Tag Archives: grace

Video Tuesday : The Cure.

 

This Video Tuesday is brought to you by an amazing, life altering book called The Cure. You’ve gotta read this. From the book …

the cure“We thought we were cured. 

We thought so, but most of us unwittingly carried an old, dead outlook into our new life. We couldn’t measure up to the standard we created, so we convinced ourselves it was God’s. We read his words through our grid of shame and felt ourselves fall farther and farther behind. We took it out on each other; judging, comparing, faking, splintering. Some of us retreated from the whole charade, becoming cynical, mistrusting, jaded from hope. Our marriages, churches, families, friendships, our marketplaces, our culture… they all need the cure. 

But God’s cures rarely come in the form we expect. 

What if, indeed, God is not who we think he is… and neither are we?”

Check it out at truefaced.com

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Gay Parents or No Parents. What’s Better?

holding-hands-380x252Like being a hair stylist or a bar tender, when you work in retail cosmetics people tell you their stories. It’s amazing to me sometimes how compelled people seem to be to talk when I have them in my chair. I’ve had people weep, spill their deepest secrets, and talk all kinds of crap about their next door neighbor. You get used to it after a while.

Last week I had an interesting one. I say interesting for several reasons… I was working with a woman who I guessed to be nearing 60. She was a kind, soft-spoken woman who struck me as being a little overwhelmed in her surroundings. It was no surprise to me at all when a conversation about her skincare turned into a conversation about her daughter who was going through a divorce. She felt her daughter was making a bad decision and was concerned for both her child and her soon to be ex-son in-law, whom you could tell she loved very much.

After that she went on to lament how the world was changing. She took a long glance around the store I work in and then quietly asked if I work with many gay men. It’s important to understand that I live and work in a small town. This small town is pretty liberal in its views– to an extent. But at the end of the day it’s still a small town and the majority of the people here are senior citizens. I replied that yes, having been with the company for nearly six years I had worked with quite a few gay men. She commented on how places like my store and salons always had lots of gay employees, and then with a look of plain confusion admitted that the gay men who’ve cut her hair had always done the best job. I was doing my best not to chuckle and agreed that I’ve had many male co-workers who are amazing artists.

I could see in her face that she had more to say and just about the time I thought she’d decided against it she stepped closer to me and her thoughts just started pouring out. She told me that she is a social worker and deals with the placement of foster children. A lot of her job has to do with monitoring how a child is doing in their foster home and sometimes seeing to the details of adoption when the fostering goes really well. She was particularly concerned over a set of parents she would be meeting in a couple of days, gay men, who were fostering a little girl who had been removed from a heartbreaking abusive home. It was clear without her having to say the actual words that her moral compass dictated that she believe there was no way that this gay couple could be good parents for the little girl, the trouble was that all reports were to the contrary. Everyone she spoke to who had visited the couple couldn’t say enough about how much these men love that little girl and how well she was doing in their care. There was nothing but praise for their parenting.

As she spoke I could see the battle going on in her mind. Her face showed how she was weighing her genuine desire to see children safe and happy against her understanding of truth.  Right and wrong as she understood them were colliding in a way she didn’t know what to do with and were causing her to pour her heart out to a sales girl in a makeup store.

As I listened and wrestled with my own questions I felt compassion for this woman and grateful that she was wrestling too and not just making hard and fast decisions. Once she’d finished talking I asked  for myself as much as for her, “You said the little girl came out of an abusive home, can we trust God enough to believe that it’s better for her to be loved by two gay men than to be abused by a straight couple?”

In the moment I had forgotten where we were, that she was a client– we were just two people having a conversation about very real things in our world. As soon as the question was out of my mouth, however, I remembered and I was a little nervous that this was a little more than she’d bargained for out of her trip to buy cosmetics. Fortunately her response was one of gratitude, relief even. Maybe she just needed someone else to ask the question, I don’t know, but we both walked away liking one another better and with something to think about.

