…The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.” Psalm 2:1-4
As my fellow Conservatives lament, while Liberals rejoice, over the systematic unraveling by Barack Obama of the political movement ushered in by Ronald Reagan thirty years ago, it’s important for both sides to step back and take note of the following: the solutions to what ails us are not political in nature because our root problems are not political, but rather a spiritual and moral failing.
Politics are important and do effect the cultural trends and attitudes. Anybody that knows me or follows me on social media knows I’m not shy about expressing my conservative views (typically when it comes to out of control government spending, pro-life and family issues). But those societal trends and attitudes are fickle and swing back and forth over time much as the winds blow. While you can change public policies through politics, you can’t change hearts and minds through politics; and hearts and minds is the only way to change a culture.
The problem with American politics is that while the political right in this country tends to breed greed, the policies of the left typically breed dependence. Both equally undermine and de-stabilize our social structure. My own sense is that the greed culture which resulted partly in too many people being left behind has now given way to a dependency culture (a culture revived from the 1960s and 70s which Reagan sought to end), a culture which is not sustainable and, if not reversed soon, the end result is that we’re going to crash under the weight of our massive financial debt that will make The Great Depression of the 1930s look like a minor recession.
The upshot is the Great Depression led to a Great Awakening of spiritual revival in this country which, in part, gave us our Greatest Generation. Only spiritual revolutions that come through biblical revelation, revival and repentance can truly impact cultures. There’s no better example than the early New Testament church which went from a handful of followers to the dominant faith of the modern world within a few generations despite its followers being constantly under the threat of brutal beatings, horrific deaths and punishing prison sentences; a faith spread solely by peace and love, mostly by word of mouth. Now that’s a lasting, permanent movement!
January 28th Posted in: Uncategorized with No Comments
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-20
Is your life out of balance? All of us, regularly need to ask ourselves that question while being willing to readdress our priorities. It’s easy in our modern world that hums along at break neck speed to get distracted – by our career, our kids, our own habits, hobbies, selfish pursuits, even by playing church. I think the greatest tactic used by the devil is not the so-called big sins, but the little sins of distraction to get us out of balance and to a point where “the little foxes ruin our vineyards” as noted by Solomon in Song of Songs 2:15. And before we are even aware of it, our relationship with Him, our spouse and our families can be in a danger zone.
From there, one of the greatest lies ever told begins to set in and the grass starts looking greener on the other side: if I only had a life like his or a job like hers or a husband like his or kids like hers or brains like him or an education like her or parents like him or an upbringing like her. If I was only single. If I was only married, if I only made (fill in the blank) amount of money, than I would be content. I can go on all day and surely, at some point, you’ve probably fallen into a similar pattern. This pattern is exactly where Satan wants us and he’ll use subtle distractions to get all of us there.
But God wants use to experience His peace through contentment in Him. He’s promised us that the grass will be greener where we water it! So where do your priorities lay? When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you generally focus on having to do that day? What is the one thing you generally feel you need to do to feel good about yourself and achieve a sense of accomplishment? The answers will tell us where we’re watering our lawn and if the number one place being watered isn’t our relationship with the Lord, then we shouldn’t be surprised when the landscape is parched and dry within our hearts, minds, and marriages.
January 7th Posted in: Uncategorized with No Comments
My twin brother passed away peacefully last night. Well, he wasn’t a biological twin but in every other sense Pat Faherty and I shared a brotherly bond that few share. I met Pat twenty years ago at the University of Illinois. He lived ten feet away from me (two doors down) for two years at Hendrick House on Green Street in Champaign and we were inseperable every step of the way. He really was my brother from a different mother as we liked to say. We had the same injury level from our spinal cord injuries and played the same position (classification) in the sport of wheelchair rugby, a sport that would give us both so much at a time early in our injuries when we needed something to help restore and rebuild us after the physical loss we endured from our spinal cord injuries.
