December 05, 2009

Bullying a Cause of Suicide, Not a Rite of Passage

From the Salt Lake City Tribune:

When John Halligan's son Ryan committed suicide six years ago at the age of 13, he and his wife tore the house apart looking for the suicide note that would explain why he did it.

They didn't find one. But when Halligan, then an engineer with IBM in Vermont, logged onto his son's instant messaging account, he found the answer he was looking for: Ryan Halligan was a victim of cyberbullying.

Halligan was the keynote speaker at the 10th Annual Suicide Prevention Conference at Brigham Young University on Friday. The conference was conducted by the Utah County HOPE Task Force, a coalition of community groups focused on preventing suicide, and attracted educators, social workers and students.

Greg Hudnall, HOPE's executive director, said the group this year is attempting to get at the root causes of teen suicide, including bullying in its many forms.

"People don't realize the impact of bullying," he said.


Click here to read the rest of the story.

Encouraging Words 12/5/09-"The Thorn In My Flesh"

From Relevant Magazine:

"When will it be over?" I asked myself this question as I stared at the fresh cut on my arm. I’ve been in and out of therapy for most of my life, so I should be cured by now, right? Then why do I always end up back here?

The first time I knew something was wrong was in elementary school. I would often get upset at the smallest thing, from accidentally spilling something to getting an answer wrong. When I got upset I would smack myself in the head, cry, and scream. One time I got so upset that the principal had to be called into to calm me down. My classmates got a kick out of it, so they would often provoke me by calling me names. I tried to ignore them, but in the end they would always win.

Finally one day in sixth grade I had enough of it. I tried to kill myself by jumping off the monkey bars at recess. Obviously I wasn’t very successful, but when the school called my mom, she knew I needed help. That’s when I went to my first therapist. We saw each other for about six months, and we made some progress, but by the time I was in high school I was back in therapy again.


Encouraging Music 12/5/09 "My Grown Up Christmas List" by Clay Aiken

SNN Recommends 12/5/09-"The Journey"

Amazon.com rating: 34 of 40 reviewers gave it 5 out of 5 stars
SNN rating: 5 stars

We highly recommend this book to someone who is seeking to understand the true nature of having a relationship with Jesus Christ instead of being caught up in the judgementalism and rigidity of right-wing fundamentalism.

Billy Graham is respected and loved around the world. And this work is his magnum opus, the culmination of a lifetime of experience and ministry!

Chapter by chapter, Graham leads us on a journey in faith. We learn about God and his purpose for our lives; who Jesus is and what he has done for us. We are reminded of the things God has given us to live successfully: the Bible, the privilege of prayer, fellowship and the church, and the Holy Spirit. We learn to deal with challenges along the way: temptation, wrong thoughts and motives, emotions that can defeat us, habits that destroy our spirit, and what to do when life turns against us. And we are given practical advice on knowing God's will, making right decision, strengthening our marriages, being wise parents, and using our gifts to share Christ with others.

With insight that only comes from a life spent with God, The Journey is filled with wisdom, encouragement, hope, and inspiration for anyone who wants to live a happier, more fulfilling life.


Click here to purchase this book and read customer reviews.

Daily Devotional 12/5/09

From: Reflections

Heb.11:1, NIV: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Christmas time is a time when we sometimes talk about God’s gift to us; and we may also talk about what we can give to Him in return. So let’s consider this, that one of the greatest gifts we can give to Him is to receive what He has given us like a child with a Christmas present--anticipating what He has for us, ready to dig in, and believing that there is indeed something wonderful in store for us--even though we cannot yet see it.

December 04, 2009

Another Loss for the Shrinking LGBT Book Store Genre

From the DC Agenda (formerly the Washington Blade):

Lambda Rising, a bookstore serving the LGBT community in the nation’s capital for 35 years, is closing its D.C. store in Dupont Circle and its remaining out-of-town store in Rehoboth Beach, Del., in January.

The closings, announced Friday, mark the end of the city’s only exclusively LGBT bookstore and becomes another in a series of gay bookstores that have closed in recent years in other cities, including New York and Baltimore.

Deacon Mccubbin, 66, the store’s founder and co-owner, told D.C. Agenda in an exclusive interview that he plans to retire soon and that he and co-owner Jim Bennett, his domestic partner of 32 years, decided they would rather close the stores than sell them to a new owner who might change their focus and mission.

