Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I Have Failed

I wish I had been a more effective teacher in my church. I suppose I may have not been focused enough or I should have studied more or maybe I'm just a lousy teacher. It's probably the last one. Obviously it's that last one. I just wish somebody had told me before now. It makes everything else just that much harder.

I would like to thank my church for the opportunity to teach. I wish it could have been better. I would also like to thank you all for helping Jesus set me free from my last secret. The months since November 29 have been some of the best. 

I spent the last quarter attempting to teach the book, Messy Grace. I do not think it generated much enthusiasm. I apologize for that. I wish we could have all caught the spirit of that book, but it does not seem to have worked.

If any of you have taken offense to my recent writing, both in private and publicly, I'm sure we will both get over it one way or another.

Whatever you think now, know this. I love all of you. I would not have raised the current issue as I have been doing if I did not love our church. My concern is that a grave error is about to be made that will forever label us before sinners as a place to avoid at all cost. I cannot abide that.

I cannot abide the use of this legacy, our church, as a pawn in legal battles. For three generations, my family on both sides has worshiped with you. It tears me up that anyone would think so little of that and willingly use a church nearly as old as the state of Iowa in a legal test.

There has to be a better way. I hope you find it and so avoid the course of the law.

There is no courage or concern in legal courses of action. There is no love. There is no grace or mercy. It says to all in witness, "I defy you."  The day may come when we have to do that. That time is not now and this issue is not worth it.  

Courage is when you stand at the door and say "come in" to people that are different from you. Legal action says you're not so friendly, maybe a bit touchy and maybe a bit unwelcoming.

It's been a good run since 1997. It's been good to be home. Home is not always where you think it is though. Sometimes there just isn't one.     

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Joke Du Jour

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are in a bar. Donald leans over, and With A smile on his face, says, "The media is really tearing you apart for That Scandal."

Hillary: "You mean my lying about Benghazi?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "You mean the massive voter fraud?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "You mean the military not getting their votes counted?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "Using my secret private server with classified material to Hide my Activities?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "The NSA monitoring our phone calls, emails and everything Else?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "Using the Clinton Foundation as a cover for tax evasion, Hiring Cronies, And taking bribes from foreign countries?

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "You mean the drones being operated in our own country without The Benefit of the law?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "Giving 123 Technologies $300 Million, and right afterward it Declared Bankruptcy and was sold to the Chinese?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "You mean arming the Muslim Brotherhood and hiring them in the White House?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "Whitewater, Watergate committee, Vince Foster, commodity Deals?"

Trump: "No the other one:"

Hillary: "The funding of neoNazis in the Ukraine that led to the toppling of the democratically elected president and to the biggest crisis that country has had since WWII ?"

Trump: "No the other one:"

Hillary: "Turning Libya into chaos?"

Trump: "No the other one:"

Hillary: "Being the mastermind of the so-called “Arab Spring” that only brought chaos, death and destruction to the Middle East and North Africa ?

Trump: "No the other one:"

Hillary: "Leaving four Americans to die in Benghazi and go to sleep?

Trump: "No the other one:"

Hillary: "Trashing Mubarak, one of our few Muslim friends?"

Trump: "No the other one:"

Hillary: "Encouraging and supporting the murders of Palestinians and the destruction of their homes, towns and villages by Israel ?"

Trump: "No the other one:"

Hillary: "The funding and arming of terrorists in Syria, the destruction and destabilization of that nation, giving the order to our lapdogs in Turkey and Saudi Arabia to give sarin gas to the "moderate" terrorists in Syria that they eventually used on civilians, and framed Assad, and had it not been for the Russians and Putin, we would have used that as a pretext to invade Syria, put a puppet in power, steal their natural resources, and leave that country in total chaos, just like we did with Libya?

Trump: "No the other one:"

Hillary: "The creation of the biggest refugees crisis since WWII

Trump: "No the other one:"

Hillary: "Leaving Iraq in chaos? "

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "The DOJ spying on the press?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "You mean HHS Secretary Sibelius shaking down health insurance Executives?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "Giving our cronies in SOLYNDRA $500 MILLION DOLLARS and 3 Months Later they declared bankruptcy and then the Chinese bought it?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "The NSA monitoring citizens' ?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "The State Department interfering with an Inspector General Investigation on departmental sexual misconduct?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "Me, The IRS, Clapper and Holder all lying to Congress?"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "Threats to all of Bill's former mistresses to keep them quiet"

Trump: "No, the other one."

Hillary: "I give up! ... Oh wait, I think I've got it! When I stole the White House furniture, silverware, when Bill left Office?"

Trump: "THAT'S IT! I almost forgot about that one".

Passive Resistance

Well, I could not even last for 24 hours. Yes, I am supposed to be on sabbatical, but for some reason, I am unable to shut off my mind and my mouth. I have to speak and this seems to be my favorite venue.

As someone once said, "you don't have to read it". Unfortunately, I do have to write it. I am incurable.

So...passive resistance.

I am all about passive resistance. It seems to be an inborn part of my character. It is what I do when I want to rebel against the current state of affairs, whatever that might be at the time. It started, as near as I can tell, when I was about three years old. I would be ordered to comply with whatever by the parental units. My immediate refusal would be forthcoming. I would fall to the floor, arms crossed and cross legged, joints locked in place. I could not be moved, except with physical dragging by the parental units. There would also be much screaming on the part of the aggrieved party which was always me. When done in public, it appeared to all concerned, to be child abuse. No amount of paddling, detention or other parental persecution could dissuade me to admit any error on my part. I was always right and righteous in my own eyes. I would call upon God to vindicate me in my persecution and especially when I was asked to apologize for something that I was never sorry for. I would not lie. That would be unrighteous. There could be no compromise.

I have never learned not to do that. It is my mode of operation. To this day, I see no need to try reasonable means in pursuit of justice. It's my experience that true justice is never forthcoming. The cards are always stacked in favor of the authorities. One must not compromise with evil and one must not use the tools of the enemy in an effort to defeat them. Their tools are designed for their use against us; hence they will not work well when we attempt to wield them.

All of that brings me to this.

If you wish to fight injustice that is dictated by government, governmental bodies or the enforcement arms of either, you should avoid using their means to appeal. You will get nowhere very fast. You may receive a delay. You may prolong the arrival of the day of reckoning, but they will always and inevitably win...unless you passively resist them. No lawsuit, no hearing for a TRO, no amount of lobbying of legislative bodies or courts or commissions will avail you like passive resistance.

In the style of Gandhi and MLK, Christians must learn the art of passive resistance as governments and unelected bureaucrats encroach on territory that God has placed in our hands. We are commanded to spread the gospel. We must obey and we must passively resist any attempt to silence the Word of God in our communities. It was the way of the Church in its first 300 years and it should be our way.

I will not stand with you if you appeal to Caesar. He is already set like flint against the Kingdom of the Most High.  Nor will I stand with you when you use irrelevant issues like bathroom privileges to demand justice. It only demeans our cause. It makes us look like idiots.

I will however, stand with you for the sake of the gospel!

I will stand with you when they come for us. I will throw myself to the ground with you and lock arms. I will go limp as they pepper spray and zip tie us and take us to jail. I will chant "we shall overcome" and "the whole world is watching"' as they beat us with night sticks like they beat the evil ones. I will be with you when they send their dogs. I will help you passively disrupt and short circuit what passes for authority and justice in this corrupt world.

The time is at hand friends when we will be forced to take our stand with Christ. The courts will avail us nothing. They are controlled by the dark prince that opposes us, may the Lord rebuke him.

I say let them come. The world needs to see that no one is safe in their persons or property or faith from the powers that are currently rising. Some of us may even have to die before people wake up and smell the coffee that has been brewed for us.

Now lets all practice...drop to the ground, lock arms and say "no" to all that can hear. What comes after that will not be easy. It will hurt. It will sting. There will be pain, but in time, others will join us. Can they incarcerate us all? They can try. They will fail.

