July 17, 2009

Encouraging Words 7/17/09-God puts your tears in a bottle

In Brenda's latest podcast, she tell how God remembers our sorrows and keeps track of our tears based on Pslam 56:8.

Encouraging Music 7/17/09-Famous One

The Dating Life of a Christian Transman

Yeah, how DOES that work? Lincoln Rose wrote an essay for Whosoever about his experiences as he engages in a whole new kind of dating world. Here is an excerpt:

I do struggle at times with what my role as a man will be with a Christian woman. There is so much I've questioned about manhood in general as I've transitioned, that I find myself picking apart the Christian male "rules" almost automatically. Be a leader, real men either do (or don't) cry depending on whose book you're reading, you need to be a prayer warrior, all family decisions are your responsibility, get a good job so you can provide, and remember: women want you to pursue them! That's how God ordained relationships to be.

If that's so, do I stand a chance of living up to this? I think my situation brings an extra wrinkle with it. Will a Christian woman who is Queer identified or has been in/around the community for any portion of her life expect the same things from a Christian man that my evangelical dating books are telling me she wants? If I train myself up and can show a woman that I can do most of the things these books are telling me to do, is a Christian woman from my community going to be impressed? Or will she back slowly away from me, muttering something under her breath about the patriarchy and outdated ideas?

And what about my own life? How do I know when I'm a "good enough" Christian man that I can pursue a woman's heart with honor and integrity? Yes, now I have a good job, housing, and have made a start paying down my debts. And that's great, but it's not everything. And God definitely let me know that. You see, last month, just when I thought I had a few things right (and was getting a little puffed in the chest about it).

Sometimes it all seems like too much. Cultural cues are giving me input from everywhere, and I can't make heads or tails of the conflicts over all the noise. Like Peter on the water, I aspire to be something I see as much greater than who I am right now. And maybe that's the root of the problem. I'm spending all my energy trying to guess what the women around me want when I should be figuring out what I can give based on both the kind of man I am and what I have available to me. Right now that's not much. But hopefully just like with the material blessings I've been enjoying, some hard work and reliance on the Lord will bear good fruit in the spiritual realm as well.

There's a lot more to this story and I encourage you to click here and read the rest of it at Whosoever.

July 16, 2009

Evening Prayers 7/16/09


Thank you for answering prayers in YOUR time, not ours. That's not easy to say, and even harder to mean, but some things are worth the wait. Brenda received some wonderful news today when a friend of hers who she has been estranged from for several years responded to her several inquires about reestablishing contact. After trying for quite a while, Brenda had that prayer answered today and is anticipating what direction the relationship will take as it redevelops.

You've also answered prayers I even gave up praying in the last few months as my career has developed far beyond I had expected for a long, long time. You waited until I was ready to receive the blessings and was prepared to take advantage of them before you provided the opportunity, and as I walk with you through each day on the job. those blessings are clear and visible to others.

When things are tough and we are frustrated with our current lot in life, we need to remember that you have a plan far better than anything we can come up with on our own, and your timing is what will optimize it. As you unfold our ministry through this website and various contacts we are making, I ask your help in not moving ahead of your plan for it, that we surrender to your plan and your timing knowing that is the way to recognize the greatest impact of our efforts.


Encouraging Words 7/16/09-"Is Homosexuality An Abomination?"

Justin Lee, the Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network, talks about the video "Through My Eyes" that his organization produced and answers the question in the title.

Encouraging Music 7/16/09-Healing Rain

Gay Pride: WWJD?

That's the interesting question that Steve Schmidt takes a crack at on Whosover.org. Here's an excerpt:

Would Jesus go to a Gay Pride parade? You bet he would. I doubt very much he'd be marching in it (he tended to avoid political activism since that wasn't his purpose), but he'd certainly have a booth out on the fair grounds with big signs telling people that God loved them. He'd be shouting into the crowds (in a very undignified way), "Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He'd say, "Come to me, all who are hungry, and let me give you what you're seeking. Come to me, all of you who are thirsty, and I will give you water to drink that will fill your souls and overflow out of you to water others." (Mt 11:28; Lk 1:53; Lk 6:21; Jn 7:38)

Especially at Gay Pride celebrations, where so many Gay and Lesbian and Bisexual and Transgender people have been rejected by our religious organizations, our churches, hurt by family, told they are hated by God, told they are going to hell. Is there any other group of people more needing of the love and acceptance of Jesus? Would he be among the conservative church goers there, holding up protest signs that say "Fags go to Hell", or hurling insults at those dressed in feather boas or sexually-explicit costumes? Would he be among those throwing stones? Did he EVER do that in the Gospels? No. Today, at any Gay Pride parade or picnic he went to, he'd walk up to such scandalous people, wrap his arms around them, kiss them on the cheek, and say "You are SO loved by the Father." Some people would reject him, now just as they did 2000 years ago. But those who hunger for a relationship with God would hug him back, and follow him to some grassy picnic area where he'd tell them stories about how the Kingdom of God is made up of people such as themselves. And from such people, he would raise up followers who would know the grace of God and see a face of God that those who grew up in the church have never seen and will never experience.

