September 12, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/12/09-Howard Brown Health Center (IL)

The mission of Howard Brown is to promote the well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons through the provision of health care and wellness programs, including clinical, educational, social service and research activities. Howard Brown designed these programs to serve gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons in a confidential, supportive, and nurturing environment. Howard Brown Health Center is committed to working cooperatively with other community-based organizations serving and contributing to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Founded in 1974, Howard Brown is now one of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations. With an annual budget of over $15 million, the agency serves more than 28,000 adults and youth each year in its diverse health and social service delivery system focused around seven major programmatic divisions: primary medical care, behavioral health, research, HIV/STD prevention, youth services, elder services, and community initiatives. Howard Brown is a multi-site operation based in Chicago and includes a main health and research center in the Uptown neighborhood, Triad Health practice at Illinois Masonic Hospital, the Broadway Youth Center, and three Brown Elephant resale shops in Chicago and Oak Park.

Click here to find out more, including information about their upcoming AIDS Run/Walk on October 3

SNN Recommends 9/12/09-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa, OK

If you live in the Tulsa, OK area, we recommend you consider visiting Diversity Christian Fellowship International to worship on Sunday. DCFI is:

a diverse group of people who either have been rejected by mainstream religion for one reason or another, or are simply tired of all the religious junk. We understand (because we have experienced) what it feels like to not be accepted and not allowed to worship God simply because of race, gender, social status, financial status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religious background and many other reasons.

But we are not about all that stuff. We are about worshipping the one true loving and merciful God in spirit and in truth. Anyone who has the desire to know God and wants to worship God is certainly welcome here!

A place where JESUS is LORD!

Jesus Christ is #1 here at DCFI. No other God. No other religion. Our message here is about Jesus and His love, mercy, and grace toward ALL people. He is exalted and glorified because HE is awesome!

A place YOU can call HOME!

At DCFI you will find a family of loving people who really care about you. The people here are genuine and sincere because we've had enough of the two-faced ones. We're not perfect, only human and forgiven; and we love each other anyway and strive to help each other.

Our mission is to equip others through instruction and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, to live a life motivated by a greater confidence that allows us to move out in ways that show love for God and His people.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
(Isaiah 61:1-3)

Click here to find out more, including a link to the live Internet broadcast of their services.

Encouraging Words 9/12/09-"The Heart of a Teacher"

This week we are posting from the Human Rights Campaign's "Out In Scripture" series, teachings from the Standard Lectionary. Here is the description from the HRC:

You don’t have to leave your mind, heart and body behind when you encounter the Bible. This Human Rights Campaign resource places comments about the Bible alongside the real life experiences and concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith and our allies.

Out In Scripture is a collection of over 175 conversations about the Bible. With the skilled help of 100 diverse scholars and pastors, from over 11 different denominations, you will discover a fresh approach to Scripture. Here you can be honest, question and go deeper.

Out in Scripture is a great devotional resource as you consider your life of faith and put that faith into action. It is also especially helpful for preachers preparing sermons based on the Revised Common Lectionary.

The Bible’s not about beating you up, but lifting us all up. It includes the seeds of liberation and justice. You, too, can be out in Scripture.

Now for this week's teaching.

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Proper 19), Year B

From where does a teacher draw strength to teach? The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is called to be teachers, to sustain the weary with a word, with a gentleness born of wisdom. Both Isaiah and Mark remind us that the consequences of teaching may be suffering. Jesus assures us, however, that the ultimate outcome is resurrection and new life.

This week's lectionary Bible passages: Isaiah 50:4-9a and Psalm 116:1-9; Proverbs 1:20-33 and Psalm 19; James 3:1-13; Mark 8:27-38

Click here for commentary and questions for meditation/discussion.

Encouraging Music 9/12/2009 -"I Surrender (All to You)" by Vineyard

Ryan White Legislation Set to Expire

From Baltimore OUTloud, posted in its entireity.

"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." These are the words of the late Ted Kennedy. He went on to co-champion the landmark legislation for people living with HIV/AIDS – the Ryan White CARE Act.

Since 1991, programs under the Ryan White Act have been providing care to persons living with HIV/AIDS, serving over 500,000 people yearly. On September 30th, without further action from Congress, the Ryan White program will disappear. Yes. That means the end of primary and supportive care for men, women, children, and families living with HIV/AIDS who cannot afford care. In a time when every 9½ minutes, someone is the U.S. is infected with HIV, there will be no safety net for care for those living with this disease, no help with medications, no medical support to survive.

How did this happen? Since its inception in 1990, the Ryan White program has been reauthorized in five-year intervals. In 2006, Congress approved a three-year extension with a clause that repeals the legislation should Congress not pass new legislation by September 30, 2009.

The state of Maryland stands to lose 65 million dollars in medical services dollars based on the lack of action by Congress to assure continuance of this ever so important legislation. Why is it important? Maryland ranks fifth among states and Baltimore ranks second to only Washington D.C. among metropolitan areas in this country when it comes to HIV/AIDS case counts according to the Center for Disease Control’s surveillance report from 2007.

The impact of HIV/AIDS has been severe on communities that have been the targets of social discrimination and poverty. Many people are working and uninsured due to situations that can be directly tied to their perceived worth by the powerful. Race, sexual orientation, and even gender bias still have major influence. Some of our citizens have not seen equality in opportunities and consideration when determining where the best of the United States resources are applied due to that observable fact.

The current wrangling over the reform of our medical systems has only placed further burden on those who would like to get the attention of our legislators before the last five weeks of these programs (Ryan White) expire.

Under the guise of saving our citizens, ludicrous propaganda about Adolph Hitler and Communism have been used by the powerful to move the gullible into an alliance that if allowed will do more harm to those in the most need. Allowing the life saving services provided by Ryan White programs for communities in "severe need" to lapse while struggling to perpetuate a failing health care system will be the by-product of the fear mongering and self-preservation of special interest groups.

Ryan White programs have set high marks for breaking down the impact of stigma associated not only with HIV/AIDS, but often on the communities most impacted as well. To be gay, African American, Latino, Asian, transgendered, female, in recovery, or part of any sexual minority has been challenging in this society.

