Archive for the ‘Being Real’ Category

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Love Letter to a Lesbian

In Being Real,Perspective,Soul Food on May 20, 2013 by The Spillover

Jackie Hill:

Dear ______,

I just want you to know that I understand.

I understand how it feels to be in love with a woman. To want nothing more than to be with her forever. Feeling as if the universe has played a cruel joke on your heart by allowing it to fall into the hands of a creature that looks just like you.

I too was a lesbian. I had same-sex attractions as early as five-years old. As I grew up, those feelings never subsided. They only grew. I would find myself having crushes on my female best friends, but I was far too ashamed to admit it to them — let alone to myself.

At the age of 17, I finally made the decision to pursue these desires. I entered into a relationship with a young lady who became my “first.” The first time we kissed, it felt extremely natural, as if this feeling is what I had been missing all along. After her came another woman and then another woman. Both relationships were very serious, each lasting over a year. I enjoyed these relationships and loved these women a lot. And it came to the point that I was willing to forsake all, including my soul, to enjoy their love on earth.

In October 2008, at the age of 19, my superficial reality was shaken up by a deeper love — one from the outside, one that I’d heard of before but never experienced. For the first time, I was convicted of my sin in a way that made me consider everything I loved (idolized), and its consequences. I looked at my life, and saw that I had been in love with everything except God, and these decisions would ultimately be the death of me, eternally. My eyes were opened, and I began to believe everything God says in his word. I began to believe that what he says about sin, death, and hell were completely true.

And amazingly, at the same time that the penalty of my sin became true to me, so did the preciousness of the cross. A vision of God’s Son crucified, bearing the wrath I deserved, and an empty tomb displaying his power over death — all things I had heard before without any interest had become the most glorious revelation of love imaginable.

After realizing all of what I would have to give up, I said to God, “I cannot let these things or people go on my own. I love them too much. But I know you are good and strong enough to help me.”

Now, at the age of 23, I can say with all honesty that God has done just that. He has helped me love him more than anything.

Now why did I just tell you about this? I gave you a glimpse of my story because I want you to understand that I understand. But I also want you to know that I also understand how it feels to be in love with the Creator of the universe. To want nothing more than to be with him forever. To feel his grace, the best news ever announced to mankind. To see his forgiveness, that he would take such a wicked heart into his hands of mercy.

But with that in mind, we’re in a culture where stories like mine either seem impossible or hilarious, depending on the audience. Homosexuality is everywhere — from music, to TV, even sports. If you’d believe all that society had to say about homosexuality, you’d come to the conclusion that it is completely normal, even somewhat admirable. But that is far from the truth. God tells us that homosexuality is sinful, abominable, and unnatural (Leviticus 18:2220:13Romans 1:18–321 Corinthians 6:9–111 Timothy 1:8–10). But if I were to be honest, sometimes homosexual attractions can seem natural to me.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this may be your dilemma as well. You see what God has to say about homosexuality, but your heart doesn’t utter the same sentiments. God’s word says it’s sinful; your heart says it feels right. God’s word says it’s abominable; your heart says it’s delightful. God’s word says it’s unnatural; your heart says it’s totally normal. Do you see that there is a clear divide between what God’s word says and how your heart feels?

So which voice should you believe?

There was a time in my walk with Christ where I experienced a lot of temptation about falling back into lesbianism. These temptations caused me to doubt God’s word. My temptations and desires began to become more real to me than the truth of the Bible. As I was praying and meditating on these things, God put this impression on my heart: “Jackie, you have to believe that my word is true even if it contradicts how you feel.” Wow! This is right. Either I trust in his word or I trust my own feelings. Either I look to him for the pleasure my soul craves or I search for it in lesser things. Either I walk in obedience to what he says or I reject his truth as if it were a lie.

The struggle with homosexuality is a battle of faithIs God my joy? Is he good enough? Or am I still looking to broken cisterns to quench a thirst only he can satisfy? That is the battle. It is for me, and it is for you.

The choice is yours, my friend. I pray you put your faith in Christ and flee from the lies of our society that coincide with the voices of your heart — a heart that Scripture says is wicked and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). Run to Jesus instead.