“The phrase ‘mission accomplished’ has gotten a bad rap in recent years but in this case, it certainly applies,” Mccubbin said.

“When we set out to establish Lambda Rising in 1974, it was intended as a demonstration of the demand for gay and lesbian literature,” he said, noting that few if any mainstream bookstores and newsstands carried gay related books and periodicals at the time.

“Today, 35 years later, nearly every general bookstore carries GLBT books, often featuring them in special sections,” he said.

Mccubbin said the Internet also enables people today to access LGBT related information from almost any location in the country, accomplishing yet another part of Lambda Rising’s mission: to provide up-to-date information to a community that could not obtain it elsewhere.


Click here to read more about Lambda Rising and it's history and impact on the DC community in The Agenda's story.

The DC LGBT Center also has a retrospective of Lambda Rising at it's website.

Encouraging Words 12/4/09-"I Asked God"

From The Epistle web magazine.

I asked God to take away my pain. God said, No.
It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole. God said, No.
Her spirit was whole, her body was only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience. God said, No.
Patience is a by-product of tribulations; it isn't granted, it is earned.

I asked God to give me happiness. God said, No.
I give you blessings. Happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain. God said, No.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow. God said, No.
You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. God said, No.
I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things.

I ask God to help me LOVE others, as much as He loves me.
God said... Ahhhh, finally you have the idea.

Encouraging Music 12/4/09 "The Holly and the Ivy" by St. Phillips Boy's Choir

SNN Recommends (Just for Fun) 12/4/09-I Can Has Cheezburger

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An Interesting Place and an Interesting Job for a Transgender Person

Obviously trying to live a normal productive life in the midst of transitioning from one gender to another if very challenging, to say the least. Add to that living in the very conservative environment of Salt Lake City Utah, and complicate that even more by working as a police office. That's the amazing story that Kerry Bell has to tell as reported by the Salt Lake City Tribune:

As a child, Kerry Bell dreamed of growing up to become a policeman -- both a police officer and a man.

Becoming a cop was relatively simple -- Bell joined the Bountiful Police Department 14 years ago. Becoming a man took more time.

Born female, Bell came out as transgender about a year and a half ago and started a transition to a new life as a man. He always had felt male, but did not think switching genders was a viable option until he saw transgender people gaining wider acceptance, along with advances in medical technology.

Surprisingly, the 42-year-old -- working in what many perceive as a super-macho culture -- says he did not fret about telling the police chief or his co-workers to start referring to him as "he," not "she."

"I wasn't worried about coming out at work," says Bell, who has had hormone treatments and surgeries. "I've worked for Bountiful for 14 years. I know everybody I work with."

Although some employees have trouble remembering to use masculine pronouns, Bountiful Police Chief Tom Ross says, "everyone's done a great job of accepting Kerry and staying focused on why we're here in the first place."

Bell, a corporal and SWAT member, is a "well-rounded police officer," Ross adds. "We're glad that he works here."


Click here to read the rest of this story.

Daily Devotional 12/4/09

From: Reflections

Exodus 16:2, NIV: In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.

How many times do we ponder where we might be able to go, or where we have been, all because where we are is not what we want? How many blessings do we miss because we are so focused on the “something better” that we cannot see the “something best”? God wants us to have abundant life regardless of our circumstances, giving thanks in everything. But we find it is difficult to express true gratitude to God for where we are and what we have when we are always looking for something other than what He has given.

December 03, 2009

Encouraging Words 12/3/09-"For Such a Time as This

From Rev. Deborah Bell, Senior Pastor of Deo Gloria Family Church in Morningside, Durban, South Africa. We believe these words ring as true across the globe as they do in her home country.

In Esther 4:14, we read this: "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

In the book of Esther we read about how one woman saved a nation because of her passion to see justice. She risked her life to see the Jewish nation saved from the annihilation of those that hated the Jewish people. Just one person, yet she helped to save a nation.

Perhaps many of us have been born for such a time as this.

We may come from different backgrounds, in our faith, our culture etc. but we can surely stand together with the commonality of ensuring that our very new equal rights (for GLBTI people) are not compromised by homophobic polemics, who claim too much, about the very little they think they know, about who we are.

I believe it is everyone's responsibility as gay and lesbian people, to take a stand to protect the equality in our nation, regarding GLBTI people, which is very possibly at great risk with the stance of our newly elected President, who has publicly confessed his homophobic stance in the past. Along with him, we have Pastor Ray McCauley who has his own agenda to reverse the same-sex marriage laws, among other laws that he believes "fly in the face of God".