"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain"

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery."
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."   

Are you scared? You should be. Once the battle is on, it will not stop until there is a winner. Are you ready? That remains to be seen.

A Sabbatical

Ya, I know I have not been doing this long enough to take a sabbatical, but I need some time off. I'm not sue how long I will be gone. Could be two days or two years. I might not make it through tomorrow. We will see. I seem to be losing some rationality. Can't seem to get my mind right. I fear I'm turning into a hater. I gotta let it go.

Thanks for reading. I will return to annoy you at a later date.

Friday, May 27, 2016

No Mercy, A Different Mess

In my pursuit of a messy church I have recently been befuddled by a church leadership that embraced and loved me as I am. Their recent contradictory behavior, the resolute fear and loathing I sensed this past Sunday, has me doubting the sincerity of their desire to welcome sinners, people different from themselves and those that fit no one's mold of what a human is.

It took me awhile to process what happened Sunday at the congregational meeting that I am not supposed to talk about. There is a desire by my brethren, those that would shepherd and lead me and other church members, to "protect us" from men that think they are women. More specifically, they are concerned that these transgendered people will want to enter the women's restrooms.

I think the real concern here is the Iowa Human Rights Commission and their interpretation of recent executive orders from Washington that requires all restroom and locker room facilities be made available to everyone. If you are a man that believes he is a woman, you should be able to use the women's restroom or locker room or shower. Likewise for the women that think they are men. There is currently no regulation about people that think they are giraffes, but I sure there will be something forthcoming.

There is no regulation that specifies whether the transgendered person is pre-op, post op or non-op. In fact, a man could surreptitiously claim to be transgendered so that he might enter premises previously reserved for women only. The nefarious intent of such an individual I will leave to your imagination, but I think as this plays out, more people on every side of the situation will begin to object to implementation of this policy. Indeed, 11 states have already filed suit against the federal government over theses executive orders.

My opinion is that these executive orders represent an overreach on the part of the White House and the Iowa Human Rights Commission and that implementation of these orders should be fought. But who should be responsible for doing this?
Increasingly, there is a desire within certain evangelical and conservative churches to take on this fight themselves in the courts out of the fear that if we give up this ground, they will soon also be regulating speech in church and even the promotion of the gospel message.

Let me suggest another way.

Let them come. Instead of fighting, why don't we bring in some transgendered people, give them the full use of our facilities - all of them. Let them see who we are. We could even love them and welcome them, all the while sharing the Truth with them.

Going with legal remedies says two things.

1) We are afraid. We cannot handle what the dark prince throws at us as we pursue Christ. We are faithless and loveless and fearful. And so we build our middle class fortresses to keep the sinners out in our efforts to protect ourselves and the Truth.

2) We are law keepers and rule keepers bent on controlling others, forcing them to submit to the way we live, all the while refusing to tell them why they should do so.  There are obviously some sinners that are too sinful for salvation.

I ask you, are these the crosses we took up in our pursuit of our salvation? Jesus said, "deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me." Did we really sign up to fight bathroom rules, gay rights, placement of the 10 commandments in public places, abortion or prayer in public schools?

My answer is a categorical "NO". Our mission is to seek and save the lost - all of them. We cannot exclude cross dressers and trangendered people when they want to use the "wrong restroom". It is not our place in the kingdom to deny access to anyone that has an interest, even wrong headed interest, in what we do.

There was once a pharisee among the Jews in the time of the apostles that was feared far and wide for his persecution of Christians. Christ Himself changed the man and made him the greatest missionary of all time. His name was Paul. You might recognize the name. He wrote a large chunk of your New Testament. If the gospel turned him, I'm sure a man in a dress will pose no problem. Just sayin...

So let's reorder our priorities. We preach the gospel. As we face the prospect of persecution by the state, we preach the gospel. As they fine and arrest us, we preach the gospel. As we die for the sake of the lost as our King did, we preach the gospel.

No other issue is more important. No other issue should take precedence. All such distractions must be ignored. A messy church will have messy people. Only a few will be transgendered or gay or bisexual or desire to use the wrong bathroom. Some, probably many more, will be self righteous pharisees. We all need God's love and grace for our sins against Him as we all become one in the Body of Christ.

A church with no mercy and no love is a different kind of mess. A church that excludes and engages in court battles is using the tools of the enemy. We have done this for too long and to no avail. We need to change our tactics, change our attitudes, love those that Christ loves and offer His salvation to those that want it.

So what do you want my brethren? Do you want to attract every legalist for miles around or do you want to be a place about which outsiders say, "see how they love one another"?       

We need to be building a hospital to welcome the spiritually sick and not a fort to keep them out.
Lord, please open the eyes of our hearts. Teach us to submit to you and take the gospel to the world. Please Lord, crush those that would lead us down the path of the enemy, using his tools in a fight that does NOTHING to promote your Kingdom. Please put mercy and grace and vast amounts of courage in the hearts of those that would lead us and show them how reckless the path is that they are embarking on. Make sure they know that You will NOT be going with them. Please destroy organizations outside the church that detract from and obstruct Your work to save. Lord, I think their intentions may be good, but their methods are simply wrong and wrong headed. They confuse their citizenship here with their true citizenship in Your kingdom. Remind them again of where they belong and whose they are.

Help us to open our hearts and minds toward other sinners as we pursue our life with You. Help us to embrace what might seem like a mess to us in the same way that you daily embrace our messes and our junk. Give us a heart for your kingdom. Create is us an awareness that we may not always be comfortable here as we seek to bring others into Your house. Lord, it's going to be a long strange trip if we do it right, but it will be worth it and I hope, worth the blood of Your precious Son and our King.

It is in His Name I pray...

Amen and Amen    

I will sing...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Death of The Institutional Church

What is an institutional church? It's a group of Christians, large or small that have heavily invested in property and facilities in a specific location to meet, to worship Jesus Christ, to create an attractive place - a location - that will induce others to consider making it their place of worship. These churches are usually, but not always, part of a larger fellowship of believers. Generally you can find find churches of like minded people (like your particular fellowship) most everywhere you go in the nation you live in. Some are locally independent in that there is no church government structure beyond the local congregation. Orthodoxy is maintained at training facilities for pastors, elders and deacons, i.e. Bible colleges, seminaries and Christian universities. Churches like these would be the Churches of Christ, Independent Christian Churches, certain baptist and charismatic groups.

Other institutional churches have massive intra-church bureaucracies with regional and national headquarters. These would be the big girls - The Roman Catholic church, The Greek Orthodox church, The Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, the Disciples of Christ  and the list goes on. They hold massive amounts of property and wealth and in some countries they are actually supported by the state with tax dollars.

These churches and the independent fellowships mentioned earlier all have one thing common. They are doomed. We are doomed. The end is near for the institutional church. This notion flies in the face of what we see in the media and even what we hear from pulpits and noisy seminary professors, but I think it is nonetheless true. I believe the day will come, and soon, when Christians no longer attend their own central meeting places that are supported by the tithes of the membership. They will instead meet in smaller groups in homes and larger groups in public venues like parks or even rented private facilities. 

There are a number of reasons I can cite for this coming change.

The culture in the west where the church in its various forms once thrived is no longer predominantly Christian. Of those in the culture that still call themselves Christian, there is a lack of commitment to the faith. Believers tend to create their own faith, building it in their own image. Many of us do not see God's truth as something to be conformed to, but rather, something that needs to conform to our lifestyle, whatever that may be. We like the idea of Jesus, His sacrifice, His promises. We like to be guilt free. And we like to throw out what does not fit our agenda. We no longer understand "Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me." Maybe we have always struggled with what that means? Possibly.

