Personal Update and Prayer Requests

Yes, the blog has been silent. That is my error still and working in getting to a point of being re-engaged. It is not that God has me silent or lacking of anything to say. Just some how I still have gone into that place of retreat. I  do not know if it is a re-energizing or what.  Since I last posted there have been trials that occurred. One was missing a planned vacation. Now one more recent in my being “tagged” by a semi-truck on way home this week.  I know need to re-engage.  I also have failed to update on Freedom House/Kingdom Pathways progress. I do intend to restart posting and start the discipline of posting rather than being a blog that just simply fades into emptiness and stumbled upon.  I do need to update links as well.

Here are some prayer requests:

1: God energizing me to write articles and thoughts.

2: Recent accident, that my car is not totalled and if it is totalled for us to be able to find a way to manage it financially without too much owed.  I believe God has lessons for me here as well, so pray for wisdom and understanding.

3. Pray for Kingdom Pathways/Freedom House. Right now there is a need for 7000$ a month to hire more staff and take a lot of burden off the man doing most of the significant work. Also pray for healing and freedom for the men who come to get help there.

4. Pray that I am able to touch all who God brings my way and draw them toward healing and restoration in there lives.

There are probably more but the main point of this post is to actually to post and to ask for prayer. Let us see where things go from here.

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Freedom House Update and Prayer Requests

Well on 11/22/11 the request for zoning change went before St. Paul zoning commission. Things were moved to a meeting on 12/8/11 mainly due to some negotiations with St. Paul Planning committee to reduce the planned number to be served and be more in line with St. Paul zoning.  Things are still a ways off from accomplishing.

In the meantime the homes are providing housing to some folks with limited staff and treatment.  This is without any current funding source.  The owner has given all to this ministry and outreach and is beyond own resources.  Currently there is need for ongoing support as things like mortgages, utilities, and insurance need to be paid.  So please consider donating to the ministry. On-line donations are available at www.kingdompathways.org. There is also an address provided if do not want to use online services.  Please prayerfully consider helping out.

Just a reminder of my involvement. I am on the board for the ministry and will be responsible for developing the mental health components to this Jesus Christ centered outreach. 

The purposes of the outreach is to help homeless males who have substance abuse and mental health issues obtain treatment and freedom.  If everything works out with zoning there are two homes that will be approved for six residents each. In addition there will be outpatient services as well. 

So please keep this ministry in your thoughts and prayers and please prayerfully consider giving financial aid as Jim Michaud has literally given all  of his own resources.

Personal Musing: Renewing voice out of silence.

Yes, I have been silent.  Silent for far to long.  I know there are others in other places who have gone quieter of late.  The question really is where is this silent coming from. Am I shrinking back, am I resting, or have I been simply stuck.   Perhaps it is looking at the tasks ahead, the responsibilities, the difficulties and losing perspective. Perhaps there is some needed rest to take on what lies ahead.  For what is ahead in not easy.  There are more responsibilities ahead.  There is need to buckle down and proceed ahead.  The question though is really have I gone from a point of resting to build up and move ahead to the disengagement of sleep.  There will be blog articles soon musing on rest, sleep, and slumber.  But as for me right now, today, where am I.  I am not where I meant to be.  I had many plans of what I was going to do.  I was going to get started on book writing. I was going to get private practice from being in a holding pattern to sewing seeds toward moving forward.  Now, in all this pulling back, there has been some forward movement. My client load at the clinic picked up strength and near a full load.  Another question is am I walking in faith and under God’s authority in His Kingdom, or am I letting others have authority. 

I need to dwell more on what it means when I go silent.  For there is no shortage of words could have written and it is a loss that certain things I had in mind, such as musing on love over Valentines day did not happen. And that is not write.  So why am I shrinking back.  I could say I am just being at rest, but in retrospect what may have started with rest may have progressed to the point of slumber. I need to write and explore those areas more.  The other is what responsibility means to me.  There is a lot of reluctance with me tied to responsiblity.  There is too much not getting to things until it is necessary. There are many other things.  

