Saturday, January 18, 2014

50 YEARS

I turned 50 on December 31, 2013.  I've tried writing about it, but the posts get too long.   There is a lot to say with 50 years under your belt.

I guess I'm a little depressed.  Not because of turning 50.  I actually like being 50.  I'm just in God's refining fire right now.   The work I'm doing right now is simply awful, but God has many purposes with it.  One purpose, for the job, is to ensure I don't ever try to return to it, or jobs like it.   When God wants to make sure I don't return to something there is a long drawn out burn time.   When things get too hot I like to run back to what feels safe.  The problem is what feels safe to me isn't ever really safe.  What feels safe is settling for less than God.

Of course what God wants isn't safe.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer very eloquently said, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."   God is not at all safe.  Again I'll hand the keyboard to Bonhoeffer:   "Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God's will."   OUCH!

We like to focus on what we see as the "good for me" portions of the Bible.   We like to make the Bible tell us, "Wealth and health show how much God loves us!"  But Jesus never teaches us such things.   Jesus, instead promises us,  "In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart I have overcome the world," John 16:33.    Wealth, health, and youth are what the world desires, and much of the Church in America has hopped on the world's bandwagon.    Honestly how can anyone argue that God hasn't greatly blessed the healthy, wealthy, and young?   But Jesus tells us, "But take heart for I have overcome the world."   Jesus desires to overcome what the world values and promotes.  Rather than embracing the way the world measures what is important, we need Jesus to overcome the world in us, and through us.

Jesus commands us, "A new command I give you:  Love one another.   As I have loved you, you must love one another.   By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another,"  John 13:34.   Some will say to me, "Well God can bless us with health, wealth  and we can still love one another."   That would all be good, but the truth is, we don't love as Christ commands.  What is more Jesus promises us he has overcome the world.  To overcome the world means he has destroyed the world's ways, systems, desires, sins, and power to enslave and destroy human beings.   Health, wealth, and youth are the world's desires, and God sent his only Son, to overcome what the world loves, values, and promotes.   Jesus came to save us from health, wealth, and youth.   Jesus came to give us true wealth, health and life.   "Now this is eternal life: That they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent," John 17:3.   Jesus has come to give us relationship with God, and so that we may have relationship with our fellow humans.   In God' economy wealth and health is measured in relationship with him, and the humans Jesus came to love and die for.    Better to live a short, sickly life with the promise of eternal  relationship with God than to live rich, die old, and lose your immortal soul.

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it is the path to death's house."  Proverbs 14: 12.   Honestly, there is nothing more dangerous or mean than a Christian who has convinced him/herself  that God blesses with things.   God's blessings are rich relationships and an eternity with him.

Don't know what the next years will bring to me, but I hope the pursuit of God in relationship will become all consuming!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

WHAT'S A CHRISTIAN TO DO?


The Real Problem With Anti-gay Comments from Duck Dynasty's Daddy Phil

First, why is Phil Robertson in GQ Magazine?  Anyone take a look at how Phil dresses and grooms (or more accurately, 'doesn't' groom) himself?   I've been reading GQ for many years and 'Redneck Sheik' has never been acceptable for GQ, so why now?  It just goes to show you that GQ is more likely to appeal to guys who are, well, into other guys sexually.  Sure there are the few guys who really are 'Metrosexuals', but I've always believed, and have seen ample evidence, that for many the prefixes, "Metro" and "homo" are more likely to be interchangable.   But before opening that can of worms further, let's get to the point...


Is Phil Robertson being true to the gospel of Jesus Christ or is he simply another in a long line of hateful religious jerks?   Technically, Phil is absolutely right.  Homosexuality is called a sin in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments.   Telling the truth about sin is one things, but we're told in John's gospel the law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  (John 1:17).   Am I just bantering semantics here or is there something really different between what God brings through Moses, and what Christ brings when he comes on the world scene as the God/man?
It isn't simply a matter of semantics there is a vast difference between the Law of Moses, and the "...law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus..." (Romans 8:2).   With the Law of Moses comes death.  The only answer the law gives for sin is death.   In Leviticus 18:22 we're given perhaps the most damning of all pronouncements against homosexuality in the Bible.   "You shall not lie with mankind as with woman kind: it is abomination."  (Leviticus 18:22, KJV).   The proscribed punish for breaking the law spelled out in Leviticus 18:22 and again in Leviticus 20:13, is death.   "Do not pass 'GO', do not collect $200, go straight to Hell."  All the law can do, through Moses, is kill.  The Holy Spirit, through St. Paul, explains it to us... "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  Simply put, "No one, having sinned, can expect good from the Law of Moses.