Yep, sounds like the Jesus I know and love. Click here to read the rest of the essay at Whosoever.

July 15, 2009

Encouraging Words 7/15/09; How Did a Straight Guy Get Involved in GLBT Ministry?

In Jim's first podcast, he shares how he became involved in GLBT ministry using Jeremiah 29:11 as a base.

Encouraging Music 7/15/09-Kindom Come

Teaching the "Homo-Naive"

That's what Loren A. Olson thinks GLBT people, especially older ones, should do when opportunities present themselves. He shares those thoughts as he and his partner prepare for their legally recognized wedding in Iowa. Here's an excerpt that gets to the point:

Because a wedding between two people of the same sex is inherently revolutionary, our wedding will confront all of our guests with their own values about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Some of our friends are Baptists, Catholics, and yes, even Republicans. Although they all love us and always treat us respectfully, after they leave the reception celebration they will be asking a question they may have censored, "What will they do on their wedding night?"

As members of the LGBT community, where these questions were answered for us during the process of our coming out, we often forget that others are just beginning to examine the nature of our gay relationships. Sometimes we get reactive and are quick to judge others as homophobes and bigots, and some of them are, but many of them, like our relative, are just homo-naïve. Gay marriage can be legislated; tolerance cannot be.

Those of us who are older gay men and women, since our generation is most strongly opposed to gay rights, have a particular obligation to teach others of our generation that our relationships are just like theirs, even though our weddings may not be. We are obliged to teach them that our relationships are simply about loving another person.

I think this is wonderful advice. If someone is interested enough to ask a question, even though it may seem stupid, that can be their way of reaching across and sincerely tryling to understand what this whole same-sex marriage thing is about. As this article suggests, don't smack away that hand, reach back with tolerance of their ignorance and teach them. There's a chance they might take back what they learn and tell their equally naive straight friends. Education and living a life that doesn't "threaten' anyone are two of the best tools the GLBT community can use to bring people in off the sidelines and have them engage as allies in the fight for equality.

Click here to read the rest of the essay at The Bilerico Project.

July 14, 2009

Live chat at 9:00 Eastern

Join us at 9:00 PM Eastern time for our first Straight, Not Narrow chat:


Internet Radio Appearance Wednesday-6 PM Eastern

I'll be on Jase Preston-Yocom's program "GLBTQ Issues" on BlogTalkRadio tomorrow during the 6PM Eastern hour. Here's some info on the show:

We're going to talk about drug abuse, sexuality, coming out of the closet and other topics facing the GLBTQ community. Our special guests will be blogger, Jim Johnson from Straight Not Narrow and author, Terry Oldes who has first hand experience about tackling drug abuse.

Here's the link to listen live or to the podcast later:


Encouraging Words 7/14/09-"A House Divided"

Pastor Allen Pope of New Hope Fellowship Church in Dallas, TX preaches from Luke 11:14-28 in his sermon "A House Divided"


Encouraging Music 7/14/09-To The Ends of the Earth

First Live Chat TONIGHT at 9 PM Eastern

We're going to try something new on Tuesday, hosting our first live chat right here at Straight, Not Narrow. Please bring your questions about our ministry, something going on in your own life, concerns about GLBT social issues, and we'll both do the best to provide answers and/or facilitate discussion.

It will start at 9:00 PM U.S. Eastern time and last an hour if the discussion carries that long. The link will be provided a few minutes before the chat in a seperate blog post. We hope this is something people will want to participate in and has value. Spread the word to anyone who might want to join in.

Congress Urged to Act on Bullying

The issue of the bullying of GLBT kids in school and the sometimes tragic consequences that result are continuing to receive more attention. This story from ABC News focuses on a recent hearing of the House of Representatives Education Committee on the subject. Here's an excerpt:
Sirdeaner Walker was cooking dinner for her family while her son Carl was in his room, where she thought he was doing his homework.

Instead, she later discovered, Carl had
hanged himself with an extension cord around his neck. He was 11 years old.

Before his death in April, Carl told his mother he was being pushed around and teased for being "gay" and called a "faggot." But when Walker alerted the school, she said they portrayed Carl as the problem.

"I did everything that a parent is supposed to," Walker said. "I choose a 'good' school; I joined the PTO; I went to every parent-teacher conference; I called the school regularly and brought the bullying problem to the staff's attention. And the school did not act. The teachers did not know how to respond.

"School bullying is a national crisis and we need a national solution to deal with it," Walker said. "Teachers, administrators and other school personnel need additional support and clear guidance about how to ensure that all kids feel safe in school. Congress can make sure they have that guidance and support by making anti-bullying policies mandatory at all of our nation's schools."

There's a lot more in the article. Click here to read the rest of it.

July 13, 2009

Evening Prayers 7/13/09


I spent the day at a training class for my job, learning about a powerful piece of report-writing software that will be extremely useful once I can master it and share that knowledge with my staff. I thank you for that opportunity, and I got to thinking about it while I was inching through traffic on the way home.....

Isn't both learning, then sharing what we learn with others, a critical part of our mission, our very purpose, here on earth? If I hoarded knowledge and did not share it with those who could benefit from it, I would merely be fortifying my own position, increasing my own perceived standing, by selfishly declining to help others. Oh Lord, I know we have so much of that in our world today--people who feel they must enhance their standing in society by keeping others down. Yet when you walked the earth as a human, Jesus did just the opposite. The Bible tells us that he relished the opportunity to gather those less fortunate and impart his divine knowledge, realizing they were the most teachable and the most willing to learn.

Lord, I thank you for the opportunity, both in the workplace and in this blog, to share lessions I have learned, ones you have either directly taught me or placed me in the position to be taught by others. Thank you for loving us enough not to want us to stay the same but to grow, into our gifts you blessed us with and into a closer relationship with you.


Encouraging Words 7/13/09-God made you who you are

In Brenda's latest podcast, she discusses how God knew how you would turn out and loves you intimately using Psalm 139 as background.

Encouraging Music 7/13/09-Awesome Is The Most High

So What About "Bruno"?

Sacha Baron Cohen's uber-hyped film "Bruno" opened this weekend to mixed reviews but still finished #1 at the box office with an estimated $30 million in receipts.

This movie was also reviewed by GLAAD, The Gay & Lesbian Aliance Against Defamation, and they weren't exactly thrilled (hat tip to Gay Agenda). The senior director of GLAAD, Rashad Robinson, wrote an op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times about the movie. Here is an excerpt:

It's not that we don't get it. The makers of the film "Bruno," Sacha Baron Cohen's just-released follow-up to "Borat," have said that they intend to satirize and expose homophobia. But even when filmmakers have the best of intentions, there can be a disconnect between the concept and the execution. In "Bruno," the satire often loses sight of the way gay people are treated in real life.

In some scenes, the film's method cleverly skewers anti-gay attitudes. But in others it loses its way. In the film's finale, a disguised Bruno takes part in a no-holds-barred cage match in Arkansas (a state that in November voted to effectively ban gay people from becoming adoptive or foster parents). The situation is a set-up, and in the middle of the fight, Bruno begins to rip the clothes off his opponent and kiss him. The audience for the cage match, which is not in on the joke, goes berserk, screaming epithets and hurling objects -- including a chair -- at the two men. (The film's production notes say that the confrontation "lasted many hours" and required 40 police officers "to rescue the cast and crew and quell the angry mob.")

Whatever this scene may reveal, it is disturbing on a number of levels given the pervasive violence gay people often face. Late last year, the FBI reported that anti-gay hate crimes have been on the rise since 2005. Last month, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported that violent hate crimes against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people increased 24% in 2007 and additional 2% in 2008.

Another scene has Bruno on a TV talk show with a baby in tow. Intended to spoof celebrity adoptions, the scene suddenly veers to a photo of Bruno and the baby in a hot tub with a number of naked men, followed by a photo of what appears to be sexual activity between Bruno and the men in the background -- while the baby is still in the foreground of the photo. Naturally, the talk show audience turns against Bruno.

In too many places, scenes like these are not going to turn homophobia back on itself. They aren't going to help gay people who are struggling to overcome and overturn the unjust treatment and the deeply ingrained hostility they face on a daily basis. And they aren't going to help lesbian and gay parents in places like Arkansas who must struggle to safeguard their families in the face of laws designed to put them at risk.

We have no plans on watching the movie. We never thought "The Ali G Show" or "Borat" was very funny--they came across to us as more of a "what gross and embarrasing thing can we get away with" than actual clever humor. We are curious, however, to get your reactions or those of someone you know who saw it.

July 12, 2009

Evening Prayers 7/12/09

Updated 7/13 to delete names for their safety on strong advice from someone familiar with the situation in Mauritania.


I am petitioning you with a specific request tonight. My dear friend Bruce has asked for prayer for his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. They are traveling tomorrow to the country of Mauritania, on the northwestern coast of Africa, to serve as missionaries, spreading the good news about you.

You know that Mauritania is a dangerous place for Christian workers and that one of them was brutally shot and killed over there recently. Lord, we ask for your covering over them, to protect them and bless their work as they bring the Good News to many who may not otherwise hear it.

I also pray for all of those brave, committed souls like Boaz and his family who uproot themselves and put their lives and needs on hold to travel to hostile places like Mauritania to serve you. Please richly bless these people who truly understand the concept of servanthood, denying their desires and working for the greater good.

Also Lord, thank you for a wonderful weekend and I ask for your blessings for the week ahead.


Sunday Worship 7/12/09

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