This saddens me, because what flies in the face of God, more than anything, is when the Church places conditional love on whom is welcome and whom is not.

The Bible states clearly, that all are welcome to throne of God. John 3:16 says: "Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord may come." Acts 2:21 "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

God's love is unconditional, and it is that love that changes people and nations, not human judgement.

Click here to read the rest of Rev. Bell's inspiring essay.

Encouraging Music 12/3/09 "Christmas Canon Rock" by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Matthew 25 Resource 12/3/09-Foodbank of Southern California (Long Beach)

The Foodbank’s mission is to provide basic sustenance and proper nutrition to the community’s hungry citizens and to ensure that no individual go hungry, not even for a single day.

As long as there are hunger children, families and seniors in our community, The Foodbank of Southern California intends to be to major force in the fight against hunger.

The Foodbank will continue to:

* expand distribution services to charitable organizations not currently in the agency network;
* sustain and expand the base of wholesome nutritious food donors;
* and receive feedback from our constituent agencies that client’s well-being, health and/or educational educational outcomes are improving.


Click here to find out more.

Should LGBT Activism Turn Its Focus to Civil Unions?

That's the point of this Associated Press story:

Leland Traiman, who runs a sperm bank in California, worries about his lesbian clients in more conservative parts of the country when he hears fellow gay rights activists talk about winning the right to wed.

With 34 states lacking any legal recognition of same-sex relationships, Traiman wonders if all the emphasis on matrimony is misplaced.

"When I speak to women from Florida or Wisconsin or Minnesota, they are like, 'I don't care what it's called, I just want to be able to visit my wife in the hospital and cover my children with my health insurance,'" said Traiman, who helped pass the nation's first domestic partnership law a quarter-century ago in Berkeley.

In the weeks since Maine voters handed the gay marriage movement its 27th electoral defeat in five years, other activists have voiced similar qualms about making marriage their main goal. Gay rights leaders have insisted that anything less than full marriage equality is unacceptable, but some are asking whether the uncompromising strategy has forestalled interim steps that could improve the lives of gay men, lesbians and their families.

"They think the best way to achieve their goal of marriage with all the rights and benefits of marriage is a complete frontal assault, and any other strategy is a betrayal of their goal," Traiman said.

Activists like Traiman point to the success of efforts to extend spousal rights and other civil rights protections to same-sex couples, even as the passage of gay marriage bans grab headlines.

On the same day that Maine rejected a gay marriage law approved by its Legislature, for example, voters in Washington state approved a law giving same-sex couples or straight older couples who register as domestic partners all the state rights and responsibilities of marriage. Washington's so-called "everything but marriage" law passed by the same margin as Maine's gay marriage rebuff, 53 percent to 48 percent.

And earlier this year, Nevada lawmakers overrode a veto by Gov. Jim Gibbons to enact a domestic partnership law extending marriage rights to couples, gay or straight, who "have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring." Colorado's legislature and governor also adopted a "reciprocal beneficiaries" law providing some legal benefits for all unmarried couples.

Colorado and Nevada are among the 29 states with constitutional prohibitions against gay marriages.

The success of partner measures in those states suggests that there's room for gay couples to secure spousal protections even if they can't marry, said William Dobbs, a veteran activist in New York.

"It's a huge tactical mistake to be arguing that nothing less than marriage will do," Dobbs said. "One size does not fit all.

"There is a real need among some folks to put their lives together, to have joint credit cards, a house and children," he said. "We need a set of actions for that, but the marriage fight is toxic to other types of reforms."


What do you think? We've often heard that civil unions are a second-class substitute for marriage, but is it better to wage a battle that has a greater chance of being won even if the rewards aren't as great?

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Daily Devotional 12/3/09

From: Reflections

John 10:10, NIV; The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

We may have forgotten that Jesus came to give us freedom and life abundant. We were not created to be a slave to life but to have life, and life more fulfilling. There is so much of what we claim we have to do for one reason or another that seems to be sapping the life right out of us, making us tired and often less of the “light of the world” than we could be if we weren’t exhausted all of the time. God designed us as such that we flourish when we are balanced in our living. We will be at our best--for everyone’s sake--when we are applying wisdom to our living.

