Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia

Christmas: The Centerpiece of Scripture

December 24th, 2012

Recently I attended my second Andrew Peterson Behold the Lamb of God concert.  The concert begins with a passage from The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name.  After this last concert, I went ahead and bought it.  It is a children’s Bible that intentionally proclaims Christ from all of Scripture in the vein of Luke 24:27.  Over the past weeks, I have loved the life and perspective that this interpretation brings out of Scripture.

On the last Sunday before Christmas, I wanted to share the passage Andrew Peterson opens his concert with to reflect on. 

 

 “It’s like an adventure story about a young Hero who came from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne, everything to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that have come true in real life.

You see, the best thing about this story is—it’s true.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this story. And at the center of the Story there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a  puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.

And this is no ordinary baby. This is the Child upon whom everything would depend. This is the baby that would one day—but wait, our story starts where all good stories start. Right at the very beginning…”

Les Miserables Soundtrack Review

December 22nd, 2012

The following is my brother, Austin’s quick review of the Les Misérables Soundtrack. Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, and Anne Hathway are heading up an incredible cast of what looks to be a very well done musical of a story that is very relevant to our current situation.  Hope you enjoy the movie in a couple days, and this sneak peak.

Here is my review after hearing all the clips:
Track 1: I prefer the 25th anniversary version of Look Down.  For the films version, the chanting of ‘look down’ was too fast. I prefered the opening of the 25th version, with the slower mournful chanting. That version brought the imagery of a slave work party to my mind, without fully knowing the story.
Track 2: The singer for ‘The Bishop’ played Valjean in one of the original productions. This movie has a great voice cast and respects previous productions
Track 5: Anne Hathaway gives the best ever rendition of ‘I dreamed a Dream’
Track 6: ‘The Confrontation’ Overall Russell Crowe’s voice isn’t as good as Hugh Jackman’s. But, it is an argument set to music, so maybe not the easiest thing to make into a song.
Track 7: The child actress, Isabelle Allen, is amazing in ‘Castle on a Cloud’. One of the top tracks on the album.
Track 8: The funny thing about ‘Master of the House’ is that it seems like Sacha Baron Cohen is the only person to put on a French accent for the movie.
Track 9: This new song fits in well with all the old songs. I think it may be Hugh Jackman’s best song. He definitely has a great voice and will make Valjean a more emotional character.
Track 13: We already know that Samantha Banks can sing from previous productions of Les Miserables. I think she puts more emotion into ‘On My Own’ than the 25th anniversary.
Track 15: I don’t remember hearing ‘Drink with Me’ in other productions before. But, this is a very fun song with Eddie Redmayne and other members of the rebels.
Track 18: ‘Javert’s Suicide’ (SPOILERS I think we know what happens in this song). Russell Crowe is one of my favorite actors, but I think he talks with music, instead of sings.
Track 19: I may cry during the movie during ‘Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.’ Once again Eddie Redmayne shines. I think he is the best of the three major male singers. Great job Jack Jackson.

In case you haven’t guessed, I can’t wait for this movie.

Support the Troops: Protect Military R&R

December 19th, 2012

I remember the day my husband dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him. I was ecstatic. But instead of congratulating me, one friend got a pensive look on her face. “When you marry a soldier,” she said, “you don’t just marry him, you marry the military.”

She had a point. My dream two month anniversary present wasn’t to have my husband leave for eight weeks of training. We have been married three years, but because of my husband’s army commitments we’ve only been able to celebrate one of those anniversaries together. In our first two years of marriage, we lived in four different places. As National Guard, we didn’t have the promise of full time income since when not activated the guard is paid for just a few days a month. We went through six hard months of unemployment where the only apartment we could afford had bedbugs.

Our week old son had meningitis and was fighting for his life in NICU when my husband was informed of 13 month mobilization orders. At that moment, my husband realized that he would not be seeing our son’s first steps, first birthday, or so many other firsts. Our son couldn’t even roll over when my husband was mobilized. Now our son has eight teeth, can crawl and almost walk, chows down on sweet potatoes and chicken and there are still six more months until he sees his daddy.

There is satisfaction in a job well done and I take pride in my husband using the skills he trained to acquire for this deployment. My husband is a soldier and he is strong, courageous, and unflinching in the call of duty. But even soldiers can only take so much.

The Army realizes the strain long hours and many absences put on military families and soldiers. So they drafted a program called R&R to give soldiers two weeks of mid-deployment leave to get away from the 24/7, seven day a week nature of combat and see their families. The FAQs section of the Army.mil site said this about R&R: “The program provides respite from the stresses associated with the combat mission . . . this is seen as an investment in the well being of our forces that will improve mission performance.”

Unfortunately, the R&R program has been cut. After 11 years of war and back to back deployments, both soldiers and their families are suffering.PTSD is on the rise and many marriages and families break under the strain. Just last year, the military divorce rate reached its highest since 1999.Military children’s mental health also suffers when dad, and now increasingly mom as well, is never home. The October 2010 DOD report to the House and Senate Armed Services committee said that military children experience increased anxiety, lower academic performance, and increased problem behaviors at home and school during a deployment. Interestingly, the report mentioned that temporary leave (such as R&R) during a deployment helped mitigate some of the negative effects of deployment on children.

The new policy that cuts mid-deployment R&R and makes life even harder on soldiers and their families is wrong. Sign the petition to bring back R&R. http://www.petition2congress.com/8229/bring-back-military-rr/

This article was written by Anne Garboczi Evans, a military spouse. She has a master’s in counseling so is particularly concerned about the mental health and relational consequences of numerous long deployments.