These programs (Ryan White) have been successful in reaching out to our most distressed communities and getting the health care where it is needed by breaking down the barriers built by discrimination that precedes the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our country. As long as we have the intolerance witnessed during the shouting matches about health care reform, we will need Ryan White.

According to the CDC, 6,000-9,000 people in Maryland maybe HIV positive and not know it. A great number of our citizens still arrive at medical care facilities only when their illness is so acute that is in an emergent state that can no longer be ignored. It is not a choice by those in need; often it is their only opportunity to receive some sort of care. The additional costs for acute care of uninsured citizens are staggering, and in the end they are born by Medicaid or Medicare, both receive funds through tax systems.

Ryan White programs specialize in reducing those numbers where our current health care system has failed miserably. Until there is something in place and showing results, we need Ryan White programs.

Daily Devotional 9/12/2009 -"Freedom From Fear"

From: Our Daily Bread

You did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear. --Romans 8:15

Lena arrived in the port city of Magadan, Siberia, well before the Iron Curtain was drawn back. Sick and penniless, she went to the dock area to find work. There she met a gentleman who, as she put it, had "a good heart." He gave Lena a job in his factory, and he and his wife provided her with food and shelter.

Lena had always feared the future. She confided in the couple about her visits to spiritualists and fortunetellers, but her newfound friends assured her that she didn't need to consult the mediums to be secure about the future. Then they told her about Jesus. Lena had never heard of Him, so they explained who Jesus is and that He could set her free from her fear. A few months later, Lena became a believer in Jesus Christ.

"Now," she says, "instead of seeking the spirits, I am led by the Holy Spirit." Her apprehension about the future has been replaced by the peace that God alone can give.

Perhaps you're worried about the future and preoccupied with what it may have in store for you. There's only one way you will ever have peace about it. Like Lena, you must put your future in God's hands. Trust in Christ as your Savior. Then, no matter what the future holds, you will experience the peace that His Holy Spirit brings. — David C. Egner

I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said;
And today I'll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead. --Stanphill

We may not know what the future holds, but we can trust the One who holds the future.

September 11, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/11/09-Blind, Friends, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People (BFLAG)

The purpose of Blind, Friends, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People (BFLAG) is to provide for the betterment of the lives of those who are visually impaired and who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

By providing a forum for the views and concerns of visually impaired persons interested in issues facing those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

By providing information about publications of interest to members that are produced in accessible format and by encouraging the production of such material in accessible format.

By facilitating the free exchange of ideas, opinions and information relative to matters of concern to blind people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

By seeking to assure adequate services to those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender by agencies and institutions serving the blind.

Click here to find out more about BFLAG.

Encouraging Words 9/11/09-Why Romans 1 Should NOT Be Used to Condemn Gay People

SNN Recommends 9/11/09: Bill Cosby's Classic "Noah"

Although there is no video, we thought, especially if you are from our generation, the original audio of Bill Cosby's routine "Noah," where he shares his take on the relationship between God and Noah leading up to the great flood.

Encouraging Music 9/11/2009 -"Pour Out My Heart" by Ezequias, Jr.

Are Bisexual Organizations Dropping the Ball?

Joshua Lynsen writes in the Washington Blade that bisexual organizations that often complain about being left out of LGBT advocacy initiatives has a golden opportunity to step up and get involved in the upcoming National Equality March, but have so far failed to do so:

I was disappointed — and more than a bit surprised — to see no bisexual organizations on this week’s updated list of National Equality March endorsers. I think that omission reflects very, very poorly on the bi community.

For whatever reason, no national bi organization or local bi group has yet seen fit to supportively attach their name to what is quickly becoming the year’s most important LGBT gathering. This despite the fact that event planners explicitly included bisexuals in their one, simple demand: Full federal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans in all matters governed by civil law.

The resulting conundrum is one I don’t understand. Why can’t bisexual organizations make the effort to support an event that’s making the effort to support bisexuals?
Bi activists often talk at length about bisexual erasure, the tendency to actively or accidentally omit bisexuals from many stations in life. Whether it’s a reporter misidentifying a bi woman as a lesbian, or people presuming me to be straight because the love of my life is a woman, bisexual erasure is agitating. It often forces bisexuals into the awkward position of reminding the world that we exist.

But now that bi organizations have a golden opportunity to join the big event and lend their name to this historic day, how do they respond? With something akin to a shoulder shrug. It’s as though the girl who long lamented that she wasn’t asked to the party was invited to join — and now suddenly isn’t sure if she wants to go.

Daily Devotional 9/11/2009 -"So Near and Yet So Far"

From: Our Daily Bread

Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. —Romans 10:13

Back in Canada's early days, pioneers were taking shelter in Fort Babine. When supplies were nearly exhausted, Victor Clark and a young guide left the fort and walked to the town of Hazelton to get food.

On their way back to the fort, snow began to fall. Soon the two travelers were chilled to the bone by a stinging wind and were unable to follow the trail in the darkness. Forced to stop, they built a fire and spent a miserable night. Then as light slowly dawned, they saw the fort with its warmth and comfort—only a few hundred yards away from where they had stopped. So near and yet so far!

The Israelites were at the very border of the Promised Land (Numbers 13). Caleb and Joshua, the two courageous spies, had brought back the lush foods of Canaan and encouraged the people to take possession of the land (vv.26,30). But the people doubted and condemned themselves to 40 years of wandering and death in the desert (14:28-30). They too were so near and yet so far away!

Have you heard many times about Jesus' love for you but remain uncommitted to Him? Are you near yet so far away? Choose now to cross over into the "promised land" of salvation found in Jesus.
— Vernon C. Grounds

A Prayer
Dear Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness.
I believe that You died and took my punishment.
I trust You as my Savior and Lord.

Now is the time to choose the Lord—later may never come.

September 10, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/10/09-LGBT Center Awareness Day is 9/15

Created by CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Center Awareness Day is an annual day of awareness promoting the vital services offered by community centers and the central role they play in local communities.

On Tuesday, September 15, CenterLink will hold “LGBT Center Awareness Day”, a first-ever national day of action focused on awareness around the work of LGBT community centers everywhere. The day was planned to help bring national attention to the Community Center Movement within the LGBT movement, which serves over 40,000 people weekly, and highlight the ways that people can get involved or utilize their local centers.