With his family in Boston, he spent Thanksgivings with my family and my parents considered him an adopted son with all the time he spent in our home. So much so, that they traveled to Boston for his wedding in 2001 when he married his beautiful wife Tracy. Pat would refer to Tracy as an angel as she would probably kept him alive about 10 years longer than he should’ve lived which allowed them to bring their beautiful daughter Lilliana into the world in 2005.
Pat was diagnosed with a rare heart ailment in 1998. When he first started experiencing chest pains, the emergency room doctor thought it was indigestion and was ready to send Pat home. Tracy, his girlfriend at the time and also his nurse, had the gut instincts that something much worse was wrong. She insisted on more testing where an aneurism was found in his heart. He was immediately rushed into surgery where the aneurism was removed and the ailment diagnosed which would result in two more open heart surgeries, the last in 2008 left him weakened to the point where they would no longer be able to perform surgery to remove any further aneurisms. Through it all, he never complained and his smile never left his face.
I‘ve said its cliché, and it is, to talk about how great a person is after they’ve passed away. But with Pat, the people who knew and loved him talked about how tremendous a person he was the entire time we knew him. I’ve lived in three states now, four different metropolitan areas and I’ve traveled to three different continents. I’ve met a lot of people, many of whom I’ve been blessed to call friends. So I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. But Pat was different, he was special. If I had to rank my Top Three best friends of all-time, he would be on that list.
I learned a lot from Pat. As I said in my 2010 autobiography, I learned how to become a kinder, gentler “good guy” – not a natural quality of mine – because of our friendship. We traveled the country together playing rugby with the Fighting Illini. He spent a lot of time in my parent’s home outside of Chicago and I spent a lot off time in his parent’s home while vacationing in Boston. After each of us got married, we spent time together as couples and then families even though by that time I was living in Tampa with Pat still in Boston. Like I said, Pat and I had a lot of
similarities like our competiveness and drive to succeed as well as both having dark hair and being in wheelchairs. That often led to people at U of I seeing one of us from a distance and confusing us with the other. We both loved sports. Very rarely have I ever encountered somebody with the precise memory of past sporting events like mine, but Pat was my equal. Very rarely have I ever encountered somebody with the passion for his city’s sports teams that equaled my passion for Chicago sports. But he loved his Boston sports teams with every bit the vigor that I loved my Chicago teams.
But we also had a lot of differences, although those differences never caused any friction between us – partly because of our bond and partly because he had a much better “easy going, laid back” temperament than I possess. One of those differences was our sporting interests. We often would stay up to two, three, four o’clock in the morning watching sports and often arguing (always friendly banter) about who had the best sports city in America – Chicago or Boston – with neither of us giving an inch. We would “discuss” who had the best basketball team – the 60s or 80s Celtics vs. the 90s Bulls – again with no agreement to be found between us. But again, mostly because his good natured, great guy demeanor, neither of us would ever get upset with each other.
He was one of my rugby mentors and having the same classification, we often matched up against each other. For the first two or three years,
I was no match for him. Eventually, I would surpass him on my way to becoming a Paralympian, which was a dream that Pat had, and yet he never harbored any ill will or jealousy towards me. That’s just not who he was, instead, he supported me and believed in me every step of the way. Pat was a God-fearing Catholic, a Massachusetts liberal. I eventually became a God-fearing Protestant and a Christian conservative. And although we had many debates, especially on Facebook in recent years, neither one of us never lost our love and respect for the other.
After a normal Sunday of going to church and spending the day with his family this past weekend, Pat began experiencing some stomach pain. They had hoped it was a virus but it turned out to be another dreaded aneurism. The last three days were peaceful as he and Tracy talked about preparations for life without him and what to tell their little girl. After watching the presidential debate last night, Pat told Tracy that his shoulder hurt and then it was over, my friend had passed. My wife said I should vote for Obama as a tribute to Pat. While that’s certainly not going to happen, lol, I will admit right here, right now for the first time ever that Boston is a better sports city than Chicago. I’ll cede that ground to my friend posthumously. I’m happy to do so as I’m a better person, husband and father because of Pat. I’ll forever have a hole in my heart as I dearly miss my old friend:)