Just… Stop… Talking…

A friend of mine in ministry posted on her blog a wonderful post regarding the crazy political process we are in and the role of women in that process.  Below is a portion from a post as well at the link.

As we draw nearer to November 6, maybe we can take a page out of this post and stop talking and start listening.

I understand that many different professionals have to come together in order to make policy surrounding issues such as abortion, rape, birth control, medical care for my uterus, etc. but you can also make sure you understand this clearly, and focus on YOUR profession, leaving those other professionals to do their jobs. I have never been pregnant, I have never been in the situation of needing to make a decision about an abortion, nor have I ever been raped. But I am a woman, I am a theologian, and I am a minister. Those three things alone make me qualified to tell you to STOP TALKING AND LISTEN.

I am not advocating that you have agree with my personal decisions, nor compromise your own personal beliefs. However, leave the job of professionals up to those professionals. Use them as guides and help along the way but actually LISTEN to them as you work together, doing YOUR job, not the job of others. — Peace Babe

Full post here.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Milestone: 100 posts!

This is my 100th post!  WHOOO HOOO!

Eight months ago today I started a little blog with the intent of sharing my writings and sermons; I really didnt think I would be doing still today.  Who knew that I would make this into a .com only a few months in?

Over those 8 months I have had 9,819 visits with August 1, being my busiest day. (That’s when my article about the Chick-Fil-A Debate came out- 1450 views that day- WOW!).

People from all over the world have shared and commented on my posts and I have a great time doing it!  The ultimate goal of this site was to promote Christianity in a different light.  Christianity has a lot of misconceptions.  Some people think you have to act this way and not that or do this and not that.  I want to show that Christianity is complex and rich, not monochromatic.  Also, I wanted to show that Christianity is not always what is portrayed in the media or defined by what Joel Osteen or Pat Robertson said.

 

Thanks for reading, sharing and commenting!  Here’s to the next 100 posts!

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Favorite Bible Passage (For Today)

As a minister I get asked a lot of questions.  These questions range from “Where did Cain’s wife come from?” to “How can I forgive someone when I am hurting so bad?” and everything in between.  A question that I get a lot is “what is your favorite Bible verse?”  The Bible is a big book so as you can imagine I have a lot to choose from.  The problem with answering this question is that the answer is never same day to day, month to month, year to year.  Why?  Well, things happen in our lives that change the way that we approach the scriptures.  For example, my daughter and first child Violet was born on February 1.  Before her birth, passages in the Bible that referred to a parent/child relationship or even the notion that God is a parent didn’t really mean much to me.  But after her birth, those passages took on a whole new meaning.  It was because my context had changed.  My outlook on life and what was important to me was different.  Those passages were something that I could relate to because I was a parent now.

Having a favorite Bible passage is something that evokes for us memories of a time when we felt close to God or maybe someone.  For me today my favorite passage is 1 John 4:19- “We love because God first loved us.” (Common English Bible, 2011).  This passage sums up my understanding of God, the ultimate source of all love.  The only reason we have the capacity to love another human being is because God loved us first.  I believe that this passage calls on all of the followers of Christ to remember the free gift of love and to share it willingly with others, just like it was given to us.

Does this mean that tomorrow I might change my mind?  Maybe, the fact remains that our relationship with God and the Bible is a growing relationship, not a static one.  I once heard pastor and author Brian McLaren once say that we should stop going to the Bible to only reinforce what we already know about God.  If we heed these words, then we will have a mountain of favorite passages throughout our lives.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan M. Dolive

How We Having The Same Debate After All Of These Years

The Rev. Dr. Phil Snider has overnight become an internet celebrity.   A video of him giving a speech at the Springfield, Missouri City Council has gone viral on the internet.  The city was considering a motion that would have  added sexual orientation and gender identity protections in the areas of employment, public housing and accommodations.  As one would think it was a highly contested issue.  Many people took their turn on the microphone addressing the Council, but none stood out more than Snider’s.

I am glad to see a minister from the Disciples of Christ taking a stand in such a public venue.  His argument is not one that is bashes people over the head with the Bible, rather it makes the hearer recall previous ways the Bible was used for the segregation of people.  Too often the Bible is used as a weapon of separation and not unity.

Enjoy the video.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Football and the Bible

The tiny town of Kountze, Texas was placed on the national radar this past week.  After a series of court cases and injunctions, the Kountze High School Cheerleaders are allowed to continue to use Bible scriptures as part of their pre-game, run though banner.  (read here) Because of their actions it has caused a firestorm of press, debates and protests.  The central issue (as I understand it) is whether or not it is appropriate for the cheerleaders to use Bible scriptures at a school event.  The superintendent of Kountze ISD stated that he barred them because the banners violated school policy and so the debate started.  Do the banners that the players run through before kickoff amount to school sanctioning of religion?

I am not a lawyer by profession but I believe there is a different issue at the forefront here.   The cheerleaders in my opinion are walking a very fine line.  Yes they are student lead and under the letter of the law they should be “ok” to continue, but what about doing it in uniform on the field of school sponsored football game?  Does that change the context and thus change the nature of the event?  I believe it does.