CenterLink’s theme for the 2009 LGBT Center Awareness Day is “My Community Center Changed My Life” and will focus on the vital role that community centers play in the health, empowerment, and unity of LGBT communities.

Centers continue to change the lives of the LGBT community by offering services including; social services, mental health counseling, cultural programs, recreational activities, libraries, educational programs, support groups, youth support, elder support, computer access, and care and treatment (just to name a few).

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Words 9/10/09-Finding Faith at Gender Crossroads

From the San Gabriel Valley Tribune:

Eva-Genevieve Scarborough's story of how she accepted Jesus Christ into her life on May 4, 1980, is relatively undramatic.

Until the day someone with a booklet from Campus Crusade for Christ knocked on her door in Van Nuys, Scarborough had an unchurched upbringing. That day, she read through the booklets that the group left her. A few weeks later, on May 4, she attended her first church service and that was that: She was unchurched no more.

But Scarborough's road-to-Damascus experience, the moment when Saul became Paul - or in this case when Evan became Eva - would come much later. Scarborough's dark night of the soul - the years when she would first be kicked out of her church, then her marriage and finally her job; the years when she would begin living her life full time as a transgender woman - would come more than two decades after she first made her commitment to Jesus.

Scarborough, 54, has made a new life for herself, another new life, and she's out all the way.

"I am so done with hiding," she says. "I am out of the closet. The closet is broken down, burned up and gone. The world is now my closet. I am not going to hide."

In her new life, Scarborough is out but she still calls herself God's girl. She wears a cross on the outside of her blouse everyday and goes to church every Sunday, sometimes twice. She has found a home, both spiritually and literally, in a small but close-knit community of people that she never imagined existed: transgender Christians.

Click here to read the rest of this inspiring story.

SNN Recommends 9/10/09: "Courage"

Courage is a resource for gay and lesbian Christians based in the U.K. Here's some info about the orgainization from their website:

Courage is a UK-based, not for profit, evangelical Christian organisation, founded in 1988.

Who is it for?

o Gay and lesbian Christians who are seeking a safe place of friendship in which to reconcile their faith and sexuality and grow towards Christian maturity
o Their partners and friends, parents and other family members
o Churches that need a resource to help them understand the issues and needs of gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) people
o Gay people without a faith who are seeking answers to life’s questions.

Our focus is:

o our relationship with God

And our objectives are:

o to work out our Christian discipleship together, in a way that is consistent with the teaching of Scripture, especially for those who are gay or lesbian
o to dialogue with our brothers and sisters in churches who find homosexuality difficult to understand or accept
o and to communicate the Good News to all who do not know Jesus Christ.

Click here to find out more.

Encouraging Music 9/10/2009 -"Freedom" by QueerAsFaith

"Black LGBT People Cannot Settle for 'Conditional Freedoms"

From Southern Voice, posted in its entirety:

Nearly 200 people gathered for the third annual State of Black Gay America Summit Sept. 5 at the Renaissance Hotel as part of Black Gay Pride.

Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder, a lesbian and presiding bishop of Refuge Ministries/The Fellowship and founder of The City of Refuge Community Church UCC in San Francisco, served as the keynote speaker at the event and urged participants to not settle for "conditional freedoms."

"Some people have said why don't we settle for unions [rather than full marriage equality], but I call this conditional marriage," she said, with her partner of 25 years sitting in the audience. "And I'm not in favor of accepting conditional freedom. We have settled for too little for too long. Why do we settle? It is ingrained in us that we are second-class citizens."

Flunder also talked about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and how the government has no problem allowing gay people serve their country, even get wounded and live with a life-long disability as well as be killed in combat or other service to the country. But they cannot live their lives as who they truly are. This is an oxymoron, she said.

She compared DADT policy to a "shut up and show up" mentality by the people in power and is "conditional military service."

Being black and gay in the military is even worse, she added.

"There is something insidious about being African American and homosexual in the military because there is more emphasis [of oppression] on people of color," she said. "We get oppression from own sisters and brothers who turn them [gay African-American service members] in."

In the traditional African American church, LGBT people are also told to "show up and shut up," Flunder said.

"DADT sounds like something I've heard before. They tell us, 'Stay in the music department, don't disclose who you are, don't be seen with the same person too many times. Just shut up and show up,'" she said. "That's why we stay in churches that beat our behind every weekend. We think it doesn't feel like a real church, job, organization unless we are persecuted."

The election of Barack Obama as president was eye-opening, Flunder said, who acknowledged she was originally a Hillary Clinton supporter.

"Barack is a bit of a hybrid. He's as white as he is black. And I don't think he got the email we got on what we can't do," she said. As the election campaign continued, Flunder said she became more interested in Obama's words and message.

"He really doesn't understand we can't," she said she remembers thinking. "I thought, 'Bless his heart. He doesn't have a chance. Then I kept listening to him and he said, 'Yes we can.' And he really believes this. Then I said to myself, 'Can we?' Then I got up one morning and thought, 'Maybe we can.' And then I believed, 'Yes we can.' And then yes we did."

What black Americans, and black LGBT Americans need to do, Flunder said, is to stop seeing themselves through the eyes of their oppressors.

There is also a myth of time, Flunder said, noting that many say only time can settle racial injustice.

"They say, 'Why don't you slow down? Only time can heal. Just be patient and nice and continue to pray and in 100-200 years it will all work itself out," she said. But this is not an option, she stressed. The time is now to demand equality for everyone.

At the start of the summit, Gregory Allen of Xtreme Entertainment, who co-chaired the event with community organizer R. Darlene Hudson, explained the summit was founded in 2007 out of the "passion and commitment and out of the need to begin a universal conversation" on being black and gay.

"Today we establish who we are and how our needs are different than other LGBT communities of non-color," Allen said. "While it is true we are all gay, lesbian, same gender loving and we have a lot in common, we are also quite different. At this time, we acknowledge these differences. We can no longer wait until after midnight when the parties begin to make our presence known."