You were made for him (Romans 11:36). He is ultimately all that you need! He is good and wise (Psalm 145:9). He is the source of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). He is kind and patient (2 Peter 3:9). He is righteous and faithful (Psalm 33:4). He is holy and just (1 John 1:9). He is our true King (Psalm 47:7). He is our Savior (Jude 1:25). And he is inviting you to be not just his servant, but also his friend. If lasting love is what you’re looking for anywhere else, you are chasing the wind, seeking what you will never find, slowly being destroyed by your pursuit.

But in Jesus, there is fullness of joy. In Jesus, there is a relationship worth everything, because he is everything. Run to him.

Articles

God?

In Being Real,Perspective on February 1, 2013 by The Spillover

Via Ray Ortlund:

old_man_with_the_grey_beard_in_the_dark_2

“Let me introduce you to god.  (Note the lowercase g.)

You might want to lower your voice a little before we go in.  He might be sleeping now.  He’s old, you know, and doesn’t much understand or like this ‘newfangled’ modern world.  His golden days—the ones he talks about when you really get him going—were a long time ago, before most of us were even born.  That was back when people cared what he thought about things, and considered him pretty important to their lives.

Of course all that’s changed now, though, and god—poor fellow—just never adjusted very well.  Life’s moved on and passed him by.  Now, he spends most of his time just hanging in the garden out back.  I go there sometimes to see him, and there we tarry, walking and talking softly and tenderly among the roses. . . .

Anyway, a lot of people still like him, it seems—or at least he manages to keep his poll numbers pretty high.  And you’d be surprised how many people even drop by to visit and ask for things every once in a while.  But of course that’s alright with him.  He’s here to help.

Thank goodness, all the crankiness you read about sometimes in his old books—you know, having the earth swallow people up, raining fire down on cities, that sort of thing—all that seems to have faded in his old age.  Now he’s just a good-natured, low-maintenance friend who’s really easy to talk to—especially since he almost never talks back, and when he does, it’s usually to tell me through some slightly weird “sign” that what I want to do regardless is alright by him.  That really is the best kind of friend, isn’t it?

You know the best thing about him, though?  He doesn’t judge me.  Ever, for anything.  Oh sure, I know that deep down he wishes I’d be better—more loving, less selfish, and all that—but he’s realistic.  He knows I’m human and nobody’s perfect.  And I’m totally sure he’s fine with that.  Besides, forgiving people is his job.  It’s what he does.  After all, he’s love, right?  And I like to think of love as “never judging, only forgiving.”  That’s the god I know.  And I wouldn’t have him any other way.

Alright, hold on a second. . . . Okay, we can go in now.  And don’t worry, we don’t have to stay long.  Really.  He’s grateful for any time he can get.”

-Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? (Wheaton, 2010), pages 37-38.

Articles

Today is a Day for Hatred

In Being Real,Perspective on December 14, 2012 by The Spillover

Jen Wilkin:

Today is a day for hatred.

As I write this article, the death count stands at 20 children. Twenty. Twenty babies who got on a bus or walked out a door or stepped out of a car at the drop-off curb and are never coming home.

Father in heaven, their lunchboxes still hold uneaten sandwiches, unread love notes scrawled on napkins.

For 20 families, the worst fear a parent can know was waiting at the other end of a phone line today. Eleven days before Christmas, no less. Those children and teachers who survived will carry in their heads sights and sounds that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

And what comfort is there to offer them? What words are there to speak? A parent takes every measure possible to protect a child, though we know full well the world is not safe. But this?

There is no spin to put on a story like this. Yes, we will hear stories of heroism begin to emerge over the next hours, and they are stories we will need to hear. But there is no way to soften the blow.

Nor should we want to.

As a mother watching someone else’s horror play out on a screen, I want to feel this to the core of my being. I want it to inform my thoughts and actions in a way that leaves me changed. Because on days like today we learn just how broken sin has left us, just how bleak is our landscape without a Savior.

Days like today give us no choice but to hate. They leave us only with a choice of where that hatred will land: Will we hate God, or will we hate sin?

