I am going to be away on vacation for the next two weeks… so no blogging!
Monthly Archives: July 2011
The other day, I got this encouraging note from an old friend from high school via Facebook:
Hey Ben,So glad you “found” me on Facebook. After accepting your request, I checked out your blog, and after checking out the first page and reading about the changes in your life, I went back to the beginning of the blog and read forward. I have to say, I’ve always had so much respect for you, having known you when we were both young and stumbling through high school, and seeing you ultimately follow your faith to where it led you. Having read about what you’ve gone through more recently, and seeing the grace and humility you’ve maintained in the face of what must have been the gut-wretching ordeal of losing both your ministry and, no doubt, a number of people whom you must have counted as some of your closest friends – its truly inspiring. Anyway, I don’t make it to Hartford very often, but next time I do, I’m definitely going to stop in at your restaurant. Take Care.
This was very encouraging — and affirming of the story this blog tells.
Here is the first thing I want to say about the matter of homosexuality:As a follower of Christ, a pastor and Christian leader, I ask the homosexual community for forgiveness for the way individual Christians and Christian organizations have often treated you.In other words, I begin with repentance.I’ve seen anger – even hatred – among Christians toward gays and lesbians that is nothing less than horrifying to me. There’s an “us-versus-them” mentality as if war has been declared; a spirit manifest that shows nothing but contempt.Even to the point of an irrational fear.From those who went public after such events as 9/11, or Hurricane Katrina, and said it was God’s judgment on homosexuals.From those who lead movements to try and get gays fired from public office, or to keep them away from fair housing or employment opportunities.From those who use terms like “fags” or “faggots”, or hold up signs at funerals that say “God hates fags.”Little wonder that hostility toward gays – not just opposition to homosexual politics and behaviors, but utter disdain for gay individuals – is what 91% of all Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 who are outside of the church think most marks those inside the church.So let me publicly apologize to those of you within the homosexual community for the hate you have felt and may have even experienced from the Christian community. That has been our sin against you, and I ask for your forgiveness.
Pace-setting mega-church Willow Creek, led by Bill Hybels, has publicly and fully disaffiliated themselves from any partnership or support for Exodus International, the leading “ex gay” ministry in the world.
Christianity Today reports on the development here. Apparently, this has been in the works for a long time but now it is official and public.
Exodus International’s missional emphasis has been around advocating for and practicing reparative therapy. The primary goal of reparative therapy is change of orientation; when orientation change is not possible, the focus becomes more on behaviors.
As Willow Creek has made clear, this decision comes not as a move to isolate the LGBT community — both within the church and within the community — but rather to more effectively engage them.
I don’t think this necessarily represents a theological shift by Willow Creek, but rather a rejection of the one-size-fits-all answer that Exodus International offers. Additionally, I think this brings Willow in line with the vast majority who view reparative therapy (not to be confused with SORT therapy or other models) as ineffective and possibly harmful.
I don’t know where this will lead, but if anyone was asking me for advice (no one is) I would argue that the goal for churches should be to help people integrate their sexuality with the rest of their lives, including their spirituality and religious conviction. Integration comes from the root integer and means “whole”. The goal should be to help people be “whole”. A first critical step to wholeness is openness and honesty — which means that people need to be “out” within their church community in order to seek wholeness.
I have argued before that I think that both Side A and Side B are valid answers for LGBT Christians. My conviction is that each individual needs to come to their own conclusion in the context of their relationship with Jesus… but no matter which answer, integration of faith and sexuality is critical. (It is also critical for heterosexuals too, by the way.)
So what are your thoughts on either Willow Creeks decision or the idea of integration? Let me know…
Here is part #2 of the series I am currently preaching at Riverfront Family Church. We are exploring the topic of GRACE: what is it, what difference does it make, and what does it reveal about our Heavenly Father?
This message comes out of Luke 14.
After listening, I would love to hear your thoughts.
This Sunday I will be continuing the series with a message called “Block Party” out of Luke 15.
During the summers, Riverfront Family Church meets for worship at Wickham Park in Manchester, CT at 10:30 AM.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Post your honest thoughts here in the comments…
Here is the audio from my sermon last week at Riverfront Family Church. Tomorrow, is part #2 of the series. During the summer, the church meets at Wickham Park in Manchester, CT at 10:30 AM. (info here).