I’ve been thinking about it for a week now, actually I haven’t been able to get it off my mind.

It’s interesting to me that the conversation happened at all. If she’d have gotten pretty much anyone else in the store to help her and had that conversation the chances high that she would have offended them. So I just wonder why, knowing nothing about me personally, she felt safe to talk? I can only assume that it was God.

I haven’t been able to get that little girl off of my mind and a couple of nights ago as I was thinking about her and the whole situation God brought a new question to my mind.

“I can use all things for good. Can you consider that maybe I am using the love of two fathers to teach my child who I am?” 

I can’t imagine being a little girl in a world where the mother and father you are born with aren’t the anchors of love and safety they are meant to be, but instead are the cause of pain, fear, and abandonment. It is humbling and powerful for me to realize that maybe for the hurt she has suffered, the love and protection of two fathers is exactly what she needs.

I believe in a God who can use all things for good. Because He is God.

This understanding doesn’t change my ethics when it comes to sexuality, but it does change my heart for the way that we, as followers of Christ, view the bigger picture and how we relate to other people. Whether or not that gay couple adopts that little girl, they have made an impression on her life for love. What will it say to her about God as she grows if His followers are dead set on condemning the people who showed her kindness and protection when she needed it most? The answer to that question bothers me.

This is a challenging place to be in, it’s a challenging way to force myself to think, and yet, I have to. I have to believe that we can do better than we’re doing.  I’m not suggesting that we give in, or that truth doesn’t matter.

We need to be careful to focus on individual people, not categories and labels. There is no universal solution to a problem based on categories or labels, only individual solutions to individual problems based on individual people. It is a lot harder and messier, but it is the only way to be loving. In the thick of things it’s easy to lose sight of the actual lives involved. I see it happen all the time– a lot of Christians seem to want to think that because only families made from married heterosexual couples are “real” families and so all of the pseudo “families” out there can’t possibly have real bonds to one another and we become disconnected to their real human feelings, we don’t empathize with the fact that from where they’re sitting it sounds like we’re determined to tear their families apart. When we make a habit of categorizing people and giving them labels instead of relating and engaging with the people, we dehumanize them and justify treating them as though they have no feelings.

We also need to consider that if we’re going to be opposed to a solution, such as gay couples adopting and fostering when there are SO many children who need safe homes, then we have to have an alternative solution that we personally help make happen. We have no right to kick and scream when gay couples foster and adopt when we aren’t doing anything ourselves to solve the problem of parentless children. Remember, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for Me.”  The problem it’s easier to fight other people’s solutions than to find them ourselves, and I think in doing that we’re missing the entire point.

Through it all we can’t lose sight of truth, which means actually and actively seeking it. It’s hard work, it means not only investing in our relationship with God, but being invested in relationships with others and it will cost us everything we have, but it’s worth it. The problem with our culture is that people want everything to be not only black and white, but black and white all the way down the column–  If you think same-sex attraction is a sin then you’re anti-gay marriage, anti-gay fostering and you don’t want any gay people (even chaste ones) in your church. Likewise, if you think it is ok for gays to adopt then you can’t possibly believe what the bible says about sexuality and that you must completely condone homosexuality. The thing is nothing, not people, not issues fits into these black and white standards and we miss what God is actually doing when we try to force them.

What it all comes down to is that we can’t allow a desire to affirm the good in a bad situation turn into a willingness to let what is merely good not be better. We have to let what we believe speak through our actions, we have to know what we are for and then give our lives for that, rather than sitting back and raising hell about how other people have sought to meet needs in the world around us. This is where we find the balance in truth and love, when we take responsibility instead of casting blame, when we choose to find reasons to relate instead of reasons to draw a line in the sand and choose sides.

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In Case You Were Wondering…

More than once I’ve been faced with the assumption by others that if circumstances were to change in my life and in the life of my family, my beliefs would also drastically change. That myself and my siblings would, as they say, “be singing a different tune” when it comes to our convictions about God and sexuality.

I’ll be honest, if your goal is to see me angry, this assumption has been the fastest way to get there, not because it’s a sensitive area for me, not because it causes me fear or anxiety, and not because it calls into question (which it does) my faith in my dad. No, the reason this assumption can take me from zero to seething in the time it takes to make it is because it calls into question my faith in God and the very nature of my relationship with Him, as well as that of my siblings.

Facing this recently I realized that I’ve never actually taken the time to sit down and address the assumption head-on. Honestly, I’ve been so caught up in being angry that most of the people making it have never voiced it to me or my family personally and given us an opportunity to answer their questions, it never even occurred to me to spell it out myself so it was available to those who wouldn’t ask.

So, in case you were wondering what I would do/feel/think if my dad decided to embrace the identity of a gay man and settled down with a male partner, this blog entry is my attempt to answer those unasked questions and speculations.

I understand that most people have had to do very little thinking about their parent’s sexuality and the effect it has on their life, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for most of mine. I haven’t thought about what  would happen if my dad left us for a relationship with a man once– I’ve thought about it thousands of times in my 32 years of life. When people start to speculate over what we, my dad’s children, would do if he changed his mind about the type of life God called him to, they always ponder it from this mentality that it’s a possibility that we’ve never considered, the reality of which would be completely devastating to us.

Being closely involved in my parent’s ministry for the majority of my life, I have seen up-close the pain and devastation of family’s being ripped apart by same sex attraction. I have witnessed the most steady stumble and the strongest of strong broken into bits. The possibility, no the inevitability, of my parents stumbling, failing, or falling and the pain it would cause our family has never been lost on me. I have never felt sheltered from disaster or lulled into believing that based on my Dad’s choices we have some kind of  immunity from suffering. My parent’s relationship was never a veil of perfection, and I say that with the deepest respect and love for both of them. It was very raw and honest. But these very real possibilities that have always been present in my life, are NOT sources of fear for me because if my parent’s taught me anything it was to trust God more than I trust them.

What I believe isn’t built on the foundation of my Dad’s behavior or even on what he believes. My convictions have been formed through years of knowing just how perilous the road we walk is and how much risk there is in taking it, but learning along the way that through it all God is good. God is love. And God is faithful, so “even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close”.

I can say today, with complete confidence, that my circumstances will always change, but God does not, and in that knowledge I invest my hope and security.

If my dad came home with a partner tonight I would feel angry, upset, and hurt. I would grieve, and I would believe he was wrong, but it wouldn’t change the reality of who I know God is and what my relationship with Him convicts me is true.

My love for my Dad would be the same. He’s my Dad, and I know him to be a man who struggles for righteousness in spite of himself and in spite of his occasional shortfalls and it isn’t the shortfalls that define him or my relationship to him. It’s not as though a change in circumstances would be forcing me to confront my Dad’s sin, as though I never had. At the end of the day people want to act like SSA is somehow an especially rebellious sin and it isn’t. At the end of the day someone’s pride, or their other deeply internal sins are far more deadly because not only can we not see them as clearly to help,  but they may not even see it themselves. At least with something like SSA, the issue is obvious and everyone knows what it is.

I have nothing to fear from what is exposed and out in the open and I relate to my Dad, a person who sins, as a person who is, myself, also a sinner.

Just like we need to stop putting labels on people that categorize them because it objectifies the subject, we need to stop talking about “relationships” and talk about “relating” because its the same problem. A relationship is an abstract object, but you relate to a subject. We talk about “having a relationship” like it is a thing we possess rather than relating to a person. We also tend to use relationships as a way to exercise control over other people, threatening to abandon the relationship if our expectations are not met. The nature of relating, however, is humble, it’s open and vulnerable. Isn’t this the example Jesus gave us? People have this sense that God “had to” become a human and die to fulfill some kind of cosmic blood debt that he owed himself but he could have done anything he wanted to do. He’s God! But God is love and love relates. So He became us to better relate us to Himself.

I wouldn’t believe that my father had fallen from grace, I would trust that he had fallen into it and rest in the understanding that God’s love for him is bigger than sexuality.

On the flip side of that coin, neither would I be tempted to recant my beliefs about what the bible says about sexuality and I wouldn’t change where I stand on speaking truth and love. It wouldn’t alter what I believe about salvation or grace or redemption.

I know there are some who will say that this is all easy to say, easy to convince myself of when it’s not my reality, but please, while you’re assuming and speculating, consider for a moment that my life has involved harder realities than the reality of my dad sleeping with another man would be, and here I am and God is still God.

family

*Also, I’m not making an attempt here to speak for my sibling, even though I know how their answers to this question would go, they are entitled to their own way of expressing their feelings and I don’t want to strap them to my own.

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Ready Or Not, Here We Come!

Well friends, tomorrow in the wee hours of the morning we will begin our journey to Irvine Ca. for the Exodus freedom conference. We know it is going to be an amazing conference this year and we can’t wait for it to get started. Stay tuned for updates.

A few things before we go though :)

  • Have you checked out the live streaming options for this years conference? You can watch the beginning of the conference and the speech from Alan Chambers for FREE!! click the link (exodusfreedom.org/streaming/ ) for all the info and be sure to check out the opening night, you don’t wanna miss it!
  • Thursday June 20th be sure to check out Our America with Lisa Ling on the OWN network 10/9c. She is doing a special report titled God & Gays. On the show Alan and Leslie  Chambers sit down with a group of people who have been harmed by reparative therapy and listen as they share their stories , We think this is very important work and stand with Alan and Leslie and all of Exodus in their desire to take responsibility and seek reconciliation .

We hope that you will join us in praying for the conference, the attendees ,the speakers and the people tuning in via live stream! Watch the clip below for a sneak peek of God & Gays

 

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Freedom Conference 2013 Coming Up !

truestory

Hey guys, it’s that time of year again. Time for the Exodus Freedom Conference. Are you gonna be there? This year the theme is True Story! This is going to be a great conference and we really hope you will  join us !

Go to exodusfreedom.org for all the info, you won’t want to miss this years conference in beautiful Irvine Ca. It’s going to be a blast !

If you don’t plan to be there go a head and re think that decision . . .  then  if you still plan to stay home there is an option for you to still experience the wonderful stories from the men and women they have lined up to speak . Go here for streaming info :)

If you don’t plan to be there but would still like to help someone else make it there you can donate to the scholarship fund here.

Lastly check out this video greeting from Alan Chambers. Hope to see you there!

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Amen Sister!

alanandleslieIn this awesome post by Leslie Chambers (wife of Alan Chambers President of Exodus International ) she shares about her marriage, grace and true freedom in Christ! Read and enjoy! From the Exodus Blog. . .

Leslie Chambers Tackles Heterosexuality, Hyper-Grace, and Offers Hope.

Have you ever wondered what people think of you? As my husband is Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International, I have. At present, he is somewhat of a conundrum for a lot of people. There seems to be some confusion about who he is, what he is saying and what he stands for. Here it is in a nutshell: while he has repeatedly stated his biblically orthodox view of sexuality, he has also stated his belief that one particular sin is not somehow more offensive to God than another. As his wife, I have stayed out of most of the chaos, but there are a few things that I cannot be silent about any longer. So here it goes… click here to read the rest!

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Brennan Manning. 1934-2013

With heavy hearts we share with you today a statement from the website of beloved author Brennan Manning.

It is with mixed emotions that we must tell you that on Friday April 12, 2013, our Brother Brennan passed away.

While he will be greatly missed we should all take comfort in the fact that he is resting in the loving arms of his Abba.

