Action Steps: Completed Update

6 08 2019

So I’ve finally completed all of the action steps! See each step below and a short explanation of what happened!

  • Think of something that relaxes you, and go ahead and stock up or arrange for this relaxation evening. Make a list of everything you need to relax, and then go get it.
    Completed: 7/2
    So I went to the wonderful world of Wals, aka Walmart to get this. I had run out of bubble bath and some bath salts. So I went and got these. A few weeks later, I made myself a bath, complete with the salts and bubble bath. The water was warm and it was very nice for me to be able to just relax and take care of myself.
  • Instead of buying your favorite coffee or meal during a week, donate the money to a worthy cause. Completed 7/28
    No need to share this.
  • Think of a person that you care about deeply, but perhaps haven’t shown how you care for them. Do a little research to find some small items that they would like. Put them all in a basket or something and give it to them. Completed 7/28
    Gave flowers, which I consider a completely ridiculous gift, to my girlfriend. She was moved.
  • Go to the movies or get something from Redbox. Turn off your phone, and just sit down and watch the movie. Don’t forget the snacks.
    Completed: 7/5
    Went to see Toy Story 4. Had some popcorn and a drink. Went with some friends, it was very nice. I am Trash!
  • Go get a box of blank cards from the dollar store. Write two thank you cards to people who are in your life. Be specific about what you’re thanking them for. Completed: 7/15
  • As you go past a person who is homeless, stop at the closest fast food place and pick them up a meal and take it to them, or ask them to join you for lunch. Attempted 7/23
    As I drove by someone who had one of those cardboard signs, I decided to stop and get them some food from the resturaunt I was visiting. I came out, and as I stopped at the stop light, rolled my window down, the person I offered it to, cussed me out and refused to take the food. Instead, they demanded money from me. When I handed them the food again, they took and threw it down on the ground and walked away from me.
  • Surprise your significant other one day by doing something that they really appreciate. If you do not have a significant other, do it for your best friend! Completed: 7/2
  • Take one of your blank cards. Is there someone that you need to forgive? Write them a little note, giving them forgiveness. You don’t have to send it, but I do want you to seal it. Allow yourself to let go. Completed: 7/21
    This one was really hard. God really pushed me with this one, but I was able to be obedient. I reached out to this person, and they had no clue what I was talking about. Oh well.
  • One day, go somewhere where you feel immersed in nature. I want you to sit there for 20 minutes, just observing nature. Don’t talk, try not to think, but just be a part of the world around you. Completed: 7/26
    Went on a hike.
  • Make a playlist of songs that are your favorite. In the days to come, when you’ve had a bad day, you will have that playlist to help you. For now, dance it out, free yourself. Have fun!
    Completed: 7/5
    I made a playlist of some PRIDE-friendly songs on Spotify.
  • Go find that book that you’ve had on your list to read for forever. Go ahead and buy it if you don’t already own it. Read it. Completed: 7/13-ish
    Still reading it.
  • Go to Your favorite clothing store. Browse and shop around until you see something that you want. Buy it. Now, wear it out to a restaurant one day when you’re eating alone. Completed: 8/1
    Didn’t I feel spiffy while I ate and read my book???!!!!
  • After dinner, go to the park and walk around some. As you walk, think about all the things you’re thankful for. After your walk, write them down. Completed: 7/25
    I didn’t go after dinner. I went after breakfast and walked down main street, Mount Airy.
  • You know how sometimes you get a thought of somebody running through your head? When they do, send them a card or a text, give them a call. Let them know that you’re thinking of them.
    Completed:7/3 
    Had dinner with a friend that I had been thinking about for awhile. It was a very nice dinner.
  • You know that junk drawer you got at home? Spend some time cleaning it up. Throw away those old ketchup packets, you haven’t used them. Completed: 7/21
    Cleaned out one of my desk drawers. How the heck did it get so cluttered????
  • Go to a new place–some place you’ve never been. Could be a restaurant, a bar, a church. Whatever it is, just go there and experience it. Completed: 7/27
    Went to Painting with a Twist for the first time and I created a painting. It was a lot of fun!
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#sundaymessage: Take a Moment

4 08 2019

Go on. Take a moment.