What this boils down to is that in a predominately Christian area of the state, Christianity can not be professed everywhere and this upsets people and any push back is seen as an attack of freedoms.  The fact of the matter is that at Kountze ISD there is an amalgamation of people from various faith backgrounds, contexts and ideas.  By having the cheerleaders promoting their brand of religion is stating that their way is more correct than the others.  Since they have the platform to promote their voice to a wide audience, they have the opportunity to broadcast what ever they want.  This is not fair or correct.

People have been arguing that this issue is centered on the notion of freedom of speech.  While I agree with this, would the fine people of Kountze be ok with an uplifting passage from the Koran or from the Bhagavad Gita?  If you open the door under the notion of freedom of speech then you open it to all.  You have to give the same platform for Muslims, Jews, Atheist, Agnostics and even Satanist.  It has been reported that the cheerleaders take turns choosing the uplifting message; would the parents who fought so hard to get a Philippians 4:13 banner, fight just a hard for a Hindu cheerleader to promote her religion?  Maybe, but maybe not.

There is this idea that society is assaulting Christianity or that the world has some vendetta against Christianity.  I do not believe this is the case.  I believe that some people have an issue with religion being shoved down their throat.  This has been an issue with Christianity for centuries.  Some followers of Christ believe that they have a moral imperative to make sure that everyone believes their version of Christianity.  I believe that Christianity is multi-faceted and complex; it is rich and layered with multiple ways to interpret and act upon the scriptures.   Yes there will be those who will claim that their foundation is in the Bible and the Great Commission, but I think this is pushing it past the limits of its intent.  The Great Commission calls on all who follow Christ to spread the message of love, hope, peace, joy and reconciliation.  Christ had many enemies but it was his changing of social structures and acceptance of those who society had cast out that helped the movement to grow.  No where in the Bible does Christ ever command his followers to many banners and have padded football players run through it.

Don’t the scriptures deserve better respect than to have a team of players tear it to shreds?

Faith is something that is inherently personal and for some Christianity has left a bad taste in their mouth.  Maybe it was a bad experience with a minister or perhaps they were told that because of their life choices they were not accepted in the Kingdom of God.  How would it feel to then see a banner proclaiming the best virtues of Christianity when those were not shown to you?    Instead of making a situation worse, why not live your lives in a way that expresses the faith that you hold so dear?  This will be the biggest witness that you can ever have.  I understand that to many this is a ‘non-issue’ but for the church to be seen in a positive light, people must know that just because a banner is not raised does not mean that Christianity is dead.

I know that many of you do not share the same view as I do and that’s ok.  Its not about who is right and who is wrong, rather it is about the conversation and the examination of widely held beliefs.  Many people might consider me (like many do about the Superintendent of Kountze ISD) un-Christian or even anti-Christian, but that is off the mark.  I am just expressing a theological opinion, the right of every person.

This situation is far from over, but the fact remains that Christ’s central message was love.  Let’s remember that.

 

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan

What’s next? Chick-Fil-A Boycott Day?

Since my move and start of a new position in Houston,  I have been busy and have not updated as much as I had before. Thank you to you my faithful readers for sticking with me. Hopefully once things settle down I will get back in the grove. Below is a piece I wrote a while back about Chick-Fil-A ceasing their funding to organizations that are anti same sex marriage.

Thanks again for your support.


In a major announcement, months after the company was embroiled in a public debate, Chick-fil-a according to a LGBT support group has stopped making donations to organizations that are against same-sex marriages.  You can read the full article here.

Chick-fil-a in an internal memo stated that the company will treat every “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender.”  How about that… Chick-fil-a finding their Christian roots again.  So now what are the throngs of people to do that went out on August 1 to support Chick-Fil-A’s right to “free speech” (read: believe same-sex marriage is a sin.)?  Are these God-fearing Christians now going to boycott this institution because they have gone back on what they one stood for and claimed to be Christian?  I wonder if now the leaders of Chick-Fil-A will now be allowed to get divorces and have second and even third wives.

The fact of the matter is that this is a step in the right direction.  For me, Chick-Fil-A’s original comments and actions were against my understanding of what the gospel is calling the Church and followers of Christ to be and become.  In the entire Bible, there are about 6 verses that actually in some way talk about homosexuality… that’s it… six.  No long discourses from prophets or even Jesus or even one of the dedicated disciples.  These verses are found throughout the Bible in different testaments and writings.  There is no unified voice on this.  There are more verses about proper eating habits and dietary laws than verses about homosexuality.  Where are the protests of the McDonald’s or other fast food restaurants for making people fat and indulging them in guilty, which by the way it is a sin.  But no mention of that from people in society.  Sadly the some followers of Christ have made the singling out of this small segment of the population their sole focus.  No mention of unconditional love, no mention of free grace, nothing just righteous indignation and self-righteousness, the complete opposite of what the gospel calls us to be.

If Christ was of the radical embodiment of God and acted as such, then why aren’t all followers of Christ?  Today people focus too much on one particular issue that they believe is at the center and forefront of what is means to be a follower of Christ.  In the end, does is matter if someone loves someone else of the same gender?

