Monday, July 27, 2015

Pride Festival Experience

Today I agreed to take my son to the Pride Festival at Wingfield Park in downtown Reno. I had some trepidations about it but I did not want him to go alone. When ever I talk to people about going to events like this they seem to wonder why I am nervous. They act like it is no big deal. It doesn't matter if I am talking to Christians or not. However, I still have concerns. Maybe rightfully so.

As we arrived parking wasn't that bad and a nice bonus, it was free. As we got closer to the event we saw quite a few people wearing rainbow attire and or flags and such. We saw the first entrance was blocked by a gate with a sign that read exit. There was a person there opening the gate and letting people out.

When we got to the entrance they were collecting a $5 suggested donation. It just did not seem like a suggestion when you got to the front of the line. I told them I was not expecting to pay and only had $3, one young man said he could swipe my credit card. I declined the offer. Then they said the $3 was close enough. I thought that was weird because through all the advertising I read, even on the website it did not mention this "suggested" donation.

I let my son lead the way and we approached the area we saw a sign. Adult side to the left and Family side to the right. Of course he wanted to go to the left but because of what was implied I said we may have to leave sooner if we did that. So we went to the right.

The first space we came to was a spot for "free speech." It was empty. My son said, "So in America if I wanted to speak my mind I could only do it there?" I replied that if you disagreed with this festival you were free to do it right there.

The next booth was religious booth that had rainbow stickers with the words "God loves you" on them.  This booth and the free speech spot were both located out side of the circle of booths that we were about to walk into. I found that interesting. As we walked past the booth some one hollered my name. It was from the religious booth. A man from my work was in the both. I stepped over and introduced my son and he introduced the other people in the booth. I asked how he was doing and he responded that he was doing well. Then the conversation just dropped. He did not explain what his booth was or what they were doing there. It was a little awkward. So I said I would see him later and to have a good day.

Then I noticed some other booths that were there. The TMCC Compass group was  there. That group is a LGBT group from the college. There was also TMCC and UNR. There was another college there but the name escapes me now. Washoe Legal Service, Wells Fargo, JCPenny's, Martini radio and 106.3 were there as well. There were a couple of other churches there but they were in the inner circle if you will and not with the first one we came across. They just let us walk by and did not engage with us. There were maybe a dozen booths there in total. No one engaging us as we walked by.

I met up with the Smith's from work. They were looking at the Greyhound dogs that were there. They were dressed in matching rainbow shirts and had been apart of the parade that had started the event. They were having so much fun. We exchanged hello's and they explained that they were very interested in getting dog but not for another year. Their young girls were still afraid of dogs. Little did they know that having a dog would be like having a third child. Anyway, we said our goodbyes and headed on our way.

There was nothing really left to do and it had only been about 10 minutes to walk around and see the booths. So my son suggested we go to the Adult side. I warned him that I was sure that it was not a good idea for me. He was not an adult and so he should not go over there and I WAS an adult and I know I should not go over there. So he in his great teenage wisdom suggests that he go over there by himself and walk around for just 10 minutes. I said no, like as in N to the O, no. If he wanted to go over there then I was going to go with him. Does that sound like fun? He said sure! What is wrong with that boy?

We start walking into the area and it was behind a wall so you really can't see what is going on until you get over there. You can hear that they are doing a karaoke contest but what I hear as we come around the corner is my son saying,"Mom turn around, don't look!"

I have to pause right here and say that when I raised my kids I tried to protect their eyes and their ears from the things I thought would not be good for them. There is a children's song that goes "Oh be careful little eyes what you see...oh be careful little ears what you hear...The Father up above is looking down in love...oh be careful little eyes what you see."  So very often as we were in the mall or I would be driving them down the street I would see something inappropriate I would instruct them to look down until we passed by. So my son has some idea of what would be inappropriate for me and really for him to be seeing.

Back to the festival. So my son has to say this to me a couple more times. "Mom, look over hear for a minute. Stand right here or just keep walking." He did not seem to be enjoying himself. You might say, "Well of course not, his mother is with him!" However, I still think he would have felt uncomfortable there. I will tell you why.