So the point is, if I have reached a point of slumber, of that is which is beyond helpful and necessary to that which impedes, then I need to wake up, rise up, and go forward. For the times we are in call for us to be alert, sound, and engaged. Please forgive me for the disengagement.  While I can justify it with many things related to life, it is not following what God has asked of me.  And I think God is making me aware that If I don’t follow through with the things he sets before me, I can miss out and will weep over what could have been.  So how about the rest of you?  Anyone shrink back, pull back, go silent, go from rest to sleep or slumber?  For no matter where we are, God is there to give us what we  need.  I feel lack of strength, lack of motivation.  I feel like I am near a point of taking on too much or even pulling myself in multiple directions. But for what God calls me to, there will be enough, it is all in His time, if I follow. If I lag, or falter, or hold back I can miss. And if I react out of self even doing what I think what God wants but of own accord, it will cost me dearly.  At any rate, here are the tasks I need to commit to.  Please do drop me emails, pm’s or words to see progress. Here is one thing I know, it is helpful to set measurable objectives and review progress.  Treatment plans in counseling are all about measurable objectives.  Things can move forward toward. 

1.  Renew daily time in God’s word and prayer.

2.  Blog at least once per week.

3.  Spend time on private practice website at least once a week until finished.

4. Get started writing project by working at least once per week.

Things I need to complete within the next week are taxes and liability insurance.

At any rate, the time has come to wake up, renew voice, and start moving, a bit at a time.  Please check on me and see where I am and how I am doing. As one of the big things that is true, is that I know I need to support and encouragement of others.  As much as God has me stepping into messes and being concerned for others, he has not made me or anyone else capable to so doing without others around us.  Also please let me know how I can support you, be it here, be it in email, be it at a forum, be it in person at church. Please let me know what I can do.

Musing on the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim)

Recently on this blog there was some reflection on The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) which has also been commented on in two previous articles one in 2008, the other in 2009. There has been little commentary on this blog regarding the days following Rosh Hashanah or on Yom Kippur. This year this writer is being stirred to comment on these as well. Starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are ten days known as the ‘Days of Awe’ (Yamim Noraim) also known as the ‘Days of Repentance.’ Part of the reason these days have not been addressed is because of the perspective of doing something to get right with God to assure being in good standing and possibly reversing God’s judgment. The views is that the actions taken on the Days of Awe can alter what God had written on “The Feast of Trumpets” with the final judgment being cast on the day of Judgment. The viewpoint is that during this time a person can engage in one of three actions: “teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah,” repentance, prayer, good deeds. There is also the focus on reconciling with those who you have done wrong as Jewish though based on the Talmud suggested that the Yom Kippur sacrifice does not atone for what you have done wrong to others. So,w hile the ten day focus on repentance and getting right with God is honorable, it is coming from a missing perspective.

As a Christian, the perspective of repentance is different, as we do not focus on whether or not we have to “earn God’s favor.” Nothing that we do makes us right before God, as we have been redeemed, covered by the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Yet, if you take some time to examine and consider there is a Christian perspective on these days and it is certainly worthwhile to take time to engage in extended reflection on our relationship with God and others. Note, that these days start with the “trumpet blasts” of the Feast of Trumpets. The blasts are a wake-up call stating the time is now and time is left before the coming day of Atonement, the great day of judgment. The period between the “wake-up” alarm and the serious day of atonement may well be reflective of the tribulation period. God does nothing without meaning and what he established is a shadow of what is to come. So it is worthwhile to take these days seriously and reflect on repentance. On this blog up until Yom Kippur the article focus will be on various aspects of repentance. From a Christian perspective this is examining both what have done wrong and what am doing right. It is seeking God to know and learn what area of life he is refining toward change. It is a time to look at the things that have been left undone. It is a time to allow the Holy Spirit to work on our hearts and move through the ongoing sanctification. It is also worthwhile to consider or relationship with others and reconcile with those we have wronged and forgive those who have wronged us.

It is also important to be aware that for each of us this process should be a daily process. As being a member of the Kingdom of God and being made clean by the blood of the Lamb of God, every day is really a day of Awe. Every day is a day to consider our relationship with God: where we are missing the mark due to action or inaction. Daily we need to forgive and be forgiven. Daily we need to make right what we have done wrong. Yet, there is the time of the calendar between God’s established days that we can learn from. The majority of the Christian church has lost awareness of these days. Some parts of the church have taken the concept and used it for other extended periods of reflection such as Lent. Yet, God has set some days for His purpose and being aware and remembering what God has done and is doing is important. It is worthwhile to reflect on what God has done, what he is doing, and what is yet to come. As a believer in Messiah, God has made me clean and redeemed me. I am currently in an ongoing process of being cleaned known as sanctification where that which is unclean is being refined and done away with. There is a coming and future point where as a part of the body of Christ, we will be presented as clean before Jesus as the “bride of Christ.” For those who accept Jesus as Messiah, each has no fear of the day of Judgment for the position before God has been established. We await the great and future day of true great Awe and wonder as we await Jesus who will straighten out all of which has been made crooked and twisted and all shall be brought into proper account. So take time, reflect. Repent. Pray. Act in love toward others. These are actions of people in the Kingdom of God, not because they put us in right position with God, but because he loved us and we desire to serve and grow into a greater reflection of Jesus the Messiah. It is a day by day, step by step process.

Musings on the Clash between homosexuality and Christianity

This article will quickly be the most controversial article published on the blog. It will be controversial because what this article is reflecting on is highly controversial, that being the ongoing clash between the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender) community and Christianity. The reason for this article is because the clash has been in the news recently, particularly in the Twin Cities. This month of June is now nationally recognized as GLBT pride month.  This weekend the Twin Cities holds an annual Pride Festival.  So the topic is a central one to what is currently transpiring culturally.

The impetus of this article comes from two recent local news items.  One is about evangelist Brian Johnson being allowed by court to give away Bibles at the Twin Cities Pride Festival.  Brian Johnson had run a booth and passed out Bibles and discussed with individuals matters of faith. He had been a vendor at the festival for ten years but last year they no longer let him have a booth because he talked about folks repenting from Homosexuality. He distributed literature instead; an action that they tried to block via court but court indicated was allowed.  Now Brian Johnson did attend the festival and talked to others in a non-disruptive manner. The Star Tribune quoted him as saying “We’re not interested in preaching, and we never were,” Johnson said. “We’re not here for all that stuff in the news. We’re the ones that meet and have honest conversations with people, and we have our own rules that we go by as far as conduct is concerned.” Now there was a person at the Pride Festival that was more disruptive and typical of the kind of actions that can occur in the clash between homosexuality and Christianity.

Another news story is about Pastor Tom Brock of Hope Lutheran Church being outed in the magazine LAVENDER as having same-sex attraction and reporting to a twelve step group that he “fell into temptation in Solvakia.” This again highlights the clash as the Pastor has repeatedly spoken against homosexuality and the ELCA recent decision to allow active homosexual clergy. In order to obtain the information, the magazine reporter joined the twelve step group Pastor Brock was a part of and then wrote about what was said in the confines of the group in a very un-flattering article. Varied articles say that the action was justified because Pastor Brock teaches against homosexuality yet is someone who has same-sex attraction. The response seems to be that the reason Pastor Brock preached about homosexuality as being sinful was because of his own issues as a reaction of his own same sex attraction.  This again highlights the severity of the clash and the divergent views to the point where unethical behavior is justified because of one mans teaching from a Biblical perspective.

In the past couple months Jennifer Knapp made the news as outing herself as a lesbian.  Ray Boltz did the same a few years ago. Recently http://www.downthelinezine.com/  printed a periodical interviewing dUg Pinnock, Sean Doty, and Rick Alba related to matters of homosexuality, God, and the Church.  The articles (note:article is a download) are an interesting read and demonstrate how the clash exists within the church.