Daily Devotional 9/10/2009 -"If I Tell the World"

From: Our Daily Bread

Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. --Matthew 10:32

At the close of an evangelistic meeting held by D. L. Moody, a Norwegian youth stood up to testify of his faith in the Lord. He wanted the congregation to know that he had been saved, but he had difficulty speaking English. Haltingly he managed to say, "I'm up here because Jesus wants me to be a witness. He promised that if I tell the world about Him, He'll tell the Father about me!"

Moody later remarked, "That boy's testimony went straight to the heart of everyone present. 'If I tell the world'--yes, that's exactly what the Bible means when it says we must confess Christ!"

Our Lord does not want us to be silent disciples. He encourages us to witness boldly to others about His grace. Scripture provides eloquent proof that we are to be vocal about our standing in Christ. Romans 10:9 states, "Confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus." And verse 14 asks, "How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?"

If you love the Lord, it's your duty to witness to others. Maybe all you need to say to someone is: "Jesus means so much to me. I wish you knew Him too!" You will be surprised what such a simple, straightforward testimony can accomplish. Determine today to "tell the world." — Henry G. Bosch

I'll tell the world that I'm a Christian--
I'm not ashamed His name to bear;
I'll tell the world that I'm a Christian--
I'll take Him with me anywhere. --Fox
© 1958, 1963 Fox Publications

If your faith in Christ is worth having, it's worth sharing.

September 09, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/9/09-Pacific Pride Foundation (CA)

Pacific Pride Foundation has been leading Santa Barbara County in HIV/AIDS and LGBT programs and services for over 30 years. With offices in Santa Maria and Santa Barbara, we continue to support our community in a variety of ways.

Among many activities, the Foundation is sponsoring an AIDS Walk/Run on October 3.

Click here to find out more about the Pacific Pride Foundation.

Welcome to Midweek Worship 9/9/09

Welcome to midweek worship! This week Brenda shares from 1 Thessalonians 4 that if anyone is in Christ they are promised an eternal future with the Lord. If they die they will be resurrected. If they are alive and in Christ when he comes back they will be raised up to meet him in the air. Get excited Believers! Based on 1 Thess. 4:13-5:11

SNN Recommends 9/9/09-Project Maine Equality

Maine is a showdown state in the battle for LGBT equality with the upcoming referendum vote on full marriage rights. Project Maine Equality is leading the fight to protect marriage rights for ALL people. Th eir website features videos of the pro-marriage TV commercials they are running, testimonials from Maine residents about why equality is important, and these aspects of the mission statement of the organization:

There are as many reasons for "Why Marriage" as there are people in Maine.
Marriage is about supporting two people who make a lifelong commitment to each other.
Marriage is about providing legal protections for parents and their children.
Marriage is about strong families and strong communities.
Gay and lesbian families are an important part of our community in Maine. They deserve the legal protections that come only through a legal marriage.

Marriage is a lifelong partnership between two people, whether those two people are gay or straight. All loving, committed couples deserve the dignity and respect that marriage brings, as well as all the legal rights and obligations that marriage brings. Maine is full of same-sex couples who have been together for decades, have weathered life-threatening illness, are raising children, worry about their finances, and do their best to plan for the future.

Every day, lesbian and gay Mainers and their families suffer because they are treated as second-class citizens. In order to protect families and recognize full equality for all Mainers, we must protect marriage rights for LGBT Mainers now.

Click here to learn more.

Encouraging Music 9/9/2009 -"You Are All - Everything" by Natasha Holmes

Education, Not Race, Best Indicator For Who Supports Gay Marriage

From the Gainesville Sun:

The education level of Florida voters, not race, best predicted support for the state's gay marriage ban, according to a new University of Florida study rebutting conventional wisdom.

The study found education was about five times as important as race in determining whether a county's residents favored the ban. The results contradict claims that newly registered black voters who cast ballots for Barack Obama were a socially conservative group that can be credited with passing the ban.

"They are movable in terms of this issue," said Dan Smith, a political science professor and study co-author.

Nearly 62 percent of Florida voters cast ballots in favor of Amendment 2, which amended the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and woman. At the same time, about 51 percent of the state's voters supported Obama in the presidential election.

Controlling for political and socioeconomic factors, the study found each additional 1 percent of a county's population with bachelor's degrees correlated with a 1 percent decrease in support for the amendment. In comparison, each 1 percent increase in a county's black population led to two-tenths of a percentage increase in support.

"There's a lot of evidence showing increased education leads to greater tolerance," Smith said.

So let's see.....smarter people support equality?

Sounds right.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Daily Devotional 9/9/2009 -"Loving the Unlovable"

From: Our Daily Bread

Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. —Luke 19:10

Zacchaeus was easy to dislike. As a tax collector for an oppressive occupying government, he made himself rich by overcharging his countrymen. Yet, to the consternation of the crowd, Jesus honored him by going to his house and eating with him.

A judge with a reputation for toughness tells how he learned to relate to unlovable people. In a Sunday morning homily his clergyman urged the congregation to try to look at people through the eyes of Jesus.

A few days later the judge was about to give a stiff sentence to an arrogant young man who kept getting in trouble. But then he remembered what the minister had suggested. The judge said, "I looked this young man in the eye and told him I thought he was a bright and talented human being. And then I said to him, 'Let's talk together about how we can get you living in more creative and constructive ways.' We had a surprisingly good conversation."

Jesus saw Zacchaeus as a sinner with an empty hole that only He could fill, and through His kindness Zacchaeus was transformed. The judge could not report any such change, but who knows the long-term outcome? He set a good example for all of us, because he saw the man through the eyes of Jesus.
— Herbert Vander Lugt

We need to see through Jesus' eyes
Our neighbors who are lost;
For then we will reach out to them,
Regardless of the cost. -Sper

True compassion will put love into action.

September 08, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands 9/8/09: Food and Friends (DC)

This is an organization I (Jim) has had the opportunity to work with in the past, and I've seen first hand the difference they are making in people's lives.

For people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses, the battle is far from over. We just make sure no one has to face it on an empty stomach.