Just breathe. In and out.

Yes, center yourself.

In and out.

I know, the dishes are dirty, tomorrow is Monday, and this week is just gonna be one of those weeks….I know.

Just sit, be here, in this moment.

We are just breathing. In and out. Out and in.

Just sit a moment. Empty your mind, as much as you can. No, don’t get irritated with yourself because you can’t stop thinking about that. Give yourself grace, there’s enough of it to go around.

Breathe. Just enjoy this moment. How nice it feels to sit, and just sit. There is nothing else you need to do right now but sit and think on one fact: God loves you as you are, and not what you think you ought to be.

Did you hear that?

God loves you as you are, and not what you think you ought to be.

God loves you in this exact moment simply because you were made from holy stuff, and you don’t have to do a darned thing but just be in that thought.

I could spend my whole life unpacking that one statement and still not be done.

Just breathe in. And out.

Release yourself of your oughts–things that you think you should be doing, or the things you feel are expected of you. Release that. Don’t do them unless that is the movement God has put in you.

God has no expectations on you, in this moment, other than for you to breathe. In and out, out and in.

God loves you as you are, and not what you think you ought to be.

Because all of the oughts are just busywork if they don’t point you into this moment where you sit, just loving on the fact that you’re loved. And if you’re not careful, you’ll busy yourself so much, you won’t have time to take a moment.

So

Breathe.

Just take a moment.





#SundayMessage: I Have Decided To Follow Jesus, not False Teachers-Pt 1

28 07 2019

Sometimes you just gotta go revisit the old stuff. Walking the road of nostalgia sometimes helps me bring clarity on my present circumstances, sometimes it encourages me, and sometimes it’s just a nice journey to take. Like many people, I have a box of items that mean something significant to me stowed away, ready for me to open at a moment’s glance. It has trinkets and old notes, some cards. Items that trigger a memory. At some point, I placed it in there, meaning that it was important. Recently, I opened that box, and found some items that I don’t remember the importance of–and isn’t that sad? And sometimes, I revisit old songs. I come from southern baptist heritage, and so, southern gospel transports me back to another time and place. Where I’m sitting on a pew bench in a dress I hated wearing, listening to someone from my family sing, or watching them bop their heads along. My uncle is the director, and being told to be quiet. For the longest time, the songs of southern gospel were the only things that I loved about church. Then, I got saved, as they called it. And this song was one of them that was first taught to me. The song is so simple, but it is deep.


Here is God’s Message to the prophets, the preachers who lie to my people: “For as long as they’re well paid and well fed, the prophets preach, ‘Isn’t life wonderful! Peace to all!’ But if you don’t pay up and jump on their bandwagon, their ‘God bless you’ turns into ‘God damn you.’ Therefore, you’re going blind. You’ll see nothing. The sun has set on the prophets. They’ve had their day; from now on, it’s night. Visionaries will be confused, experts will be all mixed up. They’ll hide behind their reputations and make lame excuses to cover up their God-ignorance.

But me–I’m filled with God’s power, filled with God’s Spirit of justice and strength, ready to confront Jacob’s crime and Israel’s sin.

The leaders of Jacob and the leaders of Israel are Leaders contemptuous of justice, who twist and distort right living, Leaders who build Zion by killing people, who expand Jerusalem by committing crimes, Judges sell verdicts to the highest bidder, priests mass-market their teaching, prophets preach for high fees, All the while posturing and pretending dependence on God. “We’ve got God on our side, He’ll protect us from disaster” Because of people like you, Zion will be turned back into farmland, Jerusalem end up as a pile of rubble, and instead of the Temple on the mountain, a few scraggly scrub pines.

Micah 3:5-12, Eugene Peterson’s The Message

To give you a bit of context, Micah lived in Judah, it is estimated between 737 to 696 BC, and is considered one of the 12 minor prophets in the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Bible. He was prophet during the reigns of the kings Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, three of Judah’s kings. As I was doing research, I found that Judah lived in a rural area, outside of a city because he rebuked the corruption that existed in the more urban areas. The book of Micah has a lot of interesting stuff in it, and I highly recommend you give it a read.