Now there are several issues that can be examined here but the point of this article is to really examine essential elements of the clash and how it applies as a whole.  This article is not going to really focus on the development of same-sex attraction nor will it focus on similar controversial issues.  However, before examining the clash it is important to note that this author believes homosexuality to be a sin and immoral.  However, the sin is not rated more sinful then other areas humans fall short of God’s standards. The sin in particular is one of a sexual nature of which there is many other types of sexual immorality that Christians battle daily. In understanding how to love and be salt and light to others, it is important to get an idea of what are the layers of the clash. What really is in conflict?  Why is the issue of homosexuality such a hot issue? The answers to these questions really come down to understanding the heart of the clash.

In examining the issue, the clash between Christianity and homosexuality really has four key components: will, desire, love, and identity. These issues of this clash are not just about this one issue but really are reflective to all clashes of the world and God’s kingdom. So when read the examination of the four components, please recognize that it also reflects other conflicts and areas of immorality. Homosexuality is used to highlight the essential elements of the conflicts in the four key component areas because the clash and conflicts are clearly observable.

The first key component to examine is that of will which really becomes a conflict between self and surrender.  It is about doing what self wants or surrendering to God and His ways.  Jesus stated in Luke 17:33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. In reading articles and trying to understand the clash, it is clear that there is an element of seeking after what is good for self and holding on to it. This stands in contrast to surrendering every part of life to God.  It is a choice to seek after what makes self feel better or being able to give all to God no matter what the apparent cost to self.  In dealing with temptation, including all forms of sexual immorality, Hebrews 12:4 states In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. This suggests that no only is there a battle of the will but that battle is tough and can even be painful. It is often far easier to choose that which feels good or is beneficial to self verses walking in faith and trust and enduring the battle at all costs.  Ultimately it is a matter of looking out for own good or trusting God and following His ways. This clash is very evident with homosexuality for ultimately there is an act of the will to embrace the same-sex attraction or reject it and then choices to act on the attraction or reject it. Now many point to the fact that the attraction is not voluntary or asked for as a reason to minimize the elements of the dynamic of will, but yet ultimately there comes many points of choice, there comes acts of the will. 

 Now the second key component is that of desire which results in a clash between following the heart or following truth. In this day and age there is an increasing focus on that which restrains passion or desire is immoral. The desires of the heart are primary and anyone that would hold back any pleasure from another is evil.  Society is fixated on suffering being the greatest evil and our desires for pleasure are the greatest good.  It is becoming the way of the world but is not the way of truth. When it comes to the things we are attracted to and attach ourselves, this is the function of the heart. The problem with the heart is that it is twisted and not interested in what is true, only in satisfaction. Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) states The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  This verses shows that the core each of us is twisted and polluted and that we can desire things that are not for our benefit. This clearly is the case within homosexuality but is seen in other facets of life including an abused spouse. It is a difficult to break from that which is harmful and is often connected to issues of the heart. So this clash becomes a matter of people who say they did not ask for the desire but it is there and there is pleasure in seeking the desire and pain in resisting. The heart often wins out over the truth.  When the heart does not want what is in line with truth, there is a significant clash.  Going against the desires of the heart is painful. Why the heart desires what it desires is complicated because there are several factors that go into developing attachment and varied desires. The fact is our desires are not truth but sometimes are treated as such.  Now with regards to homosexuality that desire is a loving relationship and attraction to same sex or pleasure obtain from same-sex relationships but that very desire is a twist and leads to distorted views and a clash in perspectives on love.

The third key component of the clash between homosexuality and Christianity is that between perspectives of love.  On one hand is the view of “romantic love” and that everyone should be able to experience love as they see fit. Those teaching the immorality of homosexuality are seen as folks who present an unreasonable barrier to people who simply want to love someone else. Some might even argue that part of the definition of God is that God is love than opposing expressions of love is going contrary to God. Yet, the Bible is quite clear regarding same sex relations as being immoral and against his design, such that He refers to it is called an abomination. However, society today elevates the romantic relational love. It is the be all and end all of society. It serves two purposes that of facilitating pleasure and that of establishing a legacy through children, or in other words pleasing self and creating extensions of self.  The love of the Bible is of a different sort. It is love that gives of self even at great cost. It is a love that would die in the place of another.  It is love that touches the lives of others to build them up and point them to walking in truth. The love of God in fact is not about love without limits and just doing what feels good. The love of God is a perfect balance of caring for others to build them up and pointing them to the path of truth. It is a love that is able to set and point toward limits to keep others from danger. What happens if a parent does not set limits with a child?  The clash here then becomes focus on the Christian perspective one of depriving others do to pointing out behavior that is harmful. And yes, there are indeed harmful consequences in bodily, relational, and spiritual ways yet, even pointing out those consequences becomes a matter of restraining from desire to love.

The last component is that of identity. The clash escalates to the point where it is more than just about will, desire, and love. The clash escalates because the matter has become one of identity. Being gay has become an identity and being all about who you are as a person. It has a complete culture even to go along with the identity. The thing is once it take on a matter of identity, once it become who you are rather than a matter of sexual attraction and behavior it takes on a tone that it is something that is unchangeable.  Now undoing twisted attachment and attraction is not easy and takes deep healing, it is possible. However, if it becomes a matter of identity then it becomes important to not resist, for you are resisting who you are, or some would say who you were created to be. This is part of the negative comments directed at Pastor Tom Brock. He is tempted with same sex attraction, yet he does not accept this as his identity. He works to stand against his temptation, and yes sometimes falters. However, folks comment and engaging in outing him to say a “ha ha you are speaking against who you are and therefore a hypocrite.” It really points to a focus on believing there is an unchangeable matter of identity and rejecting it is rejecting self and you cannot change who you are. Yet, the bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:6-11(ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  In Jesus, through sanctification it is possible to change. Christianity does teach that change is possible even for the hardest, most vile of people if one dies to self and surrenders to Jesus completely.  It is then that we become a 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  Once we are surrender to Jesus, we have a new identity and we become a new creation. And yes, in the process all of us still walk with day by day choices and have an ongoing process of cleansing and sanctification. It is a completely different mindset than surrendering to an identity because identity cannot change. In Jesus, identity does change.

Now all that being said, there are sincere and true followers of Jesus lost in this clash and fully embracing homosexuality. There are a multiple reasons and really getting down to the heart of the matter is difficult. Yet, there is clear pointing out in scripture that embracing homosexuality is equivalent of exchanging the truth of God for a lie. (Romans 1:25) It is an example of what is to come, people setting aside truth for deception. Now by saying this, not all who are lost in the sin have fully crossed the line of complete exchange but only God knows the heart and whether an exchange of truth for a lie has occurred. Ultimately it will come down to who and what you surrender to and what you honor and uphold: God’s truth or the way of self.  This is true in all battles of sin and self.  Now for people who find themselves like Tom Brock and others, and seeking to grow in truth and overcome sexual sin of any sort, there is a good resource to pursue at www.harvestusa.org.  But know well for each of us there exists a fight and a battle to stand firm and not cross over to the flames of hell.  Recently a good brother stated the enemy is patient and will look for an opportune time. This is a good picture of a roaring lion seeking to devour. A roaring line is one protecting territory, so in order to be devoured you have to enter the place of danger. This fits with proverbs and directions to not even go down the street of one that will seek to seduce you. Homosexuality is no different than any other trap of the devil. Change is possible but above all whoever and wherever you are surrender to the King of Kings, true, deep change is possible to be altered from any identity.

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Mother’s day Musing

Today is a day our culture sets aside to honor Mother’s.  It is a day that we lift them up and express gratitude for how they have nurtured our lives.  It is also the day that we lift up the women in our life who are mothers or will be mothers some day.  So today I first want to thank and honor God for my mother, my mother-in-law, step mother, and wife.  These women are all a blessing in one way or another to me. 

My mother:  She is someone who displayed in my life God’s love and nurturing.  She always did what she could to build me and my brother up in the faith.  She stood in the gap in prayer for both of us many a time. She prayed for the women we would some day marry continually starting from birth.  She dedicated me to God before I was born.  My mother was the first to suggest I consider the field of psychology based on my ability to listen to others.   The man I am today, I am in large part because of the nurturing and love she shared. 

My mother-in-law:  This woman is a gift from God.  Her passion for God is clear.  Her coming into my life through my life was a true blessing that not many men experience.  She is there constantly for my wife, even when she is thousands of miles away.  She displays everyday what it is to walk with God.  It is a true blessing.

Step-mother: My dad’s wife Janie has been a woman who has uplifted both me and my wife. She has shown perseverance in trial. She has been an encouragement when times were tough.  She is someone who has become a clear blessing. She means a lot to me and my wife.  She is a true witness that God works all things together for the good. 

My wife:  She is a true blessing. Some day she will make a wonderful mother and will display God’s love and nurture. In the meantime we grow and struggle and love each other. We continue to grow and prepare for what God has ahead. She is a woman of great depth of passion and cares deeply to the point where others pain and struggles impact  her. 

So I thank God for these examples of his intent when he created women.  Wifes and mothers teach aspects of God’s nature and love and it is true for these women in my life. So today I hold them up in high honor and express thanks to the author of love and pray that God builds them up and works through them even more to reflect that love.

Passion Week Musings: The Garden Betrayal

After the Last Supper the scene moves to the Garden and the eventual betrayal. There are two main reactions to focus on during the time in the garden, Jesus action and that of the disciples. Jesus was under intense emotions and stress. He was about to undergo something that none of us can grasp. He knows he is about to die a horrid death. He knows he is to be sacrificed. He is at a moment of intense anticipation for the events ahead. So what he did was seek the father. He resisted the temptation to run or go another way. He stayed true and let his heart out toward the Father. His emotions and struggle was so intense that his body could not hold up under the emotional distress and he started sweating blood. Take you most intense emotional stress and it will not come close to the agony Jesus was experiencing. Yet, he continued to submit to the will of the father, knowing that there is no other way to redeem mankind for if there was any other way it would have happened.

Now during the period of time that Jesus is undergoing this intense emotional struggle while awaiting the betrayal the disciples were there. Jesus asked them to stand by, watch, and pray. The disciples tried to follow suit but the fell asleep. Jesus did not condemn them for their failures. He was aware that their spirits were willing, they tried to follow suit, but they could not overcome and resist the flesh. They fell asleep. He found them sleeping and the third time he did not even bother to waken them until the betrayer arrived. When the moment arrives, he declares there ongoing status of sleeping and then awakens them to let them know the time has come. As the event unfold, the disciples end up ready for a fight, Peter even gets aggressive. Jesus remains steadfast. So it is clear that in spite the teaching and preparation they did not understand. They were still focused on a conquering messiah in spite of Jesus telling them over and over he would suffer death, this may even been part of their struggle with flesh. They did not really know why they needed to watch and pray. They were confident and had faith in Jesus and were ready to fight with him. They were not ready to see the one they loved so much and put faith in turned over to suffer and die.

Today the church is not really in a different place then the disciples. We know Jesus is coming soon. We are aware of events and signs to watch for. Yet we get caught up in the cares of world. We have our goals and plans and dreams we want to accomplish or experience before His return. These very things cause is to be weak in flesh and ultimately to fall asleep. God directs us to watch, pray, and be sober. Yet, we all fall asleep. Every one of us, for ultimately we fail to fully understand and grasp what is going to happen. In our spirit we long for the return, but in our flesh it is another story, so we fall asleep. It is much better to watch and pray and stand firm, yet it does stretch our limits. Now some fellow believers focus and hope on the “Rapture” of the church, yet know this, we need to be awake. If you rest in a perception of coming safety when the world is already growing darker, it is really a form of slumber. God like the disciples gives us preparation and will direct us what we need to do to stand firm and not falter. Yet, for us often the spirit is willing but the flesh is week so we sleep in the appearance of current and coming safety. Meanwhile there is a roaring lion about looking who he may devour. There is evil going on, sometimes coordinated, sometimes just in synchronicity. If we slumber, we falter and fail to stand firm.