RSS

Monthly Archives: May 2011

We Are the People of the Second Chance

I love this video… and this movement!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Memorial Day Prayer for Peace

Almighty God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquillity your dominion may increase until the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of
forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

(from Scot McKnight)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

6 Decisions, Conclusions

I have been blogging about six key decisions I made in the weeks after things blew up in my life and at the church.  These six decisions were critical to me being able to make it through everything.

Those decisions allowed me to make other important decisions: go to culinary school, live in Manchester, get a job as a chef, connect with a Hartford church, develop new friends, etc, etc.

Life is very much about makin decisions and continually moving forward.  Again, I wasn’t perfect these last two years… I didn’t make all the right decisions… there were set-backs and trip-ups.  But overall, I feel like when it came to the core and fundamental decisions… those I got right and because of that I was able to keep moving forward in a healthy way.

While life is good for me now, there are still a number of unresolved relationships.  I am still not happy with how things ended with the church and with the Board. And I wish that there could be more positive closure with the congregant/friend involved.  But I feel like I have don everything I can — and everything Jesus asks of me — in those relationships and it is outside my power to see these things finish well.  While I have not given up hope, I also know that it is outside my control.

So what next?

Continue to make good decisions… move forward… and keep my eyes on Jesus.

[Click links below for each post in this series:]

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

6 Decisions, #6: Keep my Eyes on Jesus as I Limp Through the Race

The single most important decision I made every day during this time was to Keep my Eyes on Jesus as I limped through the race.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

As much pain as I was in, as hopeless as the situation seemed, as depressed as I became, as paralyzed as I was… I never stopped praying, reading scripture, or crying out to God.

My faith never wavered.  And I kept my eyes on Jesus.

I know a lot of guys who after their world collapses, just walk away from faith.  And I know even more who when their sexuality clashes with what the institutional church is saying… just walk away too.

I know way too many gay refugees from the church… including those who left the church I was at.

That thought never even crossed my mind.

For me, I knew that whatever the answer was… whatever the future was going to look like… it was going to be found in Jesus.

I also knew that whatever Jesus said to me about this issue, I would do.  He is my Lord, and that trumps all else.

Luckily, through all of this, I learned to not just love God more — but to love God while also liking myself at the same time.  I learned, too, to freely and fully accept God’s love for me as his child… something I had preached 1000 times to others, but had a hard time believing for myself.

And Jesus was faithful to me in the midst of the darkness.

He spoke.

He listened.

He comforted.

He challenged.

He walked with me.

He sat with me.

He cried with me.

He was with me — and He was for me.

And I knew, that no matter what else I did, I had to keep my eyes on Him… or I would be lost.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

6 Decisions, #5: Move Forward with Integrity — Because Integrity Always Wins

“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” — Proverbs 10:9 ESV

“Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” — 1 Peter 3:16 ESV

 I have a basic axiom for life: INTEGRITY ALWAYS WINS.

And I define integrity simply as Stephen Carter does in his book called “Integrity”.  Carter explains:

“As I define it, integrity involves three steps. The first is to discern what is right and wrong… The second step is to struggle to live according to the sense of right and wrong you have discerned, [no matter the consequence]. The third is to be willing to say what we are doing and why we are doing it.”

It was in leadership that I learned that INTEGRITY ALWAYS WINS.  Anyone in leadership who is getting anything significant done has been ruthlessly attacked, maligned and lied about.  It kind of goes with the territory.  I learned early that the best response was always to respond with integrity.  INTEGRITY ALWAYS WINS.

And the opposite is probably true too: when you act without integrity, you lose.

I learned that the hard way.  The circumstances that created my life explosion were because I failed to act with integrity, I failed to live up to my own standards, and I failed to live up to God’s standards.

But in the aftermath of what happened, I decided that as much as I could I would act and respond with integrity — because INTEGRITY ALWAYS WINS.

Here are some practical ways this played out:
  1. Once everything blew up, I confessed and revealed everything (probably more detail than they wanted) to the Board.
  2. I never blamed others for what happened to me.  I accepted full personal responsibility.
  3. When accused of something I was guilty of, I acknowledged it.  When I was accused of something I did not do, I answered the charge.
  4. I never bad-mouthed the church.  I was truthful about what happened on the blog, and was even open in criticizing the process and decisions that were made, but I never bad-mouthed the church or the board. (In fact, I still think it is a great church and I often refer people to it and I still financially support its missions when I can.)
  5. While the Board agreed to pay me three months salary when I left, I was aware of the financial stress the church was under and I voluntarily did not take the final month of pay (even though I had no income at the time).  This just seemed like the right thing to do.
  6. I expressed publicly that I would answer anyone’s questions and meet with anyone who wanted to talk to me about what happened.  Several members of the church took me up on this offer and it was helpful for both of us.
  7. As I wrote about yesterday, I embraced a philosophy of transparency.
I could go on… but I think you see the point.

Now all of this (and this blog series) may make it seem like I always got it right and that I was saint through the whole process. That is not the case.  I made a lot of mistakes — especially early in the process.  And in each case, it was a failure to adhere to the basic principle of INTEGRITY WINS.

