Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sanctuary of Tranquility: To Bake or Not to Bake, That is the Question.

Sanctuary of Tranquility: To Bake or Not to Bake, That is the Question.: I love to write, writing is  my way of expressing my thoughts and feelings  about all kinds of things, this past week I worked my way thoug...

To Bake or Not to Bake, That is the Question.

I love to write, writing is my way of expressing my thoughts and
feelings about all kinds of things. This past week I worked my way though a huge lesson in God's law and His love through blogging. 

I wrote a blog about the idea of refusing someone service because you disagree with their plans for the product.

In particular, the idea of loosing your business and risking huge fines and maybe even jail time because you refuse to bake cakes, take pictures or create flower arrangements that will be in any way shape or form a portion of a gay wedding.

The first time I read about a situation like this was over a year ago and I thought it was ridiculous. Why didn't the potential customers just go somewhere else? 

Another fine example of people not understanding the word no. Why force or ridicule someone into doing something that is against their principals when there are plenty of other shops around who can accommodate your request. But my attitude did not seem to jive with the world around me. I kept and continue to keep hearing those words...their Constitutional Rights. Who's rights are more valid? The baker or the customer? 

After that initial story, I didn't really pay much attention to all of it until about a week ago when I read that one of the people who had refused to bake a cake was being fined $135,000

I thought of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. 

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

Is denying the cake loving your neighbor as your self? I thought not. But I wasn't certain!    
All I could think was, maybe God wants us to treat everyone with kindness and not refuse them and maybe He is testing us to see how we will treat others who's views are different than our own. I thought about how saying no wasn't exactly treating our neighbor in a Christlike fashion and I even asked myself the question...What would Jesus do?

I convinced myself that Jesus would want us to be kind and press through the tough situation. So with that in mind, I wrote about it. My thoughts were on what Jesus would do and how we are supposed to love our neighbor as our self. With that in mind, baking a cake is after all your job, so if you're going to be a good neighbor...just bake the cake. 

On Sunday, I took advantage of my time at church and other outings to ask people what their thoughts about it were. The  response most frequently given was, "It is their constitutional right to refuse anyone service." Yet I wasn't really satisfied with that answer given all the strife the entire situation is causing. The battle over what our Constitutional Rights is dead in the center of it. The gay rights movement think it is their Constitutional Right to have a cake and the baker thinks it is his Constitutional right to refuse to bake it.

The second most frequently given response was, "It's my job." If the idea of writing scripture on a wedding cake for two people of the same sex, or decorating the cake with plastic statues of two men or two women causes you stress and you feel like you are disobeying God, do you have to do that job?

So I came home and reread my blog and then I rewrote it,and reread it again and rewrote it again. I have never changed my thoughts or my blog so many times. Every time I read it I changed something about it and as I changed the things about it, my opinion changed as well.
On the third day, someone verbally attacked me for my blog. The person said he could no longer consider me a sister in Christ because of my view. I was very upset because I was already confused and this person attitude just made it worse. How could anyone say such a thing to me, I love God.

Then I scanned over the news and saw that Franklin Graham was defending the bakers and I knew in my heart I was treading in very deep water. So with 45 minutes to spare before work, 
I called my pastor and asked him to please help me. I read him the verse I had been studying and he said to me, Lori, start with verse 27 and read it again. 

So I read, 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.
Then my pastor asked me to repeat the first part again, so I read...

"And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind"

And then he asked me, " O.K. Lori, what does God say about homosexuality?"

I quickly replied, "He says it is an abomination, it is despicable." 

And he replied, "So if you love the Lord with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all of your mind, you're going to love what he loves and hate what he hates, are you not?" 

"Yes, you will," I replied.

I was still somewhat confused, why were so many people being arrested for something they believed? So then I asked him his thoughts on how Romans 13:1-7 (ESV) related to this situation. 

Submission to the Authorities :13 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

And I asked him,  "Doesn't that mean that God put those rulers in place? And if so, don't we have to submit to those laws?"

"Certainly He did, but the laws you must obey to please God, are the laws of God".               (Additional  reading on this topic.)

So I took the blog down.

I hope this and the additional reading link above help anyone who may be confused about who to listen to and who to obey. I mentioned once that I don't wear a seat belt because I believe that if God wants me with Him, the seat belt will not prevent that from happening. And if He wants me injured for whatever reason it's going to happen somehow. At the time I wrote that, I added that I only wear my seat belt because it is the law. I have sense had my life threatened by friends and family who insist I wear a seat belt so the jury is still out on that one. 

It is up to us, individually to determine the depths of our faith and which things in life are ripe for the battle.  If I get pulled over I will be given a ticket for failure to wear a seat belt and I will have to pay a fine, thankfully it won't be $135,000.

