Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's All About the Chicken


I didn’t come here today to make a political statement.  I’ve waited for this day for sooooo very long.  I’ve been in the Bay area for 16 years now, with the closest CFA being an hour and a half away at the Solano Mall.  Now there’s one just across town.  16 miles to be exact.  It's at a new shopping center called @ First.  It's where Highway 237 meets First Street in north San Jose.

I expected it to be crowded, and it was very much so.  The picture I took was only a glimpse of the people there. The line snaked way off to the right of the photo.  Arriving at the shopping center, I gave up on the parking lot pretty quickly and parked across the street at the Target.  The drive-thru had a longer line than In-N-Out at lunchtime (and those are pretty long).  The line standing outside to get in was pretty long, but moved steadily.  We waited only about half an hour and then we could order.  The cow mascot wandered around outside.  The employees were friendly and things ran smoothly.

Biting into a CFA sandwich brings back all the memories of growing up in Charlotte, NC.  Memories of going to the mall and enjoying sandwiches and sweet tea while shopping there.  Chick-Fil-A was and still is an institution in Charlotte.

There were only a handful of protesters with signs along the street.  A guy with a megaphone was trying to tell folks not to eat there.  That’s his right.  Free speech and all.  From the lines at the drive-thru and the line at the front door, I don’t think many were paying attention.  I think this new free-standing Chick-Fil-A will do very well here.  People like the food.  People will go there simply because they like the food.  Some won't, but that's okay.   I will be going back again and again for that taste of back home.  Oh, and they're open for breakfast too.  The chicken biscuit is yummy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why Jesus?

I admit it.  I was rebellious and angry toward God for a long time.  My parents took me to church from the time I was born.  I got baptized at 9.  I guess I just didn’t really get it though.  Anyone can claim to be a Christian, but what does that really mean?

A lot of not-so-good things happened in my life.  No one lives a perfect life.  Actually, one person did, and I’ll talk about that later.  My life….having to deal with a mentally ill parent who when she had episodes would kind of be fanatical about Jesus.  As a young teen this was hard to see and understand.  I think it turned my sister and me off to religion.  I lost someone dear to me when I was 18 to a motorcycle accident.  I might have married the guy had he lived.  My friend’s mom tried to comfort me with religious words.  But I was angry at God and didn’t understand why Eddie had to die at 17.  I hated my mom for being sick and trying to control every aspect of my life and thoughts.  I went into a really bad part of my life after that. My friends who went through it with me remember. My dad was a strong support to me from that time on.  I attended a Presbyterian college but wouldn’t step foot into the chapel.  I was rebellious, angry and got into all kinds of un-godly things. 

Like many others, I was looking for the meaning of life and understanding.  I turned to the New Age movement, meditation etc.  This continued through my move to Boston.  I lived in a teacher dorm my first year at the boarding school.  God had placed a few Christian women there who helped to soften my heart.  One night during a meditation class these words came into my mind so strongly I could not ignore them.  “This is wrong!”  That night I let go of the New Age movement and went back to God with the help of Christine across the hall.  I attended church with my friends off and on and in between relationships. 

After my move to California, I didn’t have time to go to church.  I wanted to, but with working 6 days a week and Sunday being my only day off, it just didn’t happen.  I thought of myself as a Christian, but at that point was still pro-choice.  Why should someone want to bring an unwanted kid into the world.  Why didn’t those pro-lifers just adopt all those unwanted babies if they were so against abortion.  What was the big deal about aborting an unwanted pregnancy anyway?  That’s what we all were told by television and magazines we were supposed to do.   I got married and we struggled with infertility for some time (see "Babies, Babies, Babies"). 

Again, God was faithful and placed a Christian in my path.  I met Eileen while at the park, who had a newborn baby like me.  She invited me to her Bible study again and again for about 2 years.  I finally agreed and went.  Through the study I learned about God’s word and how to apply its truths to my life.  I had never really studied it in depth before.  I had kind of looked at passages here and there but didn’t understand a lot of it.  During this time God changed my heart toward many things. I realized how every life was a precious gift, even a little tiny baby.  It wasn’t just a bunch of tissue like some would suggest.  God handcrafted each one of us individually in our mother’s womb.  Even a child with Down’s or any other “defect” is His child and loved by Him.  I had a blood test come back positive for Down’s when I was pregnant with Jack.  I was devastated, but knew I would not be able to abort him if it were true.  Well, these stupid tests can be misleading and wrong.  Jack turned out to be a normal little guy.

So, why Jesus?  Because He saved my life!  He changed my heart and gave me a new life. He gives me hope for eternal life with God our Father.  How is that possible, you might ask?