Now if we stop at the Law of Moses then Phil Robertson's comments would be perfectly acceptable.   Well, Phil's comment would actually be wrong, because all his comments do is  cause God's judgment to come upon Phil.  Phil by merely pointing out the sin of homosexuality condemns himself.   Phil is calling out sin, by pointing to the Law of Moses, but we know that Phil is a sinner himself.  Phil even admits he was a sinner, before coming to Jesus Christ for salvation.   Was Phil saved by keeping the Law of Moses?   He was not saved by through the Law of Moses.   Phil plainly confesses that he is a sinner, and alluded to Jesus Christ being his savior.   The problem with, or for, Phil is that he's a hypocrite.  He points to the Law of Moses when speaking of the sins of LGBT persons while at the same time saying he was saved by Jesus Christ.   Either we all live (and die) the law, or when offered, we accept salvation and the lordship of Jesus Christ.  Christ followers can't have it both ways.   We go with the law or we go with grace and truth.   There cannot be grace and truth, through Jesus Christ, for Phil, while Phil pulls out the law on LGBT persons.   If Phil gets grace and truth, then so do LGBT persons.

Now someone will say to me, "Yes, but Phil is only pointing out the truth, that God condemns homosexuality."   That sounds good and proper, but in the end it doesn't work.  First, let me reiterate, the Law of Moses only has one answer for sin: DEATH.   Where is the grace in the Law of Moses?   There is no grace in the law.   Second, we're told in John 1 that in addition to grace Jesus brings truth.   Now  many will argue that the Law of Moses is truth.   How can anyone argue that the Law God gave Moses isn't truth?    The Law is for law breakers, that's why God gave the law through Moses.  The Law of Moses is sent not to task humans, but to show humans that they are past, present and future law breakers, and completely enslaved to sin, without hope of ever being anything else.
The grace and truth of Jesus Christ are the new law, The Law of the Spirit of Life.   The grace and truth of Jesus Christ is eternal life, eternal freedom, and eternal relationship with the triune God, and his born again children.  These children are born of the same Spirit who created Jesus' body in Mary's womb.  (Jesus has always existed as the second person of the God head, but only as spirit with the rest of the God head).

What does this new law mean for me, a person guilty of abomination, according to Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.   The Law of Moses means death to me, but bring the grace and truth of Jesus Christ to this  life ending law and suddenly what once gave death becomes something new.   Before God drew me to his Son, and the Holy Spirit convicted me of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come, I was a hopeless and helpless lawbreaker.    But when God found me, and by his prevenient grace enabled me to make the first freewill choice I'd ever truly made in my life.  When I'd accepted God's forgiveness and grace by faith, then God made me born again, transforming me from a dead lawbreaking slave to a new spiritual creation in the likeness and image of Christ Jesus.  The truth of God in Jesus Christ always frees; the truth of God in Christ always brings eternal life; the truth of God in Jesus Christ always brings eternal relationship with God and his new creation children, the  Church.

When I was a dead slave to sin, what we might call a zombie today I was an object of destruction.  I treated other men as objects of my lust, and objects to be used sexually.  I also accepted that  I was a thing to be lusted for and used sexually.  And like mere objects we were meant to be thrown away after being used up.   With the salvation and Lordship of Jesus Christ, the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).    In Christ The Holy Spirit has made me alive to God.  In Christ I am not a thing of lust, I am a beautiful humanized creation enabled to love and serve God.  I am free to turn away from lust and the abomination I'd created with my sexual immorality.   No longer does Leviticus 18:22 give me death.  Leviticus 18:22 is now a continual reminder that God has made me free, that God has overcome me, my sin, my sin nature, and the power of the world to conform me to the life of a slave to sin.   There is no death in Leviticus 18:22 for me, now there is the joy of being made new, clean, and free by God.