I choose to hate sin. On days like today I will reflect again on the ravaging effects of rebellion against God, multiplied across millennia, manifested in a freshly printed headline. The more shocking the headline, the more I must come to grips with my minimized reckoning of the severity of sin. With Nehemiah I will cry out, “I and my fathers have sinned,” freshly grieved over the sins of others—yes—but freshly grieved over my own sin as well. I have not pulled a trigger, but I have harmed my share of victims. The killer lies dead, but I live on to harm again. On days like today I will renew my resolve not to participate in tearing down what God pronounced good at the dawn of human existence. I cannot stop a murderer, but by the grace of God I can stop sinning against those he has given into my care.

I cannot offer a snippet of Scripture or a platitude to comfort those 20 families, or to comfort you, my fellow believers. The day of our comfort is a future one. All I can offer is to hate my sin more deeply than I did yesterday and to cry out to God for a time when the groaning of this creation gives birth to that which is once again good. If hope ever transects hatred, it is here. In a few hours my own children will walk through my front door, God willing. I can be a mother who loves deeply and unselfishly in a world that is not safe. Surely that is the least I can do for 20 precious lives.

Today is a day for hatred. Today is a day for the weight of our sin to be felt in full force. May our hearts break under the blow. May they be shattered to dust.

Articles

“I’m Not Much of a Reader”

In Being Real,Perspective on November 5, 2012 by The Spillover

Jared Wilson:

In pastoring, in discipling, I’ve heard it more than I care to count. When exhorting a fellow spiritual journeyman to “Take up and read” the Bible as part of a regular discipline of growth in the Spirit, I will sometimes get this excuse: “I’m not much of a reader.”

“I don’t read,” these folks are saying. “I don’t really read anything. Nothing personal against the Bible itself; I just don’t learn that way.”

This book, they tend to agree, is the place where God is speaking. The one true living God of the Universe reveals what he wants us to know to be complete for every good work in this book called the Bible. In this day and age, when the Scriptures are available in the West at the click of a link or the touch of an iPod, excuses to remain biblically illiterate aren’t just silly — they are sinful.

Imagine I showed you a tent across the yard. You can see a glow emanating from its zippered door. “Inside that tent,” I said, “is God himself. He has something to say to you. You just have to go inside the tent, and the God of the Universe will reveal the mystery of the ages to you.” And then imagine you were to say, “I’m not much of a walker. I prefer sitting to walking.”

Makes about as much sense.

Articles

Every one of us has a counter-argument to the call of God

In Being Real,Soul Food on October 13, 2012 by The Spillover

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth.’” Jeremiah 1:7

Every one of us has a counter-argument to the call of God. “No, Lord. I am only a _________.” But what God said to Jeremiah he says to you: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1:5). You don’t define yourself. God does. And he never has a trivial thought. He’s not capable of it.

God also said, “To all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:7-8). You have been sent into this world by God. You have a mission. He handmade you for it. He is with you every day to deliver you. Do not be afraid.

To fulfill your destiny, you don’t need to mimic someone else’s identity, someone who seems to matter more than you do. The you that you are by creation and redemption in Christ – that basic you is not fundamentally a problem; that you is fundamentally a strategy.

Being who you are is a privilege from God. Trust him. Rise up and serve him, as only you can.

Articles

That Awkward Moment When…

In Being Real,Evangelism,Perspective on June 14, 2012 by The Spillover

From Ken Currie:

Evangelism is counter-cultural. It’s true everywhere on the planet, but perhaps it’s especially so in our increasingly post-Christian Western society. We live in a polite culture, for the most part. Talk about religion? You just don’t go there. Talk about how many tornadoes have come through, and how the team is doing, and how the city has new recycling bins. But Jesus Christ, crucified for sinners and risen from the dead? You just don’t go there. So they say.

For the time being, it seems the greatest threat to gospel-telling in such a society is not that we will be hauled before the city council, beaten, and have our property taken away. What we are really dealing with is some awkwardness.

Awkwardness is perhaps the biggest threat to evangelism for far too many of us.