Along with nutrition counseling, Food & Friends prepares, packages and delivers meals and groceries to more than 1,400 people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses throughout Washington, DC, 7 counties of Maryland and 7 counties and 6 independent cities in Virginia. Since 1988, Food & Friends has provided food and companionship to our clients, their loved ones and caregivers.

Click here to find out more about Food and Friends.

Encouraging Words 9/8/09-"When Queers Pray

From Queermergent:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me, and I in you, you will produce much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

What if…queers were to start praying and interceding en-masse?

What if…God has a really cool, white-hot purpose for the LGBT community?

What if…Martin Luther was right when he said that “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer”?

What if…we are supposed to partner with God through prayer in order to release His power?

What if…God knows our needs and knows all about the injustices queer people suffer, but won’t do anything until we start praying earnestly about it?

What if…if we fail to pray, we miss the boat on moving the Holy Spirit to work on behalf of the queer community?

What if…if we try to gain equality on our own steam we miss God’s plan for us and go off on a tangent?

What if…Jesus meant it when He said “apart from me you can do nothing”?

This is a longer essay that we usually post, but it is worth investing the time to read it. Click here to do so.

SNN Recommends 9/8/09: Box Turtle Bulletin

The Box Turtle Bulletin mission statement:

The mission of Box Turtle Bulletin is to serve you — whether you are gay, straight, bisexual or questioning — by providing well documented and accurate information that you can rely on. We intend to not only be a valuable resource for the many issues facing gays, lesbians, their families and friends, but to refute as much misinformation as possible. We are especially interested in serving:

1. Those who are questioning their sexuality and are concerned about some of the misinformation that they are hearing.
2. Those who are friends or relatives of someone who is gay or lesbian, and are seeking accurate and reliable information about the issues facing them.
3. Those who support equal rights for gays and lesbians and seek accurate, reliable information on which to base their arguments.
4. Those who oppose equal rights for gays and lesbians, but wish to avoid the pitfalls of the massive misinformation coming from all sides of the issues – from gay-rights opponents as well as gay-rights advocates.

Click here to check them out.

Encouraging Music 9/8/2009 -"Giving You Me" by Natasha Holmes

Natasha Holmes is the Music Director for Crave MCC in Paddington, Australia.

Updates on the National Equality March

The October 11 National Equality March appears to be gaining some positive momentum:

The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force has endorsed it:

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a leader in building grassroots lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) political power, endorses the National Equality March, which will be held in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 10-11. Thousands of people from across the country will march and rally in front of the U.S. Capitol demanding equal protection under the law for LGBT people and their families in all 50 states. At the march, the Task Force will engage new activists, support fair-minded clergy and other people of faith, and mobilize volunteer activists to return home engaged and energized.

"For the past 30 years, LGBT people and our allies have come together in Washington to be inspired, to engage in political action, and to go home geared up to create change. The National Equality March will bring together those of us who have never marched, those who want to renew their passion for action, and those who demand their voices be heard. When we mobilize for LGBT equality, for racial and economic justice, for a transformed society, and to make our love and lives visible, the Task Force is there. The Task Force will be there at the march to support the voices of new activists, LGBT people and our allies who push and push for the end to hatred, discrimination and unjust laws," says National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey.

The march also received support from some big-name allies:

Lawmakers, celebrities and well-known LGBT activists are lining up to support the National Equality March, a weekend gathering set to begin Oct. 10.

Judy Shepard, the mother Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in an anti-gay attack in Wyoming in October 1998, is joining lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), bisexual actor Alan Cumming and about 140 others in endorsing the march.

Other supporters include radio host Michelangelo Signorile, actress Charlize Theron, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Daniel Choi, a U.S. Army lieutenant who was ordered out of the military after he revealed he is gay.

Kip Williams, one of the lead march organizers, said the endorsements come as the preparations continue at a fevered pitch for the October event.

“I’ve been having conversations with folks,” he said, “and people are seeing the bigger pictures and the hopes and dreams of what this march is about for us.”

There is also movement north of the border to organize solidarity events on that day:

A few Canadian gay activists are planning solidarity events in support of the US National Equality March in Washington, DC on Oct 10 and 11.

The Equality March aims to put pressure on Washington to address queer issues on a federal level. Organizers are demanding action on employment non-discrimination, ending the HIV travel ban, repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and eliminating the ban on gays in the military, among many other issues.

Some US-based activists have suggested that Canadians could play a role.

"When mobs in Caribbean countries attack LGBT people, when there are violent protests at Pride celebrations in Eastern Europe, we are obligated to help them in some way," suggests San Francisco-based grassroots activist Seth Fowler, who is involved with the group One Struggle, One Fight.

While Fowler recognizes countries around the world have their own queer issues to deal with, he would like to see activists in Canada and other countries organize solidarity marches on the same weekend. Fowler sees it as an opportunity to focus on queer rights in their own countries, but also as a platform to put pressure on their governments to act on injustices that are happening to queer people elsewhere.

"Coming together and fighting for rights and awareness of issues is a powerful thing," says Fowler. "It would be interesting to see hundreds of thousands of people descend on Toronto... and to get [the government of] Canada to step up and help create an international outcry when human rights are violated."

With a renewed understanding of the importance of relations with other nations in the Obama administration, perhaps that will open some minds to look at countries, including Canada, that are far ahead of the United States in the area of LGBT equality and understand that their societies have not crumbled as a result.

Daily Devotional 9/8/2009 -"The Power of Weakness"

From: Our Daily Bread

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. --Philippians 4:13

I received a letter from a woman who read about the way I had learned to live a life dependent on God. She was challenged as she read that Christ's strength was manifested through my weakness, particularly when I started a Bible study while recovering from a nervous condition.

She read about my trembling hands, and how my neighbors were encouraged to admit their own weaknesses and to depend on Christ as they saw me learning to do. She wrote, "I laughed and cried as I read your story. I feel deeply encouraged that God can use me, even though I feel weak."

We may think that we attract others to Christ more effectively through our strengths than through our weaknesses. But the Lord used trouble and weakness in the apostle Paul's life to teach him to rely on God's power (2 Corinthians 1:9). He testified, "When I am weak, then I am strong" (12:10).

