Tuesday, December 3, 2013

New Location

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Adopted Son, Waiting to go Home

Romans 8:23, 24a - And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved…

It seems like I waited forever to finally be adopted. All my life, I had heard that such a thing was possible and that, if I could just believe, it could be a reality for me. It certainly wasn’t Father’s fault that I wasn’t received into His family sooner. He was waiting patiently nearby, always calling my name; ready - even anxious - to claim me as His own. But I was too busy feeling unworthy.
There were years when I didn’t want to believe; years when I wanted to believe but felt like I couldn’t; and years when I wasn’t even sure whether there was anything worth believing in. But the day finally came when I was able, by God’s grace, to see through the fog of my own self-doubt and make my way toward the voice of my Father. He graciously adopted me into His family, made me one of His own sons, and gave me the peace that only comes from knowing that there is a better life on the way.
However, as an adopted son, I now find myself in a time of waiting. It’s an eager waiting, but also a weary waiting at times. Just like a child - to whom a minute or two can seem like forever when they are looking forward to arriving at that exciting moment which has been promised if they can “wait just a few more minutes” - I often find myself wondering just how long it will be until Father appears on the horizon to actually gather me to Himself and take me home.
Don’t misunderstand, it’s not that I want my present life to end in some sudden and sorrowful way; it’s just that I find myself often confused and perplexed regarding the present state of the world in which I currently reside. Often in pain of soul and mind, I find myself crying out to God for that “perseverance” to “wait eagerly” (Rom. 8:25) for the “redemption of … body” that awaits in my new home. A redeemed body seems so far away most days as I struggle through the morass of feelings, attractions, and desires that are never far from the surface of my daily living.
Yes, in part, I am referring to the same-sex attractions that have been a part of my life from some of the earliest days of my memory, but it’s more than that. In many ways, my struggle is not so unlike your struggle. It seems we are all painfully insecure in some area, at some time in our lives; and most of us continue to battle various forms of insecurity throughout our lives. Thankfully, God gives each of us varying degrees of victory over these insecurities, but as long as we remain in a fallen and insecure world, certain fears and insecurities remain.
For me, loneliness and the need to feel loved have always been at the top of my list. Not because I’ve not been loved, but because something within me failed to receive the love that has surrounded me all my life. God's love, the love of family, the love of friends, and the love of those who would have been friends if only I could have been in a place to receive their friendship at the time. But something inside me chose to close myself off to love.
In recent weeks, God has been helping me make great strides in the area of surrendering myself to His love and learning how to receive it more fully with each new day. At the same time, I’m beginning to realize just how much hard work lies ahead for me as I strive to open myself up not only to God’s continuing love in my life, but also to the love of others around me. Fear and self-doubt is still very much a part of any effort on my part to allow my heart to open up to those around me and give them a chance to love me; to be my friend, my brother, my sister.
You see, for most of my life I’ve allowed the devil to back me into a corner. A corner with messages painted on the walls that said things like “nobody could love you because you’re gay” or “if people only knew the real you, they’d all want you dead,” etc. Though I am now in a place where I can see such messages as lies, it doesn’t mean I’m suddenly victorious over every intricate rephrasing of these messages. Many times I still find myself fighting against messages like “you can’t speak up, no one wants to hear what you have to say” or “you make people uncomfortable by even being around since they all know about the things you struggle with” or “most people only talk to you to be polite; they don’t really want to, and would never want to be your friend.”
I’ve hesitated for some time to write this particular post because I know how easily it could come across as only being self-serving and indulging in self-pity. Perhaps there is some of that. I certainly don’t have the confidence to say with authority that those motives are non-existent. But the primary reason I decided to go ahead with it is because I suspect there are others out there who can relate in some way. It is to that person that I write these things. I want you to know that you’re not alone. So many of us have felt the pain of rejection; of a neediness so deep it can never be met by another imperfect human such as we are. There are days, sometimes whole weeks, when the devil fights me continuously with the feeling that I am, and always will be, unloved because I am inherently unlovable.
To those who read this and know that feeling too, I can only point you to Jesus. Jesus loves you and me simply because He is love. It’s not about whether we are lovable or not. Jesus loves us. Perhaps there will always be those people in our lives who never seem to recognize just how much we could benefit from their love, but Jesus knows exactly what we need and how to love us with perfect love. A love that will meet our needs beyond even our wildest imaginings. We may never find the level of fulfillment our hearts long for in relationship with other people in this life, but Jesus will always be there to carry us through until the day it’s time to go home. And when we get home, we will find it a place of perfect love and relationship with God and others forever.
I thank God that I’ve been adopted. And I pledge myself to loving God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength; and loving my neighbor in the way that I myself long to be loved, feeble as my human efforts are. I am a son and you are my brothers and sisters and, together, we are a family on our way home.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Politics and Revival

I typically try to avoid speaking my mind too openly on my blog, facebook, etc, when it comes to politics. Not because I don't have strong political opinions (just ask my family about some of our Friday night discussions!) but because I have always felt that it's more important to love people than to express my political leanings. This is not to say that I have a problem with you if you are one who enjoys speaking their mind openly about politics. I am simply saying that, for myself, I want to be careful that I keep myself in a position to minister the love of Christ to people regardless of their politics and not alienate people based on something as temporary and fleeting as politics. Again, I don't wish to appear "holier-than-thou" or come across as though I'm in any way looking down on those who choose to be more open about their political beliefs. If you read this post and go away feeling like I've just been judgmental and unkind, then you've missed the point entirely and I encourage to go back and read it again. With that disclaimer, I approach the topic of politics and revival.

Even though I do not have a problem with people expressing their political beliefs openly, I do have to say that I am often grieved and deeply concerned by some of the trends I see out there. It seems that most Christians today have bought into the "American Dream" and our "right" to pursue liberty, happiness, etc, to the point where we come across as if we hold the Constitution of the United States in higher regard than anything else, including the Bible. Don't get me wrong. I am often grieved and frustrated by the things that are happening in this country that I love and call my home. But as a Christian, I am primarily called to follow Christ and witness His love to others. No matter how much I may be frustrated by government or the loss of freedoms, none of those things will matter at all on Judgment Day. What will matter is, will I be able to stand before God with the knowledge that all is well with my soul and will I be able to honestly say I've done my best to share His love with as many other people as I could along the way.

I fear that we American Christians have bought into the "American Dream" so deeply that we forget that this world is a broken and fallen place that is but a fleeting vapor that we pass through in our rapid advance toward eternity. I know many Christians find themselves frustrated and alarmed with the SCOTUS ruling today. I understand that. What I don't understand is the levels of despair that I've seen in some places. How can a child of God find themselves in despair over politics when the Bible clearly teaches us that Christ is supreme over all things, including all world leaders, all politics, all freedoms people enjoy or don't have opportunity to enjoy in this world, and all events that shape the world we live in. Further the Bible teaches that, as children of God, Christ is actively engaged in making ALL things work together for our GOOD. This includes political decisions; the ones we like and the ones we don't.

Further, I have seen the idea put forth that things are growing so desperate and dark in America that surely God must have to return soon to claim His bride because it can't get much worse and God still be able to put up with it. Where does that idea come from? Do we read the Bible? How much evil has been perpetrated upon people throughout history and still God waits, giving men extended opportunity to repent and be saved. I don't presume to know the motives of people who say these kinds of things, but it seems to come across (whether intentionally or not) that we American Christians think we are so special to God that surely He cannot abide seeing our freedoms taken away from us and not come in His final judgment upon those who would presume to strip these freedoms away. This is the primary reason I say it seems as though we have bought entirely too much stock in our "right" to pursue the "American Dream." If God did not see fit to come in final judgment against those who devastated His chosen people in the Holocaust (among many other times throughout history), how is it that we can reasonably espouse the idea that God MUST come and avenge us? And sooner rather than later?

Don't misunderstand. I believe we should be always looking for and praying for the soon return of Christ. But are we looking for and praying for it in the right spirit and for the right reasons? Or have we really allowed pride and arrogance to so invade our thinking that we actually believe that God's final judgment is to avenge the wrongs done to us? God's final judgment will be to avenge Himself and the crimes that every single one of us has committed against Him! In His mercy, He has chosen to provide a way of escape from the penalty of that judgment by pouring out His wrath on His own Son and making salvation available to all who will repent and turn to Him. But none of us deserves that mercy. No matter how much we may have been lulled into the belief that we deserve our freedoms and don't deserve to have them take away from us, it's not true. As sinners, we don't deserve any good thing; only eternal damnation. So it bothers me that we can get so exercised about every little change thrust upon us in the political arena but seem nearly incapable of showing even a small portion of that kind of outrage toward sin and the lives that are being destroyed all around us by sin! Even if we were to lose every freedom we hold dear in this life, we cannot afford to let our focus drift from the all-encompassing supremacy of Christ and His Lordship over ALL things no matter how out of control or disorder they may seem from our very limited point of view.

And finally, I come to revival. There seems to be an increasing interest in revival within the Church in recent days and I pray that God will once again hear the cries of His people and send revival to our land so that many souls will be set free from bondage and come to know the inexpressible beauty of Christ and His love. But I fear that if we are not careful, we will end up sacrificing revival on the altar of the "American Dream" and fail to see God work among us because we are more interested in holding on to our political freedoms than we are in anything else. Again, please don't misunderstand. We should fight for religious freedom in every way we can, but we need to balance that with the recognition that one of the biggest reasons America has drifted so far away from God is precisely because of the freedoms that we have enjoyed for so long. We've gotten lazy and arrogant; believing that it's all about our right to feel happy and fulfilled in this life. Revival may not come until freedom is stripped away and people are forced to face the harsh realities of life without those freedoms. My question is: are we as Christians willing to endure hardship and pain for the sake of seeing the lost saved? Or does our desire for revival end where our desire to pursue the "American Dream" begins?