Pearls & Vodka

What are you doing to the least of these?

Welcome to Hymns & Hallelujahs!

For awhile now I’ve been considering making some changes here on Pearls & Vodka. Realizing that not everyone likes to discuss politics, and not everyone likes to discuss sports, I wanted to diversify this space to allow something for everyone.

One of the biggest problems in society today is that we do not allow space for everyone, whether that’s politically or racially, or economically, or, well you get the picture. And we are all guilty of it, it’s not just Donald Trump.

While I think I’m pretty awesome, I know without a doubt I cannot change the entire universe and its perspective towards society. But what I do know, is that I can do my part, no matter how little it may be, to be inclusive, to be diverse, to be accepting, to be thought-provoking, and to strike up conversations on things that some would avoid.

In my life, Sunday has always been church day.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been faithful to be in church every Sunday, but it’s still what the day represents to me. While I am a Christian, a believer in One True God. This space is not intended to push my beliefs on anyone. If nothing else, it is a space for me to share my journey, the things I’m struggling with, the things I’m learning, the things I’m questioning, maybe even the things I’m doubting. This space is intended to bring in some other perspectives, I can assure you, I know mine is not the end all be all. I love learning about what other people believe and why they believe it. I love testing my knowledge against my beliefs to ensure that what I say I believe, I know why, and I know how to explain it.

So with that, welcome to the new format of Sundays at Pearls & Vodka, now affectionately called, Hymns & Hallelujahs.

The name is born from my upbringing. I grew up in a large, Southern Baptist Church in Northwest Arkansas for the most part, but for my first decade a smaller Southern Baptist Church in South Arkansas. If you haven’t picked up on the hints, I was raised as a Southern Baptist. And before some of you pour yourself a drink and dance off this site, I should say, I’m not a Southern Baptist today. But when I think of my upbringing and my days on the pews of First Baptist and Immanuel Baptist, I think of hymns and I think of those who were constantly saying “Amen” and “Hallelujah” with each breath the preachers took.

While I do not consider myself a Southern Baptist today, I must say that I am grateful for my raising.

I learned more about the bible in those formative years than I think I even realize. I was a whiz in Bible drills. I could name the 66 books of the Bible before I could do Algebra. OK, full disclosure that may not be a good analogy as I still really struggle with Algebra, but alas. I had the Bible stories memorized before Junior High. I knew more about the Disciples than I knew about some of my own family. And I’m grateful for that knowledge base.

I think its incredible important to know what you believe, but also why you believe it. If you can’t defend it, you shouldn’t be touting it. I’m not saying I know everything in the Bible, far from it. But I do have a good grasp thanks to how, and where, I was raised. And I want that for my son.

I mentioned I am not a Southern Baptist anymore. And that is not a slam to the SBC. The SBC has been the hands and feet for Jesus to a lot of souls around the world. They do a lot of good with their resources. The older I’ve gotten and the more I’ve sought out my own path, I just feel like I align a little differently on some issues and have found some other churches where we have lived that I have grown more in. And that’s OK. I don’t think we were intended to believe one set of ideology every day of our lives from birth to death. Though, I do think that has been the path of some. It’s just not me.

As for what I do believe:

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,

and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Those of you who have grown up in Catholic Churches, Presbyterian Churches and the like, will know those words as, The Nicene Creed.”

With every manmade institution there are flaws, that is human nature.

The church is sadly no exception. I wrote Friday on here about what I deem to be an outrageous situation at a Memphis church that gave a standing ovation to a man admitting to a sexual indiscretion with a teenager in his youth ministry 20 years ago. The role of the church today in this crisis of sexual misconduct has been disheartening and depressing. There have been stories for years of men and women in leadership of churches whether they were Priests or Sunday School teachers or anything of the sort who used their positions to manipulate and carry out immoral, sexual acts with their parishioners. It’s just disgusting. The one place you feel like you should be safe. The one place you trust your children to be safe. And the church cannot be relied on for that. It’s heart breaking.

But what amazes me more is that Hollywood’s voices of disdain for this behavior is so much louder than the voices of our churches.

And some will argue, well they have bigger platforms, or they have more money. I think it’s outrageous that sentiments like that even come up. The church should always, unequivocally, denounce all forms of sexual misconduct. No man, or woman, should be applauded, or given a standing ovation for an act against someone like Andy Savage was in Memphis, Tennessee last weekend. And yes, I know he’s on a leave of absence now, and yes, it’s being investigated, and yes people can change, and yes forgiveness and restoration are possible. But if you read the details of his situation, I don’t believe restoration ever took place. I think a common practice in our churches took place, a cover up. I think Andy left his church, escaping all consequences, moved on with his life, while Jules Woodson was told to keep quiet.

No wonder Christians get such a bad name.

Politically in the past week there has been even more division in our nation than before. I swear every time I think we are as divisive as we can get, something else happens.

Unless you were in the room with President Trump this week discussing immigration, you do not know for certain if he did, or did not, use foul language to demean another nation. But, the reactions of the church and its people will be remembered far longer than the good they have done. Folks like Robert Jeffress who is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas excused away Trump’s language and stood behind his remarks. The word he used was inappropriate, but let’s be real, a lot of us use the word “shit.” The problem is what he said, not the word he used. Our nation was never intended to be barricaded behind some wall shutting out the rest of the world. And we as Christians, should be appalled at the thought of demeaning another nation that is not as fortunate, when we believe we are all God’s children.

I think, more than ever before, the stances we take as Christians today politically, will speak much louder than any sermons we give, Sunday School lessons we teach, or hymns we sing.

And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.'” Matthew 25:40

Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash