Tag Archives: loving others

How Should Christians Respond to HB2?

I don’t suppose I’m a very good Christian. At least that’s how I feel when I look at recent social media posts by so many who claim the title. Apparently, right now I am supposed to be outraged over the backlash to NC’s new HB2, which requires people to only use the bathroom corresponding to the biological sex listed on their birth certificates. Apparently, if I think HB2 is ridiculous (and I do), I must not be in line with the majority of bible-believing Christians, and I must be promoting sexual perversion. Let me just state, for the record, I hold to biblically conservative views on sexuality and marriage, so my problem with this bill has nothing to do with promoting a lifestyle.

The problem I have with the responses I have seen from my Christian friends is that they seem to have an “us vs. them” mentality. From the looks of the posts I’ve read they see the LGBT community as some evil, faceless hoard rather than souls who need God’s love and redemption just as much as they do. I can’t help but think that Jesus would have embraced “them,” rather than reacting in fear or anger at their nerve. For some reason, God has seen fit to place many gay and lesbian folks in my life. They are people I love dearly—from family members to a dear friend who graduated with honors from same conservative seminary I attended. They are not an evil faceless hoard; they are precious people that God treasures and I treasure. In some cases, I have more respect for them than many in the church I know, because they are real. And I certainly understand why so many of them have rejected Christianity.

I think of who I was before I knew Him, and how angry I was at the church. I rejected Christianity just because of the people. My father was a pastor who left the ministry after KKK members in his congregation basically ran him out of town for his support of civil rights. In my mind, all Christians were judgmental hypocrites. I wanted nothing to do with Jesus, because of the people who claimed his name. The only reason I continued to attend church as a teen was because my mother dragged us from the time I was too young to refuse. I had a deep contempt for religion, but I have to say the church we attended after Dad left the ministry was different. One day, after spending a few years in blatant rebellion and running away from home, the pastor of the church gave me a New Testament and told me he’d like to see me “give my life” to Jesus. I had never heard it phrased that way, and I decided to start reading. As I did, I noticed that Jesus never said a harsh word to sinners. In fact, he reserved his reprimands for the religious alone! (See Matthew 23).

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. ’For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mt. 9:10-13)

 If I had never seen that mercy, I never would have come to faith, and right now, I see a lack of mercy on the part of many in the church that is pushing people away from the Lover of their souls. Consider this– even Jesus spoke about gender issues, and indicated that there are exceptions to the norms. “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men” (Mt.9:12). (Emphasis added).  Creation is fallen. Babies are born with all sorts of congenital anomalies. Historically, there have been babies born with both XX and XY chromosomes pairs, as well as both male and female sexual parts. When it comes to gender confusion, there could very likely be physical causes.

When I was in Israel, I was surprised to find many co-ed restrooms. At first, it was a shock, but after a while it was nothing. I imagine our NC law is more culturally influenced than anything. I am sure that most of my life I’ve shared public restrooms with transgender folks, and didn’t even know it. Now suddenly, these folks are breaking the law if they use their restroom of choice, and following the law has to be really frightening. Can you imagine what might happen to a man dressed as a woman in a men’s restroom? I would imagine it could be dangerous! But who cares? It’s just “them.”

Proponents of HB2 act as if this bill is protecting us against sexual predators. Really? Was the Charlotte bill really a license to break the law by sexually assaulting someone? I am sure that even if it had remained in place, crimes like peeping and assault would still have been illegal. Will HB2 protect little boys from sexual predators of the same sex in men’s rooms? Sadly, it seems to me that HB2 technically outlaws mother’s from bringing their boys into the ladies’ room so they can protect them from such things[1].

I’ve been a victim’s advocate for two decades now, and I have to say I would love to see such fervor over making laws that would really protect victims. Laws are weak, and the church suffers from a huge lack of knowledge when it comes to the true dynamics of abuse. Abusers tend to look really good on the outside, and they would never be affected by this legislation. In fact, there’s plenty of legislation that they could focus on if they really wanted to protect people from predators. As it is, we have a bill that only serves to make people feel despised and rejected. I don’t want to side with that, because that’s not who my Jesus is. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt. 9:36). In fact, he became “despised and rejected– even for the likes of “them” (Is. 53:3). He understands their pain, and does not condemn (Jn. 3:17).  Religion condemns, grace redeems. I still hate religion, but I sure love the One who showed me grace, and I pray that my response in this situation will draw people to Him, rather than cause them pain.




