Trusting Love

Here is yet another great post by Jean C. Lloyd, PhD shared on Public Discourse.

My Same-Sex Attraction and My Brother’s Disease: On Suffering and Serenity

Another Short But Deep Read

Over the past few months I’ve come across some excellent resources that I wish would have been available when I was growing up.  The quality of writing has been on the rise, matching up to the great need of helping the church to grow into it’s calling to walk alongside those who experience same-sex attraction.  I am excited to see how the Lord will use these things to help followers of Christ in the days to come.

Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk: How and Why Christians Should Have Gay Friends

by Brad Hambrick

I came across a recommendation for this book recently and added it to my Kindle. I was able to read it in it’s entirety during a long car ride, highlighting passages on almost every page.

The inscription on the first page was striking:

This book is dedicated to those who have felt that their experience of same-sex attraction has left them isolated within or from the Body of Christ.

May this book help the church better embody the gospel we proclaim and be the family of God.

~ Brad Hambrick

I’ve never read a book that was so directly dedicated to me, or to people like me (outside of Scripture, of course!) It took me aback for a moment – to think that the author even noticed that experiencing this temptation can be an isolating experience, often leaving a person feeling detached from the conversations going on in a church group, or even cut off from the gospel – the good news of salvation and redemption itself. To see that the goal of this book was to help end and mend this isolation through the maturation of the church was touching.

As I then read through the recommendations, I came across a familiar name – John Freeman, President of Harvest USA:

Finally, a practical book that helps us engage people as Jesus would! Brad Hambrick captures the heart of what is means to invite into dialogue and relationship people who you might otherwise see as so unlike you that you may not know how to begin a substantive conversation. Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk teaches the lost art of how to talk with people, draw them out, get to know their story and, therefore, know their heart…all of which makes fertile soil for the gospel to take root and flourish!

That is a fine summary of what this book can help one accomplish. I’ve probably mentioned this on this blog before, but the number one question I receive from people after hearing my story is, “How can I talk to my gay / lesbian friend / family member without offending or hurting them in some way?” People really want to show that they care, and they want to love others well, which in and of itself is a world away from the mainstream of the culture I grew up in.   So there is already a great need for a book like this, and Brad Hambrick does indeed do a wonderful job of giving practical help.

It is a short work – only 100 pages, divided into six chapters which build on one another, so it’s worth reading from beginning to end. The last chapter was the most awkwardly worded, which the author acknowledged as it was a compressed fictional conversation, but you could catch the application of what was shared in the previous five chapters enough to justify reading it through.

Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk: How and Why Christians Should Have Gay Friends would be an excellent follow up to Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach* for a small group wanting to learn more about bridging the divide between those who experience same-sex attraction and the church at large.

*See the Resources tab for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Lenten Meditation

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Luke chapter 23:32-43

 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with Him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals—one on His right, the other on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up His clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at Him. They said, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked Him. They offered Him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above Him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Throughout the Spring of this year, and on into Summer, this story has kept coming to mind. Jesus has been nailed to a cross after having been paraded through the town, carrying the spar of His own execution. As He is suffering through the last moments of His life, He is surrounded by jeering voices…

They were the voices of people standing to watch, rulers sneering, soldiers mocking…and even a criminal hanging on a cross alongside Him.

Except this one man – this other criminal. Instead of joining in the sneering, he says the strangest thing…

He confesses to his crime, noting that he and the other criminal there were reaping what they had sown: “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.”

But then he confesses that Jesus was different, noting that He was being treated unjustly: “But this man has done nothing wrong.”

There is no record of this criminal meeting Jesus before this time, but he knew enough of Jesus to know that He was blameless, and that He did not belong there alongside of them. And it seems that he had heard, or at least had heard about, the things that Jesus was teaching.

Jesus had taught a great deal about the Kingdom…He had said that the Kingdom is near, and described how life in the Kingdom is different than what people experienced in their current state of Roman rule. He taught about what is required of those who would like to be a part of the Kingdom, and the traits of those who would be left out.*

Now at this point all that talk seemed to be empty words – Jesus was dying, and everything that had been said about Him being a King was literally turned into a joke by almost every person who was there.