For example, when I was first confronted by the congregant I had been involved with — and he told me that he thought we should disclose to the Board what had happened between us — I responded defensively, out of anger and fear.  In the process, I hurt the congregant (who was also a very close and valued friend) and also made the process more complicated.  But at other times — and many times throughout the process — I do think I acted with integrity and was able to respond in a Christ-like way, not out of fear or anger.

Of all the decisions I made, this was the one that I had to make again and again every day — and sometimes several times throughout the day.

And to be honest, this is true for all people — not just those coming out of crisis.  All of us face decisions every day — and we choose whether to respond with integrity or not.  So let me encourage you: INTEGRITY ALWAYS WINS.
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

6 Decisions, #4: Take Full Responsibility — No If’s, And’s or But’s

Ongoing reflections as I look back over the past two years and specifically six key decisions I made in the first three months after my life blew up… today, decision #4:?Take Full Responsibility — No If's, And's or But's.

(You can read the series overview here; Part #1 here; Part #2 here; Part #3 here).?

One of the key decisions I made was both simple (and obvious) but also one of the hardest: to take full responsibility for what I did, for my own sin — period.

No rationalizations. No?equivocations. No excuses. (Like in this blog post from July 2009).

When you are wrong, you must own it.
When you sin, you must acknowledge it… confess it… seek forgiveness for it.
Sin is sin. Period.

In the aftermath, there is always much analysis. And there should be. ?What happened, why it happened, what could have prevented it from happening? ?But explanations are never justifications.

There is also discussion about what actually happened… what was the sin?

Let me be clear: being gay is not a sin. ?But what I did and who I did it with was sinful. ?While there is context to what happened, it doesn't excuse what I did.?

And in the aftermath of what happened, there were a lot of accusations made against me. ?To be 100% honest, the majority of those accusations were untrue. Some were just false information or rumors. ?Some were lies.

But at the end of the day, enough of what said was true. ?I was guilty of what I did and I acknowledged it, confessed it, owned it completely. ?I honestly believe that until that important step happens, no healing, reconciliation or healing can even begin.

When you are guilty, own it… and let Jesus deal with it.

Our own sin should humble us.?
Our own sin should haunt us.
But it should not hold us. It should not lead us despair.

The Gospel is God's answer to our sin.
We confess it… knowing that it has already been fully forgiven.
We own it… knowing it does not define or?posses?us.
We name it… knowing that Jesus is reconciling all things.

A part from the truth of the Gospel, I am not sure that I could face my own sin. ?Under the shadow of the cross, we can have the courage to honestly admit our failures, trusting that the grace of God not just extends forgiveness but reconciliation and restoration.

But until we acknowledge our sin — and own it, confess it, seek forgiveness for it from those we have sinned against — healing and restoration can never take place.
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags:

Is the End Near? Should We Care? What Difference Does It Make?

I have to confess that I am a bit more than surprised how much attention is being paid — both by the media and just regular folks — to the “rapture on May 21, 2011” prediction.  I don’t actually know anyone who thinks the rapture will happen tomorrow, but they do seem intrigued by the whole question of end-times.  

So what is it that Christians should be doing in terms of preparing for the end?  And when will the end be?

Luckily, the Jesus answers both these questions rather clearly in the Bible.

As to when, Jesus is abundantly clear: NO ONE KNOWS, EXCEPT FOR THE FATHER.(Matthew 24:36).  So pretty much, I think it is safe to say that anyone who claims to know doesn’t and they are a false prophet.  Period.  The quickest way to reveal yourself as a religious fraud is to try and predict when the end times will come.

So what are Christians to do?

Again, Jesus and the Bible are pretty clear.

We are supposed to live BOTH as if Jesus might come at any moment (“like a thief in the night”) and live as if he is not returning for 1000 years.  In other words, we should be prepared, but we should also be continually investing in bringing forth Kingdom values here and now — our prayer is to bring heaven down here, not us to heaven.

What does this look like in practical ways?

In terms of being prepared as if it could happen at any moment:
  1. Keep short accounts with other people and with God.  Confess sin, seek forgiveness, and as much as it is possible, live at peace with each other.
  2. Make your relationship with God a priority — don’t put it off.
  3. Invest in what will count for eternity: relationships. Money, titles, luxury cars, big houses, prestige — these things don’t ultimately matter very much.
  4. Prepare for eternity.  In many respects, this life is preparation for the next.  So prepare well by living out your primary purposes well: worship, community, discipleship, ministry and mission.
In terms of living as Jesus will not return for 1000 years (or 10,000 years):
  1. Gain a long term perspective on what matters: justice, people, relationships.
  2. Make your relationship with God a priority — eternity is a long time… we need to get the big things right.
  3. Be part of God’s ongoing plan to bring forth his Kingdom, build His church, and push back the gates of Hell.
  4. Invest in big God-honoring visions.  Give your life to something that matters.
  5. Work well, live well, love well.  St. Paul has to remind the Thessalonian church the importance of working, being good citizens, etc.  They thought Jesus would return at any moment and had stopped doing the basic things of life because of that.  Paul tells them to essentially get a job, earn money, take care of their families, and to live life well.  This is good advice.
The challenge for us is not to choose one way over the other — but to live in the tension of both.

Why?  Because no one knows the day or hour that the end will come… 

This is the basic, straightforward and abundantly clear teachings of the scriptures.

THOUGHTS? 
 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: