When Compromise Isn’t Possible

We all have to compromise at times, don’t we? I don’t know anyone who gets his or her way all the time, anyhow.

And nobody is right all the time, either. Right?

Probably. But with one extremely important exception. We may not always understand God’s ways–why He allows certain things to take place, including the martyring of so many of His children–but if we believe in Him, we believe He’s always right. He doesn’t make mistakes, and He doesn’t compromise.

And that fact sometimes seems pretty extreme to non-believers. After all, aren’t there many roads to God? Don’t they all lead to the same place? Aren’t Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and all the other world religions equally valid?

Not if you believe the Bible. Especially where Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the light. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It’s not us “intolerant Christians” who came up with the idea that other religions are worthless; we’re just quoting the man we believe to be the Son of God. The one who died for our sins and rose from death to give us eternal life.

If we study the Bible, we can’t miss some of the issues there’s no room for compromising over. The one at the top is there is no God except Jehovah. Allah isn’t the God of the Bible, regardless of what countless sincere Muslims (and a host of non-Muslims) believe.

Another issue is homosexuality. Of course, the Bible also takes a strong stand against other forms of immorality–any type of promiscuity, including sex outside of marriage. But regardless of how some Christians act–and consequently what many people mistakenly believe–the Bible doesn’t tell us to hate homosexuals. Indeed, even if we considered them “enemies,” which we shouldn’t do, Jesus told us to love our enemies.

Even though the Bible doesn’t speak about abortion as such, it speaks of people as being created in God’s image. It talks about keeping the body a proper dwelling place for God’s holy spirit. It tells about the way God knows the most intricate parts of our beings, including our formation in our mothers’ wombs.

No wonder we take “Do not kill” as a no-compromise issue regarding abortion.

I realize that not everyone reading this post is a Christian, and some of you may strongly–vehemently–disagree with some or all of what I’ve written. Feel free to leave a comment. But keep in mind that even though I must compromise about some areas of life, the things I’ve talked about today are not things I can compromise about.


kindle-coverRosa No-Name is the coming-of-age prequel to Roger’s first young adult novel, Found in Translation. It will be releasing sometime within the next couple of months. If you want to learn more about it, check Roger’s website or join the Rosa No-Name Tribe group on Facebook. That may qualify you to receive a free ARC (advanced review copy).

 


NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Memories of My Father

Happy Father’s Day a few hours early. My wife and I, along with hundreds of other Richmond residents, have been without electricity since around 9:00 p.m. Thursday. So we have no Internet connection at home. We’re visiting a friend so we can shower for church tomorrow and are taking advantage of her electricity and Internet connection. I decided it would be better to post this now rather than take a chance on whether I would have the chance to do so tomorrow. We might go home and find the lights on…but we’re not counting on that, and Dominion Power isn’t even estimating when they’ll get to our neighborhood. Nonetheless, we’re fine and God is good.

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When I wrote a post about my mother around Mother’s Day, I realized I would probably want to do one about my father now. Unfortunately, it was easier to write warm things about her than about him.

Don’t get me wrong. Father was a fine Christian minister who cared deeply about the congregations he served. But that’s probably the problem–or a large part of it. Too often, pastors get so caught up in meeting others’ needs that they’re less attentive to the needs of their own families.

I recall a Christmas present he spent hours secretly putting together. He wasn’t good with his hands, and that was a real labor of love.

I also remember his taking me to the yard of my elementary school to ride my bike; we lived on a hill, and even the back yard sloped too much for easy riding. And I recollect the fun he had hiding a grandmother clock for my mother behind the studio couch in the den and making her search for it one Christmas. There’s no question he loved us.

But what I remember just as clearly–perhaps more so–was his home study door being closed. And even when it was open, he seemed inaccessible. Uninterruptible.

When I was a teen, he seemed to realize that he hadn’t spent nearly enough time with me doing daddy-type things. So he took me to Manteo, North Carolina, to see The Lost Colony, a well-known outdoor historical drama. Looking back now, I appreciate the thought, but at the time I’m not sure I considered it something I really wanted to do.

