Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Community of Love

You may have read my last four part email on drawing nearer to Jesus and leaving behind the life style and still find yourself struggling. This is normal for any person in their life in Christ. Although Jesus can miraculously heal you, often times He does not. This may seem hard to believe and somewhat harsh on the surface. Let me encourage you. There is joy in the journey.

Often times there are jewels, blessings, and nuggets of wisdom that we would miss if Jesus did heal everyone all the time the first time that they ask. Our relationship with Him is not about us but about Him. This is a hard concept for us to understand. Our purpose, our main purpose is to glorify God in Christ.

One other aspect that God worked in my life was providing for me a loving body of believers that I was able to share my struggles with. This is very important in helping you to be successful in moving closer to Him and leave behind behaviors that do not glorify Him or bless you. These women loved me when I made good choices and also bad choices. The point is that they always were willing to listen to me, pray with me, encourage me, and to shoot straight with me.

Now you cannot do this with everyone you know in the church that you attend. You need to find two or three people of the same sex who are able to do this with you. You can start by going to your pastor and asking for a few recommendations. Then you can connect with these folks and meet with them. You will need to be honest with them about what you are struggling with and what you need for them to do in this relationship. Then give them an opportunity to pray about being an accountability partner. If they are willing then you are well on your way. Some of the things that I had with my accountability partners were: regular prayer, I created specific requests for them to pray for, permission to contact them when I was becoming overwhelmed to help me through a tough moment, met with them regularly (weekly or bi weekly, and they had permission to call me on my stuff.

In a broader sense besides and beyond these accountability partners I also actively participated in the regular workings of my church. This helped me to be exposed to good encouraging relationships where I didn't feel like I was in a test tube. I was just another member of the church wanting to help out as my time and schedule allowed. I showed up on church work days, I helped in the nursery, I joined the church softball team, I went to potlucks, etc when they were open to the church. All these things contributed to my success in coming out of the life style.

At the time that all this was going on I didn't know any specific scriptures that said that this was good to do. Now after over 20 years being an active member of a church and studying the bible actively in my life I now know that the Holy Spirit was leading me into all of this because it is what the church is about. I can now share with you lots of scriptures that you can look up on your own to bless and encourage you (James 15:16, Galatians 6:1-2, Eph 4, etc).

I do want to leave you with one encouraging verse from Matthew 19:27-31 & Luke 18:28-30 & Mark 10:29-31.

Whatever you give up for the Lord, whatever life you leave for Him will be a sacrifice but you will gain 100 fold in this life and also gain eternal life but also bear in mind that you will also have persecutions.

Mark 10:29-31

Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.
"But many who are first will be last, and the last, first."

As you leave the life style with all it's ways you will discover a new life of relationships that you could not have imagined. This has been my personal experience. I have women and men who have become dear friends to me. I have and continue to have more people that are a blessing to me and I to them. All this because I was willing to answer the call of Jesus after two years of leaving all behind to follow Him. I do not regret one thing. Yes there has been persecution and continues to be especially as I continue to share the story of Jesus transforming power in my life.

I hope that you are encouraged even if you may also be frustrated with how long you have been struggling. Continue to listen to the Holy Spirits leadings in your life. The Lord bless you and I bless you. Amen

Monday, March 10, 2008

Love that surpasses Knowledge - Conclusion

This closing benediction is an amazing Truth that should be dwelt upon, often, until it is so much apart of you that it permeates all that you do.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Jesus can do more than we can even imagine. Can you take that in? He can and not only that He wants to. God has chosen to work in and through us to share the message of salvation with those that have not heard. Even though we are feeble, self centered, easily distracted, and often times poorly represent Him. He still chooses to work through His Church. That is you and I. Knowing how slow I am to grow in Him and yet He is willing to risk all to allow me to be a part of building His church. I am humbled when I stop and take a moment to reflect upon this Truth. Now, Jesus is not a fool, He would not risk all and not empower me to be able to fulfill this task. His power comes to me and through me from His Spirit. He said in John that when He goes away He will send His Spirit that will lead me into all Truth (John 16:13).

I know how you have struggled and do not think that a single struggle has been wasted. He knows, and He continues to pursue you. He will help you, He will heal you, He will change you, and He will most assuredly call you out of the life style and into a divine dance with Himself that will spill over and touch many others through you. Hang in there the best is yet to come.

Love that surpasses Knowledge – Part 2

I want to look at Jesus' part now. This is the Ephesians 3;14-21. Here it is in its entirety.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

This section of scripture has lots of great stuff in it that we could take a look at but I want to focus on one verse in particular. That is verse 19. Verse 19 says that His love for us surpasses knowledge. I just love this part. There is something that Jesus does in our lives that is beyond our own knowledge. Now this may seem like a "da". But for me this was a light bulb moment when I saw this.

For me everything that I know and everything that I am is always limited by my mind. If in my mind I don’t believe it then it isn't true for me (even if in reality it is true). To know that God’s love for me is not limited by my mind and thus my knowledge is huge for me. His love goes beyond my mind and is also not limited to my mind. At the same time He will employ my mind to get to know and understand Him (Romans 12:2).

There are times when Jesus has done things in me and for me that have gone beyond my understanding to grasp them and yet He has done them anyway and I have realized them in my life. In the first two years of my relationship with Him, while I was stilling living with my last lover He changed two things inside of me. He taught me that I was lovable just as He created me. I had spent my whole life pushing away everything about me that was feminine. I didn't want to be a man but I didn't want to be a victim either. To me, anything feminine was a risk of being victimized. I would also build up every thing I could about me to make me more strong, more man like. Growing up I modeled myself not after my mom, but after my dad. I watched everything he did and copied it. I believe in my heart that if I was strong I could not be taken advantage of by men. Now I enjoy my freedom as a woman, fully feminine, fully loved. I still am learning and growing into my whole self. I'm having a blast.

He also showed me and took away my fear of rejection. I had absolutely no social skills as a young girl or woman. I could not talk to you unless you had something that I needed. The only thing that gave me some relief was booze and drugs. At least I didn't feel the pain of rejection while medicated and I was more social under the influence. After Jesus showed me my fear of rejection he then set me to the task of learning how to be more social. As I began practicing being more social He showed me the beauty He has placed in each person that I was willing to take the risk and talk to. I learned very quickly that we, the crown of His creation, are housing the very image of God Himself. If I wanted to know Him there was a way to see Him in all people. He is most creative and wonderful and the beauty that I've been exposed to through all these successive years has been amazing. I did not ask Him to do these things. In fact I did not even know that I had lived with a fear of rejection all my life and that it colored everything that I did. But He changed me any way.

I cannot explain to you how He did these things I can only tell you that I now live a life loving who I am, just as He made me. I also now live a life where the fear of rejection is rarely an issue for me. I now enjoy the opportunity to move freely in my life and get to know others and see the beauty that they are. Such a peace and freedom this has given to me.

There is a whole bunch more that you can get out of the verses above. You could camp there for days and continue to gain new insight and understanding that will bless you and change you. I do want to close this long blog by focusing on the last few lines of scripture from this set.

Love that surpasses Knowledge – Part I

I want to look at our part first. The 2 Peter 1:5-11 verses. Here is the scripture in it’s entirety.

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

This scripture starts with, “Now for this very reason…” For what very reason, why should we do these things and have them in increasing measure. We must look at the beginning verses to see our motivation in being so diligent towards moving closer to Jesus. We will be motivated to be diligent because Jesus has given us the power already to do this (1 Pet 1:3). Not only that, He has also given us His promises as well. The promises of; life everlasting and an abundant life here and now (1Pet 1:4).

Since we are properly motivated to be diligent in our faith, let’s look at these things that we are supposed to do. I don’t want to look at them individually. They are easy to read and easy to understand. What I want you to see is that they build upon each other. There is a progression. As you begin to do the first you will then also move into the second. You will continue until you are able to do all of them. I also want you to notice that they start within you and move beyond you. They will help you to relate to and encourage others around you.

I also want you to see the positive and negative consequences of being diligent to work on these things. It says that if we are increasing in our ability to practice these qualities we will be fruitful and useful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if we do not put these into practice in our lives then not only will we not be fruitful and useful in knowing Christ but we will be as a blind person. It will be as if we had never met the Lord at all, as if our lives were never changed by Him, as if we never tasted the cleansing of the Holy Spirit. All the reality of the abundant life with Jesus will be out of our reach.

So what does this mean in practical everyday life. Well, ask yourself, what are you doing that causes you to long again for the gay life style. Is it your fantasy life? Are you actively keeping your fantasy life alive in your head. You need to replace it with something from Jesus. Confess this to Him. Ask Him for forgiveness. Receive that forgiveness and cleansing. Then ask Him for something to replace it. Ask Him for a scripture verse that holds a promise for you. Ask Him to help you to see what is underneath the fantasy life that gets it started up. Is it loneliness, or unworthiness, or a hurt place? Ask Him for a verse that speaks the Truth in your soul. He will do this for you. Then every time this fantasy life starts up, pray and ask the Lord for help and begin to dwell on the verse He gave you. This will be a struggle and often times a moment by moment battle. But it is also through this process that Jesus will grow you towards Himself. I don’t know what keeps you turned toward and desiring the old life style. I do know Jesus and how He has helped me. With each passing year I gained a greater understanding into who He is and the Power that He can and will impart to my life for His glory. His desire for you is that you will bear much fruit, and you will.

Love that surpasses Knowledge - Intro

I went to a women’s retreat this past weekend with a couple of girl friends. We had a great time being together, getting to know one another more, praying with and for each other, and then worshipping Jesus together, not to mention all the great teaching we received. I was deeply challenged by Jesus to continue to make better choices before Him in my life. As we were driving home I had a lot of time to reflect on all that we experienced and the challenges that Jesus had laid before me.

While reflecting I was thinking about what it takes to move out of the life style and into a life with Jesus. Why is it that some are able and others give up in total frustration and return to what they know and are familiar with. As I was pondering this the Lord brought two scriptures to mind that I want to share with you. I don’t claim to have all the answers and I also do not want you to believe that the transition out of the life style is easy, simple, or impossible.

The two scriptures are 2 Peter 1:5-11 and Ephesians 3:14-21. Now as I’m sitting here thinking about just what is it that I want to say, I’m realizing that this may be a very long entry, so get your coffee, find a good moment of time and then continue.

In my 2nd paragraph above, the first line may lead you to believe that it is the gay life or a life with Jesus, that they are mutually exclusive. I do not believe that to be true. What I’m trying to say and what I’ve personally experienced in my life is that living a life in Jesus must be your first priority. If you maintain your personal commitment to being in the life style then you will remain there. If what you are looking for is a closer relationship with Jesus then this must be 1st and foremost in your heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Since you are reading this I will presume that you already have a relationship with Jesus. If you do not you can go to this link and see how to start your relationship with Jesus: (I have no personal connections with this site, I just did a quick Google search, read the site, and decided that it’s presentation is biblical and easily read.) I’m also assuming that you have a desire to leave the life style. It has not met your needs and has left you frustrated.

I believe that there are two parts to drawing nearer to Jesus. The first part is what Jesus does for us and to us (Eph 3:14-21) and the second is what we do (2 Pet 1:5-11). We have a part in a transformed life and if we fail to participate actively in our life with Jesus then we will fail for sure.