Sincerely,
Art & Gerry Rubino

 

The written works of Brother Brennan have touched our lives and helped us draw closer to the relentless love of our Abba Father, we are so grateful for his willingness to be honest and vulnerable so that we in our own brokenness could begin to understand how much Abba loves us.

He fought the good fight, he finished the race, he kept the faith. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. – 2 Timothy 4:7 & Psalm 116:15

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Condolences can be made at the Brennan Manning Facebook page. Purchase Brennan’s books here.

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Thoughts on Life: Don’t They Know It’s The End Of The World?

Thinking_44121810I’ve been thinking about some big things. Now, I will be the first to tell you that

  1. I might be way over my head in these ponderings, and

  2. I might also be completely wrong ( or at least a little off base :)

But let me go on and you can add your thoughts and ideas and arguments in the comments, I would love that.

In our current social/political climate I think it’s understandable that I would be asking a lot of questions about the fate of our world, from gun laws and mass shootings to same sex marriage and divorce, I think it’s fair to say the moral compass of our land is in question but my big thoughts are more concerned with  the roles of the church and followers of Christ in this present situation.Are we really doing what , based on the Bible, our beliefs command us to do?As a very wise friend of mine said, in a fabulous blog post you should totally read

“ In the Great Commission it says to make disciples of all nations … not disciple the nation.”

If, as the Bible teaches us , we believe that this world will part ways with the way God intended it to be to the point that Jesus returns, what then is our role in this predictable sinking ship, if you will ?

As Galadriel says in The Lord of the Rings ” The time of the elves is over.Do we leave Middle-Earth to this fate? Do we let them stand alone?”

If we look at Jesus in the Gospels we do not see a man concerned with the political arena, a man desperate to change the morals of the people by way of the laws of the land. We see our Saviour in the communities he finds himself, reaching out for connections with the people. We see Him meeting their needs, reaching into their lives through relationship, compassion, kindness.

Right now is a trying and yet wonderful time to be a part of the Body of Christ, Grace is being taught and lived in our churches in a more honest way than it has been in a long time, but at the same time our influence in the world is  decreasing.Truthfully I would have to say that we are in the middle of two extremes, on one side we are overly concerned with “ discipling  the nation” and on the other we are courting the worlds affection and second guessing every sermon to make sure we aren’t offending anyone. I know this is not an easy road to navigate,it’s right for us to proclaim the Gospel and to be fearless in our desire for holiness, and  it’s right for us to challenge ourselves against scripture and check our selves to make sure we are being loving and speaking truth in that love , at the same time Jesus made it very clear that the world would hate us the way they hated Him.  (John 15:18) Can we handle that?

In an open letter to the American Church, author Brennan Manning wrote at length about the state of our church today , the whole letter is worth reading but I will only quote a bit of it here, You can read the rest in his book The Signature of Jesus.

“If the apostle (Paul) were to return to the earth today, I believe he would call the entire American church to return to the discipline of the secret. This ancient practice of the apostolic church was implemented to protect the sacred name of Jesus Christ from mockery and the mysteries of the Christian faith from profanation. The ancient church avoided mention of baptism, Eucharist, and the death and resurrection of Christ in the presence of the unbaptized. Why?  Because the most persuasive witness was the way one lived, not the words one spoke. Soren Kierkegaard once described two types of Christians: The first group comprises those who imitate Jesus Christ; the second are those who are content to speak about him. “ (emphasis mine)

If we are supposed to leave people with no question of our faith and if the best way to demonstrate and share our faith is through showing real tangible love in the ways that Jesus demonstrated then aren’t we called to be set apart by our unfathomable love for others and extreme acts of grace and mercy ?To truly set ourselves apart by our actions in this world? Perhaps living our faith out loud is not about standing on a street corner yelling about the sins of the world but being a people that act so differently that the world is forced to ask “ what is the hope that is in you?”

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