In 1972 I completed writing an hour-long rock opera called The Identity of Divinity. I invited my parents, who lived across the state from me, to come for the one performance. Since its production was my greatest accomplishment to date, I really wanted them to be there. But church came first. Although they sent a congratulatory telegram, it wasn’t the same.

As my parents aged and my father retired from the active ministry (he served as the interim minister of a number of churches until he couldn’t do it anymore), the three of us ended up living in the same city for the first time since college. So my first wife and I saw them on on a regular basis. And Kathleen and I now belong to one of the churches Father had served as interim pastor of.

Considering the number of questions I have about my early life–and about family history in general–I wish I’d been a more attentive listener. The knowledge of so many things I’m curious about died with him in 1993.

I have two particular memories from his final years. One was going with him to a special anniversary of his alma mater, William and Mary. He couldn’t have made the trip by himself, and I’m glad I could help him manage it. I can still see him sitting among other graduates wearing the doctoral robe he’d kept all those years. And I can still hear guest speaker Prince Charles laughing about his problems with Princess Diana, who was still alive at that time.

The other memory was of the day Mother called me at work. Father had fallen in the bathroom. He couldn’t get up and she couldn’t lift him. I drove over as quickly as I could, but I couldn’t get him up, either. We had to call the rescue squad.  I’ll always remember him on the bathroom floor.

No, life with my father didn’t leave me with a number of warm fuzzies, but you know what? It really doesn’t matter. He was a fine man and I’m proud of who he was. More important, he loved me, and I loved him.

Do you have anything you want to share about your father today? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

“They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love” (part two)

Anyone who sees Christians going about the business of loving people–even the unlovely–should be able to understand that Christianity is the ultimate religion of love and peace. So loving and so peaceful,  in fact, that Jesus prayed and asked God’s forgiveness for the people who were putting Him to death–in circumstances where hatred, anger, and resentment would have been the normal human emotions. Especially since the Romans and religious leaders responsible for His death  weren’t the least sorry for what they were doing.

What amazing love! Love that deserves the description “awesome” above everything else.

Why do so many people view the Bible as a textbook of hatred (and how many of them have read the Quran?) and Christians as the most hateful people on the face of the earth?

Maybe they’re too busy looking backwards at wars and persecution that were carried out in the name of Christianity in days long past. By people who never would’ve sung, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Not unless they’d done it hypocritically.

Or is the problem that Christians believe “Do not murder” means preserving the lives of innocent babies rather than allowing pregnant women to erase their sinful “mistakes” by killing their babies in utero because of the inconvenience or embarrassment of being pregnant? Or that “Do not commit adultery” interferes with the desires of the many individuals who believe post-modernism has eliminated the need for moral standards of behavior regarding anything? Or is the problem that biblical admonitions against homosexuality affect the “rights” of the vocal gay minority to practice their sins publicly–and to flaunt them?

Or is the problem that  non-believers see Christians as judgmental? The Bible says murder, adultery, and homosexuality are all wrong. The Bible is very clear about those issues. All of them are sins–things God disapproves of. Things that stand in the way of having a right relationship with Him.

But the Bible also specifies a number of other sins. Is it right for Christians to go around ranting at gay people for being sinners when–in reality–each one of us is a sinner in our own individual ways. No one is righteous on his own merit, and no one is “good enough” to deserve God’s love.

I’m not advocating the toleration of sin–any sin. But I believe strongly in the popular saying, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I believe one of the worst sins Christians practice is failing to demonstrate the kind of love and forgiveness Jesus modeled during his earthly ministry. For me, that’s the bottom line.

“They will know we are Christians by our love.” And if they don’t see that love, then they have a right to question our faith–and even the basis of what we say we believe in.