Chick-Fil-A has the absolute right to run their company the way they want, but the problem that many people had is that they drug all Christians into the mix.  It made all Christians look bad and it gave Christianity a bad name.

 

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan

We Are On A Journey Together

My thoughts about my new position here in Houston; written for the church’s newsletter.


We are on a journey together. This is a new phase of ministry for this church and for Rev. Tim and me. I have been working diligently to learn faces, names and relationships, as well as where Bethany Christian Church is providing life giving ministry to the members of this congregation, Houston and the world.

It is an exciting and yet scary time for our congregation. We are stepping out in faith as we strive to be the hands and feet of God in the world around us. We might have more questions than answers but I am confiedent that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit be able to step into the this new phase of ministry for Bethany Christian Church.

Brian Wren wrote a hymn that maybe you have sung before in service entitled “This Is a Day of New Beginnings.” I love the title and the message of the words and I believe that is summarizes the journey that is before us. The idea is that God is able to make things new; by our faithfulness to God and God’s mission we will be arbiters of that new beginning.
I believe that the words found in it are striking and speak to the necessity of change and examining our past as we hope for our future.
The words are:
“This is a day of new beginnings,
time to remember and move on,
time to believe what love is bringing,
laying to rest the pain that’s gone.
For by the life and death of Jesus, love’s mighty Spirit, now as then,
can make for us a world of difference
as faith and hope are born again.
Then let us, with the Spirit’s daring, step from the past, and leave behind
our disappointment, guilt and grieving,
seeking new paths, and sure to find.
In faith we’ll gather round the table to show and share
what love can do. This is a day of new beginnings; our
God is making all things new.” (© 1987, Hope Publishing Co.)

What does God hold for Bethany Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Houston, Texas? To be honest, I do not have a clear answer.

I do know that with the guidance of God and our faithful response, our God will make all things new.

Here’s to the journey!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan M. Dolive

The Gospel According to Facebook

My latest article for the Orange County Record.


Facebook is one of the most popular websites to date with nearly 500 million users from all over the world.  From its humble beginnings in the dorm room of Harvard University, Facebook is now everywhere.  From your personal computer to your Smartphone, one is never too far away from social “interactions” found within Facebook (or as a friend of my calls it ‘faceless book’).

Facebook connects us to the world around us and we are able to share things from vacation pictures to memorial pages for those who have died.  Facebook at its core is a social networking site, connecting people across various socio-economic statuses, education levels and even religions.  Facebook in my opinion has moved past its original intent of just social networking between friends.  Businesses, churches, civil groups, clubs and even TV shows all have a presence on Facebook.  Breaking news is reported, shared, liked and commented on, all within the confines of one website.  The goal has moved from friendly conversations to specific advertisements and mass information around like issues, causes and beliefs.

What does Facebook do or has done for Christianity?  Has Facebook helped or hurt the gospel message?  Recently I began to see more and more pictures shared that read “Like if you Love Jesus” or “Keep scrolling if you love the Devil, like if you love God.”  If you are a user of Facebook like I am, you have more than likely seen these pictures (or others like it) before.  These pictures call for Christians around the world to share their faith boldly and proudly on their Facebook page so that all who may grace it will know that they are a follower of Christ.

To be honest, I can’t stand them.   They clutter my news feed and are not the reason I get on Facebook.

I do not like them for a number of reasons.  First, it makes Christianity something to do, not something that is done.  Followers of Christ are called to continue the message of Christ in the world around them.  Often in churches there are talks of “letting your light shine before others,” but there is also a warning about doing things just to get attention in the name of faith.  Does it really mean I am “less of a Christian” if I decided not to click the ‘like’ button on a picture?  Does this mean that I have sold my soul to the internet Devil because I am too consumed with posting pictures of my children?  Absolutely not.  Its one thing to have a faith and have that faith inform your life, but it is another to have a faith and guilt trip others into following your actions.  Christ did not call for us to plaster our faith across the internet.  Christ calls us to be the presence of God at all times, in all places and to all people.  A person’s faith or commitment to God/Christ is not contingent on whether or not they share a Facebook photo with their friends.

Facebook and other social media outlets like it have made the gospel a bumper sticker, for good or for ill.  Since the interaction happens in cyber space the relational connection is lessened.  Because of this the scriptures, quotations, theology and sermons can all be taken out of context and promoted as truth with little or no dialogue, conversation or explanation.  Of course this can happen anywhere, but for some reason the internet has brought this to the forefront.  Is this the 21st century model of evangelism?   I sure hope not.  Social media has it place in the propagation of the gospel, but evangelism at its core is grounded in relationships.  Evangelism is a scary word for some people because they believe it means inviting people to church or knocking on people’s doors and passing out ‘salvation tracts.’  While some people believe this is the best way to promote ones faith, I believe that being in a relationship with someone first helps to “open the door” to evangelism.  One does not even have to speak the name of Jesus Christ to get the message of Christ across.  This is what Facebook and these “like if you love Jesus” pictures fail at doing; there is no relationship, just a pretty picture with a cute font.  The gospel demands more than that.