I cannot agree with Phil Robertson, Duck Commander, or not.  Papa Phil isn't telling the truth of God in Christ.  For the truth of God in Christ is freedom from sin, not judgment and eternal punishment.  Anyone who gives the Law of Moses without the truth and grace of Jesus Christ, is not telling the truth at all.   When we give law, but not grace and truth we  cover the face of Christ; we bury the truth under a pile of rules none of us can keep; when we give law we deny the slave the face of the merciful, loving, and gracious master who frees slaves and then adopts them into the very family of the only true God.    The Law condemns but the grace and truth of Jesus Christ always brings life, hope, peace, and eternal relationship with God.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

There are not enough words to express my great gratitude for you and your husband.   What you are doing is the work of God and shall prove it to you.

Not long after salvation I started work at the soup kitchen my church had opened in one the poorest and dangerous parts in my home town.  God had saved me and pulled me out of homosexuality.   But simply saving me didn't fix the brokenness in me.   Saved or not I didn't know how God take out of me all the "abomination" I had chosen to give myself.  You know the "abomination" of which I speak don't you?   Leviticus 18: 22,  

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."

 I was filled with fear, hopelessness, bitterness, and the rejection of my fellow Christians.  When I told my first pastor about my past I thought I was telling him about the most amazing freedom God had already worked into my life.  The night Jesus Christ saved me he showed me what he was offering through eternal relationship with him.  I had a little vision of this small silver wrapped box, with a beautiful silver bow holding closed.   So real was this vision that I simply asked, out loud to, an empty room, "What's in the box?"   Immediately words seemed to well out of a place within me.  I didn't sense the thought originated in my mind.   It was a simple thought, but it destroyed my life in homosexuality as sure as nuclear bombs obliterate all life.   The thought said, "This is My gift to you:  Unconditional love, unconditional understanding and unconditional acceptance.   (What Jesus meant by unconditional acceptance didn't mean Jesus affirmed that he created me to be gay.   Jesus accepted just as I was, and he would take the sin out of me.)    BUT HOW?!  How can even God change an abomination into a child of God?!!   

A couple of years later God sent me to work in the soup kitchen my church ran in one of the worst and most dangerous neighborhoods in my home town.   Ministering at that soup kitchen was incredibly difficult to do.  I didn't look down on the patrons of the little soup kitchen because I'd made my life an abomination, so I certainly could condemn anyone else.   There actually was one group of frequent visitors: the hookers.   

The worst hooker was a woman I always call "Lilly".   Lilly had AIDS, but she kept selling sex.  At first I hoped God might have sent me to be in the right place to catch Lilly in the act of selling sex to someone, so I could turn her in and then act as witness against her in a court of law.   Lilly just needed to be thrown in jail to save lives.   

Instead Lilly became the key to unlocking how God can free a man who'd made himself an abomination.   Lilly was the hardest human I'd ever met.  There was nothing of human spark in her.   When she looked at me there was never any recognition in them.   She show me she hated me, and she didn't try to sell me her wares.   There was nothing in the eyes looking at me.  She was seeing through me.   She deserved whatever punish came her way, including Hell.    The evidence of her life condemned her.   Lilly never spoke to me once in the 4.5 years I ministered the gospel at that little soup kitchen.  I did have the chance to hear parts of the stories other hookers talked about among themselves.    Some of those hookers were very bold saying right to you face.  "I do this (prostitution) cause I love sex and I love money."   Funny thing was I'd over hear them talking about how they hated men and that all men are pigs and dogs.   For people who loved money and sex they hated the men who supplied them with both. 

One of the greatest things God taught me through hookers is:   Hooker might love sex and money but they hate men using their bodies.   Money changes nothing, no one wants to be made into an object for other people to use, abuse, and throw away.   Actor Charlie Sheen said it the best: "I don't pay prostitutes for sex I pay them to leave."  

as I overheard pieces and parts of the hooker's life stories I was able to piece together their early lives.   The men and women who should have loved and cherished them raped, beat, prostituted them for money or drugs.  To survive these women took control of their own lives and did the only thing they knew how to do.   The most important people in their lives treated them like so much garbage.  For some of these women if they'd stayed where they came from they'd have ended up dead and literally thrown their dead bodies into dumpsters or shallow graves.   I started seeing the hooker's lives in a very different light.   One day when Lilly came in God powered more light on situation.   This thought welled up from inside me,  "I want Lilly to be my daughter.  I never intended men to use, abuse, disease, and then throw her life in a dumpster, like so much trash."    God loved Lilly!  God wanted Lilly to become his beloved child.   The people who should have loved and treasured Lilly treated her body like it was a trash can.   All Lilly did was embrace the message her abusers given her, "You are a trashcan."  Lilly went out and continued the use and abuse of herself living up to the identity her abusers had given her; TRASHCAN.   Not only did Lilly trash herself, but she trashed every man she could get her hands on.   They used Lilly as a trash can, she trashed the men who used her, and the men who used her, likewise, trashed themselves with her.   