Allowing for Mystery in Theology

December 11th, 2012

I was recently struck by reading Isaiah 55:8-9 by how much of God we probably can’t comprehend.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We can’t measure the distance that is described in this metaphor.  Where is heaven?  How far is it from earth?  If we ever could measure the distance, could we ever comprehend the magnitude of the distance?  We can barely comprehend what 1 trillion dollars looks like.  Can we really comprehend the distance of light-years?  God’s ways are incomprehensibly higher than ours.  God thinks on a level so much higher than us that we are able to think.

The more this sinks in, the more it seems laughable to completely understand God, and instead a desire to revel in the mysteries and incomprehensibility of God.  Libertarianism is a political philosophy that thrives on logically explaining every seeming inconsistency.  Similarly many Christians try to explain away every issue.  But can we really logically explain everything about a God who thinks incomprehensibly higher than we do?  Are you willing to accept mystery in your theology, even more than that are you willing to accept that some of the things you believe may not be true?

Related Post: Is Your Theology Humble?

Why do You Believe What You Believe?

December 10th, 2012

The following is an entertaining video from Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love, about how he responded when some Jehovah’s Witnesses came to his door.  It is loving, insightful, entertaining, and very worth watching.

The last minute of the video is fascinating because he turns the issue back to Christians.  Do you believe what you do because you have searched them out yourself, or because someone else said so and you believed them?  Of course encouraging people to “search out the Bible for themselves” isn’t a magic way for everyone to come to the same conclusions.  People will always disagree, but I would rather disagree and discuss things with someone who is humbly seeking things out themselves than depending on others for their opinions.

Showing God’s Love to Homosexuals

December 5th, 2012

This summer, a website popped up entitled Queer at Patrick Henry College which is purportedly by Patrick Henry College students and alumni who talk about their struggles as a homosexual in the christianhomeschooling, and PHC communities.  When I originally saw the website a month ago, I thought it was part of an SEO attack similar to the SEO attack on Rick Santorum because of the large number of posts celebrating LGBT history.  After the website created a facebook page the school administration responded by trying to force the website to shut down, and blocking the website on the school’s network.

My initial thought is that this is an ironic response from a school which prides itself in teaching a Classical Liberal Arts education, one where students read books by people with whom they disagree in order to better understand and engage them.  Responding to criticisms of being narrow-minded by censoring a website seems to contradict PHC’s typical approach to teaching students to think for themselves.

The administration’s response also raises an issue that my generation is going to have to figure out as a result of the increasing size of the homosexual community.  How do we as the church interact with the homosexual community?

One camp says homosexuality is a sin and must be condemned.  This approach can quickly condemn the sinner for their sin.  Supporters of this view point to verses like I Corinthians 6:9 and I Timothy 1:10 for support pointing out the seriousness with which God takes this sin.

We should not condone or excuse homosexuality.  However, as Christians we should show God’s love and grace to everyone, including homosexuals.  The idea of loving the sinner but not the sin should apply to everyone.  While Paul does say that homosexuals (along with people who commit a number of other sins) won’t inherit the kingdom of heaven, two verses later he goes on to show the beauty of the gospel.

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

This is the beauty of the gospel.  The gospel saves those of whom it could once be said “they will not inherit the kingdom.”  The cross is the great leveler, and all who have faith in Christ can come to faith.

Following the I Timothy 1 passage where Paul condemns homosexuality, comes one of the most beautiful descriptions of the power of the gospel to redeem the chief of sinners.

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful,appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (I Timothy 1:12-14)

If the gospel is powerful enough to save anyone, do our interactions with the homosexual community reflect that?  Wouldn’t that require us to show God’s love and grace to them as we interact with them?

Would a homosexual feel welcome in one of our churches? Probably not.  Can we blame them? Tragically not.  But how can we reach those who, as a result of our actions, expected to be condemned instead of loved when they came to our church?  I am not suggesting we should accept sin, but we should be willing to show God’s love to sinners.

Ironically, we understand the necessity of this much more readily when it comes to the other important social issue for evangelicals: abortion.  Murder is regularly condemned in the same breath as homosexuality, and sacrificing infants is vehemently condemned in the Bible.  Yet the pro-life movement has learned the importance of showing love to those who have abortions, and even those who perform abortions.  We understand that we must love those who have abortions, and seek to show them that God’s love can forgive them even for aborting their child.  We understand that we must love those who perform abortions, so they too will understand the love of God and be open to listening to us. We understand this…in the abortion context.  For some reason we don’t understand the importance of doing the same thing to those struggling with homosexuality.

Imagine if we believed in loving homosexuals like we do the mothers who have abortions.

In closing I would encourage you to read the stories of two prominent Christians who chose to love homosexuals without condoning their lifestyle.  The first tells how the head of the SBC in Oklahoma overwhelmed Soulforce with love when they decided to picket his church.  The second tells the story of a gay person giving Rich Mullins a lift.  I would encourage you to read these articles and ask yourself what would a gay person think if they interact with you?  Would they see God’s love through you, or would the be condemned by you?

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This article is not written as a condemnation of my Alma Mater, or those involved in the situation there.  I learned a lot through my time at Patrick Henry College, and I deeply appreciate Dr. Farris and the school leadership for the investment they continue to pour into students at the school, as well as their activism on many important issues.  The recent situation simply presented an opportunity to address an issue that Christian conservatives should continue thinking about.

 

Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia