Ministering to the Gay Community

This article was published in 1998 at TRC (The Relevant Christian Magazine). That was before I started writing for TRC, so I read it for the first time yesterday when the publisher shared it on Facebook. Please read this with an open mind and heart, and feel free to reblog and share it. As followers of Jesus Christ we must ask ourselves, Did Jesus come for all humanity or just for those we believe are worth saving? If the church is to be the Church that Christ called it to be, it will need to learn many of the same lessons that God has taught families impacted by homosexuality. In 1998 when I heard the words “Mom, I Am Gay” come out of my son’s mouth they were anything but welcome. I desperately wanted to rewind the tape and put them back. I reasoned that if the words could go back our lives would not have to change forever. I asked God a thousand questions, like: How can this happen? How can you sentence my son to death, if he didn’t choose these attractions? Who in the church can help me sort this all out? Where can I go for help? Who will understand what I am going through? After the barrage of questions without answers flooded my mind, the protective maternal side kicked in accompanied by an assortment of what-ifs. Perhaps someone would try to physically hurt my son (a not so gay friendly society in 1998). Maybe my parents and/or his father would reject him if they found out. Would people begin to see my son through the lens of his attractions instead of who God made him to be? I didn’t want any of the what-ifs to play out, but I feared they would. Deeply embedded in the Christian community, I watched and waited for responses from Christians when the topic of homosexuality came up. The subject took on a different and more personal meaning than it had in the past. What I witnessed were the crude jokes being made about homosexuals and words that dripped with judgement and disdain. I secretly thanked God for helping me stay silent about my son’s homosexuality. I could clearly see that the Church was not a safe community when it came to this issue. The ache of my heart would not be comforted there. After five long years of hiding, God brought my secret out of the dark. I discovered that I could never be free by concealing my pain. God wanted to fully heal me and that can only be done out in the open when exposed to His light. Satan had hoped to keep my pain hidden and unhealed. Read the rest here. BlogSL2-smallest

Do Not Be Shaken

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I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
-Psalm 16:8

My Sunday posts are typically and purposely low-key: an image with a Bible passage or uplifting quote. However, in light of last week’s Supreme Court ruling to approve same-sex marriage, I have felt the Holy Spirit’s urging to share some thoughts with you.

The ruling about same-sex marriage should not surprise any of us. Our nation has been headed in this direction for a long time. And it isn’t just this ruling that is changing our nation from one that was founded on belief and reliance on God to one that is discarding God to appease our own desires, leaving God completely out of the process.

  • Where is God in our schools and government buildings now?
  • Why is prayer no longer allowed in our schools?
  • How did our flag go from being respected and cherished by American citizens to being stomped on and burned?

Our country has turned drastically from “one nation under God” to one of tolerance for every religion except Christianity. This should not come as a shock to any of us who have been alive long enough to witness first-hand the deterioration of the Biblical principles upon which America was founded.

But Beloved, I am not here to tell you what you already know. I want to encourage you today to never give up what you know to be true:

God is the same--AMP

God is the same yesterday, today and in the future.
He has never changed—
mankind has.

Here are some Bible passages that go along with this:

“I the Lord do not change.
So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.”
—Malachi 3:6

Yet this I call to mind 
and therefore I have hope: 

Because of the Lord’s great love
we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness.
—Lamentations 3:21-23

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
—Hebrews 13:8

Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.
—James 1:17

Beloved, God is still God, and we can absolutely continue to trust that He is still in charge of the universe. Instead of getting angry or worrying about the way things are going these days, pray…

  • for the Holy Spirit to give you boldness in telling others about Who you believe in and why you follow Him
  • for opportunities to share your faith with those who need to hear it
  • for people whose beliefs are in direct conflict with yours, that they will allow God to remove the “scales” from their eyes [Acts 9:18] and soften their hardened hearts to see and hear the Good News that Jesus Christ saves!

Please keep this Luke 6:27-28 passage in mind, “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”

Remember that this isn’t the end of the story. God will prevail because He is Holy and causes all things to work together for our good and His glory!

He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.” 

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
—Revelation 22:20

 If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, please visit my ABC page to read about how easy it is to ask Jesus into your heart. You will never regret it!

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I Will Glorify Your Name Forevermore

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The Lord’s Compassion

Psalm 86:11-17

Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.

For great is Your mercy toward me,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

O God, the proud have risen against me,
And a mob of violent men have sought my life,
And have not set You before them.

But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Long-suffering and abundant in mercy and truth.

Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me!
Give Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your maidservant.

Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Devotional

Sometimes it is difficult to get our hearts around the truth that no matter what our circumstances may be, God is worthy of our praise. No matter what we may be going through, whether good or bad, prospering or experiencing adversity, there is great comfort in knowing that God is the same, unchanging and ever present. He is a loving, kind, helpful, giving, and forgiving God. He uses everything that comes into our lives to shape us to look, sound, and act more like Jesus. He truly works all things for our good and His glory. That is called compassion.

Compassion is recognizing the suffering of others and then taking action to help. Because God is sovereign, He knows all things. He knows of our storms and victories, our hurts and fears, and He searches our hearts and knows exactly where we are in our faith journey. He is willing to help us in and through our times of suffering. However, for us to fully comprehend His great compassion, there are some things we must remember.

We must be teachable (v. 11). There is something to be learned through every trial we face. God wants us to look to Him, listen to Him, and live in such a way that honors Him.

We must praise Him for His compassion (v. 13). We recognize where He has brought us from and what He is doing in our lives. This results in worship.

We must share our hearts with Him (vv. 14,17). We are to be transparent, because He loves us and cares about what we are experiencing.

We must depend on Him (vv. 15-16) and ask God to see us through our trials. When we confess our trust in and dependence on Him for help and comfort, He provides us with the strength we need.

—Dr. Lee Sheppard, Mabel White Baptist Church, Macon GA

© Copyright 2013. God’s Wisdom for Today: My Daily Scripture Devotional , by Thomas Nelson

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Praying Palms Down

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Answer me when I call to you,
my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
—Psalm 4:1

Today I’d like to talk about prayer—specific prayer, that is. The kind of prayer about painful or stressful situations that brings us to our knees. We pray and we pray, and then we pray even more … waiting for an answer from God.

As we pray, we often lift up our hands up in a symbolic gesture as we give our problem to the Lord. I know what I’m talking about because I used to do this very thing.

One day, however, I had a realization that has completely changed my prayer life. It occurred to me that when I pray with my palms facing up—toward the ceiling (or sky)—I can quickly and easily close my fingers into a fist and mentally and emotionally take back that situation or trouble.

I have a tendency to do that, you know, take back something I’ve been praying about and have supposedly handed over to the Lord, just because I might be able to somehow take care of it myself.

Does this sound anything like you?

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.  —Psalm 17:6

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Since I am a very visual person, I thought about praying for specific things palms down, with hands facing the floor so that I could drop my prayer request at Jesus’ feet. To me, giving up that situation palms down tells me that once I’ve let go of it that way, it’s gone. There’s no chance for me to pull it back.

I’m not saying that everything I pray for in this way gets answered exactly as I would like, but what it does is enable me to allow God to do His work—not only in the particular situation for which I prayed but also on and through me. Sometimes I get in God’s way too much and don’t give Him enough room.

When I pray in this manner, I feel a real peace come over me. The kind of peace that lets me know that I don’t have to worry about the problem, because:

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?
—Luke 12:25

and

Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
—Philippians 4:6

Beloved, this is my prayer for all of us: that we will always remember to pray palms down.

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Raining Blessings

This is another devotional from Streams in the DesertIt made my eyes leak. 

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God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.
—Genesis 41:52

A poet stands by the window watching a summer shower. It is a fierce downpour, beating and pounding the earth. But the poet, in his mind’s eye, sees more than a rain shower falling. He sees a myriad of lovely flowers raining down, soon breaking forth from the freshly watered earth, and filling it with their matchless beauty and fragrance. And so he sings:

It isn’t raining again to me —it’s raining daffodils;
In every dripping drop I see wildflowers upon the hills.
A cloud of gray engulfs the day, and overwhelms the town;
It isn’t raining rain to me—it’s raining roses down.

Perhaps you are undergoing some trial as God’s child, and you are saying to Him, “O God, it is raining very hard on me tonight, and this test seems beyond my power to endure. Disappointments are pouring in, washing away and utterly defeating my chosen plans. My trembling heart is grieved and is cowering at the intensity of my suffering. Surely the rains of affliction are beating down upon my soul.”

Dear friend, you are completely mistaken. God is not raining rain on you—He is raining blessings. If you will only believe your Father’s Word, you will realize that springing up beneath the pounding rain are spiritual flowers. And they are more beautiful and fragrant than those that ever grew before in your stormless and suffering-free life.

You can see the rain, but can you also see the flowers? You are suffering through these tests, but know that God sees sweet flowers of faith springing up in your life beneath these very trials. You try to escape the pain, yet God sees tender compassion for other sufferers finding birth in your soul. Your heart winces at the pain of heavy grief, but God sees the sorrow deepening and enriching your life.

No, my friend, it is not raining afflictions on you. It is raining tenderness, love, compassion, patience, and a thousand other flowers and fruits of the blessed Holy Spirit. And they are bringing to your life spiritual enrichment that all the prosperity and ease of this world could ever produce in your innermost being.  —J.M.M

Songs across the Storm

A harp stood in the calm, still air,
Where showers of sunshine washed a thousand fragrant blooms;

A traveler bowed with loads of care
Struggled from morning till the dusk of evening glooms
To strum sweet sounds from the songless strings;

The pilgrim strives in vain with each unanswering chord,
Until the tempest’s thunder sings,
And, moving on the storm, the fingers of the Lord
A wondrous melody awakes;

And though the battling winds their soldier deeds perform,
Their trumpet-sound brave music makes

While God’s assuring voice sings love across the storm.

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Godliness + Contentment

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Godliness + Contentment

By Patricia Knight

“But godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

We could list the aspects of our lives that have changed due to the invasion of adversity, but that exercise would not change our circumstances. Instead of stressing the negative, why not accentuate the positive? List the gains rather than the losses. Reflect on the people you’ve met, the introspection you’ve gained, the spiritual strength and dependency that has grown, the patience learned, and the ability to mature in your faith.

If we are able to combine our faith with personal well-being, then improvement or enrichment will result. We have learned the secret for peace of mind. Following God, no matter what occurs in our lives, believing that whatever He chooses is best for us, and telling others about God’s goodness and grace, will all contribute toward our personal and spiritual riches.

1Thes5-18-HandSilhouetteSunset-35--AMPAs difficult as it may seem, we can develop a greater dependency upon our Lord even during afflictions. Therefore, we can go forward to accomplish whatever God asks us to do for Him, not in spite of pain, but because of it. We are commanded to “give thanks in all circumstances”(1 Thessalonians 5:18). The thankfulness we express is not an appreciation for leading a restricted, hurtful life, but rather it is a means of recognizing and showing gratitude for God’s sovereign leadership in our lives. Whatever He plans for us is perfect in its design and timing. 

Learning patience and perseverance produces a stronger faith. We learn those attributes by practicing them. Our hardship gives us reason to develop positive and useful emotional tools—those with which we can reach out to others in their time of need.  Christian maturity will follow.

When God has something to teach us, He may set us aside in order to instruct us in life’s lessons. The experience we gain will be invaluable in serving a loving, faithful God and others.

“Godliness + contentment = great gain”
is a method of expressing the verse as a formula for life.
It defines a spiritual goal for us—
one that God honors.

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Changing Things Up

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A couple of months ago I wrote this post about having to scale back and only post here three times a week because of my health issues. And my nemesis—aka our monsoon season —is back again, so you’d think I’d have to take a complete break for a couple of months since I always feel worse during these times.

So how come I’ve increased the frequency of my posting to almost every day? 

I am so thankful to find many, many great articles and posts from other sites and blogs that I can share with you! It is a slight change in direction for this blog but is still in line with my vision for it:

  • how God is working in our lives no matter what else is going on
  • how to live a joyful and hopeful life with the Lord at the helm
  • learning to recognize the many blessings in our lives and be thankful for them

Having said all that, if I miss a day or two (or more), it’s probably because I didn’t feel well enough to work up and schedule some posts ahead of time. I’ll do my best to stay current here while I also fit in my writing assignments for the other blogs to which I contribute.

Remember: Thanks living always leads to thanks giving!

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Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; speak of all His wonders.
—1 Chronicles 16:9

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Happy Father’s Day to the “Really” Fathers

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Father’s Day can be joyful and full of love and happy memories. You probably had a father who showed his love for you in many ways, every single day. These are the fathers who selflessly spent time with us and encouraged us.

Some of us may have grown up without a father, or a series of events took our father away from us. Possibly we had a father who caused us harm or didn’t love us.

And then there are those of us who were adopted by “really” fathers. That’s what this sweet Father’s Day video is about. In it Levi and Lia tell the story of their journey from fatherless to fatherfull.

Beloved, there is a Father who cares for and loves each one of us with a love that cannot be understood. This is so difficult for us to believe, and yet it is true. God loves us with an unending love that never fades. Hold onto that when you’re tempted to feel “less than” or down about your upbringing.

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The Spread of the Gospel

This is the coolest video I’ve seen in some time, from the Western Conservatory of the Arts and Sciences site. It is a short animated presentation of the spread of the Gospel over the last 2,000 years. 

From the Western Conservatory site:

This animated map is a powerful visual depiction of the most important movement in history: the spread of Christianity. Every frame is one year in the last 2000 years of the Great Commission. This is an animated version of the data on our 24×36″ printed Spread of the Gospel Map:

westernconservatory.com/products/the-spread-of-the-gospel-map

Charting the geographic progress of the Gospel over the last 2,000 years, this map shows the missionary journeys of the apostles, the outposts of the early church, the hotbeds of persecution, the staging grounds of the Church’s major theological battles, and more. See the power of the Gospel to transform “every nation and tribe and language and people,” and be inspired by the legacies of the brave brothers and sisters who faithfully carried the Gospel of Christ to the farthest ends of the earth.

The 24″ x 36″ color printed map is available for purchase on their site. You can read more about these here.

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Beginnings from Endings

I love finding new blogs that freshen my heart, mind and soul. A good friend told me about Kevin Devries’ blog, Ramblings of a Widower. This post goes along well with my Marriage Triangle articles.  2Chron7-14-DesertPath-50--AMP

Beginnings from Endings

By Kevin Devries

 2 Chronicles 7:14
14 If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

 

It’s not that we, as Christians, need to worry about how the world is starting to define marriage, but rather our focus should be on the marriages in our Christian community. I am oddly finding myself amidst several couples whose marriages are on rocky ground or in a perfect storm. But it seems so clear that hearts have hardened, the hurt has been done, and there’s no return to honest work it takes to make a marriage work. I know I have been there on many occasions. I am (mostly) cognizant of the troubles I caused Pattie, her hurts, and disappointments. There was even a time early in our marriage that I screamed at her, scaring her to the core. But through it all, we worked on our communication and forgiveness. God provided me a wonderful wife, and I am indebted to Him for that perfect gift.

 
Ephesians 5:25-29
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.

 

My heart is full of sorrow for the marriages that are being torn asunder. Yet with the frequency for which I am being introduced to these situations, it’s quite possible that God is calling on me to counsel those in need. And hopefully along the way, to those who wish to continue to feed their marital relationship. I think all men deserve a Proverbs 31 wife, and all women deserve an Ephesians 5 husband. Read the rest here. BlogSL2-smallest