Another great lesson God taught me through hookers:  The person who objectifies, uses, and abuses other people makes himself into an object.   It is impossible to make a fellow human being into an object, for lust and use without being made a similar object by lusting and using.   

This understanding was the key to God teaching me about Leviticus 18:22
This thought welled up from inside me,  "Lonnie you are not an abomination.   

"I have saved you and you are no longer a "thing to be used."  I have created in you a new human life.  You are the object of my love and fatherly pride.   You are not a "thing" you are my child in and through Jesus, my Son.   I have taken away all that you were, and that includes the abomination.   I have taken all you are and placed it upon my Son hanging on a cross.   I have taken all the worth, beauty, holiness, righteousness, and perfection of my Son; my very heart and all of my wealth, and placed it on you.   You are no longer a thing for I have made you alive, free, and clean."  

THAT IS LEVITICUS 18:22, not as it was given through Moses, but rather through the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.   I love Leviticus 18:22, for in Christ the law which killed me has become the life giving law of the Spirit of Life.   I'm not a thing to be killed by the law, I am a child of God made brand new so that instead of being an object of destruction I am made new for eternal  life and eternal relationship with God and his other former
 abominations.   "God gives beauty for ashes..."

Keep giving this man God.  Your friend is called to relationship with the beauty of God (grace).   Your friend has lots of ashes, but the beauty of God you give through acceptance, understanding, and God's world overcoming love will utter consume all his ashes.

This is an excerpt from the book I am writing:  EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT GOD'S LOVE HE TAUGHT ME THROUGH HOOKERS
    

  


Monday, October 14, 2013

EXCERPT FROM MY BOOK

EXCERPT FROM MY BOOK


FROM CHAPTER 5


“This leads to another realization God taught me through hookers:  Whether conservative or liberal, Christians don’t want to deal with the brokenness in sexually broken people.  Condemning and merely swallowing sins are different sides of the same coin.  The truth is we don’t want to deal with “those” people.
Condemnation and acceptance are the way we get past, around, or avoid people Jesus came to serve and save.  The Religious Right removes Jesus Christ from his cross so the sinner may be crucified in his place.  The Religious Left removes Jesus from the cross, because where there is no sin there is no need of a suffering savior.  Jesus says in Matthew 23:13, “You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.  You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”  And again in Matthew 23:24 , Jesus says, “For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.”  Sexually broken people deserve the opportunity and invitation to know, “…Jesus and him crucified.”  Condemnation and acceptance add up to the same thing:  People  are refused Christ.  When we deflect broken people through condemnation or acceptance of sin then we, without thinking, have shut the door of heaven in the faces.  We are tying up heavy burdens for these people because we demand they free themselves, or by demanding that they merely accept their sin because of the specious argument that “nature” made them that way.  Their sin is to heavy for the to carry, but Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  We can’t say to the hooker “Lilly”, or the LGBT person at work or school, “You made the choice, so make a different choice,”  and we also can’t simply say, “Well God just made you this way, so you need to just accept that.”   Jesus says the opposite of what Both the Religious Right and Religious Left say.   Jesus came to open the gates of the kingdom of heaven and to take away the heavy burden. “
Can you help a brother out?   Does it make sense?   Are you getting the gist of what’s written here?    Do you agree or disagree, and why do you agree or disagree?    Do you think  the verses from Matthew 23 fit the context or can rightly be fitted to the context of the excerpt?

I’d honestly appreciate your input!!

Forgive the formatting error, I don’t know how I did it and I don’t know how to fix it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE I WANT TO KILL...






There are some Christians...I really want to kill...No, not kill...That's not what Jesus really taught, is it?  So what did Jesus teach?