December 02, 2009

Welcome to Midweek Worship 12/2/09

http://www.facebook.com/janice.lacount?ref=pymk#/video/video.php?v=218104456220&ref=nf



Encouraging Music 12/2/09 "We Need a Little Christmas" by Johnny Mathis

LGBT Helping Hands 12/2/09-the Center of Central Florida (Orlando)

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Community Center of Central Florida, The Center, has been in operation for over 30 years. GLBT individuals, as well as family and friends, in Central Florida have stood up to both institutional and individual injustice and discrimination by volunteering their time, money and talents at The Center.The Center has been an organizing force within the GLBT community serving as a source for information, education, advocacy and support.The Center has worked to foster the personal development and quality of life of the community it serves, as well as to increase understanding and acceptance within the greater Central Florida area. Today we offer a variety of support and social programs.We offer AA, NA, CODA, HIV+ and transgender support groups, CMA, counseling for individuals and couples at a reduced cost, counseling for youth for free, and various social groups.We serve more than 15,000 individuals a year through our front doors and over 8,000 a month online.

Today you can visit us at 946 N. Mills Avenue in Orlando or call us at 407-228-8272. Here is what you will discover:

* Social & Support Groups
* Professional Counseling
* Transgender Support
* Business Referrals
* Free HIV Testing
* 12 Step Programs
* GLBT Library
* Information
* Health Fairs
* Events

Click here to find out more.

Daily Devotional 12/2/09

From: Reflections

John 10:10, NIV; The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

We may have forgotten that Jesus came to give us freedom and life abundant. We were not created to be a slave to life but to have life, and life more fulfilling. There is so much of what we claim we have to do for one reason or another that seems to be sapping the life right out of us, making us tired and often less of the “light of the world” than we could be if we weren’t exhausted all of the time. God designed us as such that we flourish when we are balanced in our living. We will be at our best--for everyone’s sake--when we are applying wisdom to our living.

Is Outing Church Clergy a Fair Tactic?

Columnist Lisa Neff at 365gay.com doesn't think so. She writes about an effort underway in Washington, DC to counteract the continued opposition of same-sex marriage in the District by the Roman Catholic church, to the extent that they are even threating to withold social services they perform in the city if a bill passes legalizing same-sex marriages.

Now, it’s payback time in the eye-for-an-eye world of Washington, D.C. Activists have launched ChurchOuting.org for the collection of reports on priests, required by Church law to be celibate, who are gay.

“Church.org is a clearing house for reports of priests who are openly gay men in social settings yet professionally closeted in their parishes,” stated a press release from ChurchOuting founder Phil Attey. “The campaign will also accept reports of heterosexual priests who are involved in romantic or sexual relationships, yet support the archbishop’s efforts to harm lesbian and gay families.”

I’m not sure how the outers will know which priests “support the archbishop’s efforts to harm lesbian and gay families.” I don’t see how they can know, but I don’t believe it makes a difference. This is the wrong course of action.

Outing, to me, has always seemed like using sexual orientation as a weapon, like an act of violence.

To out gay priests for an anti-gay Church policy, well, how is that different than outing gay and lesbian servicemembers because Congress adopted the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy?

Does anyone honestly think that by outing one or 100 gay priests, the Catholic Church is going to reverse course on same-sex marriage or extending benefits to partners of same-sex employees?

No, if the Church takes any action, it will relocate, reassign or move to oust the priests.

The cold-hearted, close-minded Church leaders who would abandon a mission to shelter or feed the homeless because it has qualms with treating its employees equally will not warm to the legislation because of an outing campaign — unless maybe someone once spotted the pope at any town’s Different Strokes bar.

A better course would be to demonstrate to the Church that there are other institutions and caring people to provide the social services the Church has threatened to abandon, to demonstrate to the Church that a religious institution cannot bully a democratic body into allowing discrimination and injustice to continue, to demonstrate to the Church that it cannot hold poor people as hostages.

And the best course of action in the long run would be to find a way to keep government funding for services for the poor and homeless from going to powerful, wealthy institutions of perpetual discrimination.

We are not personally opposed to publicly displaying evidence of the Catholic Church's blatant hypocrsy, but we are concerned that doing so on such a personal level could only cause more pain. in our opinion, the goal here should not be the exchange of tactical weapons but instead reconciliation and healing--this approach would do neither.

Click here to read the rest of Ms. Neff's column at 365gay.com.

December 01, 2009

Encouraging Words 12/1/09-"Our Church Welcomes Everyone'

Northwest Community Church is a UCC church in Las Vegas, NV. They are an open and affirming congregation and, in this video, want you to know why that is important to them. It's good stuff from not only leadership but some rank-and-file membership of the church. Enjoy!

Matthew 25 Resource 12/1/09-Central Arizona Shelter Services (Phoenix)

Central Arizona Shelter Services' (CASS) mission is to empower men, women, and children with diverse needs to end their homelessness by providing shelter and supportive services.

CASS was founded in 1984 in response to a need for an agency to operate an emergency shelter for the homeless in downtown Phoenix. It is the largest shelter and service center for homeless people in Arizona, serving 6,000 men, women, and children annually.

CASS has two facilities. The main facility in downtown Phoenix serves 400 homeless men and women. Vista Colina Emergency Family Shelter, is a 30 unit apartment complex in Sunnyslope that houses homeless families with children. Both operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Click here to find out more.

Daily Devotional 12/1/09

Psalm 23:5, NIV: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Nothing. And then, all at once, I am flooded. I pray for days into the air and sometimes feel as though my prayers are stopping at the ceiling—and then—whoosh! God speaks. And oh does He speak. I dare not wait to the end of the day to journal what He says. For “my cup overfloweth.” And if I intend to record what He has shown me, it’s going to take some time. All in all, I am thankful that God is faithful in the bad times, and good—in times of plenty—and in the times of emptiness. Praise be to God!

Encouraging Music 12/1/09

Commemorating World AIDS Day

We are posting some resources that were provided by White Rock Church in Dallas, TX in partnership with The Evangelical Network, of which we are affiliate members.

Here is a link to the World AIDS Campaign.







November 30, 2009

Encouraging Words 11/30/09-BCF Praise Report

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, everyone one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you WILL RECEIVE the Gift of the Holy Spirit. The Promise
is for YOU and YOUR CHILDREN and for ALL who are far off- for ALL whom the Lord our God will call." Acts 2:38,39

Greetings BCF Family & Friends!

What an awesome and POWERFUL Lord and God we have! He is pouring out His love and the richness of His presence in ever increasing ways- and is showing forth His mighty power in healing peoples hearts and their bodies, and filling us to overflow with His ANOINTING AND GLORY! Praise His WONDERFUL NAME! Jesus!

We had a glorious Thanksgiving weekend and yesterday's worship service was on par with just that- GLORIOUS! It was such a blessing to have Minister Zoila Aguilar with us for the weekend and the workshop she led on moving in the prophetic on Saturday was amazing! Last October, Pastor Doug Sewell came and ministered spiritual gifts to us and activated us, and Saturday, Zoila imparted and instructed us further in the prophetic. It was so exciting to witness the Saints 'getting it' and stepping out in their faith to let the Holy Spirit use them in greater ways than ever before! I'm telling you Church- the Saints Movement is HERE and even greater things are ahead for us all! Thank you Minister Zoila- we love you and we VALUE YOU and the ANOINTING on your life!!!

Yesterday's worship service was just incredible and after Zoila preached on "The Anointing & The Glory"- altar ministry time was just incredible! Everyone recieved!! We were blessed to welcome two first time guests, Nolan and Mawchelle; We also welcomed back Sister Pam S. from Roanoke, and of course- Brother Freddy! We pray that each of them were blessed and refreshed and hope they will come be a regular part of BCF. God is MOVING in this Church!

As we enter into the Advent/Christmas Season- our focus is on Jesus and growing in the GIFT of the Holy Spirit which we have received! The Holy Spirit is a PERSON! He has a character, He has a nature, He has feelings, and He is EVERYTHING we need to grow in grace and walk in Divine POWER to reach the lost and heal the sick! Too many of us have received Jesus Christ as our Savior, but have not been taught or mentored in how to walk in the Spirit! Many still have not been Baptized in the Holy Spirit and received the GIFTS of the Spirit! WE NEED THAT- and God WANTS US to have that! The Apostle Paul said, "If we will walk in the Spirit, we'll not fulfill the lusts of our flesh"- causing us to stumble in sin and hinder our relationship with the Holy Spirit! But praise God, if we will admit our sin and confess our sorrow for doing it- the Word says in 1st John 1:8-9 that He is faithful and just to forgive us and CLEANSE US CONTINUALLY of all unrighteousness!! (Go read that in the Amplified Bible!) The Holy Spirit is the One our Heavenly Father sent to strengthen and empower us to live a Godly life and to be His witnesses!