If you’re a Christian, do others see a life filled with love, even when you don’t feel very loving? If you’re not a Christian, has any supposed Christian ever treated you in a way that made you question the reality of his faith? How about leaving a comment, please.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

“They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love”

The title of this post comes from a song that used to be quite popular in churches. Yet–probably more because of its continuing relevance than its former popularity–our music director dug it out again for congregational singing a few months ago. It was great to hear everyone singing it–some people for the first time in years, others for the first time ever. It has a simple but memorable tune–it’s the catchy kind of song a person’s not apt to forget once he hears it.

Catchiness isn’t the point, though. For many years, I’ve thought of songs that are meant for more than just dancing to as messages from the composer to the listener or to the singers who’re also listening as they sing. The lyrics are the actual letter. The heart. The meat of the message. The melody–along with the song’s arrangement–is just the envelope used for delivery.

Consequently, I think lyrics are immensely more important than tune and arrangement, even though people tend to overlook–or dismiss–songs that don’t “sound good” to them. I’ll be honest; I do that, too. But at least people can also read lyrics and get something out of them regardless of the tune and arrangement–if they choose to.

The Bible–particularly the New Testament and many of Jesus’ teachings–emphasize the importance of love. Christians are admonished to love their enemies as well as one another, to turn the other cheek, and to give a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.

If you’re not familiar with the cold water reference, it simply means to do good things for people who’re in need. But no matter whether we’re giving to the needy, serving at a soup kitchen, visiting prison inmates, or performing any of hundreds of other possible ministries, we should do those things as if we were ministering to Jesus Himself.

Pretty important, huh? It’s no wonder “they will know we are Christians by our love.”

My original  post started getting a bit lengthy at this point, so I’m going to save the rest of it for Wednesday.

Are you familiar with “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love”? What do you think of the idea? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Sacrificial Love

It makes me sick to hear of women having abortions because their unborn babies are deformed or handicapped in some way. If those women are even capable of love,  giving the babies up for adoption would be the more humane thing to do.

There are people in the world who have enough love to care for handicapped children. Much better for the children than growing up with parents who continually gripe because their handicapped children are “inconvenient” to care for.

But what of babies who appear to be perfectly healthy and normal at birth, only to show signs of being handicapped months or years down the road? Do the parents cease to love them because of that? I would hope not, although I’m sure it happens in some instances.

When I was writing The Devil and Pastor Gus, B.L.ZeBubb (the Devil) was complaining about handicapped children. Gus responded with this story about a couple from his church, a true story about a couple I used to be close friends with:

“Handicapped children aren’t an embarrassment. A sweet couple from church lost a severely disabled daughter some years back. Requiring round-the-clock attention, she was exceedingly difficult to care for, and her folks lived in a permanent state of physical and emotional fatigue. Spiritual burnout plagued them at times, too.”

Gus pretended not to notice B.L.ZeBubb smiling gleefully at his mention of spiritual burnout.

“But were they relieved when she died? No way. They couldn’t have grieved more over the death of a healthy daughter, and they still remember her fondly these many years later.”

That couple’s self-sacrificing love for their daughter still inspires me. And it always will.

Self-sacrifice? Isn’t that what love sometimes involves? How can you have love without at least a willingness to sacrifice?

Probably the best definition of love I’ve ever heard is “wanting what’s best for the other person–and being willing to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to bring that about.” My friends’ sacrifices couldn’t change their daughter’s handicap. But they didn’t let her handicaps change them. They gave their all for her.

Several  Sunday nights ago, a young lady from my church who was barely out of her teens died from health problems that could not be cured. I barely knew her, and I don’t know her parents at all. But one thing I’m sure of. They know the meaning of sacrificial love.

Ellen Masters, I’m thankful to have known you ever so slightly and to have had the privilege of praying for you for years. I’m sure your parents did everything in their power to keep you alive and return you to normal health. But, in this case, sacrificial love meant having to let go when nothing else would help. We believe you’re in God’s presence right now, whole for the first time in years. I look forward to getting to know you better when my time comes.

Comments are welcome.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

Loving Other People (part two)

If you missed Sunday’s post on “Loving Other People,” you might want to read it before reading this one. However, today’s post will still make sense if you don’t.