There are also outside pressures that will bring the demise of the institutional church. We have become a tolerated minority. The tolerance is dying as we take our stands for God's truth in increasingly weird ways and places. We take public stands on moral and societal issues and we forget the cause of Christ - to seek and save the lost. Our first purpose should be to share Jesus with the world. Instead we tell the non-Christians that stand in opposition to us that they must conform to our world view without helping them understand why. We desire to place huge weights on them, not lifting a finger to help.

It's true that no matter how a Christian approaches our cultural changes, there are some outside the faith that will oppose us. There is as much hate and more determination among the forces that oppose us as there is in the churches. We fight and we struggle with what we believe to be evil and evil intent, but over what?

Is public school prayer, ten commandments in public places, abortion, gay marriage and transgendered restrooms the crosses that we want to die on? Is this really where we want to go for the message of Christ?

Yes, we are Americans too. We have rights. But is that what is important in the fight we are engaged in as Christians? Are we subjects of His Kingdom or are we citizens of the United States? Some would say both. Increasingly, for me, the US is just where I was born and live. My Loyalty is to my King, Jesus Christ. At the risk of offending my brethren, America is not our home. Remember the song?

This world is not my home. I'm just a passin through
My treasure are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
As Jesus beckons me from heavens open door
I can't feel at home in this world anymore

There are things that we as Christians cannot yield to if we want to obey God. There are also things we must do if we desire to obey Him. Forcing the world to conform to the way we live is not one of those. Continually yielding the high ground is not an option either. So what are our options?

How about this? Why don't we preach the gospel. Let God take the harvest. Let those in the world, in government, in business and in other faiths do as they please. Instead of opposing them at every place they oppose us, maybe we should take our stand on the gospel alone. When they tell us we can no longer proclaim Christ, then we will stand for Him and we will take whatever they want to dish out.

Passive resistance. It worked for the primitive church. It worked for Gandhi. It worked for Martin Luther King.

In speaking with a very good friend about these matters, it was and has been his thought for many years that as our culture moves beyond Christianity, the institutional church will die. I find myself in agreement with him. He also suggested that this may be part of a divine plan. God's church has always been at it's best when it faces opposition from all sides. Persecution is what drove the primitive church under ground and it is what enabled it ultimately to prevail in the Roman Empire and coexist with those in opposition. The problems began when our Christian ancestors began to use the tools of the enemy (government, law and military force) to achieve its ends. We traded the power of the gospel for the powers of the prince of this world and used them like they were our own.

This practice will end when the institutional church dies. The faithful will continue on even if we do not meet in the building on the corner or invest in real estate for a home.

It's time for a change of tactics. Spiritual Guerrilla warfare, stealth and the element of surprise need to re-enter our modus operandi. We need to be truly evangelical, working one on one, quietly passing on the peace that comes with faith.

Let them come for us. Surrender to Christ and his will. Let His Father handle the other stuff.     

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Perfect Place To Take a Leak

My grandpa used to have a baseball cap that he got from a radiator shop. It had the name of the radiator shop on it with their logo - "Smith Radiator Service - The Perfect Place to Take a Leak". The baseball cap would engender much conversation as well as the disapproval and derision of my grandmother. It served all the purposes that my grandfather intended when he wore it. It was funny. It was offensive to some. It was advertising that you would remember and it also kept bald heads warm. What more could you possibly want from a baseball cap?

Suppose you had such a hat. Can you imagine a world where bureaucrats sitting on an unelected commission could look at your cap and say you were not allowed to wear it anymore because of the way you wore said cap or that the attitudes it evoked were dangerous, insulting or unfair to those that did not have radiators or baseball caps?

Such is the world that we live in.

Some of you may be aware of the current kerfuffle over unisex restrooms, or more specifically the desire of federal and state governments to force schools, businesses, health clubs and churches to comply with regulations requiring them to allow the use of public restrooms and locker rooms by transgendered people. For example, if a man identifies as a woman, even though anatomically he is still a man, he should be allowed to use the restroom of the sex he identifies with, i.e. the women's. The same would be true for women that identify as men. I am not sure where you would go if you thought you were a dog...maybe outside to the fire hydrant? Yes, I digress.

And so we fight for the perfect place to take a leak. It is such an odd issue that has to be unique to our time and to this point in our history. Many are up in arms about it. Many women do not want to share a  public restroom with someone that is anatomically male. As a man, I really don't want to share a restroom with any kind of transgendered person. My thought is that if you need to use a public facility, you should go to the one that matches your body parts, even if you are in a dress and heels, taking shots to grow boobs. Until you are post op, you need to go in the place assigned for your current genitalia.

As a side note, for me, I do not want to share a restroom with anyone. I would ask that I be given my own restroom wherever I go so I can go. To me, the perfect place to take a leak is in solitude, with no one else present. I am pee shy...again I digress.

One has to wonder what the motivation is behind the whole thing. Why do they want us all urinating, defecating and showering together? What is the point of that? Is it a matter of rights and egalitarianism or is there another agenda for which these things are just a mask? Why is it incumbent on the general public to assist the transgendered in their transformation by allowing use of very public, but also very personal facilities that are assigned by sex?

There are other cultures, like Japan, where everyone uses the same facilities right down to public baths and saunas. I'm not sure what they would do if a trangendered person entered their facilities. I'm thinking they would move to prevent such an event. The Japanese do not have much patience for such things. I'm sure transgenderism exists there, but I am also sure they would never let it become a facilities issue, much less even talk about it.

It's also true that in most American homes, families will share bathrooms, though it is not traditional for family members of the opposite sex to use facilities at the same time; never mind any transgendered family members

There is concern by many over the safety of their sons and daughters in public restrooms. Pedophiles could and have masqueraded as transgendered individuals to gain access to children for sexual purposes.

Beyond that threat, can you see yourself sitting down naked on a locker room bench next to a man that identifies as a woman or a woman that identifies as a man? My thought is that this is a ridiculous scenario that someone dreamed up to create an issue. Even so, this is really happening too.

Again, I do not see why I should have to be involved in anyway in their transformation. If they want to use a public restroom or locker room, let them go to the one their current genitalia dictates.

No special treatment. If you have the standard 3 piece set, go to the men's room. I you currently have to set down to pee, go to the women's, Got it? Good.

In the meantime...Y'all need to start getting my bathroom ready. It will not say "men" or "women" on the door. It should say "Ghog" ok?  It's mine. It's private. No one regardless of gender or imagined gender may use it. I want a padded, heated seat on the crapper please with Charman at the ready. A bidet would be nice, but it's not required. The urinal should not be one of those that extends to the floor. Floor splatter is a menace.  A can of deodorizer, baby powder scent, should also be available. Thanks for your consideration. That should keep the Iowa Human Rights Commission busy for awhile. It's my right to have my own facilities where I am comfortable because I am like no one else that I know.

For me, that is the perfect place to take a leak              

Saturday, May 21, 2016

An Old Story Told In A New Light

In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus tells a parable about those that think they are righteous and those that know they are not. I have changed the types of people in the parable, but strangely, the intent and meaning of the story remains the same.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to church to pray, one a free mason and the other a homosexual. 11 The free mason stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this homosexual. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the homosexual stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

There is someone in my life at my church right now that does not approve of what I have done in outing myself before my brethren. He has gone so far as to whisper slanderous scurrilous insults while serving the Lord's Supper to one of my most trusted confidants. Aside from being completely out of place for an usher to communicate anything during the communion service besides the direction of the trays, he seems to think this is the way to influence someone that he believes to be on the wrong side of the issues.

To you sir, I say, "may the Lord rebuke you". He will be the judge between you and me and those that love me. Please count among those that love me, Jesus Christ. I would like to see you whisper intimidating words to Him at meal time.   

Beyond all that, there was one thing that would rouse the righteous indignation of Jesus to the point of verbalization. The main item that would always bring His reaction was self righteousness. I would ask my free mason brother in Christ to read Matthew 23. Verses 13 and 14 as well as verses 27 and 28 are particularly relevant.

Brother, we all need Jesus. Most especially us who are unrighteous. Please abandon your hard-hearted attitude and consider with love all those that can benefit from a church open to sinners of all stripes; the church that Christ intended. Jesus did not come to save the righteous. He came to save sinners.

In the meantime, if you really are without sin, please feel free to cast the first stone. 

I will be waiting.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

In Spirit Poor and Mercy Rich

Lord, it's Friday. It's been a weird week and that's no understatement. I have had so much on my mind and I just can't sort it all out. Judging by what has been written here, it's been going on more than a week. You seem to be taking me in a specific direction and maybe a place I did not wish to go not all that long ago.

Lord, if this is right, then I am here and ready. You drive OK?

I would ask only for the grace to find my way in this as you lead. Please give me the poverty of spirit required for this journey and fill my heart with mercy for those You long to love and embrace.

Give me Your words that I may speak them. Help me to not to judge with those words, but to build up. Help me Lord to yield to your guidance in all these things. Lord, I would ask for your power, but I have never been very good at it's use. Instead, as you go out before me, lay waste to those that would stand against us. Throw back the legions of hell and free the captives as you did in days of old.

Lord there are so many of us that have been injured by the bentness of our own flesh. We long for your healing power and that new body we will receive on the Great and Terrible Day. Until then, please apply your grace and discipline as needed with your usual forgiveness and love. We are and always will be Your children. Thanks you for standing with us, even when we do not see You there.

Lord, thank you for the care you take in seeing to my needs and the needs of my friends who have been enjoined in this battle for so long. We are a needy lot, but we also have much to give if we have opportunity. The well of talent among us is great thanks to your grace. Lord, please help us to find our place in your kingdom. Break the hearts of any brethren that would oppose us. Help them to see that we too are your children as we endeavor to serve.

For those that seem to have fallen along the way, please send us to help; send me. Restore them in time to their former vigor. Help us to find them and show them Your mercy and grace.

There are so many that do not know who You really are. Help them to learn this from us that serve you. 

In Your Name I Pray


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kevin...This Is For You

Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? — Proverbs 6:27-28

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Commitment and Oneness - Revised

Commitment and Oneness are the twin pillars of marriage. I know there are people that have written about many more 'pillars' in marriage. I think these two cover most everything.

One might well ask, "what do you know about it? You've never been married. You're gay."

These are valid objections. Experientially, I know nothing. I do know what I have observed. I know what I have read in God's Word. I am well aware of what Jesus and Paul said regarding marriage and divorce and the things that would justify divorce. What I find is two things. Sexual immorality or more correctly, sexual activity outside the bounds of the marriage covenant or the desire of an unbelieving partner to leave a believer are both seen as valid reasons to allow divorce.

Let me state up front that God hates divorce. He always has. But He also loves his people. When a sexually immoral or unbelieving partner wants to leave the marriage covenant and it appears there will be no resolution to that situation, God will accept that divorce for the sake of the believer.

No married person should have to accept infidelity or the confusion of their partner about their sexual identity. If the situation cannot be resolved, there comes a time where a decision must be made. The victim of this wavering mate must at some point decide to move on and allow their marriage to dissolve. Release will bring renewal to the one and force the offender to make choices and decisions about the direction of their life.

I say this knowing that both parties may still love each other in some fashion. They may both fear the loss of security that some think comes with being married. To this I would say that the division does not have to be acrimonious. Many divorced people go on to be friends and share in the joy of their children and grandchildren. They become friends rather than marriage partners which may be what they should have been all along.

There are many motivations for marriage. Sometimes it's sex within the bounds of God's will. Sometimes it's partnership and friendship and children with sex as a side benefit. People have different reasons to merge their vital interests. Some simply want children.

There are same sex attracted people that will marry only because they want children and they want to be able to operate and appear in the straight world as normal. They use their mate and family as a disguise. This is a gross violation of the  two pillars. It is deception. It is manipulation. It is hateful and it is cruel. Those that do this often do not see it that way.

To those that have done this to their partners, I say repent.  This will not be an easy process, but you need to get out of the secret activities and break the habits that will eventually destroy you. This process could take years. You will probably fail along the way. This is why you must rebuild your relationship with Jesus and understand that His well of grace never runs dry. If you have left the church, then go back. You may not want to go to places openly hostile to people like us. You will need a place that understands that we are all sinners; a place where you will receive unconditional love for your repentance and desire to turn away from the sin that seems so natural. It should be a church that will support you in some way with your struggle. Most important, stop using people for cover and for sex. It is duplicitous at best.

To the partner victims I say divorce and take every last crumb in the cupboard with you; you deserve better. Let God deal with the user you married. In some regard, this seems harsh, but enabling the user is not a good thing either. If you still love them, this might be the best thing for them.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sex and Sin

I was discussing yesterday's post with a good friend. We took it off blog and to email. It was a good discussion and I hope I can answer her remaining questions here today.

Her last question was, how is gay sex any worse a sin than the sex outside of heterosexual marriage, i.e. adultery?

The short answer is it is not. Sin is, as you say, sin. If I implied anything else, I am sorry. The intention from our Creator from the beginning was that sex is reserved for men and women committed to each other in marriage. This is what the Lord intended for the entire human race. It is more than cultural. It is supposed to be this way for everyone, whether you believe or do not.

Having said that, there are some things about homosexuality that are uniquely sinful and in some ways more offensive to God than common adultery. This also comes from the created order. The family unit is to be a microcosm of God's relationship to His people. Men and women together in a binding lifetime marriage is representative of Christ's marriage to the Church. And just like marriages between men and women, The Church can be quite the adulterer - the whore. I would say 'slut', but I will reserve that for the Unitarians.

What follows here next is my opinion. It comes from experience and it comes from history. Only some of it comes from the Bible.

So...when two men or two women come together in a love relationship (or lust), even if it is a binding monogamous relationship, it is in opposition to the created order. It is in some ways worse than adultery and here is why. The physical bodies of men and women were intended to compliment each other. The woman was to be the submissive partner when united with a man in sexual union. For her submission, she receives control and authority to raise the children produced by the union with the advice and consent of her husband. I know this grates against the modern thought process and ideas about women's roles in the world and even the Church, but is, I believe, what God intended for our lives here. In eternity, I believe it will be different. Instead, we will ALL be in submission to God and there will be no marriage...but I digress.

Homosexuality flies in the face of this created order. The bodies of men do not compliment each other. If men are to love each other sexually and in a penetrative way, they must find other means. I'm sure you've noticed that men lack a vagina and some other equipment that you straight guys seem to enjoy. Instead, if you are a man loving another man, one of you must assume a role of submission sexually. In effect, the dominant partner makes a woman out of a man that God created to be a man. It is a violation of God's created order and his original intentions. It is also why the Old Testament describes homosexuality as an abomination.  Men were not intended to submit to each other in a sexual way.

It is also impossible for this kind of union to produce children.

It is true that God created sexuality. It is also true that He put heavy restrictions on this gift. He did so for his pleasure and to create order. God is not the author of confusion. It's us that does that. It's that confusion that becomes sin and creates havoc in lives that were intended to be peaceful and joyful and in union with our God. It is our choices that continue to corrupt the race, both physically and spiritually.

Sin is sin and all of them are what God is not and what He does not want. Some sins though, are more devastating and life changing than others from our perspective. Adultery and homosexuality are two of these - sins committed with the body that can have devastating effects on those involved, both spiritual and physical. Sins committed outside the body will also effect your relationship with God, but they are not usually as destructive in a spiritual sense. Recovery from these kinds of sin is easier.

Got it? Or are you more confused?    

