Friday, June 27, 2008
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." -Matthew 11:28-30 (Jesus)
.......”I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. 12"When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. 13-14"When you come looking for me, you'll find me. "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." Jeremiah 29:11-13 (God)
"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. Luke 12:43-47 (Jesus)
"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. -Matthew 7:1-5 (Jesus)
"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. -Matthew 5:43-47 (Jesus)
But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Galatians 5:22 (Paul)
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. Galatians 6:1-3 (Paul)
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. 1 Corinthians 13:1-10 (Paul)
God—you're my God! I can't get enough of you! I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath; My arms wave like banners of praise to you. I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy; I smack my lips. It's time to shout praises! If I'm sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. Because you've always stood up for me, I'm free to run and play. I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post. Psalm 63:1-8 (David.....out of the wilderness.)
Friday, June 20, 2008
My thoughts are towards those who are fighting the good fight with love, compassion, sincerity and without ulterior or personal motives. It's about the folks who are genuinely encouraging others, building them up and relentlessly challenging all of us to think a little differently about people, beliefs and life than we did before. My thoughts are about those who are willing to come outside the box, outside the walls, outside of themselves to truly minster to others. You will fight the unjust and you will fight for justice. You are not afraid to stand up or perhaps at times, you are, but you still stand.
To you all, I am grateful. I have been touched by your stories, your passion, your love, your wisdom and your encouragement. I have been blessed and touched by many things that you have said and shared.
Here are just a few of the folks I have been thinking about....................
My entire blog roll and then some. (And I truly mean that.)
(Anita, Lindsey, Kelli, Christian, Christi, Bon, Joni, C, C, Jon and more.)
You take a risk in putting yourself, your thoughts, your lives out there for the whole world to see each time you write. I really appreciate all of you and I thank you.
In short.........YOU ROCK!
Friday, June 13, 2008
What does it mean to you?
How would you "witness" to someone?
Could "witnessing" in a certain manner hurt someone more than help them?
Please, tell me your thoughts and feelings on this.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
One of the HARDEST times I have ever had in my life was not that long ago. I had already made the decision not to let go of Michelle and was in the thick of trying figure out how to reconcile my faith with being gay, in that order. That's sounds somewhat easy, but no, not so much. Something like that is never easy, especially when you are learning how to develop and have a healthy relationship with someone and also learning how to be a good parent to a 5 and 8 year old.
Things changed in my life quickly and although I have loved all the new experiences with Michelle and the girls, I had my own personal struggle going on inside, my own little personal hell. Being tugged back and forth between whether I was doing the wrong thing or the right thing and whether or not I could be gay and still follow God. Wow, did I hear a lot of things and for the longest time, I believed that maybe those things were coming from God. At one point I thought maybe God was being a little too hard core with me, something I have yet to experience.
I soon realized that it wasn't God tossing me back and forth everywhere, it was man! I realized this at around the same time that I began to learn a lot about motives. Bare with me for a bit. Now, I have gone through one of the famous ex gay programs and I have heard time and time again what the church has to say about homosexuality and there are quite of few people on the net willing to add to all the negativity and hype. Anyway, my point being, I, like many others and by various methods have been slapped upside the head with how sick I am, how perverted and dysfunctional I am, how I can't be gay and God's too, how I'm selfish and a backslider and blah, blah, blah, blah.
So, after time, these little messages would take hold of me, they would pop up and play over and over again in my head. The confusion was heavy and thick. There were some days that I would just cry because I wanted the confusion to stop, it was torturous. Now some may say, "yeah, you were torn because you were going against God and yielding to your sin." Yeah, I thought that too for a moment until I realized that was really wasn't the truth.
My life didn't seem to match up to that message, I didn't seem to match up to that message and neither did Michelle. This love was like nothing I have ever experienced and our focus seemed to be on the right things...God, each other, the kids, family, the Father's business and His people. We were/are doing the work of the Lord in and out of the 4 walls that many call church. This wasn't coinciding with the message I had always received about us gay folks.
I do believe another reason I felt conflicted was not only because our life did not represent the typical stereo type, but because of how I lived prior to accepting Christ. I was doing some questionable things and feared that I would fall back in to those things. I am pretty sure that I have attempted to set myself up for failure. Like somewhere inside of me, I said "Ok, now that you decided to be gay again :), God turned has turned his back on you, he has let you go, now you are going to really fall. You're going to fall back into all your old ways and then some.
I think I may have said this in a previous post, maybe not, but I did attempt to pick up some of the things from my past, bad habits I once had, bad behaviors. I did this for a moment and it scared me, because I di dthink I was becoming that person again. But I quickly realized that wasn't me anymore, I was different now and each time I attempted to go back, there he was, still loving me.
Anyway, back to motive. In the midst of all the struggling, wrestling with God and attempting to find my way through the thick cloud of confusion, I was prompted to think about motive. What was the motive in my heart for being with Michelle? Were they real and genuine or were they selfish? Did they come from a pure heart or one plagued with selfish desires? It was like I was being asked "what is your business here?" Is is to be selfish or selfless? I also began asking that same question about other people and the things they do and say, but I think I will save that for a whole other post.
I started asking myself questions like.....
Was my motive to be with her because I was lonely and needed to fill a void? Uh, no, I had no void. Seriously, I was full, I was happy. I had a void prior to Christ, but I did not before Michelle and I still don't.
Was I afraid of living alone for the rest of my life? Nope. As strange as that sounds, not at all. I accepted the fact that I may die alone. That was ok, because I really never felt alone. I was all good as long as I could do the Lord's work.
Was it because she spoiled me with her endless giving without requirements? Um, no. Although I find that so very sweet, I didn't really need much to begin with. I lived pretty modestly. Didn't have much, didn't need much. (Haven't always been like that, it was something the Lord taught me.)
Was it because I was attention deprived and I needed my ego fed? Nope. I got a lot of positive attention and I really didn't care if I got a drop more.
Was it because she adored me and would do anything for me? Well, yeah. Partially. But isn't that a part of being in love? Sure it is! I adore her and would do anything for her too! Hm. that doesn't sound lustful or sinful. I searched out my heart and the motives of my heart and asked every question I could that had everything to do with those negative little stereo types I learned throughout my life and in the ex gay school.
It appears that the motives of my heart are true and pure. To love Michelle with all my heart, selflessly, even on the days I want to do nothing but think about myself. All while attempting to keep God first in all things and trying to figure out what it means to be more like Jesus. Along with serving and loving all of God's people while working endlessly at raising two children to grow in love and helping them to become Godly, selfless and conscience about serving others. That is my agenda, those are my motives and those are the things we are doing.
I believe God honors that.
As we see in the bible so many times, Jesus gets a little annoyed because the Pharisees would ask him a question about the law. I don't believe Jesus got annoyed because of the questions, but because of their motives behind the questions. He knew what was in there heart and he knows what is in mine.
The stereo types are being broken down and shattered. The little negative messages that were brought to me by way of churches, pastors, the ex gay ministry and some other Christians are being laid to rest.
I once heard this little saying, ironically from a man who was attempting to be straight. He said-
"God didn't call us to be heterosexual or homosexual, he called us to be holy."
"Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don't ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise."