Next week Awaken City Church will begin a new six-week series entitled, "Soap Box". Yesterday our Experience Pastor gave me a heads up that he needed my topic by the end of the week or early in next week and I was stumped. Most folks know that I am in no short supply of Soapboxes on which to stand and give my opinions. I thought about talking about the church's marriage to the Grand Old Party. It crossed my mind to speak about the oppression that unfortunately still occurs within the church to women. Then there was the over or under emphasis on money within the church, which seemed most fitting to my role as Executive Pastor. But, at the end of it all there was no peace within. I didn't feel like either of those is where it was. So today, while checking Twitter, I read a tweet that asked simply, "How is your church communicating to the gay community; maybe a humble apology is needed." That grabbed me and refused to let me go! (read the blog post by Tim Schraeder here: http://ht.ly/25vRl)

God has been doing somethings in my heart in the past four years so far as it concerns gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered folks. This past week while in the ocean with one of my dearest friends on earth, Frank Bishoff, I shared some of those things with him. It was a good conversation. About four years ago one of my longest and closest friends "came out" to me. Instead of loving her, I judged her and I am sure that I hurt her.

When this friend of mine came out, it forced me to put a name and a face on "those people". It forced me to see that "those people" are people. I can't say that I have resolved everything so far as it concerns homosexuality; I don't know that I have to. One thing I know for sure is that I, and the Church (universal), of which I am a minister and representative have done a terrible job of loving people. We have elevated homosexuality to such a level that we can't see that the mandate to love and bind up (most often from the pains that we have inflicted) applies to gay folks too.

I am happy that I serve at a church where I can share this soap box topic without fear of losing my job, which is sadly not the case with a lot of my friends who work at a church. I have had my share of Christian object to my approach to the LGBT community, and I am OK with that. Just a month ago, I had some surprised that I would marry a heterosexual couple because they had lesbians in their wedding party. I can't worry with the naysayers, I must be about the business of loving folks and leave the sorting out to God.

I am excited at how God is going to bring this talk together. Pray with me that it will communicate the heart of God for all people.

NO
H8

Broken and Humbled,

Ray

The following was copied from Jim Wallis' blog, "God's Politics". It is so moving and so true that I am re-posting it here at my blog. I, like countless others, have been really quick to cast stones at BP for this disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But, it would do each of us well to remember the words of Jesus in John 8:7, "Let the one without sin throw the first stone." I bear blame here. I drive a Ford F-150 that uses its share of petro (Mainly from Sheetz...) which in turn causes such a high demand. You bear blame as well. Each of us  have hands soiled with the oil from the coast... 

Here is the original article:
by Mark Johnson 06-15-2010
I don’t know the personal, spiritual ground of those who created the situation that has become the BP oil spill disaster. I know, however, that I am in no position to “throw the first stone.” My style and standard of living cries for oil wells to be built.
This catastrophe raises the question of whether I am glorifying and relating obediently and worshipfully with the One who created everything I see, hear, touch, and smell. Have I stuck my head so far into the sand that I cannot budge from my self-serving practices?
While I stand convicted of my own shortcomings, the BP disaster dramatically represents the sinful, human tendency to put our own personal (or corporate) desires ahead of our Creator’s treasured handiwork. I believe we were all created with a purpose to use our gifts and abilities to glorify our Creator, and this can be expressed by treasuring everything that the Master treasures. We are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27); thus our dominion must reflect the nurturing, sustaining character of the One who has knitted the universe together and breathed life into every living thing, rather than reflecting an overbearing parasite that sucks the life out of everything that might serve us. Additionally, Jesus taught that a good steward takes care of her master’s belongings in a manner that will please the master and not in a manner that makes the steward feel good or brings the steward personal gain (Luke 12:43-48; 19:11-26; Matthew 25:14-30). So we must love our neighbors, love our enemies, and love all that God made and declared to be “good.”
If loving and serving is our purpose, I think we must consider whether our response concerning the BP oil spill disaster is about glorifying God or about building a tower for ourselves.
Mark Johnson is the chair of the Creation Care Task Force of the Florida Conference United Methodist Church.
I found this entry that I wrote on Facebook a little over a year ago and I wanted to re-post:

If you have been on Facebook within the last day or so you have seen my status updates about the book that I am reading by Brennan Manning, The Furious Longing of God. The truth contained within this book has grabbed my heart and refuses to release me until I have grasped the height, depth and breadth of his furious longing for me.

I lay in the bed last night--while the one on this earth who loves me the deepest (Kelly) lay peacefully sleeping under my arm--weeping over what God was doing within me through the words of this "crazy man", Brennan. He was ruining me, stretching me and healing me. He was showering me with the reality of his fury for me. He reminded me that he came not for the self-righteous but rather the sinners. (Matt. 9:13). He was showing me that, "I am my beloved's and his desire is for me (Song of Solomon 7:10)

Please buy this book, read it, savor its truths and pass it along to "some poor wretch who is bedraggled, beat up, and burned out!"

Here is an excerpt from this incredible book:

For twenty-one years, I tried desperately to become Mother Teresa. I loved around the world in griming poverty and depersonalizing squalor. I lived voluntarily for six months in the garbage dump in Juarez, Mexico--garbage there as high as your ceilings. It was a place filled with everyone from four- and five-year-old children to senior citizens in their eighties, all crawling over broken whiskey bottles and dead animals, just to find something to eat or possible sell to hawkers on the side of the road. I've lived voluntarily as a prisoner in a Swiss prison; the warden there believed priests shouldn't be chaplains but actual prisoners. Only the warden knew my identity. I've lived on the streets of New York City with eleven-, twelve-, and thirteen-year-old prostitutes, both boys and girls, and ministered to them through Covenant House. I just knew if I could become a replica of Mother Teresa, then God would love me.

Pretty impressive, right? Yeah, right.

That's just a part of who I am. The rest of Brennan Manning is a bundle of paradoxes and contradictions. I believe in God with all my heart. And in a given day when I see an nine-year-old girl raped and murdered by a sex maniac or a four-year-old boy slaughtered by a drunken driver, I wonder if God even exists. As I've said before, I address Him and I get discouraged. I love and I hate. I feel better about feeling good. I feel guilty if I don't feel guilty. I'm wide open, I'm locked in. I' trusting and suspicious. I'm honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I'm a rational animal. But I'm not. That's some of the rest of Brennan.


This passage from the book grabbed me! I am so full of a lot of these paradoxes. I want to draw near at times but then I shrink back. I find myself full of courage and times and full of fear the next. There are days when I am sure that God is jealous for me and then there are days when I have to remind myself almost hourly that God knows my name. There are days that I say with Balthazar, Love alone is credible." and then there are days that I am convinced that I must work hard to impress Abba.

May you live in the reality that God is OK with your paradoxes.
May you live to love the fury of Abba.
May you stretch your palms to heaven and say, "Abba, I belong to you."

I am falling deeper in love with God; he is ruining, stretching and healing me!
Powered by Blogger.