So today, make a decision. Decide that you are going to set your heart and your mind on Jesus- and tell somebody about Him and what He has done for you! It's Christmas time, the season of giving- let's give JESUS and make a way for Him to give the GIFT of the Holy Spirit to everyone we tell about Him! There is no better Gift that we could ever give to someone!! If you haven't yet received the Gift of the Holy Spirit in ALLLLL of His fullness- then what are you waiting for!??! God has an awesome GIFT with your name on it! Open your heart, open your mind, and open your mouth and ASK for your Present!! If you need help in doing that, we're here for you!

We request prayer for next Saturday, December 5th, 8 AM- 12 PM est, as BCF's Helping Hands Ministry prepares our sandwich ministry/outreach in Washington, DC. We are praying for Divine Appointments and we sincerely want to bless and love on those in need. So, please hold us up in prayer and come help us out next Saturday if you are in the area and have the time.

Have a wonderful week and remember that you are NOT alone and that you are deeply loved and cared about. We are here for you and we're praying for you! SHALOM!!!!!

In Christ's love and faithful friendship,
Brother Ap Dale

Encouraging Music 11/30/09 "Do You Hear What I Hear" by Perry Como

LGBT Hehlping Hands 11/30/09-Colorado Springs Pride Center

Our mission is to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to achieve civil and social equality.

We envision a thriving Colorado Springs in which all people, including GLBT people, can reach their full potential as human beings, free from oppression and discrimination. We envision a region where individual rights are honored, and constitutional rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are upheld for all people.

Pikes Peak Gay & Lesbian Community Center is a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization founded in 1978 and formally incorporated in 1981. As Colorado’s 2nd oldest GLBT community center, the organization’s purpose is to create a level playing field for LGBT individuals and families in the Pikes Peak region and Southern Colorado.

Click here to find out more.

Transsexual Sportswriter Dead, Suicide Suspected

We've covered the story here of sportswriter Mike Penner, a successful columnist for one of the largest newspapers in the United States, the Los Angeles Times. He announced in a column in 2007 that he was transitioning to become a woman named Christian Daniels. He later went back to being known as Mike Penner in 2008.

Sadly, he is now dead, and officials believe it was a suicide.

We certainly don't know enough about the late Mr. Penner to make any assumptions about what drove him to take his own life, but given our experience with and knowledge of transgender people, it is hard not to think his sexuality was at least a part of the issues he felt unable to resolve. We share this story with you to close a loop in news coverage of Mr. Penner, but also to encourage anyone who is suffering with any type of uncertainty about their sexuality to seek help, and for those who know someone in that situation to offer help.

From the LA Times:

Mike Penner, a longtime Los Angeles Times sportswriter who made headlines in 2007 when he announced that he was transsexual, has died. He was 52.

Penner was pronounced dead Friday evening at Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, a Los Angeles County coroner's official said.

The cause of death has not been determined but was believed to be suicide.

"Mike was a first-rate journalist, a valued member of our staff for 25 years, and we will miss him," Times Editor Russ Stanton said. "He respected our readers a great deal, enough to share with them his very personal journey. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

A versatile member of The Times' sports staff, Penner covered the Olympics, the Angels, World Cup soccer, tennis, sports media and a variety of other assignments.

He also spent several years writing a sports column for the paper's Orange County Edition. Since 2008, he was the principal writer for the sports section's "Totally Random" feature.

"Mike was one of the most talented writers I've ever worked with, capable of reporting on any number of topics with great wit and style," sports editor Mike James said. "This is a tragic ending and a difficult time for all of us who knew him."

In April 2007, Penner surprised colleagues and readers with an essay in The Times' Sports section announcing that he was "a transsexual sportswriter."

"It has taken more than 40 years, a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-searching therapy for me to work up the courage to type those words," he wrote.

Times Associate Editor Randy Harvey, who was the paper's sports editor at the time, said the essay allowed Penner to explain in his own way a decision that "we realized would be a human-interest story and a news story. We didn't want it to be filtered through someone else's lens."

In the essay, Penner said of his transgender decision:

"I gave it as good a fight as I possibly could. I went more than 40 hard rounds with it. Eventually, though, you realize you are only fighting yourself and your happiness and your mental health -- a no-win situation any way you look at it."