Monday, May 16, 2016

"I Don't Trust You. I Don't Trust Anyone"

I heard that twice yesterday from two different same sex attracted men that I met in two different venues in my church of all places. Even so, both of these married men talked about these deeply personal issues issues with me that I doubt they would be willing to discuss with anyone else. It's because I understand how they feel.  Neither one of them is out with their SSA status in any official way, though for at least one of them, most of his entire family knows. One of them is living on the down low in another part of the country and the other one is well guarded and regarded in his sexual behavior. Strangely, both of them talked about masturbation in a passing way, but neither of them wanted to discuss it's implications. We should talk about it one of these days. That time is not now.  In one case, I started that conversation, but it did not go very far. They were both more than willing to discuss their likes and dislikes in men and whether or not they had been celibate. When I revealed my 36 year streak of 'no man' status, one of these guys said it had been maybe 36 hours hours for him.  There was honesty in both conversations, but I thought, " if this is what they are willing to tell me when they do not trust me, what is the real truth?" Both of these men were practicing 'modest honesty' with me.

It occurs to me that I may be getting too direct for you. It is what it is my friend. If you need to go, I understand, but the things I need to say here have a direct bearing on the struggles that we endure as Christian same sex attracted men. We are at once an enigma and a contradiction. We love Jesus, we love our families (some of us have wives) and we love our churches, but the compulsion to satisfy our man appetites is great. The battle is constant and it is always on. Many of us lose regularly in the fight. We develop a self loathing that cannot be explained because we are constantly distracted by the desire and our failures in the fight.

I seem to be blessed with a lower sex drive than most. While I enjoy the company of men, I find that I do not want the baggage of deeper relationship or the brevity of soulless, anonymous sexual encounters. In short, I cannot live with those complications. I need consistency in my life. I hate riding the roller coaster that can be gay life. I need peace and peace of mind more than sex. I am not saying my life is easy. I'm saying that my life is as it is because I cannot live with the stress of living otherwise.

If the self loathing is going to stop, if we are going to desexualize our love for men, we have to drop the anger toward God about who we are and just submit to Him. It is the only way to learn to love ourselves and thus be able to love others in nonsexual ways.

As Jeremiah said, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"

Well, our Creator understands it. He knows things about us that we have yet to grasp. He knows our potential and He knows how low we can go in our lives. 

Brother, I say this to you. Throw yourself on His mercy and grace; submit to Him in every way that you are able. When you fail, and you will, go to Him for your handout. That well never runs dry. You will not lose your desire, but it will becomes less interesting as you grow in your own self love and your nonsexual love for others. 

Some of us need to hit the bottom of the 'grace well' before we start to drink from it. So be it. It's going to hurt, but you may need to go there. My advice is drown yourself in it. The water is so satisfying. Then as you start your swim to the top, you will see what self forgiveness means and how to love others in a proper fashion.  

On a personal note, I think I am sensing right now, the direction that the remainder of my life is supposed to take. I want my SSA brethren to know the contentment and joy I am currently experiencing. I think it can be that way for all of us. We just have to 'man up' and do it. Think about what I have said here. There is so much more to talk about.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Problems With Chapter 9

As many of you are aware, I have been teaching "Messy Grace" by Caleb Kaltenbach at church in two classes every Sunday. I do like the book. It goes a long way toward bringing peace to the Gay vs Christians debate that has been so prevalent in our part of the western world and western churches. It has also done much for me personally. It has helped me to explain to my straight brothers and sisters in the faith how LGBT people can be believers even though we are same sex attracted in our sexuality. It was also an integral part of getting free of my last great secret. I desperately wanted to get out of my closet and for them to be free of doubt about who I am in Christ. In the months since my release from this self imposed prison, my life and the lives of those around me have been filled with the joy of the Lord about this. I want this for all my kind.  Only a very few have looked askance at what we are doing. Strangely, some of them are like me rather than the red necked heteros that you might expect.

I could go on, but that's not what I want to discuss here. I had some problems with some things that Caleb wrote in chapter 9. I would loved to sit down and discuss these items with him, but alas, he is not here, so I will go on without the blessing of his comments about my opinions. If y'all have anything to say, I'm listening.

Chapter 9 was all about "Another Way". It advised celibacy and maybe even heterosexual marriage for those of us LGBT folks that could do it. The celibacy I do. It's easier for me than contemplating a life of domestic bliss with someone I have no sexual attraction for. I have loved women for years. I enjoy their company. I enjoy spending time with them. The specter of sex with one, though, seems unnatural to me at best and downright gross at worst. Sorry ladies. I am not wired that way. I do not even think I could fake it with a dose of viagra and images of men in my mind. It just would not work.

And all of that brings me to this. Caleb thinks celibacy is a gift from God. He uses Paul's advice in I Corinthians 7 as evidence of this as well as the words of Jesus in Matthew 19.

My thought is that if celibacy is a gift, it's like getting socks for Christmas. Sure, everyone needs socks, but you don't want them for Christmas right? To my mind, celibacy was not so much a gift as it was a requirement. It was thrust on me if I wanted to be in an obedient relationship with my God. I was angry about this for a very long time. God and I did not talk much. The discussions we had were terse and, dare I say, unloving, at least for my part. I never really came to grasp just how much He loved me until much later. Needless to say, our relationship has improved. I am not so bitter about my sexual wiring...I still have my moments though. I rely on his love and grace when I feel weak. He does empower me and He does enable me.

I just do not see it as a gift. According to scripture, everyone, regardless of their sexual wiring must remain celibate until and unless they are married to a member of the opposite sex. And even then, our sexuality must remain in the bounds of that marriage. The restrictions are incredible given the power of the human sex drive.

Caleb also talks about choosing relationship with God over "any selfish fulfillment of my own desires." I have a problem with the use of the word 'selfish' here. My desires are not selfish, they are just desires. Again, it is the way I am wired. I want these things from time to time. A man gets tired of being alone...yes even me who loves to be alone. What I have learned over the years is that generally other men have been willing to spend time with me and be my friend. I have found a lot of satisfaction in these non-sexual relationships. Thanks guys for that. You know who you are and even so, you still love me just like Jesus does. You have no idea how much I appreciate this. It helps me to desexualize men and manhood in general...which is the key to actually being able to remain celibate...that and being very stubborn.

He also talks about "redeeming same sex attractions in heterosexual marriage" and he offers a real life example of this. A same sex attracted man marries his best female friend and they fall in love. She is the only woman he is attracted to because of his love for her even though he still experiences same sex attraction.

First, I guess I do not really understand how this redeems anything. He is still as gay as Dad's hatband. Second, I think this is a very dangerous practice. I can cite many real life examples where this failed spectacularly. I admire the willingness to sacrifice, especially on the part of the woman that enters a marriage knowing this. But if you choose to do this, know that the possibility of failure is great.  This idea should come with a big ole warning sign. I'm sorry Caleb, I disagree. I want to know that "Jerry and Betty" are still married after 15 more years. Call me 2031.

He also talks about something he calls "same sex temptations" in this chapter. This is way too mild in it's description of what LGBT people experience. Our SSA status is hard wired in our brains. It is part of who we are in the deepest recesses of our hearts. It is even stronger than addiction. It takes monumental strength to stand against sexual desire. You straight people need to know this and Caleb is good at helping straight folks to come to an understanding of it. I just want you to know that it is much more than mere temptation. The power of sexuality is one of our strongest drives. Imagine if it were you that was being asked to give up your mate or any potential for family or a love life.

If you can imagine that, then you can understand where I and many of my brethren have been in this struggle. This is not just a bad habit or something we resort to because we cannot get an opposite sex partner. It is an immutable part of our personalities just as your heterosexuality is.

I wish it was not this way. I wish I could flip a switch and be straight. I can't! What nut job would actually choose to live this way if they had another option.

Not me. So tread lightly with me as I work out my salvation with fear and trembling. Ultimately God will be my judge. I am confident as I come to the close of my life about what comes after. Can you say the same thing?

To those who are like me but have not yet mastered the monster within, let me say this. You won't. You will always be same sex attracted. That is not going to change with anything short of a miracle. It is part of who you are. What you can do is minimize the impact of these desires on your souls and on your bodies. Stay away from porn and internet hook up sites. Lean heavily on Jesus and sympathetic empathetic friends. Find or even create a safe space where you can talk about this with other SSA's without the sexualization that so often encompasses our lives.