Awkwardness Never Killed Anyone

I’ve done a little research and can confirm to you that there is not one documented case of someone dying, or even being severely injured, by awkwardness. Not one.

But when I read my kids’ Twitter, I see nearly half their tweets starting with “That awkward moment when… .” Awkwardness is catastrophic, and maybe especially so among the younger generation.

Awkwardness! It’s as if we imagine fire and asteroids and dragons. As if people are running through the streets yelling, “Run from the awkwardness, it’s going to get you! You might feel awkward. It would be terrible if you felt awkward!”

But a little awkwardness — or even a lot of it — is such a small price to pay for enjoying the power of God’s Spirit using us to be his witnesses.

Joy in Small Suffering

I write this as no super-evangelist. I’m right there with you, naturally fearful that things might be awkward. I sit on the plane thinking, “If the guy next to me doesn’t like my talking about Jesus, it’s going to be awkward.” Oh, no, I’ll have a hard life to deal with sitting next to this guy for two whole hours being awkward.

For the Christian, there is a joy and a privilege to suffer for Jesus, even a tiny little bit. Most of us can agree that when we do step out in faith, the awkwardness really wasn’t that bad in retrospect. Awkwardness seems so horrible when it’s in front of us. But it’s not nearly as bad behind us. All my limbs are together, I’m okay, it’s really not that bad.

You Are Involved

The aim here is not to press any kind of guilt on you. But I think when we look at this issue of gospel witness, we have a tendency to do what they do in big cities when somebody is laying on the ground. Everyone walks past the victim like they didn’t notice anything. Then the cops come around the corner and wonder why nobody responded. It was because nobody wanted to get involved.

Well, if you are a born-again believer, you are involved — really, really involved. The Holy Spirit lives in your heart. You cannot be more involved. You’re in the middle of it. It’s happening right there in you. You are the issue, you are the scene of the crime. You’re involved. We cannot dance out of the way.

Why So Difficult?

Why would God make something that we long to do so difficult to do?

For some Christians, it is isn’t that difficult to evangelize. In fact, these tend to be confused as to why so few Christians are involved in ongoing, bold evangelism. If this is you, I want to tell you, we praise God for your boldness. And you should know, you are a bit weird. For you, awkwardness is just an abstract concept. For the rest of us, awkwardness is like a plague to be avoided at all costs. But this is an example of the different parts in the body of Christ making their specific contribution to God’s glory and the advance of his kingdom. So why is something so important and integral to the Christian life so difficult for so many?

Here’s one answer: God gives most of us this awareness of awkwardness so that we would never, not for a second, trust in or magnify ourselves and drift away from the magnificence of the gospel. This awareness in evangelism makes the gospel tangible. It means I need the gospel right now myself. Not only does my hearer need Jesus at this moment, but so do I!

Jesus died for disciples who do a poor job of witnessing. He died for those of us who have all too often failed to commend him because we feared it might get awkward. But he also died to give us the grace to press through the awkwardness to testify to him.

May God give us the grace to rebound from our many failures and grace not to fold in the face of awkwardness in telling others the most important news in the world.

Articles

Get Uncomfortable

In Being Real,Soul Food on May 25, 2012 by The Spillover

The surest way to make ourselves apathetic toward spiritual things is to make ourselves as comfortable as possible in this life.

God tells us that as Christians, we’re pilgrims here. Strangers in a foreign land. But do we live like it?

If you knew you would die today, would giving up your life be inconceivable, due to all the people and things you would miss so dearly?

Or if you knew you would die today, would you be relieved and joyous? Can you say with Paul that to die and be with Christ would be much better than what you have going on right now (Phil 1:23) and that your longing to stay in this world is strictly because of the work you have left to do for Christ (Phil 1:24)?

We’re called to have shallow roots, to live as aliens, but there has never been a more comfortable civilization in the history of mankind. Comfort rocks us to sleep, singing us a lullaby of conformity.

My advice — to you and myself as well — is to get uncomfortable, intentionally, that when our final day comes, we might be able to say, “Ah, yes. Finally!”