21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
Matthew 16:21-27 (NIV)

Okay, but what does that have to do with wanting to kill certain people?  Well, it should be obvious, as a Christian, there are no people I want to literally kill.   I bare no people group or individual a wish or plan for their death.  What I'd like is for my fellow Christians to die, of free choice, the way Jesus teaches we must die.  Now some well meaning Christian will say something like, "Yes, Jesus is telling us to come and die with him on his cross."
  
In Matthew 16:21-27 Jesus ISN'T teaching about his cross.  If Jesus had been speaking about his cross he would never have said, "...take up your cross, and follow..."  No one, except Jesus, could carry or die on the cross of Jesus Christ.  ONLY ONE HUMAN IN ALL OF HISTORY...past, present, and future could die on the cross of Jesus Christ...JESUS CHRIST.  Now it is true, we are taught in Scripture, that we have been crucified with Christ, but again, Matthew 16:21-27, IS NOT where Jesus is teaching that we die with him on his cross.  DO NOT MAKE THE TERRIBLE MISTAKE OF ASSUMING... Remember what ASSUME means... (you make an "ass" out of "u" and someone named "MMM")

Now what exactly; precisely; specifically is Jesus talking about when he tells us, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me..." Vs. 24??!!   The answer to this is very easy...What comes right before Jesus' commands to "deny", "take up," and "follow" in Matthew 16:24?? 

 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”


Someone explain to me, please, how Jesus is talking about dying on his cross, when clearly; without any doubt; it's obvious Jesus is addressing Simon Peter's rebuke, and Simon Peter's opposition to Father God's purpose, plan, and perfect will for Jesus??!!   Jesus isn't pulling this lesson out of thin air.  Jesus is directly addressing Peter's self-centered, self-serving, and utterly human (satanic!!) way of thinking!   Someone is going to say to me, "NOW HOLD ON ONE MINUTE!!!  JESUS IS SIMPLY REBUKING PETER..."   That is absolutely and utterly unsupportable by what the text says!!  If Jesus is only rebuking Peter why then does he turn and address all of his disciples???  Jesus isn't merely rebuking Peter, he is also telling us exactly what the root of the human problem is: MERELY HUMAN THINKING.  What's more Jesus tells us what, or rather "WHO" the wellspring of "merely human thinking" is:  SATAN!

 
For me Matthew 16:21-27 begs a very important question: 

"Which of us doesn't think like a "mere" human being?  I think the way other humans; or "mere" human beings think.  I can't help but think like a mere human, because I am MERELY human!!"

Jesus isn't merely addressing Peter's shortsightedness, he is addressing what is at the heart of humanity's problem:  SINCE THE FALL, DUE TO SIN, ALL OF HUMAN KIND IS BORN, SPIRITUALLY, IN THE LIKENESS AND IMAGE OF SATAN.   God created us in the likeness and image of God, and we still all bear the appearance of, BUT!...  BUT!! When the first of our species sinned our spiritual nature has been cast in the image and likeness of the one who lead us into sin, and keeps us enslaved to sin.  We are, all of us, with the exception of Jesus of Nazareth, born with the same spiritual defect:  We are like our father; "the ruler of this world"; Satan.  We, all of us, just like Satan, oppose God!   Jesus isn't merely rebuking Peter, he is taking the opportunity to reveal what is in Peter's "merely" human heart, but also what is in the hearts of every "mere" human being.
 
Do not make the error, of believing that Jesus is speaking of "his cross," in Matthew 16.  Jesus is speaking exclusively of "your" cross; "my" cross; "our" crosses as "mere humans".   When Jesus says "your" cross he is telling us something about ourselves; he is telling us, in no uncertain terms, what our "merely" human way if thinking, being, and doing creates for us:  A CROSS.   Jesus is telling us that the way we live is the most horrible, shameful, slowly torturous, agonizing ways to die.  When Jesus says, "Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me..."  Jesus is saying...

STOP TRYING TO FIX YOURSELVES!  STOP MANIPULATING, USING AND ABUSING OTHERS!  STOP, "I DID IT MY WAY!!"  YOUR WAY IS JUST A HELLISH DEATH ON A CROSS YOU ARE MAKING FOR YOURSELVES!!!  JUST PICK UP THAT WORTHLESS, F***ED UP WAY OF LIFE, OF YOURS, AND FOLLOW ME WITH IT!!"

(Just so you know that is the "Lonnie" paraphrase of Matthew 16:24.  If you want to flower it up, and turn it into King James speak, feel free, but I like my way of understanding it, because it's absolutely true of how I was and how I lived my life, before Jesus Christ).

If you follow where I'm going with this is, does this mean that Jesus is saying, "come with me so I can put you to death on your cross?"   Jesus isn't saying anything about dying on "your" cross or me dying on "my" cross.  How do we know Jesus isn't telling us, in Matthew 16:24, "...to come follow and die on "your" cross?? Jesus has already told us in Matthew 11:28:

  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  

When Jesus says, "Take up your cross, and follow...," He is telling us to follow him to the place of freedom, eternal life, peace and joy unspeakable, in the presence of God!!!  The road to life is first, to stop thinking, being, and doing the way the world around us thinks, lives, and behaves.  The Holy Spirit through St. Paul explains this further in Ephesians 4:17-24:

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."



"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;"




CHRISTIANS,  CUT THE CRAP!!!!
AND DIE TO YOUR "MERELY HUMAN" WAY OF THINKING, BEING, AND DOING!!! 
PUT ON CHRIST!!

(Lonnie's Paraphrase of Ephesians 4:17-24) 





 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

SUPREME COURT: 1 EXODUS INTERNATIONAL : 0...


The Church's Score: -10




LGBT ACTIVISTS:



Supreme Court gives a boost to Gay Rights


This may sound really odd coming from me, but I'm having a good laugh right now.  I saw all of this coming years ago.  I have a love/hate relationship with being right.  I'm human so I love being proved right, I've been telling Christians for years and years now, "God isn't in what you've been doing in the  past.  You're going to have to change."   The truth is the Church doesn't have to change at all, and that is the part about being right that I hate.  I knew Christian's attitudes and behaviors were all wrong, but I also knew that the more firmly entrenched Christians became in their positions, the harder it would be to dig out.  The Right condemns sin and sinner alike.  The Left turns a blind eye to sin, and simply swallows it whole.  And today we have the fence sitting Christian who has no strong opinion either way.  No one can find the way through.  No one can find the way, because no one wants to do things God's way.
 
Somewhere along the way Christianity became grounded in the world.  Instead of God calling the shots directly someone decided if we hated something, and God loved us, then God must hate what we hate.   Then came the next leap in logic:
 
"If I can make an argument for God hating something, but that God loves me, then I can make the argument that God will bless whatever I do against what we both hate." 
 
The Bible, of course, goes completely against any argument that if God loves me, and we both hate sin, that God will bless whatever I want to do against sin.  The message of the Bible is that Jesus is God's answer to all sin problems, and Jesus also presents to us the way Father desires to deal with a sinful world and it's sin.  Thus we have many approaches to a sin problem, but the Church is failing miserably because the Church will not obey God.  In the process of attempting to use the same means a very sinful world uses the Church has changed nothing, but, ironically, Herself.   The Church hasn't allowed God to overcome the world's sin and brokenness, but they have become as impotent as the world at dealing with beliefs and behaviors which deal death and damnation to themselves.  Instead of leading a broken humanity lost to sin, to a new hope, peace, and eternal life, the Church is in the throws of her own identity crisis.  And since the Church has sold out so much to a worldly way of doing, they've lost how to work with God toward his eternal goals.
 
Am I now giving over to complete and total pessimism?  No.  If the Church will repent, and Christians will deny themselves their ways of being and doing, as Christ commands, then everything will change for the Church.  Not much will change in the society around us, the hope for a positive impact on the culture's conscience is a train which left the station long long ago.  The road for the Church is going to be a much harder one, than we'd have had if we'd repented and turned back to obeying and following God's ways.

So Christians you have choice to make.  Were I a betting man, and I'm not, I'd bet against Christians doing the right thing.  Once you start doing the wrong thing doing the right thing gets harder and harder.  The Church has been doing the wrong thing for a long time, but that isn't the problem.  The problem is Christians have found it easier to settle for a great deal less than God's best, and keep hobbling along without change.  It's sin of settling for less that's the real problem.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

Part 2 of: EXODUS INTERNATIONAL IS HISTORY!