Lastly...and you may not like this. Come out to your straight Christian friends. There is strength and accountability in numbers. Yes, do it even if you're married. You should have told your wife or husband prior to making that commitment anyway. I am deadly serious here.

Stop the deception and the self deception. Just stop it. Know instead what it means to be free indeed.  

What's not tried is never missed. Also, it's OK to be lonely as long as you're free. Seriously. It's OK.

I think I'm done now. Thanks for reading. Tomorrow I may tell you about my new friend. I hope he's still my friend tomorrow. We will see. It was good to talk. I know Someone else that would like to talk to you...He does love you. Start trying to wrap you mind around that. OK...goodnight!

Friday, May 13, 2016


The verses below from Proverbs have been haunting me. I have been thinking about them all day. Today I took Dad to the dentist and it was on the freakin wall of the waiting room as a work of art.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And lean not on your own understanding
In all your ways, submit to Him
And He will make your paths straight

Lord, I think I'm beginning to get the message...is this what you are trying to say?

"Jeff, just close you eyes and fall back into My arms. I love you. Never question My motivations toward you or your motivations when you want to do My will. Just know that I am here. It does not really matter if you comprehend what is happening to you. You may not fully grock what I AM doing in your life or the lives around you. Again, it does not matter. All you need to know is that I AM here. Leave whatever it is to Me. I know all too well that there are some things you cannot handle on your own and some that you cannot deal with at all. You already know what I want. Just do it. I am walking in front of you and behind you. I will not let you fall unless you choose to. Follow me and we will continue in peace and joy and love and everlasting life."

Is that what You are trying to tell me Lord? Did I take it too personally or over-exaggerate Your point? Probably not. You did put it on the wall for me. Is it because I'm stupid? Silly question. Sorry. Lord, I love You. Sometimes I just need to quit thinking.

Six Degrees Of Separation

According to Wikipedia:

Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of "a friend of a friend" statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929 and popularized by a 1990 play written by John Guare.

It was also a pretty good movie; one of Will Smith's early ventures. I would recommend a watch if you are not easily offended.

It is strange how we all seem to be connected in some way and interesting how many us share commonality of life and lifestyle even though we never talk about it with any more than modest honesty.

There is a wide variety of men and women throughout the world and across cultures that are united by one thing. We are same sex attracted (SSA). We all share the same urge to one degree or another and it plays itself out in accordance with the traditions and truths of the cultures and nations and religious backgrounds that we share. We seem to be able to recognize each other even when separated by language and heterosexual marriage. Sometimes it's gaydar. Sometimes it's because we know somebody that knows somebody that...you get my drift.

I guess my point in all this is that there are many and varied degrees of being SSA or lesbian or gay or Bi or trans-gendered or what ever recent label you would like to apply to us folks.

This is even true in American conservative Christian subculture.

There are people that go through their entire lives with same sex attractions that they never act on them. Some of them are married with children. Some of their partners know, but love binds them to each other and their families and their faith. Others of us distract ourselves with work and blogging and teaching :^) We do our best to remain celibate and in accordance with our faith principles. It would not surprise me to learn there are trans-gendered people at church that no one knows about. Probably some lesbians and maybe some bisexuals. And there are still others failing in their sexual purity walk in some way.

But it is not the flawed sexuality that unites us. It is the saving power of Jesus Christ that brings us all together under one roof with everyone else. We are saved by His blood because we believe in its power to overcome what some regard as the worst desires and sins. Therefore we are not separated from the rest of the body. Some of us SSA's even occupy important places in the Lord's church as teachers, musicians and even pastors and elders in some churches.

None of this means that we do not struggle from time in battle against our own flesh. We are no different than any other Christian in this regard. We within the Christian SSA community have a problem though. There are still many places where we cannot talk and share with our SSA brethren in a Christian environment. This is mostly because we are afraid. We are afraid of the other members of the body and we seem to be afraid of each other. This is unfortunate because we could learn so much from each others life experiences and we could support each other in our efforts toward holy living.

The church should welcome all sinners and help them make contact with the saving blood of Christ. Liars, fornicators, adulterers, pornophiles, gossips and hot heads have all found their place in the church and help from the brethren. It's now time for us SSA's to come forward. We need to throw off the shame of our hidden desires and turn it over to Christ and we need to guide each other down the path to holiness, following Jesus all that way.

There should no longer be degrees of separation between us. Gaydar should not be the way we secretly identify each other. We should cease the 'secrets' mentality entirely. Secrets can lead to sin. What we need now is accountability. We are uniquely equipped to help each other in that only we understand our SSA status. And since we also know Christ and have experienced His power in our lives, we should be able to help each other stand in times of struggle and trial.

I want to end the degrees of separation. Let's come out from among them and work together for the common good of the body.

Is this crazy talk? Are we strong enough to do this? Do we really want to be free or do we clutch to ourselves our SSA desires in reserve in case we want to choose the path of sin?

Someone might ask, 'what if I fail? What if it all becomes known? I want to talk; I want to get free and know the victory, but I cannot be that open.'

Brother...Sister, you have nothing to lose but your chains. There is strength in numbers and there is power from the Spirit among your fellow believers.

We should talk. Ya, I don't care if you are married. I don't care if you are involved in a SS relationship. I don't care if you're cruising gay porn and hook up sites by night. We should talk. Wouldn't you like to be free of all that? You cannot do it alone. You might feel some shame and fear from the initial confession, but you might also find it extremely liberating. You can know what it is to be driven by the love of Jesus and not sexual cravings. You can!

I do not promise you an easy trip. The battle is hard fought and lengthy. You will probably fail in your journey at least once and maybe more; but you will have with you those that understand our common enemy and how he uses the worst in us to destroy us and our relationship with our God. Together we can stand and fight.

I will also tell you that you will probably always have same sex attractions. It will not stop, but it might become easier to deal with if you have support. Why fight the battle alone?

Some things to think about eh? If you know me and you want to talk we can. If you are scared, so be it. I used to be scared of my own shadow.

Fear or Freedom? What will it be?    

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Practicing Modest Honesty

Modest honesty. It sounds so kind and diplomatic and unoffensive. It is at once transparent and deceptive. It is almost the truth about about whatever we have done to offend God or our neighbor. It is what we do when we want to hide the painful truth of our own sins and desires by couching them in past tense terminology or generalizations that conceal the real offense. We do this when we interact with others and we do this to ourselves. We want to be good or recovered or holy and we will do what we need to do to appear that way before our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Modest honesty is a lie.

We will cop to our sins in this life and our bentness of heart, but we do not always come completely clean. We hold back. We do not want to offend and we do not want to encourage our sin or glorify it. We also do not want to look bad or be too embarrassed or seem like one of God's failed projects.

Shouldn't we stop this practice? How will we ever heal our spiritual wounds if we continue to lie to our brothers and sisters and to ourselves and even to God Himself about where we are in our spiritual brokeness? How about we practice brutal "R" rated honesty with each other? We rip off that last veneer coating on our souls that seems transparent but covers a multitude of damages. We could show each other who we really are, pock marks, tool gouges and all, then begin to heal.

Scary? Yip. Is it necessary? Will it makes us too uncomfortable to talk to each other? I do not know the answer to those last two. Yet. I am working on it.

I just think about how God knows us without those comforting, modest (dis)honesties that we practice. I think about how it's all going to be laid bare on the Great and Terrible day.

Brother, if you are embarrassed about the truth now, you ain't seen nothin yet. Dude, everybody is gonna know.  Everyone will be watching. That's why we should fix whatever it is now or at least make some peace with it. We can only do that by speaking frankly about our current spiritual conditions. Am I wrong?