I want to tell you a true story. While I doubt seriously that anyone from that part of my past life will see this, I’ll  change the names just in case.

This happened during the mid-seventies in a small city in Maryland. I had started working in an office several months before and had established a routine that seemed to work for me.

Then Annie came to work at the same place, doing the same job I was doing. I patiently explained how I’d been doing things, aware that I would be grateful if someone had done that for me when I started there. But she seemed totally disinterested in my established routine. She was more interested in socializing with the office manager.

The two of them did have something important in common, and as time passed by, she had become his obvious favorite. She could do nothing wrong and–at times, anyhow–it seemed as if I could do nothing right.

What made this whole problem more complicated is the fact that Annie’s and my actual supervisor was a kindly fellow who wasn’t actually located in our office. But we were still under the office manager’s authority since it was his space we were using.

I knew that our job involved a certain amount of out-of-the-office contact with our clients, but the office manager wouldn’t approve of our going out. So I did the logical–and highly unfortunate–thing and asked our supervisor for his help.

He sent a message to the office manager reminding him that we needed to get out periodically. And the manager immediately came to me in a huff. “You’ve been talking to Henry, haven’t you?”

I couldn’t very well deny it.

So he said, “Fine. Annie will go out and you will stay in.” Talk about fairness…

My relationship with Annie was already bad enough. She had no respect for me whatsoever, and things continued to go downhill.

I did the only thing I could do. Something that went against everything I felt like doing. But what I felt God wanted me to do.

I started praying for Annie. Not that she would change. Not that I would learn to accept her ways. But simply that God would work in her life. Not easy when she was so brusque that she came in the men’s room one day to tell me I had a phone call!

Not long after that, they moved our desks upstairs, which was actually part of the area director’s domain. Annie and I had a big blowout argument that day and–would you believe it?–she and I became friends. Or as close to friends as dogs and cats are apt to become.

Definitely not the way I’d expected God to answer my prayer for Annie, but it was an answer nonetheless. And it’s something that continues to remind me to this day that I can learn to love the most unlovable of people if I make God part of the equation.

The central part.

Do you have someone who bugs the daylights out of you? Maybe it’s time to start praying for that person. But remember this. You’re not praying for that person to become wonderful, but for God to do whatever He chooses to in that person’s life.

Comments? I’d love to hear ’em.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website. Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Family Christian Stores. Go HERE for links to those places.

Tentative-Front-Cover

Best regards,
Roger

Loving Other People

The Bible teaches us to love other people as we love ourselves. A wonderful thing to do, most of us would agree. After all, isn’t love a matter of wanting what’s best for the other person and being willing to sacrifice to make sure that happens?

But what if what’s best for the other person costs us something? Maybe even a lot. Shouldn’t we be free from having to love the other person that much if he or she is selfish and doesn’t want what’s best for us in return? How fair would that be if both parties in a relationship don’t want what’s best for the other equally?

The Bible also teaches us to love our enemies. You mean God wants us to sacrifice to provide what’s best for them when they have no concern whatsoever about our welfare? How unfair!

Hmm. Then again, look at Jesus. How he suffered that indescribably hideous death on a Roman cross to provide forgiveness for all who accept His free gift. That’s love beyond the call of duty, if you ask me.

Yet it’s what Jesus came to earth to do. And even while He was hanging on the cross, He forgave the soldiers who were crucifying Him. And they weren’t even sorry for what they were doing!

Maybe we should all take a fresh look at love. Do we love other people enough to put their needs and interests ahead of our own–and forgive them when they wrong us, even if they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong and are no way sorry for what they’ve done?

Hmm. Tall order. Humanly impossible. But the Bible says that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We’ll never be able to love as perfectly as God loves, but it sounds like Christ can enable us to do a better–a more Godly–job of it.

How do you feel about your enemies? Will you let God help you love them?

And what about the people you already love? Will you let Him help you love them more perfectly–less selfishly, more sacrificially?

I’d love to hear what you think. Do you know someone you couldn’t love if your life depended on it?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Family Christian Stores. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover

Best regards,
Roger