When Christians act as if they hardly know what weakness is, needy people often think, "I could never be like that." But when Christians admit they experience Christ's strength in their weakness, they proclaim this hope: "The strength Christ gives to me, He can give to you!" Whose strength will you proclaim today—your own, or God's? —JEY — Joanie Yoder

God uses weakness to reveal
His great sufficiency;
So if we let Him work through us,
His power we will see. —Sper

To experience God's strength, we must first admit our weakness.

September 07, 2009

LGBT Helping Hands

These are organizations that are reaching out helping hands toward the GLBT community. If you know of one that should be included, please e-mail us at

United States

Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition on HIV/AIDS (APICHA) featured 2/5/10
Blind, Friends, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People (BFLAG) featured 9/11/09
Centerlink (LGBT Community Centers) featured 9/10/09
Gay Mens' Domestic Violence Project featured 10/4/09
Gay Mens' Health Crisis (GHMC) featured 12/13/09
GLBT National Help Center featured 10/22/09
LGBT Aging Issues Network featured 9/20/09
National LGBT Cancer Network featured 9/7/09
NativeOUT featured 9/15/09
The Trevor Project featured 10/16/09

Identity, Inc. featured 10/8/09

Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation featured 10/20/09
Wingspan (Tuscon) featured 11/11/09

Arkansas AIDS Foundation featured 10/12/09

openhouse (San Francisco) featured 2/2/10
Pacific Pride Foundation (Santa Barbara) featured 9/9/09
San Francisco LGBT Community Center featured 10/26/09
The San Diego LGBT Community Center featured 2/25/10

Boulder Pride Community Center featured 3/22/10
Colorado Anti-Violence Program featured 9/14/09
Colorado Springs Pride Center featured 11/30/09

Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective featured 10/1/09
New Haven Pride Center featured 2/23/10

Food and Friends featured 9/8/09
SMYAL (Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League) featured 12/27/00
Us Helping Us, People Into Living featured 3/18/10

AIDS Delaware featured 3/15/10
Camp Rehoboth featured 10/14/09

Compass (Lake Worth) featured 4/26/10
Gay and Lesbian Community Center of South Florida (Ft. Lauderdale) featured 9/16/09
Sunserve (Ft. Lauderdale) featured 2/19/10
Pridelines Youth Services (Miami) featured 3/4/10
The Center of Central Florida (Orlando) featured 12/2/09

AID Atlanta featured 9/13/09
Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative featured 4/22/10
First City Network (Savannah) featured 12/8/09

Life Foundation (Honolulu) featured 10/27/09

The Community Center (Garden City) featured 10/13/09

Center on Halstead (Chicago) featured 3/29/10
Howard Brown Health Center (Chicago) featured 9/12/09
Youth Outlook (Naperville) featured 10/15/09

Indiana Youth Group featured 10/5/09
Pride Lafayette Community Center featured 3/1/10
The Bloomington Beacon featured 11/16/09

AIDS Project of Central Iowa (Des Moines) featured 11/25/09
Iowa Safe Schools featured 10/2/09

WTCS (Women's Transitional Care Services, Lawrence) featured 12/31/09

Matthew 25 AIDS Services featured 10/7/09

Chase-Brexton Health Services (Baltimore) featured 2/10/10
GLBT Community Center of Baltimore & Central Maryland featured 12/15/09

Fenway Health (Boston) featured 1/27/10
LGBT Aging Project (Boston) featured 2/17/10
The Network/La Red (Boston) featured 3/9/10

Waltham House featured 2/26/10

Ruth Ellis Center (Detroit) featured 2/24/10
The LGBT Network (Grand Rapids) featured 2/18/10

District 202 (St. Paul) featured 4/15/10
Gay Lesbian Community Services of Southeastern Minnesota (Rochester) featured 3/11/10
Minnesota AIDS Project featured 9/29/09
Rochester Area Gay and Lesbian Youth Services featured 12/10/09

Grace House (Jackson) featured 9/23/09

Kansas City Anti-Violence Project featured 9/21/09
The Center Project (Columbia) featured 11/18/09
The Gay & Lesbian Community Center of the Ozarks (Springfield) featured 5/3/10

Western Montana Gay & Lesbian Community Center featured 9/22/09

Rainbow Outreach Metro Omaha GLBT Center featured 2/16/10

The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada (Las Vegas) featured 2/11/10

New Hampshire
Gay Men Fight AIDS (Portsmouth) featured 3/3/10

New Jersey
Pride Connections Center of New Jersey (Jersey City) featured 2/9/10

New Mexico
New Mexico AIDS Services (Albuquerque) featured 9/25/09

New York

Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth featured 10/21/09
Rainbow Heights Club (Brooklyn) featured 2/3/10
Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) featured 10/9/09

North Carolina
Regional AIDS Interfaith Network featured 10/25/09
Triangle Community Works (Raleigh) featured 9/17/09

North Dakota
Pride Collective and Community Center (Fargo) featured 10/19/09

A Place for Us (Lakewood) featured 9/24/09
Miami University GLBTQ Services featured 10/30/09
The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland featured 2/4/10

Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, Tulsa featured 4/12/10

Q Center (Portland) featured 12/29/09
Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center (Portland) featured 10/17/09

LGBT Center Coalition of Central Pennsylvania (Harrisburg) featured 3/16/10
Mazzoni Center (Philadelphia) featured 12/17/09

Rhode Island
Lifelines Rhode Island (Providence) featured 9/27/09

South Carolina
AFFIRM Youth featured 9/30/09
The Center Project (Myrtle Beach) featured 2/1/10

South Dakota
The Black Hills Center for Equality featured 10/28/09

Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center featured 1/17/10
Pride Senior Services (Nashville) featured 1/3/10

AIDS Services of Austin featured 10/29/09
OutYouth (Austin) featured 4/8/10
AIDS Interfaith Network (Dallas) featured 4/1/10
Montrose Counseling Center (Houston) featured 1/20/10

Utah Pride Center (Salt Lake City) featured 1/25/10

Outright Vermont featured 11/23/09
The Vermont Diversity Health Project featured 9/18/09


Gay amd Lesbian Community Center of Richmond featured 1/5/10
Gay Community Center of Richmond featured 10/23/09
Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry (Falls Church) featured 3/10/10