In case you are curious, you can read about how I wrote this sermon here.
After you listen, I would love your feedback…
It’s a fact that gay teenagers are about thirty percent more likely than straight teenagers to take their own lives.
It’s a fact that the vast majority of Christians believe that being gay is a profound moral failing, a foul aberration, a repelling, unnatural offense against God that fully warrants as punishment an eternity spent in hell.
Asserting that those two facts have no relationship cannot possibly be anything but intellectually dishonest. It’s like someone who sews robes for the Klan asserting that they personally don’t contribute to the harming of blacks.
I love being Christian; I am forever humbled by what God as Christ did for humankind on the cross; I understand and experience the Bible as divinely inspirational. I pray every morning. Contemplating the majesty and mercy of God is part of my everyday life.
So what? That has zero to do with the fact that gay teens are thirty percent more likely than straight teens to shoot themselves in the head, to let their blood flow out until they’re white, to hang themselves from their neck until they stop twitching. Nor has it anything to do with the fact that the vast majority of my brothers and sister in Christ passionately hold that living as a gay person is a contemptible disgrace to God, and a blatant, willful offense against everything that’s decent and honorable.
We Christians can say that we’re only trying to follow God. We can say that we personally would never do anything to hurt a gay person. We can say that we love the sinner, but hate their sin. We can say anything.
But let’s not insult ourselves and anyone listening to us by saying that we don’t understand the relationship between the gay teen suicide rate, and the common, absolute Christian condemnation of gays. We deserve better than that.
God knows LGBT folk do.
[WARNING… angry rant to follow…]
I am an EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN. I don’t deny it. In fact, I have been an out-of-the-closet evangelical for 19 years.
I am not a FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIAN in any sense of the word.
It is worth noting that almost all FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIANS would probably be considered EVANGELICALS, but ALL EVANGELICALS ARE NOT FUNDAMENTALISTS.
That said, you should know that I am deeply embarrassed by some of the bullshit crap that passes as teaching/theology/leadership out there these days. In fact, I am not only embarrassed, I am angry. I am angry because these kinds of people actually KEEP PEOPLE FROM JESUS. Trust me, it is true. Not only to they PREACH NONSENSE, but they MUDDY THE GOSPEL with their nonsense.
Most of the time I let this stuff just go. I don’t make a big deal out of it and don’t publicly criticize it. But sometimes I am pushed over the edge. The rejection of these people and the false gospel they preach is not the result of an anti-Christian bias among the mainstream media as much as the fact that these people SOUND INSANE.
Let’s be clear… claiming that OPRAH WINFREY IS THE ANTI-CHRIST and TALKING ABOUT SEX WITH DEMONS… this is as crazy as claiming that the end of the world was to come this past May.
I don’t doubt these people love Jesus and are saved and will be at the heavenly banquet… I just wish they would shut up in the mean time.
If you don’t know what I am talking about, watch this video:
[End of Rant…]
One of the liabilities of working on your feet 10-12 hours a day is that your feet really hurt. Add to that, being over-weight — and all the extra pressure you put on your feet — and your feet really hurt. And add to that a chronic pain along the area of your left foot that broke as a child, and you have some serious foot pain.
This has definitely been a challenge working in restaurants…
But recently, I was given this advice: change your shoes… often.
In other words, have more than one pair of kitchen shoes and that will solve a lot of the problem.
I tried it… and it works!
Because different shoes provide more or less support in different areas, wearing different shoes helps excercise your foot and provide it support where needed.
Anyway, I have to tell you… it makes all the difference in the world.
And I”ve been thinking that maybe the same is true for us spiritually.
Maybe if we get in a rut spiritually — or keep hitting a chronic blockage or or pain — maybe you need to change your shoes. Try a shoe that is less comfortable, but might be stretching your spirit in different and new ways (like a show does with your foot).
What does this look like?
Maybe changing my quite time routine or reading a book by a person I know I won’t fully agree with. Maybe it is changing my sabbath routine or how I journal or pray or practice any of my other spiritual disciplines… sometimes you just need to change your shoes.
I wonder how many of us get stuck in ruts and never try changing our shoes?
What do you think? Any examples?