Jesus lived a perfect life when he walked on this earth.  He interacted with people who did lots of bad things, just like me.  He showed them love.  He accepted them “as is”.  That’s not to say he’d be okay with letting them continue doing those bad things.  Jesus required his followers to leave their lives full of sin and repent from them.  Now, we have been separated from God because of sin.  It goes back to the Adam and Eve incident. None of us are good enough, pure enough, smart enough, or can work hard enough to be worthy of being with God for eternity.  But God had a plan.  In the Old Testament days, animal blood was used to cover the sins of the people.  That was only a temporary fix, like patching up a flat tire.  God sent His son Jesus to be a one-time sacrifice for sin to cover anyone who put their faith and trust in Jesus.  Jesus was put to death on the cross, but defeated death by coming back to life.  People saw Him, and interacted with Him after he was resurrected, and wrote accounts of it.  When someone believes in Jesus and what He did, that person is given a new heart.  The Holy Spirit is given to you as a deposit for your upcoming eternal life with God.  The Holy Spirit helps to change you to become more like Jesus.  It’s like letting someone else take the wheel and drive you through life.  You get to know Jesus through the Bible and learn to trust Him because of what He did for you.  You allow God to work in your life and mold you into what HE wants you to be.  It’s not easy, especially if you are someone with a very rebellious spirit like me.  It’s hard to make changes in behavior and thinking.  It’s hard to admit that you might be doing things that go against God’s character. 

I stopped hating my mom just before she died.  I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own.  I know that. God changed my heart toward her, and helped me to forgive her for all that she put us through.  God freed me from all that anger and resentment.  I’m not the same person that I used to be, even who I was a few years ago. I’m still a work-in-progress like all other believers.  Followers of Jesus trust Him to mold us into His image.  And it is a choice.  No one can force you to follow Him or to believe in Him.  Maybe you don’t feel you’re good enough for Him.  You’ve done lots of bad things.  Jesus will meet you where you’re at right now. When you trust that He is who He says He is, and that He died FOR YOU,  you will be saved.  It's the beginning of a new life.  And I am so very grateful for the new life He gave me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It's Open Season

Apparently, it's now open season.....on followers of Christ.  Young gymnast Gabby Douglas recently came onto the scene.  I watched this beautiful athletic young lady qualify for the US Olympic team and give all the glory to God.  I could tell she meant it.  She won medals this past week.  Then the attacks started on her.  From complaints about stating her faith to her hair to her mom, mean people have come out in droves to put down this young girl.  Jealousy?  Maybe.  Because she follows Christ?  It's a good possibility.  Jesus himself told us that we would be hated because we belong to him.  Watching coverage of the uneven bars competition the other night, Gabby wore a burdened expression and did not medal in the event.  The next morning she posted on her Facebook page about all the attacks and negativity she's gotten.  I stand in awe of this young believer who isn't afraid to tell the world she follows Jesus.  God bless her.

There are others in the public eye coming under great scrutiny because of their faith: Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin, etc.  One news agency even asked their readers in a daily poll how they felt about athletes publically stating their faith and praising God during their game.  Well, for now, these individuals have the right to.  The Constitution protects them.  Believers in other nations are not so lucky.  Many are thrown in prison or murdered because of their faith.  There is a Christian pastor in Iran who is scheduled to die because he refuses to renounce his faith in Christ. Even if the government releases him, anyone in Iran who hates Christians will probably murder him the minute he steps foot outside the prison gate. I think about those faithful followers of Christ and wonder how bad could it get here.  We don't face death here, but do face obstacles.

We are supposed to enjoy the same freedom of religion that countless Hindu, Muslim, Buddhists have come to America for.  But as we accept others' rights, our own beliefs are being criticized, marginalized and even not allowed.  Which brings me to Chick-Fil-A.  People are crawling out of the woodwork to condemn the company founder and CEO.  Why?  Because he is standing firm in his faith in Christ.  What do these attackers want to accomplish?  Do they want CFA to cave into demands that they financially support groups and organizations that go against their beliefs?  Do they want Cathey to renounce his faith in his Savior Jesus?  Sure sounds like it.  Would any of these attackers force a muslim to eat pork?  A comedian can stand up and say "F*** Chick-Fil-A, but they'd never stand up in front of an audience and hurl the same sort of insult toward a muslim company.  They know better. 

A new Chick-Fil-A is opening up in San Jose next week.  I have been waiting for this for many many years.  I grew up eating Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in Charlotte.  The closest restaurant to us has been 90 minutes away.  We stop there on our way to Sacramento or Tahoe.  We stop there because we like the food.  I eat Chick-Fil-A everytime I am back in Charlotte.  I have loved Chick-Fil-A for many many years and plan to go to the new one here with my children opening day.  I will not abandon a company who has the balls to stand up for what they believe in.  I don't know what opening day is going to be like with all this controversy, but I'm going to be there.  Maybe I'll even eat two sandwiches. I know that some of my friends won't be there, and that's okay.  I'm not going to disown them because of it. 

Tune in next week.  I'll let you know how things go.

## I was saddened to hear about the shooting that happened on August 15 at the Family Research Council.  From the different sources I've read here's what happened.  A man came into the office, perhaps claiming to be an intern.  He pulled out a gun, yelled angrily about the groups policies and started shooting.  The brave security guard was shot, but subdued the man until another guard could help and police were called.  In his backpack were about a dozen Chick-Fil-A sandwiches.  What does this mean?  Well, Chick-Fil-A supports this organization.  Apparently, the shooter volunteered with a group with opposing viewpoints than CFA and FRC.  We don't know what he intended to do with those sandwiches.  What's upsetting about this is the lack of attention and details that the major news outlets are giving.