Writing as Christine Daniels, Penner started a column for the paper's website in May 2007 called Day in L.A. and a blog about the transition, then in July began writing for the paper again.

He returned to using the Mike Penner byline in October 2008.

Penner is survived by his brother, John, a copy editor at The Times, and his former wife, Times staff writer Lisa Dillman.


Click here to read the rest of the Times' story.

Daily Devotional 11/30/09 When Life Hurts

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for You are with me. - Psalm 23:4

I counseled with a man a few months back. He had just lost his wife of many years in a tragic accident. Although he was a committed Christian, he was still devastated, bewildered, angry, and, deep down, did not want to go on. It was hard seeing him so hurt, yet there was nothing anyone could do for him to take away the pain.

While not all of us experience the same tragedies in life, we can all relate to being hurt. We can all relate to rejection, abuse, ridicule, disappointment, betrayal, loss, fear, sadness, bad choices… and the list goes on.

NO ONE IS IMMUNE

King David was the only man in the Bible called “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), yet he suffered hurt on many levels – misunderstood and hunted by King Saul, mocked and despised by his own wife, betrayed and hated by his own son, devastated by his own sin, and rejected by the people who chose to follow Absalom instead of David. Without question, David spent lots of time in the dark valley of the shadow of death.

But notice… he walked through that valley; he did not build a home there. He did not curse God and die there. He trusted God in the valley… and the Lord saw him through to the other side.

WHY?

Why the dark valleys? Why all the hurts? Why all the storms in life? To show us that God is more than able to take the worst life can throw at us and turn it around for good.

Adrian Rogers used to say, “A faith that cannot be tested, cannot be trusted.” Our faith is not tested on the mountain top… it is tested in the valley. People watch you in the valley to see if your Jesus really does make a difference.

You and I will NEVER have a better opportunity to show the manifest presence of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world than when we are hurting. If they can see a peace that passes understanding… a confidence that defies the circumstances… a joy that does not make sense… then they will begin to see Jesus in you and me and want what we have.

WHAT TO DO?

No matter how you may be hurting today, do not give up!! Do not give into the temptation to “curse God and die!” Even though you may not feel it or understand it, the Lord really does love you, and He still has a wonderful plan. Nothing can come into your life unless it first filters through His fingers of love.

Thank Him for the hurt. That’s right, thank Him for the hurt. Give it all to Him so He can use it for good. Remember, He promises to never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5). He promises to give you “beauty for ashes” (Is. 61:3). Seek Him each day for strength to go on. Remind Him that He promised to be present in your valley. Ask Him to see you through!! He will do it, if you do not quit!

A HAPPY ENDING

My friend who came to me those many months ago with a load of hurt, he came back to see me just the other day, asking me to marry him and his fiancĂ©e. God has brought a beautiful, godly lady into his life. She also lost her spouse suddenly and unexpectedly a few years ago. Both of them refused to live in the valley. They sought God through the hurts and the tears and the lonely, dark nights… and God has brought them through.

He will do the same for you, my friend. He is a God who brings us through! It will not be immediate, for it takes time to heal… but it will be sure as you simply depend upon Him and say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15).

There is a light and a new life at the end of your dark valley! How do I know? Because He promised!!

November 29, 2009

Welcome to Sunday Worship 11/29/09

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)
VIDEO
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa, 11:00 AM
VA-Believers Covenant Fellowship, Vienna, 11:00 AM
AL-Covenant Community Church, Birmingham, 12:00 AM
NC-Church of the Holy Spirit Fellowship, Winston-Salem, 12:00 PM
FL-Oasis Fellowship Ministries, Casselberry, 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-Rainbow Community Church, Vancouver 9:00 PM

AUDIO
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-Oasis Fellowship Ministries, Casselberry
FL-New Hope Christian Center, Pensacola
FL-Potters House International Fellowship, Tampa
GA-Gentle Spirit Christian Church, Atlanta
GA-New Covenant Church of Atlanta
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
Canada-Rainbow Community Church, Vancouver

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-Body of Christ Church of God, Largo
FL-New Hope Christian Center, Pensecola
GA-New Covenant Church of Atlanta
KY-Covenant Community Church, Louisville
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
UT-Glory to God Christian Church, Ogden
South Africa-Deo Gloria Family Church

Can we pray for you? E-mail straight_notnarrow@yahoo.com