With all the talk of how the LGBT community is just like everyone else. They just want the freedom to be themselves. Society just needs to accept them for who they are. They give the impression that they are like the Family side of this festival with the churches represented and the business and health care providers. Nice and kid friendly.

But really it was the Adult side that showed who they are and what they want to be doing. The Adult side was not kid friendly what so ever. They had adult booths there. They had an individual walking around in a male body part costume. My son even commented, "Who would want to dress up like that and walk around in public?" There were some men there dressed in over the top drag, like the diva type you may see on TV. There were other men there half dressed with their upper bodies painted. There was the all gay men's choir booth and other booths along that line. We walked through this side much quicker than the Family side.

As I briefly looked around it amazed me what they were celebrating because it was not the lasted supreme court battle that was won about same-sex marriage. They were not celebrating monogamy, they were celebrating the flesh and all that it wants to fulfill. They were viewing each other like a peace of meat and how they wanted to prepare it before they feasted on it. Even the talented singer that was scheduled to show up was treated like a slab of meat. Who could get their hands on him first?

As my son and I were standing there getting ready to leave the area I saw a man walking in dressed like a woman. He had a wig on and a dress that looked very matronly. He looked to be in his forties. His hands were clasping a clutch purse right in front of him. He did not look comfortable. He looked scared and fragile. Not in a feminine way but in a way that made me think he was nervous about being here. Afraid to be seen by someone he may know.

On the way out we met up with an old friend from church. He was with a friend. They talked about looking forward to meeting the singer Lance who was arriving shortly for a meet and greet. Our friend could not wait to meet him and could care less about Lance having a husband. We said our goodbyes and then I ran into Cathy who is an author. She wrote a book seemly about building a bridge between the church and the LBGT community. It wasn't quite like that but we greeted each other and then went on our way.

We were done with the event in less than 45 minutes. It seemed to me that my son was disappointed. It wasn't about fun and freedom like he had expected. The event was boring unless you wanted to engage yourself with the atmosphere on the Adult side.

My son  saw a few people from school there but he did not speak to them. We did stop at the Hillary for president booth. We just wanted a sticker. She wanted us to sign up for a  reminder about voting. So we did. Well, my son did. Still no sticker. Then she wanted him to register to vote. I said no thank you, we just wanted a sticker. She reluctantly gave us each one. My son commented that he wanted to study up on the issue first and then make a choice. He then commented how he wanted to talk to me about the subject Adult 101. What?! He said he meant about voting, and other responsibilities of being an adult. You will have to read another blog to find out what he needed to know for passing the Adult 101 class from this mother/teacher.

I think the LGBT community is pulling the wool over the eyes of society. They are trying to make believe it is all about the "Family side" when in reality it is about the "Adult side." No one cared about what services where being offered on the Family side. The straight families that were there were alone on the Family side. The LGBT community was on the Adult side doing what ever they wanted. Is that why they want to be accepted? To act inappropriate in public? Is that why they want equality because they want to bring out what they do in the dark into the light? Is that supposed to be ok with everyone? I do not think when we stand up for a gay person being bullied that this is what we are agreeing to. I think we are agreeing to peaceful living not public display of lusting after the flesh.

The event showed me that
1. I must love people. That is what God would want me to do. No matter who they are.
2. I must lead by example. My kids are going to go do what they are going to do. I need to be right here in this spot when they return. They will need to know where to find me.
3. Stay on the family side. I never want to qualify as an Adult.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