He’s the first prophet to predict the downfall of Jerusalem, and according to him, the city was going to be demolished because the beautification of the city was financed by dishonest business practices that impoverished the city’s citizens. (Sound familiar??? Who says the Bible isn’t applicable to modern day??) He demanded the accountability of prophets in his day, and accused them of accepting money for their predictions. He also said that the Judean state would end, but it would be more glorious than ever, because there would come a time when there was universal peace, because of Governor would rule from Jerusalem. Micah also rebukes Israel because of dishonesty in the marketplace and corruption in the government. (Sound familiar?) He wanted to warn people, on the behalf of God, that they would be facing destruction if their ways and hearts were not changed.

With this context, it sounds like the Jewish people had gotten the focus all wrong, hasn’t it? God had put in motion plans to destroy the Jewish people because their focus was on money and dishonesty, and believing the wrong people. I could easily look at our society and read these words, and it would make sense for the United States of America today. A place where the church is more known by what they stand against, than what they stand for. A place where the rights of the baby inside a mother’s belly has more rights than the child that is actually alive. The place where the war on marriage is between two loving, consenting same-sex adults, and not on the practices that create divorces. The place where people are so exploited that the government does not want to raise a minimum wage. The place where taking medical care of people has become a profit industry, where insurances are padding themselves rich with the blood of people who can’t afford medical care. I could go on and on. But that’s not the main focus of my post today, so I’ll cease.

So often, when we read Micah’s words today, we don’t allow this word to be a mirror, reflecting unto what we see today, but I can see some clear images in this mirror. I can also see some clear warnings, especially about who you follow. I believe that people were made to worship something, to follow something, to find their identity in something else. Sometimes, we follow our significant others, and we’ll become obsessed with them, but when their imperfection is exposed, we’re devastated. We can worship political parties over God, and we hang tight to the politician who can steer us no wrong, and we just excuse their activities. If you are a person of faith, your worship should be on God, but often, I fear it is not. Sometimes, people get so caught up in following their Pastor or their Preacher, that they don’t even bother to crack the scriptures and see if their leaders are preaching correctly. Or, we will follow them blindly. We get so wrapped up in idol-worship, that we let it go too far.

Here’s the thing, though. If you allow another person to be your contact with God, you are not following God. You are worshiping a person, and you are depending on that person to be your God. That is your problem. You cannot allow anything, not even others who follow God, to be your substitute for meeting God on your own. You cannot substitute your connection with God with someone else’s connection with God. That is a false faith, and it will not grow, it will not mature. But you’ll think you’re growing, you’ll think you’re maturing. But when the shit hits the fan (excuse my language), you’ll find yourself reacting the same old way, because you are the same old person. Other people cannot change you, only God can. So, if you have a great pastor, a charismatic speaker, or even a writer you read often (including me), don’t follow them exclusively. If you allow them to be the substitute, you won’t ever come to a place where you’re filled with the spirit of God, but you’ll find you’re filled with the spirit of another person. I’ll be honest, I once was an idol-worshiper in one of my previous churches, and I hung on every single word that one of my former pastors said. He didn’t do anything to cause it, I just was very young and impressionable. But then here’s the thing, he revealed that he truly was not a person of God by the way he treated people and loved on only his certain people. He revealed that he didn’t actually care about people, but that he wanted to appear like he did. He did all this through his actions. See the thing is, when you are following and listening to the wrong person, they will eventually reveal who they really are. So with that in mind, I’d like to give you some characteristics, from the scripture, of false leaders of the faith.


Characteristics of False Leaders

Show me the money. False leaders who are in it for the control or the power, are going to be motivated by money. But they’re not going to say it like that, they’re going to use phrases that sound tickling to the ears, and reasonable to the mind. But in a sense, they will demand the money. Money is a very sensitive topic when you talk about it in church. And they will pretend to care about the sensitive nature of money, but eventually, they will ask for more money, or demand it. Be wary of this. Yes, we need to pay people in ministry, but it should come as an organic desire from the church, not the demand of the leaders. Don’t believe me? Reject them of their desire for more money and see how they react. They’ll leave or walk away, they’ll no longer care about the church itself. They’ll get mad and angry, because their intention is not to help lead, but to make money doing it. But as long as the money is flowing, they’re A-okay.

Blind Followers. Another characteristic of false leaders is that they have blind followers. They have people who are following them, that are completely blind or they look the other way, when truth is exposed. For example, our current Cheeto, Mr. Trump. He was hailed as the church’s salvation President-candidate, by people who hold the sanctity of marriage to the highest degree, but his followers are blind to the state of his union with his wife. I know people who will always jump up to defend him, and will tell me of all the wonderful things that he’s done, and deny any of the bad things that he’s done. Or ignore them. I look at them like they’re crazy. In the same way, church people can look at their leaders and ignore the bad things they’ve done. There are millions of people that follow leaders blindly, because it’s easier to just subscribe to a set of beliefs, than it is to figure out what you personally think.

Excuses make the man. If you are following someone who is a false leader, they also make a lot of excuses when they are wrong. If you confront them, they’ll make an excuse to make themselves seem righteous, and in the right. They will actually get defensive when you say you don’t agree with them. They’ll be too busy to be there for you, or they’ll have other things to do than to give you the spiritual guidance that you need. They’ll use anything and everything to avoid things that are of real merit, because they cannot confront the real merit without revealing the fraud they really are. Instead of a simple apology, they’ll have an excuse for this or that. But there’s no real ownership of what they’ve done.

Twisters and distorter. A false leader will twist and distort. They’ll either twist and distort teachings or twist and distort truth and other people. They will take a private conversation, and share it with others, because getting you in trouble will be better than having the focus on them. They will assume the wrong intentions about people, and then accuse them of those wrong intentions, making themselves look better. They’ll make decisions that are twisted and distorted, that don’t reflect the love and compassion of God. They will throw people out of the church on technicalities, instead of looking at the big picture. They will take what you say or do, and put something sinister upon it. Beware of confiding in these leaders, because they will do it, and it will hurt.

Ignoring the cost. A false leader is all about growth. That’s all they talk about and that’s all they pray about. They talk about growth for more people so that the church can get more money. (Because that is their focus, right?) They talk about the growth that needs to happen, and they don’t care how it gets there, just as long as growth can happen. But there is a cost to that. They’ll choose some shady practices to make growth happen. They’ll champion growth as a hallmark of God’s blessing, but ignore the cost of getting there. They’ll use data and numbers as substitute for God’s leading. Growth is not always evidence of God’s blessing, but it could be evidence of people worshiping the growth. But with growth, there is cost. If I am to grow spiritually, there is a cost of things that I cannot do anymore, because that’s what God has called me to do. In that case, my cost is light, because of the benefits. Unfortunately, growth isn’t always like that. Sometimes, growth in numbers has a cost, and if you’re not careful, those costs will disappear, and no one will desire them anymore. In the pursuit of growth, sometimes spiritual leaders will water down the scriptures to appeal to everyone. The cost there is that the people of God are not getting challenged. Eventually, the church will grow to a place to where, when they are challenged, they don’t know what to do with it.

Eventual Destruction. False leaders will eventually destroy what they’ve touched. If you’re not of God, and you’re leading people, you will eventually find destruction. God will eventually end up not blessing you, or people will eventually see through the fakeness, and they’ll see what’s real. Instead of a mighty leader, they see a person who had some motivation to appear like a leader, to play leadership like kids play house. A false leader will end up destroying everything and everyone. They’ll leave nothing in their wake. With that destruction, you have people who are fallen, and their faith is empty. You have people that will run away from God, because their idol failed them. False leaders will not ultimately thrive, no matter how successful they are. In the long run, their being will be exposed, and they will fail you. They’ll break your heart. They will preach destruction of everyone else, as their house burns around them.


Micah was the voice of one person, calling out and exposing the sins of the “righteous leaders.” He saw them for what they really are. And if you’re a believer of God, you’ll see right through the facade too. If a leader is of God, then you’ll hear them encourage you to grow in your own relationship with God and they’ll help you figure out how to get started. If a leader is doing what God has called them to do, they’ll encourage you to find what you’re supposed to do as well, and they’ll let you do it, without intervention. They’ll tell you to double-check them, and expect you to do so, and welcome you with love and grace when you correct them. They’ll be cultivating within them, a spirit of gentleness that can take rebuke, and they’ll be slow to anger, and slower to allow anger to motivate them. If a leader is of God, you’ll know it, not because they say it, but because they live it.

I am aware of the significance of my words. I am aware of the weight of my words. I’ve made some pretty strong accusations here. So go ahead, look them up. Check me. Double check me. Make sure I’m held to a truth of standard. Make sure that I’m telling you the truth. And if I’m not, tell me. I know I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not just saying that. I really know that I’m not the perfect person, and I expect you to challenge me in any way that you see I need challenging.

If I’m honest, I’m afraid that one day, I’ll become a false teacher. I’m afraid that I’ll become some dictator of a church or online. If I’m honest, I worry that I’ll lead people into following me, instead of the path God has for them. I realized though, that I wouldn’t worry about it, if I didn’t want to be it, and I wouldn’t pray about it, if I didn’t know the possibilities of the hurt it would bring. If I wasn’t concerned about it, I honestly think that would mean that I was a false teacher. Even I could be led astray to become motivated by money or power. I say that not to discredit myself, but so that hopefully, this community of faith will keep me grounded, and will keep me accountable to not establishing myself as a false teacher.





#Sunday Message: Forgiveness and Obedience

21 07 2019

I have a confession to make to you all. A few weeks ago, I made a post about forgiveness. And then a few weeks later, I gave a challenge. One of those challenges was dealing with forgiveness.

You know, as that list was being typed up, I got a little puffy about myself, and I thought “man, that one’s easy, it’ll just be a letter to so-and-so about something small and insignificant. It’ll be a piece of cake.” And as I sent it out to you guys, I mumbled a little prayer about how I hope that God would lead me, and that through this challenge, I’d be growing.

You know, the Lord has a sense of humor. Just look at the platypus. Or the corgi.

God woke me up in the middle of the night about this action step. He brought someone from my distant past, the same person I referenced at the end of last week’s blog post. And for whatever reason, this person has been constantly been popping up in my mind. It’s not been quite so easy. At one point, I felt that I would NEVER be able to forgive them. Like, never. Their betrayal of my trust and their meddling in my life, is something that I could never do. I could never understand why they thought it was appropriate for them to use something that I told them in confidence to go and interfere in my life. It was a deep, deep hurt. Sometimes, there are just some things that are hurts so deep that people cannot ever hope to heal from it and be back the same way.

I’ve spent the last few days just rehashing what happened. It’s honestly a rather sad situation. A friendship was lost. Any way you paint it, that’s really sad. This event drastically altered my relationship with God for a time, because this person used their idea of God as their justification for what they did. For awhile, I was angry at God. It altered my relationship with some of my other friends as well, as I took out my anger on them, and I began to have trust issues with them. But, as Parker J. Palmer says, the “failures” of ministry are just as much a part of your story as the successes are. So I began to think about it….if that heartache did not happen, I would not have worked at Cookout, and realized that I’m not cut out for the fast food world. I would not have worked at Food Lion, and I would not have spent 6 years working in a job that I liked. I would not have met some wonderful people, and I would not have been able to be there for people that summer. I would not have learned healing apart from that camp. I would not have learned what a gift that trust is, and what a delight true friendship is. I would not have learned how important solidarity with someone is, and how to be in solidarity with them. I would not have learned how fortunate that I am, that God’s love does not abandon us when we are abandoned by people. And I would not be learning forgiveness right now.

1st John 2:5-6 says “If anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

God’s word talks about forgiveness quite a bit, and I know that, in theory. But there is a very big difference between knowing something and living it out. Scripture says that if I do what God tells me to do in his word, then I am truly making God’s love complete in me. That’s super exciting! To know that God is making his love complete in me! And we usually stop there. But if I claim to live with God’s love, I must also walk as Jesus walked. I seem to remember that when he was on the cross, Jesus said, “forgive them.” He asked forgiveness for those who hurt him, while he was hurting! Insert “Wow” emoji here. (If wordpress.com had that..) But that means that I gotta forgive this former friend. I gotta extend love to them.

I been kicking my own tail all week over this. I’ve been wrestling with it. But I noticed something, in all of my wrestlings, I never tagged God in this week….I just wrestled on my own. I know, right, I’m crazy?!?! So this morning, I prayed, and I prayed telling God my fears, and my worries. I prayed, telling him why I was wrestling. Ultimately, the excuses I’ve been telling myself all week.


I cannot claim to love God unless I love the people that God put in my life in one way or another. If you are harboring unforgiveness in your heart, or you know you need to ask for forgiveness, my prayer is that you would be able to give it, and give it generously. I hope that you will learn a lesson from me, and not wait so long to forgive someone. I pray that if God tells you to do something, we will all be obedient and we will all do what God says immediately.

A closing prayer:

Beloved, I thank you. I thank you for how you have loved me, and I thank you for the ways you have loved on me. I thank you for providing a clear example in Jesus, and I thank you for how you have forgiven me many, many times. I thank you for the way you have cared for me, and I thank you for the help you have given me along the way. Lord, you know all things, and you can do all things. You know my heart, and you know my desire is to be one who follows your directions. Lord I pray that you would continue to lead and direct me in all things. I pray that you would continue to move in our hearts to offer forgiveness when we need to give it, and give us humility when we need to ask for it. In all things, we love you, Amen.





#sundaymessage: Church Hurt

14 07 2019

This has been a post that’s been difficult for me to think about writing, as such, I’m sorry this is later than usual. I’ve been picking my words prayerfully.


Relationships can be messy sometimes. No relationship or friendship is perfect because when you combine two imperfect people, it does not equal perfection. It actually has the potential to be both the greatest and the worst thing in your life. Often, there’s two sides to everything. Every story, there’s two sides. Benefits always have consequences. That’s hard sometimes to think about. We always see the good stuff when we think about stuff happening. Get into a new relationship? We think roses and wedding bells. We think forever and special songs. We think picking out China and paint colors. We think snuggles. But then, life happens, and the roses wither, the bells are annoying, we can’t agree on China in the middle of a Belks, the color they picked for the bathroom makes us nauseated. And the bed gets too hot at night. But we don’t think about that, all we see is the benefits and joys.

We attend a church. At first, it’s wonderful. We’re getting our praise on, God is real, and the community is loving. We attend pot lucks and outings. And we feel like we belong. But the church never stays perfect, and often, it is really hurtful when it does. Especially when the church commits sins that often, we would not make if it were only us alone. It seems like churches and church members find security in their numbers of people.

In the community of people I belong to, I’ve heard many stories of church hurt. I’ve lived a few myself, and I’ve walked through a few with others. It’s truly sad that churches end up hurting people. I know that church has the potential to be both the greatest joys of our lives and the deepest heartache we will ever experience. I’ve heard stories of years of commitment to a church being tossed aside like it was nothing. I’ve heard stories where people have been rejected because they told others their true selves. I’ve been told stories of where people were treated horribly. I’ve heard teardrops fall because they were kicked out of a church because they didn’t pay their tithe. I’ve watched as mothers buried their children who died in a drug event and then the church closed their doors on their face.

In those moments, bitterness comes into their hearts, anger, distrust, hurt, and all of those negative feelings. Unfortunately, sometimes, they get placed on the church as a whole, and not the people who hurt them, because those people seem to claim the divine appointment of God as justification that they are doing the right thing. It’s funny you know, churches are supposed to be the place that people can go to be cared for and loved on–but who’s there to love on the people who have been hurt by the church?