The NW Network (Seattle) featured 4/29/10

The Seattle LGBT Community Center featured 9/28/09
Rainbow Center (Tacoma) featured 4/19/10

OutReach (Madison) featured 4/5/10

AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin(Milwaukee) featured 1/7/10
Milwaukee LGBT Community Center featured 10/6/09


Gay and Lesbian Community Services (West Perth) featured 9/19/09
Gay and Lesbian Counseling Services (New South Wales) featured 3/12/10
Open Doors (Queensland) featured 2/8/10


A Loving Spoonful (Vancouver, BC) featured 10/3/09
Fife House (Toronto, Ontario) featured 10/31/09
Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Call (Ontario) featured 2/15/10
Rainbow Resource Center (Winnipeg, Manitoba) featured 1/18/10


CLANGLES (South Lancashire) featured 1/30/10
Galop (London) featured 9/26/09
Parents Enquiry North East featured 10/24/09
Positive East (London) featured 3/17/10
The Albert Kennedy Trust (London/Manchester) featured 12/6/09

BeLonG (Dublin) featured 3/5/10
The Rainbow Project featured 10/18/09

LGBT Youth Scotland featured 1/23/10

South Africa

Durban Lesbian & Gay Community & Health Centre featured 12/20/09

Triangle Project (Mowbray) featured 10/10/09

LGBT Helping Hands 9/7/09-National LGBT Cancer Network

Welcome to another new feature at Straight, Not Narrow, "LGBT Helping Hands." This will be a daily feature highlighting an organization that is reaching out helping hands to LGBT people.

Our first one is the National LGBT Cancer Network, describing itself as "the first program in the country to address the needs of all LGBT people with cancer and those at risk."

The National LGBT Cancer Network works to improve the lives of LGBT cancer survivors and those at risk by:

Educating LGBT people and health providers about the cancer risks and survivor experiences of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.

Increasing awareness of LGBT cancer risks and survivor experiences via the internet and other media.

Advocating for high quality research on LGBT cancer risks, treatment and survivorship.
Giving voice to LGBT cancer survivors through participation on the Boards of local and national cancer organizations.

Offering consultation to doctor's offices, cancer screening and treatment centers, social service organizations and website managers on inclusion of LGBT people in both their outreach and services.

Click here to find out more about the National LGBT Cancer Network.

Encouraging Words 9/7/09'-"The Tounge Can Be a Two-Edged Sword"

Here is an essay I (Jim) wrote for Whosoever, an online magazine for GLBT Christians:

You're an abomination! God hates fags! Your lifestyle goes against nature!

Now that I've got your attention, let me first emphasize that is not how I feel toward LGBT people. Unfortunately, there are still far too many people who do, and I'm sure most of you reading this have run across some who were more than willing to share those feelings with you. Even worse, it may have come from a loved one (spouse, parent, child) or someone you respected (pastor, close friend).

It's one thing if you suspect someone has those attitudes, but it's much more painful when they express them verbally, either to your face or behind your back, but within earshot.

Let's face it, the old childhood saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" is only half true.

Words can hurt.

Now, let's take a different approach.

I love you. God made you in His image, so you have value. All of us who come to the cross can be saved.

I actually believe that group of statements. I suspect some of you have never heard them directed at you from a straight person before, and I believe people withholding that love and acceptance are acting outside of God's will.

Some of you, however, have heard those words from a straight ally. Once you got over the shock, I bet it felt pretty good, didn't it?

Words can also heal.

One of the most important lessons Jesus taught us during His time on Earth was the power of the spoken word.

Click here to read the rest of the essay.

SNN Recommends 9/7/09: Dallas Voice

There's been a lot going on of impact to the LGBT community in the Dallas, TX area in recent weeks, and the Dallas Voice (recently redesigned) has been on top of it. They have just celebrated 25 years of publishing. If you are interested in news or the LGBT scene in the Metroplex, click here to check it out.

Encouraging Music 9/7/2009 -"Be Still and Know" by Cathedral of Hope Choir

Latest statistics say Massachusetts still have lowest divorce rate!

You're probably thinking "So what?". I'll tell you what...

Five years ago, Massachusetts was the first state in the U. S. to legalize same-sex marriage. At that time, and every time another state affords us this right, the religious right foam at the mouth and talk about how same-sex marriage will destroy so-called traditional marriage. Well, as they say, the proof is in the pudding.

According to the most recent data from the National Center For Vital Statistics, Massachusetts retains the national title as the lowest divorce rate state, and the MA divorce rate is about where the US divorce rate was in 1940, prior to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Provisional data from 2008 indicates that the Massachusetts divorce rate has dropped from 2.3 per thousand in 2007 down to about 2.0 per thousand for 2008. What does that mean ? To get a sense of perspective consider that the last time the US national divorce rate was 2.0 per thousand (people) was 1940. You read that correctly. The Massachusetts divorce rate is now at about where the US divorce rate was the year before the United States entered World War Two.

Hmmm. That seems to indicate that marriage in Massachusetts has gotten stronger in the last 5 years, not weaker! Another scare tactic blown to bits.

So, when I hear another well meaning person tell me about how gay marriage will destroy the traditional marriage and families in general, I have some ammo to come back with. Solid statistics.

Don't get me wrong, there are a whole host of different reasons that people give for opposing our civil rights, including marriage, but this is at least one that won't hold weight anymore. Let's keep knocking them down whenever possible! We are no less or more than anyone else simply because of who we love.

Daily Devotional 9/7/2009 -"When One is a Majority"

From: Our Daily Bread

I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. --Psalm 3:6

When King Hezekiah saw that the king of Assyria intended to capture Jerusalem, he immediately went into action to defend the city. But when he had done all that was humanly possible, he realized it would not be enough. So he called the people together, and in the face of their desperate situation he reassured them, saying, "Be strong and courageous . . . for there are more with us than with him" (2 Chronicles 32:7).

How could he possibly make such a statement? Hezekiah gave the answer. He said, "With [Sennacherib] is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles" (v.8). Sennacherib had power, soldiers, and prestige—an "arm of flesh." The inhabitants of Jerusalem had the Lord God!