Yet this guy – this guilty criminal – looks at the same thing that everyone else who was there saw as a defeat, as the end of Jesus and all the promises of a Messiah – and he sees it differently.

“Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.”

What? What a crazy thing to say! What Kingdom? Did Jesus look like He was about to come into the headship of a new Kingdom? The criminal saying this was right there, peering across his own outstretched arm at Jesus, who was bleeding from having been whipped and having a crown of thorns placed on His head. He knew pretty much exactly how Jesus felt, at least physically, while he was dying at the same time, in the same way.

“Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.”

This man has a faith that astounds me. He somehow looks beyond the dying body struggling for breath next to him and finds hope in the perfect, guiltless character of Christ. He believes the sign posted above the head of Jesus is true – that this is the King of the Jews, and decides to put all of his chips in, betting his eternal soul on the man who is about to meet His end. He believes that even there, even then, Jesus has the power to save him, beyond death.

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

We, of course, know the end of the story. We know now that Jesus’ death on the cross was not the end. We know that Jesus did not belong there, but He willingly sacrificed Himself for all those who were mocking and jeering in the crowd on the day of his crucifixion, and for all of us who have lived since that day. We know that we are on the mind of Jesus as He has come into His Kingdom, and we who believe in Him are called to be a part of bringing His Kingdom to reign in the hearts of all who will also follow Jesus.

But the faith of this dying criminal startles me. How could he look at the same scene – being in the very midst of what was going on, yet see it so differently? It is a faith that inspires me, and I’m thankful that we can read this story. We have been given so much more to go on, we know the bigger picture, and we have all the more reason to entrust our very lives to Him.

 

* https://sswh.wordpress.com/kingdom-scriptures/

When to speak the truth (in love) – follow up to when he became a she

Part II – Some thoughts on speaking the truth in love, naturally.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Gal. 5:25

just a jesus follower

truth‌ in love2I am writing this in response to many of the comments/emails I received after my last post.

Holy cow.

The amount of people who engaged in that post was kinda overwhelming.

So, this is my response to much of the feedback I received. For those of you who know me, you know I tell it like I see it. As always, I’m being pretty transparent and you’re getting a wide look inside. Halving that said, this is my heart.  This comes from years of conversation with God and researching scripture for my own benefit on this question. Take it as you will.

The constant question for Christians seems to be this: when/how do you speak truth to someone? (I don’t even know if I like the way that question is worded. But, whatever. We’ll go with it for now)

When it comes to this topic, people love to use…

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When he became a she – walking in love

So thankful for the author sharing such a great example of reaching out with grace and love…

just a jesus follower

walking in love blogThe other day, Zac and I went into a retail store and were greeted by an associate.

I soon recognized the associate as someone I used to go to church with years ago. Someone close to my age, who I had shared many years sitting next to in our small little church.

But, he had changed.

He was now a she.

I could tell my friend recognized me, but didn’t think I would recognize them. They helped me around the store and their hands were shaking almost uncontrollably the entire time.

I knew why.

They were afraid.

Afraid of what I might say if I caught onto who they were.

Afraid of seeing the shocked Christian look of horror on my face.

Afraid of my judgement or God knows what Bible verses I just might hurl at them.

Afraid of being shamed.

And it BROKE MY HEART.

I decided to…

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Single and Secure

http://www.moorematt.org/a-healthy-independence/

Another insightful post by Matt Moore, this time on living as a single follower of Christ.  It reminded me of several times when the Lord made His love for me and His understanding of me as an individual known as I was living as a single person.  (He’s done the same after I’ve been married, actually, in different ways…)  God will always meet us where we are, and investing in our relationship with Him always pays off.

 

10 Truths

Matt Moore writes an encouraging post on his blog, sharing 10 truths that those struggling with same-sex attraction would do well to keep in mind:

http://www.moorematt.org/10-empowering-truths-for-the-same-sex-attracted-christian/

These truths actually apply to anyone struggling with chronic temptations, so feel free to pass his post along!