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O, Jennifer

Jennifer Knapp recently announced publicly that she was a homosexual. For those of you who do not know, Jennifer was big in the so-called Christian music scene a decade ago before vanishing off the map. She now returns with a new look, a new album, a new girlfriend.

We here will not send her to hell. (Sorry.) We at S&S (you may want to sit down for this) still see her as a sister. Our little sister. But just like with any family member who messes up, although we still love her, we are disappointed. Why?

There is now some more fuel for the opposition fire, and we have another seeming lose-lose situation.

Jennifer, whose music I love and who undoubtedly struggled with the whole issue, comes out now. That itself makes me sad that she lost the battle, so to speak. I hope she is sincere when she implies that she is hoping that God will continue to direct her. I think her struggle was genuine, and that she is being honest now. That’s a trait I have always admired in her.

What is worse though, I think, is that Jennifer is coming across as "Well, this is who I am. God made me this way." The CNN article I read was hardly detailed enough for me to read that much out of it, but it at least appears that way.

So, we have a former darling of Christian music, who undoubtedly has many fans, now coming out and pretty much saying it's OK to be gay, to be who you really are.

Whom I feel very sorry for are the kids who followed her, who looked to her as a role model or "star" and may themselves be struggling with homosexuality but are fighting the good fight. Now what? "Well, Jennifer came out and God still loves her and maybe He did make her that way. Maybe I was meant to be that way, as well." End of struggle.

Let me illustrate. It’s as if my pastor came out and said, "You know, I have been struggling with looking at other women for years. But I went father than looking; I admit now that I have had an extramarital affair with another woman for years. But you know, these urges... God made me that way. I think God’s cool with that!”

Now imagine that all the men in the congregation who love and admire my pastor heard this. The wise would call him on it, the not-as-wise would leave the church without a comment or throw him into hellfire. But the weaker ones would say, "Wow. Maybe he is right. And if he is my role model, then I will model his role and go out and find another woman, something I have always wanted to do."

Bottom line. I love Jennifer. I pray the best for her. But coming out and saying pretty much "Just accept me, because this is who I am" may cause irreparable damage in the lives of kids who are struggling.

(And there will be the people in the church who will send her to hell. They, of course, will get the publicity. We will all be guilty of damning Jennifer to hell just by association. Gotta love America!)

I think Jennifer’s Coming Out Party just made our job a little harder.

The Journey is Part of the Destination

Well, we are in the Lenten Season, that six-week period of time leading up to Easter. For Christians, this is often times a period of reflection as we remember what our Lord has done for us. It is also a time to examine ourselves and how our lives match up with Jesus’ intent for them.

During this time of reflection and introspection, I have been fortunate to participate in a group study utilizing a book written by John Indermark, entitled, Traveling The Prayer Paths of Jesus. I thought I would share a couple of things from the book with you, as well as some personal insights.

Although I have been a Christian for many years, sadly I miss some of the simplest truths and messages from our Lord. A case in point is the example of prayer given by Jesus, often referred to as the Lord’s Prayer. Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:9-12)

While I have prayed this prayer for years, I never thought of how it is an inclusive prayer, one that acknowledges and inspires unity. It is about community. Notice how the words, our, us and we, are woven throughout the prayer. It does not say, My Father, and give me…, forgive me… Jesus undoubtedly knew our propensity for self-centeredness. His example helps us to include others. It’s not about just making our lives better and providing for our needs, but providing for the whole human race. God is the Father of all creation and thus the Father of all people. Whether or not some people recognize Him as their father is another issue. The prayer seems to cover all the necessities of life. It’s short and to the point. We would do well to remember it is the heart behind the prayer that moves God, not the length or floweriness of it. With that said, it does not mean we are not to pray for our own needs, or refer to God as our personal Father. But, it does open our eyes to the needs of all people. The book I spoke of earlier suggests praying parts of the prayer and then meditating on the meaning of those parts. It’s a good exercise.

The second part of this letter has to do with the above heading, “The Journey is Part of the Destination.” Sometimes in life we can become so goal specific that we fail to enjoy the journey toward accomplishing the goal. As we reflect on Easter we are reminded of God’s goal through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was aware of this goal as He stated He had come to do the will of His Father. That goal was to be born, sacrifice himself on a cross for the sins of the world, and be raised from the dead. What happened in between - well that was life my friends. While salvation through death on the cross was His goal, He remained in touch with, and available to, those He encountered along the way. They were not a nuisance, or interruption or distraction; rather, those encounters were opportunities to meet needs and save the lost. Jesus could have gone to His crucifixion without ever having engaged with the disciples or without having ever healed the sick. His dying on the cross and resurrection would have still accomplished the specific goal for which it was intended. However, a relationship with Christ and faith in Him would have likely suffered severely had He not taken time for others. The disciples would have not been developed in their personal walks with God the Father, had they not gotten a chance to know the Son. Countless people would have remained sick, blind, and lame. Those lives so deliberately and delicately touched by Jesus, would have continued to suffer with their ailments. It is evident, therefore, that Jesus not only came to save lives in the eternal sense, but in the physical sense as well. Trying to get someone to focus on eternal things can be difficult when their most basic of needs go unmet.

In our quest to share Jesus with the world, let us embrace some of the seemingly distractions of life. Allow yourself to embrace and engage people and places, even when they disrupt your goal or routine. By doing so, we are following Christ example and are a more powerful witness of His love. While being with God for eternity is most assuredly our goal as followers of Christ, the Lord made it a journey to be enjoyed. Its not a game of Monopoly where we draw a card and get to Pass Go, and collect our $200 (i.e. Heaven), or spend our time and talents buying up real estate and commodities in an effort to ultimately become rich. No, it’s a journey. One in which we use our time, talents and assets to minister to others. In doing so, we live life to its fullest. We put a humane face, on Christ so to speak. And along the way, we get to enjoy those we meet and the beauty of God’s creation.

We at Sword and Spirit Ministries wish you a blessed Easter.
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