Think of your own situation. Is the enemy pressing in upon you from all sides? Does everything appear hopeless? Remember, you have God's help. He is on your side! When you face insurmountable trials—when you are completely surrounded and outnumbered—look to the Lord. Find your confidence in Him, saying with the psalmist: "I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around" (Psalm 3:6).

With God, one is a majority! — Richard De Haan

Does all the world seem against you?
Are you in the battle alone?
It's often when you are helpless
That God's mighty power is shown. —Anon.

With God on our side we are never outnumbered.

September 06, 2009

Transgender Rights Lagging Behind in Europe

Western Europe is recognized for the progressive attitudes shown there toward LGBT people. It seems, however, that doesn't in reality apply to the T. Below is an excerpt from an essay written for the U.K.'s Guardian by Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights:

The human rights situation of transgender persons has long been ignored and neglected, although the problems they face are serious and often specific to this group alone. Transgender people experience a high degree of discrimination, intolerance and outright violence. Their basic human rights are often violated, including the right to life, the right to physical integrity and the right to health.

During my official visits to the 47 member States of the Council of Europe, I have been struck by the lack of knowledge about the human rights issues at stake for transgender persons, even among political decision-makers.

In a number of countries, the problem starts at the level of official recognition. Transgender people who no longer identify with their birth gender – as highlighted in last night's Channel 4 documentary, The Boy Who Was Born a Girl – and who seek changes to their birth certificates, passports and other documents, often encounter difficulties. This in turn leads to a number of very concrete problems in daily life when showing one's ID – in the bank or the post office, when using a credit card, or crossing borders.

Regrettably, in a large part of Europe official records can be changed only upon proof that the transgender person has been sterilised or declared infertile, or has undergone other medical procedures, such as gender reassignment surgery or hormone treatment. The individual's sincere affirmation of their gender identity is not seen as sufficient, and the suitability of the medical procedures for the person in question is not considered.

Additionally, many countries require that a married person divorces before his or her new gender can be recognised, even though the couple itself does not want to divorce. This may have an impact on children of the marriage, as, in several countries, the parent who has undergone the gender change will lose custody rights.

Even access to ordinary healthcare is a problem for transgender people. The lack of trained staff familiar with the specific healthcare needs of transgender people – or simply prejudice towards transgender them – render them vulnerable to unpredictable and sometimes hostile reactions.

Even in one of the more progressive areas of the world, a lack of understanding leads to pain and suffering, both psychological and physical, for those who are not understood. Hopefully raising awareness will help to resolve that problem.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Sunday Worship 9/6/09

If you don't have a welcoming church near you, or you just can't make yourself step into one, we're bringing worship to you. Here are links to some worship music and services from open and affirming ministries (all times eastern). I hope you are blessed and take time out of your busy schedule to enter into the Lord's day.

Don't forget to click on the tab on the upper right of this blog and leave your prayer requests in the comment section so we can petition the Lord for your needs.

If you know of a service we should add to our list, please send an e-mail and share it with us.

Live Sunday Services (all times Eastern)
MI-Renaissance Unity Church, Warren, 10:00 AM
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa, 11:00 AM
VA-Believers Covenant Fellowship, Vienna, 11:00 AM
AL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham, 11:45 AM
NC-Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Winston-Salem, 12:00 PM
OK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa, 1:00 PM
CA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long Beach, 1:00 PM
WA-Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore, 1:30 PM

Canada, Vancouver-Christ Alive Community Church, 10:15 PM
FL-Beacon of Hope Ministries, Dunedin (Living the Good Life radio program) 4:30 PM

Video Archive

AL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham
CA-Glory Tabernacle Christian Center, Long Beach
FL-Church of the Holy SpiritSong, Ft. Lauderdale
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa
GA-Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Atlanta
MI-Christ Community Church, Spring Lake
MI-Renaissance Unity Church, Warren
NC-Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Winston-Salem

OK-Expressions Community Fellowship, Oklahoma City
OK-Diversity Christian Fellowship International, Tulsa
TX-The One Church, Garland
WA-Living Water Fellowship, Kenmore

Audio Archive
AZ-Community Church of Hope, Phoenix
AK-Open Door Community Church, Sherwood
CA-Christ Chapel of Long Beach
CA-Christ Chapel of the Valley, North Hollywood
FL-Beacon of Hope Ministries, Dunedin (Living the Good Life radio program)
FL-New Hope Christian Center, Pensecola
GA-New Covenant Church of Atlanta
MD-Kittamaqundi Community, Columbia
NC-Revolution Charlotte
OH-Emmanuel Fellowship Church, Akron
OH-All Saints Community Church, Cortland
TN-Covenant of the Cross-Madison
TX-New Hope Fellowship Church-Dallas
TX-White Rock Community Church-Dallas
TX-Community Gospel Church-Houston
TX-Through Him Fellowship-Houston
South Africa-Deo Gloria Family Church

Can we pray for you? E-mail

Daily Devotional 9/6/2009 -"Behind the Throne"

From: Our Daily Bread

God changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings. —Daniel 2:21

During my lifetime I have seen evil men rise to political and military power, make colossal blunders, and pass off the scene. Even good leaders leave a record that includes mistakes and weaknesses.

The first chapter of Esther shows us the pride of King Ahasuerus, head of the mighty Persian Empire. He hosted an elaborate festival designed to display his riches and splendor. After 7 days of partying, the king gave orders to his servants to bring Vashti, his queen, before the revelers so they could see her great beauty. But Queen Vashti refused to come, humiliating the great king of Persia (vv.12-18).

Ahasuerus was furious and sought counsel from the wise men of his kingdom. They advised him to remove Vashti as queen and "give her royal position to another who is better than she" (v.19). God used these unusual events to place a Jewish girl in a strategic position to preserve His people from destruction.

God's name is not mentioned in the entire book of Esther, but the message in chapter 1 comes through loud and clear: God can bring good out of everything, even when flawed and mistake-prone humans are involved. He is the real power behind the throne.
— Herbert Vander Lugt

We comprehend Him not,
Yet earth and heaven tell,
God sits as sovereign on the throne,
And ruleth all things well. —Gerhardt

The most powerful ruler is but a pawn in the hand of the King of kings.