Doomed From The Start


In the Summer of 1969, NYC police had been carrying out a series of raids on gay bars.  Gay men enraged by the harassment started a riot.  With the Stonewall Riots the modern gay rights movement began.  In 44 years gay activists, in America, have achieved more civil rights gains than any other minority people group ever has.   I came of age during the greatest backlash against the gay rights movement; The Reagan Era.  Beginning in the mid 70's and continuing through the 80's, conservative Christians started speaking out, loud and clear, against what they saw as a great Christian nation about to morally crash and burn.  Leaders like Anita Bryant, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and D. James Kennedy started taking steps they thought would straighten out Christian America.  Jerry Falwell, perhaps more than any other conservative Christian leader gave voice to what he and others of his ilk believed:

"The idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country."
~ Jerry Falwell

Conservative Christians had found their voice.  And with Jerry Falwell they also got a grassroots religious Political Action Committee (PAC); "The Moral Majority".   The Moral Majority grew in membership and power nearly as fast as the gay rights movement, a decade before them.  The Moral Majority received the most credit for Ronald Reagan winning two terms in the White House.   Coming of age as a gay man, in the Reagan 80's was a frightening experience.  The Reagan era and the beginning of the AIDS epidemic sometimes seemed like the end of all hope for gay people.  The 70's and 80's, far from bringing down gay rights activism served as a refining crucible, and in the 90's the LGBT movement gained ground even faster than before.  The political activism of the Religious Right started to stall.  Religious activism fragmented, The Moral Majority closed up shop, and the heir apparent, "The Christian Coalition" was lost almost before it started.
  
When conservative Christians were confronted with gay activism at the end of the 60's and then by legalized abortion, they were deeply offended.  I can't think of two other issues which could have made Christians as mad as a kicked hornet's nest.  When God finally brought me to salvation through Christ Jesus one of the first questions I had for God was, "Why?"  I not only didn't understand why I was gay, but I didn't understand the Church which was supposed to belong to Christ.  God went to incredible lengths to come and find me.  God worked through the only person who could have brought me to saving faith in him.  I've talked about my own abusers/users, but have said little about the "brother monster" I was to my little sister.  I knew my sister could never forgive me.  I could never forgive the things dad and uncle monster had done to me, so I knew her forgiving me was impossible.  One night out of the blue my sister called me, told me she'd received Jesus Christ, and that she forgave me.   I was in terrible trouble.  I knew it was impossible for my sister to forgive me.  I knew the only way for her to forgive was for a higher power to give her that forgiveness for me.  I was an atheist, but now I had absolutely no doubt God existed.  God, despite the very best efforts of Christians to keep me away from salvation, got me anyway.
 
I've had a very unconventional Christian experience from the very beginning.  About 6 months after coming to Christ I thought I'd better find an Exodus chapter and join up.  I'm very thankful the only chapter close to me was 50 miles away, and I couldn't afford the gas for the 100 mile round trip each week.  But that wouldn't have made any difference anyway.  I never had a moments peace with the idea of approaching Exodus.  I kept clear, but did find a ministry outreach to men struggling with Same-Sex Attraction supported by a local church which was not Exodus affiliated.  I'd been truly free for about 5 years at the time, and hanging out with those "strugglers" was an incredible eye opener.  There was very little struggling, and a whole lot of sex and porn for these guys.  After the weekly meeting we'd go hang out a nearby restaurants for "fellowship".  During the meeting they all talked about their struggles, but at the restaurant it became more about their escapades.  When I talked about the freedom Christ had given me, they laughed and sneered at me.  It didn't hurt my feelings.  I'd never cared about what gay guys had said to me.  They weren't struggling, they weren't even trying, and they made no bones about it.  To this day I don't understand why these men bothered with this group.  They'd have been a great deal more honest if they'd skipped the restaurant and went to a hotel for an orgy. 
 