My fight in this situation is religious freedom. It is the ability to live and work by the dictates of my faith without being punished by the government and all Americans should be free to do that.~ Aaron Klein ~

Updated information, added June 15, 2015,

These people are currently challenging the courts ruling because, at the time of the incident, the same-sex marriage law had not yet passed in Oregon. Regardless of the outcome, God is watching and very much aware of this families commitment to his laws. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Growing up ~ A Testimony ~

I grew up with wonderful parents. I loved them dearly.
My dad was the son of hardworking service people. His father, a distinguished butler, and his mother, a professional chef. They worked for years after migrating from Holland for a very notorious and wealthy family in Pennsylvania. Needless to say, my father grew up bouncing between servants quarters and parochial boarding school. He was a wonderful pianist. He couldn't read music to save himself, yet could play nearly anything he heard. He was a member of the Barbershopers and he loved camping and fishing. He could walk thirty miles for something to do.
He taught me good posture and grace by requiring me to walk around the house with a book on my head. Meanwhile, he  would descended to the floor below to listen for my footsteps. Because I loved spending time with him,  I became an avid ice skater, walker, fisherman and hunter. He taught me that using profanity made a person look ignorant and that women were their most beautiful without any makeup on at all.
My mother was my heroine. She was extremely hard working and could save money like no one else I have ever known in my life. She was a classic beauty, who could make a sweatshirt and jeans look amazing by simply adding a scarf or pin  She forbid me to demonstrate such characteristics as cattiness and she expected me to exhibit total sincerity when dealing with anyone. Being two faced was a forbidden and accepting all kinds of people...paramount.
She never allowed me to play with Barbie dolls because she felt little girls had no need for dolls with full figures. She only allowed me to participate in activities she felt would improve me such as reading, embroidery and poetry memorization. She was my very best friend, my confidant.
She wanted my brother and I to look well dressed and in style and worked her head off to accomplish it. Both of my parents screened my friends and always knew exactly what I was doing or what I had done. As I grew older many of my friends thought my mother was mean, but I always found my self defending her. I guess I knew that even when my parents seemed harsh they were doing their very best to raise a decent human being.
They both loved to cook and encouraged my own passion for it. Having the ability to cook and bar tend enabled me to support my family as a single mother for years following my divorce. I was blessed to have them for parents, they taught me to be a unique and as difficult as that process seemed at the time, I am thankful for it.

When I was in the 5th grade my parents divorced. I was delighted! So much so, that I produced a nervous giggle of glee when they told me it was going to happen.
Aside from being strict and somewhat demanding, the one characteristic they shared was alcoholism. When you grow up in a home filled with constant fighting, bickering and flying objects you believe that all families are like that. You are different because of the drama and when you go to school others don't understand you so they are mean to you and you in turn don't understand why they are mean. Psychology teaches us that the sober people in an alcoholic family are either ostracized or they become enablers. But what child understands that? All they think is why am I different? Why am I not accepted?Why are others mean to me?

In my child brain, I thought every home in the world was just like mine. Yelling, screaming,  breaking things and angry words, all characteristics of a dysfunctional home. In my parents case, pride prevented them from seeking help or even admitting a problem.

I had no clue that there were people who didn't drink in this world. People who celebrated without a bottle(s) of wine or champagne or booze. People who didn't drink Mimosa's while opening their Christmas gifts.
I rebelled frequently and because I was a product of an alcoholic upbringing, I dove headfirst into a marriage that placed me with the familiar. A different family with the same disease as my own. A disease that promotes a pattern of celebrating any and every conceivable victory and occasion with alcohol. I thought partying was a lifestyle everyone was partaking in until I was blessed with friends who were different.

Thank you precious Father God for those friends, for that eye opening and gradual understanding that I don't need it. It took me years and years to figure that out. For many years I partied because I thought that was the thing to do. I became a great bartender and I owned beautiful stemware, a lovely wine rack filled with great bottles of wine all because I thought I needed it. I thought I was so cool, all I needed was a drink in my hand and I could take over the world.  I thought I needed to drink and party to keep up "my image". Guess what?  I didn't and I don't!

Things started to change for me after my mother died. My parents were both gone and I was pulled by my umbilical cord back to the city of my birth, the place I grew up.
Our Heavenly Father had big plans for me there and he wasted no time! He threw me head first into situations that would make me understand just who I was and why I was that person. He opened my eyes to people who had once known me as that sad little mess of a girl and made me realize that I didn't need to be her.
She was not what He wanted for me.
He revealed His HUGE love for me and made me realize that I am blessed beyond my wildest imagination because of that love.   He took me by the hand and with Him I relived some of the ugly things of my youth. I was able to gain an understanding of why I had been such a mess. Praise God forever more for loving me so much!

I blame no one. We are all blameless...all forgiven! We are all just walking through this world making every effort to survive. Hopefully, making every effort to be the best we can be.
My parents, despite their problem with alcohol, were great people. They gave me a foundation of strength that I am very proud of. They taught me to be honest, sincere and kind. They gave me life and it is mine to do with what I will! With the guidance of my Lord and Savior, Mighty God, I will never be alone. I will never feel less because I am in fact more! I am fun, funny and confident without it and whats more I'm not an alcoholic, but even if I were, I would be forgiven as I am Washed in the blood. 

In one of my rare appearances years ago at an Al-anon meeting, the speaker addressed the brokenness in the home of any kind of addict. She told us that we were all victims of this disease. People around me all started discussing how awful their home life was and all I could think of was how blessed I was not to be the drunk....not to be the addict. Thank you Father God for opening my eyes to the fact that I am not and never was an alcoholic. Believe me, for too many years I gave the finding out part my best shot!
Those with the disease may have tried to hurt me and punish me for being different, but I was different. I was the sober one. Thank you Father for friends who opened my eyes to the fact that it was o.k. not to have the desire to party. It was o.k. to walk away from people who kept trying to call me back. I now have peace and clarity about it. M sins are forgiven and there is a healthy life waiting for me to savor.