To Offend or Not To Offend, That Is the Question.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Psalms 119:165
Lately it would seem that every one is offended about something. It is all over the news. Whether a flag offends or marriage offends; It doesn't matter whose side you are on everyone is offended. How does Jesus handle offenses?
Let's start with when Jesus offends the Pharisees:
"Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended,
after they heard this saying?  But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.  Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch." Matthew 15:12-14
Jesus just got through with telling a story in parable. So the meaning of the story may not be completely clear to everyone. He was referring to our heart and how when we speak it comes from our heart. Were the Pharisees offended because they understood His meaning and were then convicted about their behavior or did they not understand His meaning and that offended them? Either way Jesus knew and He knew how He was going to respond to them. 
He wasn't.
Jesus was not going to respond to them. He said let them alone. He didn't gloat or boast. He knew what was going to happen in the end to them and He left it at that. He took no action against them.
Here is another example in Matthew where Jesus has an opportunity to offend but choses not to:
"And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?  He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?  Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.  Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee." Matt. 17:24-27
Here is Jesus the Son of God. Should He have to pay taxes? Just to make sure that He did not offend anyone, Jesus went ahead and paid the tax. He took action. In this situation it mattered that He did not offend.
What is the difference?
In the first example Jesus was speaking the truth. He was speaking to a crowd that wanted to know more of what he was saying. They were others there as well, however, they were not there to learn but to find fault in what He was saying. In this case, those Pharisees were going to be offended no matter what Jesus had to say.
In the second example Jesus knew what the letter of the law was and He also knew that there were people out there waiting to catch him in an alleged wrong doing. They would take the spot light off of what Jesus was doing for the Kingdom and put it on the fact he did not pay his taxes. Jesus did not want people to talk about whether he paid his taxes or not but how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
We can follow Jesus' example by keeping our eyes on the big picture and not being bogged down with what the world is choosing to do. If God wants us to be a lawyer, or a judge or a law maker then fine get in the fight to strengthen our laws or create better ones but for most of us God has a different plan. We need to stop fighting with people on the social networks and work harder to win our neighbors, friends, and co-workers to the Lord.
Our life should speak of how important it is for people to learn of God and trust Jesus as their Savior.
That will offend plenty.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

As for Me…

As for Me…

"But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15b
      This is where Joshua is making a proclamation to Israel that they can do what they want but he is going to follow after God. It is such an aspiring story of courage and defiance of the masses. We see this verse on signs in people's home making that same stand against the world; We will stand for God.
     As a family starting out you may see this verse and think, "yes, I want my family to stand for God." You might even put some decisions in place as your children start to grow of how you will train them and also what you may do if they choose not to follow God. Your strong and confident that your family WILL serve God. You will raise your family better then you were raised and better then what others may or may not be doing at church. If Joshua can make this decision in that primitive culture, surely we can do it today.
     I have so many pictures and videos of my children saying and doing things for the Lord. Whether it be memorizing verses, singing in the choir, or helping out in class. They are so adorable. My sons made commitments when they were young to be preachers. One of my sons said that he had made a decision to be a missionary to India. He also wanted to be a detective so he decided he would be a missionary but when he wasn't preaching he would be a detective. Oh, they are so cute when they are young. So many times we went out and did things together for the Lord.
     But then the day comes when your child says that he does not want to go to church any more. That it is not his church but his parents church. He does not know for sure if there is a God or not. He only knows of his parent's God. He wants to figure it out for himself. Is that wrong to do? Should it have been something to cause me alarm? I don't think so.

      Isn't it a good thing that I have encouraged honest and courageous talk from my children? The fact that he felt comfortable enough to talk about this in this manner is critical to our relationship. When he approached me he was defensive about it because he had already told his father about what he was thinking and it did not go very well. I knew that I had to act in a different way.

    The advise I get from the church is to show him to the door if he doesn't want to follow the rules in my house. I could tell him it is my way or the highway. He is 16 years old. Is that a wise decision on my part to present to 16 year old that he either goes to church or he has to move out? Is that what that verse was saying? As for me and my house, so just move out when you don't agree with the statement. I do not think so.

   What would God do? He would listen. He would not feel threatened. He would encourage him to search for the truth. He would be there for him as he went through this journey and answer more questions. He would not abandon him. He would guide him back to Himself. God does not need me to defend Him to my son. My son knows the bible and he has seen a lot. He has seen hypocrisy all the way from the preacher, the church, and in his own home. Mind you I realize no one is perfect but there are some things done on purpose with no care as to anything or any one else. It is just done out of selfishness.

     How does this verse apply to my household even when the children start going in their own way? It means I still stand. I do not move. I stay put doing what I am supposed to be doing. When the children take notice of me while they are searching for answers I need to be just doing what God would have me doing. That means I do not have the liberty of doing my own thing but making sure I am doing God's thing. As for me...I will serve the Lord.