As the old saying goes, "You can't get blood out of a turnip."   These gay guys weren't ever going to change, because none of them knew how to be anything but gay.  Get a big group of Christians who want to leave homosexuality, put them in a room together, and you've got a dating service for religious gays, but not change.  When Exodus started the intent was to come along side church leaders to advise and guide them when dealing with same-sex attracted people.  The problem, of course, was that churches didn't want to be advised they wanted a place to dump LGBT people.  Exodus, instead of sticking its guns, caved, and Exodus hobbled along for far too long.   If Christians want to see change in the lives of Christians dealing with SSA then their going to have to get into the lives of these men and women.  The straight guys and gals, who've walked with Christ, and seen real change in their own lives are going to have to reach out and begin modeling, teaching, and leading SSA struggling Christians into healthy, God centered, God serving lives.
  
Like I said, I've had a very unconventional Christian walk.  While my fellow Christians were out picketing, politicking, and attacking LGBT people, "...for the glory of God," no less, I was busy asking a question..."WHY"?  Why had God removed his protective hand from America?  Why had God allowed America to legalize the mass murder of innocent unborn children?!  Why had God allowed gay activists to gain so much ground so fast.  I mean as a gay man, looking at gay activism from the inside, I was always amazed at what gay activists could accomplish.   And as a gay man gay activists and their power scared me to death.  I've never known such ruthless and mercenary people, gay activists.  "WHY!" nagged me all the time, and still does today.  There's another old saying, "Ignorance is bliss."  After God started giving me the answers to my questions, I learned the true meaning of "Ignorance is bliss."  I've actually prayed for God to put me back into ignorance, but God doesn't work that way.
 
I have known for years that the Church needs LGBT people more than LGBT people need the Church.  The Church wouldn't go into the gay enclaves and the back alleys where abortions took place, with the love, mercy and world overcoming grace of God.  So God let homosexuals and abortionists come out after the Christians.   You see homosexuality and abortion are mirrors God is holding up to the Church.  Our relationship with God has increasingly become a reflection of the kind of breakdown which come with abortion and homosexuality.  There is the loss of identity; loss of world overcoming faith and love, even for the worst of sinners; a loss of purpose and dynamic; a loss obedience to Christ's teaching; a loss of dedication to doing things God's way; a loss of understanding that we are aliens in a foreign world, and that no kingdom of the world is or could be Christs kingdom; and we've become blind, deaf, and hardhearted to the brokenness of sexually immoral people because instead of compassion and faith in the cross of Jesus Christ we are overcome with offense.  The Church will find her way back to God when she takes up the plight of least and allow God to love and overcome through them.  When confronted with what seems impossible, but God's love overcomes the impossible the result is incredibly life transforming. The world needs the love, mercy, grace, and eternal salvation of Jesus Christ, and the Church needs to, once again, take her place where God has called us to be.  "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  Jesus has called to join him in his yoke; become his coworker with him. 

What can I tell you, Christian?  Either become available for God's purposes, and dedicate yourself to working God's way, or be tossed onto the ash heap of history?   Of course, many, perhaps most of you, will disagree with what I say here, and/or excuse yourself from responsibility.  The only way to discover the truth of what I'm saying here is, ultimately, to do what I'm saying.
  
The end of Exodus International is an exciting opportunity for the Church of Jesus Christ.  Exodus could never bring about the change God can bring through his Church.  As the Church learns again that God's love is a power, which cannot fail, to free people from the slave master, sin.   The change Exodus sought, but so rarely realized is achievable through Christ in his Church. 
 
If you want to become a billionaire you have to learn from people who already know how to amass wealth.  If you want to know freedom from homosexuality then you can't hang out with gay people, even religious gay people.  Freedom only comes from the heart of the One we are told is love; God.  With his Son, God established how he would work in the world, and how he would love the world to salvation through that Son, in his Church.  People cannot be segregated, because we don't like their sin, or because we, "don't know what to do."  Not knowing what to do is not an acceptable excuse to God.  God's love will either set us all free, or we'll all go down together.  It is a terrible sin to attempt to shift responsibility for loving broken people into a new kind of closet; Exodus.  Nice try, but Jesus will judge us for our unloving disobedience of his command, "Go!"  Jesus also told us, “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does."  Not only does God send Jesus to save the world, but also to establish how God will work in and through us.  Just as Jesus always did what Father wanted, precisely the way Father wanted it done, but so it must be for the Church of Jesus Christ.  We must follow the example of Jesus.  Not only do we answer the call to "Go", but we pursue that call by carrying it out the way Christ carried out Fathers call.  Like Jesus, "We can do nothing by ourselves, and we too will do only what we see the Father doing."