If you’ve been hurt by a church, please know this:

  • You are not alone. There are hundreds, thousands and probably millions of people like us. I’ve been hurt by church too.
  • Do not let what happened to you destroy your faith in God. If what you were hurt for aligns with your relationship with God, then they are in the wrong. Do not think that this church/person is the end all for Gods voice.
  • Find another person that has been through it. Sometimes, what we need is just someone who knows how we feel. Don’t let this be an excuse for you to cut people off.
  • Forgive. Yeah, I know, I’m asking for the impossible. But their rejection of you has nothing to do with you, but more to say about them.
  • Someday, I hope you heal and are able to try again. I hope you find another church to attend and belong to. I hope that you find a place that welcomes you with open arms.

If you are a church member, attend a church or are affiliated with a church, I’d like to remind you of a story. It comes from a familiar place. Maybe you’ve heard it before. There’s this sheep. And it belongs to this shepherd. So the little lamb goes wandering off. And suddenly, the shepherd realizes that one. I imagine it’s the one differently colored sheep in the whole bunch. But anyways, he finds this sheep in this hollow in the ground, and the sheep is bleeding and bleeding, stuck and hung on thorns. Carefully and patiently, the shepherd pulls out some cutters and begins to cut away at the thorns, tugging the sheep free. Side by side, they walk out, back together where the rest of the sheep are.

You see, it doesn’t matter how many people get chased away from the body. It doesn’t matter what they do, or why we reject them, Jesus will always go after them. Jesus will always chase them down. And Jesus will always bring them back. We are not representatives of Christ if all people hear about us is how we chased them away. Because God always goes back.


I’ll close with my own story.

I had a friend. She was kinda close to me for a bit, we shared a love for Jesus, reading and coffee. We talked many hours, late into the night, about many things. She got to see me broken, and she got to see me be healed because I was serving God at this camp in the middle of the nowhere. We praised God that a huge work of healing happened to me, because I was serving Jesus. That’s the summer I realized that I couldn’t go on ignoring who I was, and I came out to my family. I told my friend, and she was not supportive. A few weeks later, she randomly called me and asked if I were going to tell my employer that I was gay. I told them no, because I was not choosing to be gay or nor was I acting on it. I was actively choosing to not date or anything because I knew that my emotional state was not going to land me in a healthy relationship. She told them for me.

Let’s just process that for a second. She went and looked up their contact information, and went and told them what I had told them. Of course, my boss called me and told what had happened. And then told me that they would have to think about my employment. Looking back, maybe I should have told them I was gay, but that wasn’t my process, I don’t think I was ready for them to know. My friend claimed that Christ was telling her to tell my employers for me, because I was living a lie to them.

I could never trust that person again, because I felt betrayed. I felt that trust wasn’t cared for or taken as the gift it is. The former friend never understood what they had done, and to this day, does not understand why I cannot see past it. I’ve since cut ties with this person, because I could not see how I could rebuild trust. God has recently been bugging me about reaching out to her. I resigned and have never been reached out to again.

A few years after that, I was serving at my church, and a resolution was passed that excluded from membership, anyone who was gay. The verbiage was to exclude anyone who was unmarried and living with other people, but we all knew it was targeting gays. It passed with one nay vote. And it made invalid all memberships that fell under the intention of that new bylaw. They knew me. Had been a part of my raising.


Thank God for that. Now I really know their hearts. Thank God for that, because now I know their love is conditional. I was never kicked out formally, but left before I could be rejected.

I’m just one story. I’m just one voice. I hope that my experience helps somebody. I know there are people out there whose stories are more hurtful and harmful than mine. I see you. I’m here for you.

What’s your church hurt story?





Action Steps: An Update

8 07 2019

So I’m going to update these as I go, but I wanted to give you an update on what I’ve done so far, dates and thoughts.

Ready? Here we go!

  • Think of something that relaxes you, and go ahead and stock up or arrange for this relaxation evening. Make a list of everything you need to relax, and then go get it.
    Completed: 7/2
    So I went to the wonderful world of Wals, aka Walmart to get this. I had run out of bubble bath and some bath salts. So I went and got these. They have not been used yet, but a candle awaits me in the bathroom for when I am ready.

  • Instead of buying your favorite coffee or meal during a week, donate the money to a worthy cause.
  • Think of a person that you care about deeply, but perhaps haven’t shown how you care for them. Do a little research to find some small items that they would like. Put them all in a basket or something and give it to them.
  • Go to the movies or get something from Redbox. Turn off your phone, and just sit down and watch the movie. Don’t forget the snacks.
    Completed: 7/5
    Went to see Toy Story 4. Had some popcorn and a drink. Went with some friends, it was very nice. I am Trash!
  • Go get a box of blank cards from the dollar store. Write two thank you cards to people who are in your life. Be specific about what you’re thanking them for.
  • As you go past a person who is homeless, stop at the closest fast food place and pick them up a meal and take it to them, or ask them to join you for lunch.
  • Surprise your significant other one day by doing something that they really appreciate. If you do not have a significant other, do it for your best friend!
  • Take one of your blank cards. Is there someone that you need to forgive? Write them a little note, giving them forgiveness. You don’t have to send it, but I do want you to seal it. Allow yourself to let go.
  • One day, go somewhere where you feel immersed in nature. I want you to sit there for 20 minutes, just observing nature. Don’t talk, try not to think, but just be a part of the world around you.
  • Make a playlist of songs that are your favorite. In the days to come, when you’ve had a bad day, you will have that playlist to help you. For now, dance it out, free yourself. Have fun!
    Completed: 7/5
    I made a playlist of some PRIDE-friendly songs on Spotify.
  • Go find that book that you’ve had on your list to read for forever. Go ahead and buy it if you don’t already own it. Read it.
  • Go to Your favorite clothing store. Browse and shop around until you see something that you want. Buy it. Now, wear it out to a restaurant one day when you’re eating alone.
  • After dinner, go to the park and walk around some. As you walk, think about all the things you’re thankful for. After your walk, write them down.
  • You know how sometimes you get a thought of somebody running through your head? When they do, send them a card or a text, give them a call. Let them know that you’re thinking of them.
    Completed:7/3
    Had dinner with a friend that I had been thinking about for awhile. It was a very nice dinner.
  • You know that junk drawer you got at home? Spend some time cleaning it up. Throw away those old ketchup packets, you haven’t used them.
  • Go to a new place–some place you’ve never been. Could be a restaurant, a bar, a church. Whatever it is, just go there and experience it.

So there’s my progress!





Flashback #sundaymessage: Follow the Leader

8 07 2019

Author’s Note: This post was orignially posted on July 8th, 2018, on the author’s facebook. They are posting it here to house all of the #sundaymessage series in one place.


Today’s #sundaymessage comes from Mark 1:16-18, go ahead and read it for yourself…I’ll wait.

Done?

Okay, great. I know you all on Facebook land are totally honest, and have read the words from scripture.

Oh, what’s that? You haven’t? We’ll wait.

…thank you for your honesty.

So we have these fishermen. They’re on a boat and they’ve been doing it all of their lives, careers, if you will. I’m sure they’d have plenty of big fishing stories to tell us.

But they were called out, and told to follow this random dude who was walking along the shore.

The crazy thing? They did it.

They didn’t understand, but heard a call and followed directions.

At some point in our lives, we are going to hear a call, and we won’t understand it, and it’ll be a little strange. It’s gonna cost us something. And we have a choice. We can keep on doing the same thing we’ve been doing, or we can heed the call.

We’d like to say we’d be like these fishermen, and follow, but I often wonder, would we really?

Would I really leave my familiar home and go somewhere new? Would I really leave my comfy job to chase a calling of God? Would I give up my chill time to go and volunteer? Would I choose to buy things for an outreach rather than spending it on a new video game? Would I follow a call even though I don’t understand it? Would I follow a call even when I might lose friends?

What is your call? I hope that we all hear the call of God and we go, without hesitation. But I’m afraid that a lot of us have conditions for the call of God, or we ignore it.

Why do we not follow the call?

Let us follow the examples of fishermen.