As I consider the possibility of a group of SSA Christians that gather to commiserate, confess, help each other, and uplift each other in their struggles, I'm thinking that the only way this will work is without the modest honesty that so many Christians practice. We have to be willing to strip ourselves bare of the pretentious moderations of the truth.

This, again, is scary. It scares me and most likely anyone else that might participate in such a group. I can see how it might take a while to get to this point. I just want this to work. My questions, "will it?"

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Big Brother

I was reading a post at YOB from January 6th by Tom Zuniga. Tom is one of the better writers at YOB. He is not as prolific as some of the boys, but the quality and content is always excellent.  On this particular day he wrote about how he had always wanted a big brother.  Then today, another writer at YOB, Dean Samuels, wrote a similar post entitled, "Which Kind Of Brother Do I Want?". Both of these guys experience SSA to some degree, both are Christian, but Dean is married; Tom is not. Tom is celibate in a way that even I have not been. In another post he talked about being 29 years old and having never been kissed. Purity is a wonderful thing, even so I digress.

Both posts brought back memories of my childhood and a particular yearning that I had until I was almost 10 years old. I wanted a big brother; an older sibling to show me the way in life. This is passing strange on some levels because I am an oldest and only child. Any other children my parents produced would have been younger. If it happened, I would only ever have little brothers or sisters. This did not stop me from urging Dennis and Laurie to adopt me an older brother. He would not be for them. He was going to be for me. I remember considering this as early as 3 years old. As someone accustomed to getting the things in life that he wanted, I could not understand why they would not "buy" me a big brother. I got everything else that my little mind could come up with to ask for. The entire line of toy John Deere farm equipment. The first talking edition of Casper, the friendly ghost. A Vaccuform. A Thing Maker. Tricycles, bicycles and wagons. A ventriloquist's dummy (Charlie McCarthy edition). Why could I not have this? Why would they not get me a big brother? What was the big deal? 

I had this idealized vision of my big brother. He would be smarter than me (I know it's hard to imagine someone smarter than me). He would show me how to do things. We would do things together. He would love me and watch out for me and he would always be with me. He would be someone I could look up to as a model of who I was supposed to be. I was desperate for a male in my life to fill all of these needs. In short, I had expectations. This would be no ordinary brother.

In the real world, I knew many kids that had big brothers. With only a few exceptions, the horror stories were replete with beatings, teasings, trickings and over all cruelty. I knew from my own experience with older male cousins that such things happened. I, nevertheless, pushed forward with my idealized vision of the perfect male companion. It was not reality based. It was not psychologically healthy. But it was what I wanted.

As I got older (10 to 12 years old), my desire for an older brother morphed into something else. I had male friends, many of whom were a year or so older than me that I began to idolize for various reasons. I would not call it sexual at that point, but it was like I was the big dog's puppy sometimes. Then, after about 12 years old, I began to have feelings for these friends and everything changed. My hormones began to rage with pubescent sexual desire. These guys I was looking up to became objects of emotional yearnings that I just could not sort out. After that, I began to withdraw from my male friends and things went down hill from there.

It was all an unmitigated teenage disaster that blew up into an adult war with God, with myself and with what I knew to be the Truth.

So tell me. How is that from early childhood I have been looking for the perfect man to love me? Where did that come from? Why was I (am I) so needy? I had plenty of male attention from family members as I grew up. I had several male friends I was close to.

Sometimes I just feel like Pinocchio. I look at Gepetto and I tell him, "I just want to be a real boy".

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Per Mark Twain....

Flamer Alert

That was close. Just had a flamer buzz the pastry counter at Caribou. Then he ordered coffee with it and took off. He (and I use that term loosely) was the definition of obvious. Pink stretch pants, light jacket, Pompadour black hair and a fluorescent green clutch with a strap. His arms were raised in an effeminate manner, kangaroo like, as he struggled to get money out. He looked and sounded a bit like Fran Drescher.

It's one of those things you see from time to time and wonder what got him to this place in his life. Has he always been more woman than man? Did he create this persona himself or does it seem natural to be as he is? I also find myself wondering if men like this are deliberately making fun of women with their characterizations.

There are many things in the LGBT world that I have never understood and this is probably because of my limited experience. I am so glad I am not like he is. I just want to tell guys like this to man up. They have effectively demasculinized themselves. Women probably laugh at him and straight guys would probably want to beat him up. He was a walking stereotype.

There are many extremes in the LGBT world. There are men and women that over- masculinize in the equal and opposite way that this one over-feminized. It is as if they are in a struggle to desperately identify who they are to themselves since they are not sure.

I can relate a bit to this struggle. It has just never manifested itself in this overt way. I pass really well in the straight world. Unless you know me personally, you would never believe I was gay. I am not butch, but I am masculine; just not in a 'gay' way. When I was a teenager, however, I was into leather for awhile. I loved the smell of it. I still have my rawhide jacket with the fringe reminiscent of Daniel Boone or Davey Crockett. Those guys were real men. As I got older, my leather became more fashionable, but I finally had to ditch it. As styles changed, it began to look gay to me. I never wanted to look like that. Still don't. I have a prejudice against effeminate men that I cannot get rid of. Even so, this is who some of my brothers are and I need to love them.

Now here's a bit of personal weirdness that, in some ways, helps me relate to the flamer of the day here at Caribou.

There is a female cop that comes in here regularly. If she is not the "L" in LGBT, I will turn in my gay card. She is actually kind of attractive to me and I think it's because she is so masculine. She is a short pile of well conditioned muscle from top to bottom. She is flat chested, wears no make up and stands in such a way, that I do believe she could kick my ass without much effort. Almost makes me want to get arrested. If you think about it, she is really trying to attract a woman by looking like a man and it's not working.

Maybe that's what I need; a musclebound lesbian to have my babies (;^). We could get married. She could keep the lawn mowed and the car waxed and I could do the domestic stuff. And and...wait for it...we could both go fishing together. It would be the best of all possible worlds...except...it would just be very weird, especially if I discovered too late that in addition to the usual equipment, she had a penis.

You think I'm kidding? This stuff really happens and there are people just like this. You don't know.

I keep thinking of that song from the 70's that The Kinks sang..."Lola". It's about a transgendered person picking up a unsuspecting young man. There's a line in it that explains the current world situation quite well

       Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
It's a mixed up muddled up shook up world except for Lola

I do not know how we get to be the way we are. I do not know why there are LGBT people in the world. But we are here. Some of us you can't miss. Others, like me, fly under the radar most of the time and we do it well. Even so, we are here. We are in your churches, in your families, your places of work and at the coffee shop. Please don't hate us even as we try not to hate ourselves and each other.   

Monday, May 9, 2016

Free Indeed

In John 8:31 and 32, Jesus said to His Jewish believers, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Then, in John 8:34-36, in discussions with those that did not believe in Him He said, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

I think that we who believe in Jesus want these things for ourselves. We want to know the truth. We want to be free, to be free from sin and it's penalties, to be free of the guilt and pain associated with not living in the truth. We are tired of being slaves. We want to be part of God's family; His sons and daughters. We long to be "free indeed".  

Many times however, the truth does not set us free. Instead, it makes us angry or guilty or regretful or whatever else you can think of besides free. When Christians are faced with this situation we either change or investigate the matter or tell whoever delivered the "inconvenient truth" that they are wrong.

Let me tell you right now, if whatever it is... is the truth, than you or I or anyone else that holds a contrary view is wrong and we will never be free until we make peace with this truth.

This is why I am longing for a place for people like me to gather in community. For centuries, same sex attracted (SSA) Christian people have hidden in the shadows of the Church. This has no more been our choice than our SSA status. I know that some would like to argue that last point. I will not go there today except to say that you need to get a grasp on "the truth". There are varying degrees of SSA among those that struggle with it. Some of us can make opposite sex marriage work. For others of us, there is no hope of this. This is me in case you're wondering
Many SSA's have married and have opposite sex partners that know of their mate's other desires. Some of have married and never told their opposite sex partners. Either way, this is possible because they love their partners and have at least some sexual desire for them in particular. Still others of us, most of us, have never married because we can't. We do not have a heterosexual bone in our bodies. We may enjoy the company of the opposite sex and spend much of our time with them, but we have no sexual attraction to them. For us, if we are Christian, if we know the truth, we must remain celibate.

What I would like to do is create a meeting place where we SSA types can all get together regularly to discuss our SSA issues. I think we need to bring together the married SSA's with the single celibates and even those SSA Christians that are in 'the life', but want out of it. There is much to discuss. We can help and support each other. We can vent. We can be ourselves. We can share in the struggle and uphold Jesus as our King and our brother.

One might ask, "what about anonymity?" Good question. Y'all may not be out like me. My answer is this. A promise of anonymity to anyone that joins the group. Secrecy of the membership. If you're in the closet, you will only have to crack the door enough to talk to us, whoever 'us' may be. It's true that we may already know you. Your secret will be safe with us until you choose otherwise. Such a group would never have 'outing' as its purpose.

Someone else might ask, "how will you prevent this from becoming a 'hook up' meeting?". Another good and slightly touchy, mildly offensive question. First, we are all Christ followers. We are called either to man/woman marriage or singleness, but nothing else. We all must acknowledge this, even though some of us may be failing. This would, in fact be one of the purposes of the group. Accountability.

I think another major purpose would be to desexualize our relationships with the same sex/gender and especially those we find ourselves attracted to. We need to face facts. Most of us SSA Christian guys do not spend much time with those of our own sex because - ya, you know.  If we think they are hot, we get all embarrassed and and and whatever. If we were not subconsciously or even consciously sexualizing them, this would not happen. What do I mean by 'desexualize'? Here's an excerpt from the YOB website.

"What needs to happen, then, is a desexualization of what is improperly sexual to us. Most of my own sexualization of men was based on a need to be loved and accepted by them, to be one of them; it was a need for intimacy and connection and to see that I was indeed completely man myself."

I think we can defuse some of that. I really do. Even before coming out, I made some straight male friends. It has been the best thing for me. I love these guys, but I am not in love with them. I like to spend time with them, but I do not want to sleep  with them. Why? Because they are my friends and I do not want to do anything to injure that relationship or what we share in Christ.

It can be a beautiful thing can it not?

I am just now beginning to consider all this. If I let my imagination run free with the idea, I can see Christian chapters of SSA Anonymous or something similar springing up in Christian communities everywhere, crossing denominational barriers and national borders.

We need to stop hiding. We love Jesus and we love our brothers and sisters in Christ. We bring so much to the table in terms of talent at church and we need to get free of the obstacles that are holding us back from further creation. We are a creative bunch. God loves us and that's why he saved us. With the help of the Spirit and each other, we can all become much more than what we are in the body of Christ.

As a side note, this will NOT be a place for repairative or conversion  therapy. If you have an interest in such things, it can still be pursued with professionals outside of this proposed group, but it is not something that I believe should fall under the group mission. I have reasons for this that I would discuss with anyone that wanted to talk about it.


Am I the only one that thinks this might be a good idea? Shall we embrace the Truth of who we are and free ourselves from it? Now might be just the time for it.

I can't say that any of this will ever happen. I can't say that I should be the one to do it. I am not what you would call a strong leader. I may not be a leader at all when I stop and think about it. I just want people to be free of fear when they come to Jesus and His church. I want us to be a people that approach God's throne of grace with boldness. I want that for all of us. Church should be a safe place; a no hate zone. This needs to happen in some way shape or form now.

We need to know the Truth so that the Truth can set us free...free indeed.       


Longing for a Better Country

It's because I have always felt like a foreigner and alien here and most everywhere I go. I have never felt like one of you, whoever you are. I might work with you or go to the same church with you or you might be part of my family. I probably even love you if I know you, but I feel unconnected from you and every single thing going on around me for reasons I can't really explain.

Then life's spot light moves toward me and everyone is watching. Weird huh?

It's like I've been watching a movie being made. The plot continues to unfold, then I become part of the cast. I have a role to play. It's a rather involved role that I received as a 'walk on' to the movie set. I started interacting with the cast late in life. I am integral to the plot, but the rest of the cast and writers cannot figure out where to put me so I become self directing, writing my own character as the filming proceeds.  Never mind everyone elses role. A new plot line is in the offing that may give rise to a new film.

Suddenly there is interest in what I have to say and in my role in the film. My character tries to interact. He is having a hard time because he is so different from the others.  The producers worry that he will threaten the "G" rated film they are trying to produce, driving the rating to an "R". Nevertheless, my character boldly asserts himself.

We do not deal well with people that do not conform to our preconceived notions of reality or the plots in our particular films. We have problems with where to put these people in our lives. Then when they take a position front and center in our little celluloid lifetime extravaganzas, we just want to find a way to write them out of the plot.

I can remember when I was young, there were very few black people in films and virtually none on television . When they finally did begin appearing with regularity it was as if no one knew where to put them in the white plot scenarios and so the character usually died somewhere in the film.

This is the way it's been for me and my life. Being a same sex attracted Christian in a conservative American church where everyone knows who you are (including the SSA part) is tough. They think I'm interesting, but I do not think they really know what to do with me. It has been an adventure for everyone involved.  I have felt the acceptance of my brothers and sisters. They empathize with my struggles. They support. They love me. But I still feel like an adopted member of their "movie cast".

It's not their fault. I do not blame them. It's me. I can not get shed of how foreign I feel even though I have a place and a role and have been accepted as a costar in their film.

What is it with me?

I think I know what's missing. I know there are others like me at church. Only one has confided in me his truth, his secret, but I know there are others. One of them just came into the coffee shop where I am writing this. I saw him and he saw me but not at the same time. He came in, got his order and walked out. We did not acknowledge each other's presence.

We go to the same damn church (there goes the 'G' rating). It's not a big church. Not a Sunday goes by that we do not actually see each other or walk by each other. Though he's never been to my class, I regularly see him praising the Lord with his talents, but we have never talked. What is up with that? Is this entirely my fault...or does he too feel alien and foreign? Maybe.

Why can't we be who we are? Why can't we talk? Is this my fault? Is it because I am 'out' in our little movie that we do not talk? Is it because you think I might harbor unvirtuous feelings toward you? Look Bud, I am not an old pervert OK?

(Ghog is projecting here. He does this. When he's too scared to talk to someone, he blames the victim and since, I'm Ghog, I'm not sure why I'm talking parenthetically.)

I know that some have this picture of me in their mind as old, boring and conservative. There is some truth in this, but I think most folks still find me at least interesting. I don't know...or maybe I do.

I know that I wrote last week in a negative way about ministry to same sex attracted people. I have come to the conclusion that I was wrong. I do not often say that and since you know that, you are probably listening.

Guys...we are Sons of the Most High. We should not go through this life with this struggle alone. We need to help and support each other as we stand up for our King. We need some community of our own. I think we all have 'stuff ' we need to unload. Tell me I'm wrong about that! You know I'm not. Let's bust some walls down. I think we are just about ready. I've been trying to educate the straight folks at church and condition them to be able to talk about this stuff. We need to talk too.

I do not feel a call to lead a ministry or a small group. I do not want us to segregate ourselves. I do think we have things we can discuss that only we would understand and be able to help each other with. Is that so crazy? Let me leave you with this from Hebrews 11:13-16.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Lets quit wandering around this desert alone and find our new place to live together in peace with our God. That's all I'm saying.

Does any of this make sense? I hope so. Maybe I need to refine my thought processes. Not sure. I can tell you the Spirit is moving me to do something. I am hoping I don't mess it up. If you are out there and you are like me, pray that he guides me and that I listen. I have this urge to set people free. I do not want to hurt anyone in that process. 

Now let's make this movie.