[1] The law does allow children under the age of 8 to accompany a parent of the opposite sex, but 8 and above are not allowed, and there are no exceptions for parents of special needs children. There could be many situations when taking older kids would be the safer option.

Getting Over Myself

Lord, I give You my day, and ask your forgiveness for all the days I’ve wasted on myself. Life is so much better when I take the time to seek You. You lead in amazing ways, and I get so much more accomplished. I start too many days seeking my own agenda first. Today Lord, I ask that You would stay in the forefront of my thoughts, and that I would see the world through your eyes. So many people are living in darkness and despair. Your love and grace are available to restore their lives, and yet too often I am silent. I am more worried about getting a negative response than I am about leaving them in their despair. How completely awful! Please forgive me. Help me love others the way You love me—enough to set aside my own agenda and become obedient to the point of sacrifice (Phil. 2:1-8). I know that when I lay down my life for You, I receive more abundant life. There is peace and joy that I do not experience when I seek after my own kingdom rather than yours. Give me wisdom to find the best use of my time daily.

Let my highest goals be to love You and others more than I love myself. It seems self-love comes naturally, loving You has become natural, but I still struggle with loving others. Yes, I know what 1 John 4:20 has to say about that! The thing is You have always given me far more grace and love than I deserve. It completely blows my mind. People do not do that. They are harsh and judgmental. (Yes, I know I am too sometimes). As I think about those people I struggle to love, I know I do not wish them anything except a complete surrender to You. However, sometimes in my position as judge and jury I determine how that should look. I think they need to suffer a little bit, and that is not my place to determine. Help me to flow in your abundant grace today and help me remember that it is your kindness that leads us to repentance. Remind me often that I am not the judge, and to leave justice in your competent hands. I want it here and now, but I know that the entirety of my life is but a speck in the whole of eternity. Somehow You have a beautiful plan that uses evil for good. I see glimpses of it so often on this side of eternity, but one day I will see it in full. How I long for that day dear Lord! I long to see You! I long to set aside the constraints of this life and enter into true life. Until that time, I know You have a plan and a purpose for me. I am so grateful to be your child! So unworthy, and yet You (the only perfect One) love and receive me in spite of my complete imperfection. How amazing and wonderful You are! Help me live in a way that is worthy of the goodness You have bestowed. I know my only hope for doing that is being completely dependent on You. That is the place I choose to start this day. Amen

I hear you little one. When you pray anything according to my will I hear you, and I will answer (Jn. 14;14, 1 Jn. 5:14). I stand ready to empower you to love others with the love I give you. It is something you can never muster up on your own, so look to Me. The more you see Me for who I truly am, the more you will love Me. The more you see yourself as you truly are, the more you will love others. That is because you will see that apart from my grace they are really no different from you. Listen for my voice as you go through this day. That will require quietness on your part. Do not rush to give an answer, but wait and listen. If you ask for wisdom, I have promised to give it to you (Jas. 1:5). However, you must ask expectantly with your mind grounded in my Word. Wisdom comes when you seek my glory over any human agenda. Although you will have trouble in this world, you do not need to despair, because I enable you to overcome (Jn. 16:33). I will cause you to triumph as you seek me (2 Cor. 2:14), and I will give you joy that the world cannot begin to understand. Rejoice in Me as I rejoice in you (Zeph. 3:17). Rest in my love and in my presence today. As you do, nothing will be able to stop my good and perfect plan for your life.


When Holiness Seems Mean

I just returned from my first visit to the Holy Land. It was a trip that will change my perspective forever. What a privilege and joy to walk in places that Jesus walked, and to take in the amazing sites. I had no idea of just how beautiful it is there. Even in the barren wilderness, the sites are awe-inspiring and I couldn’t help but think about our amazing Creator. For the most part, the people were kind and receptive to us. In our conversations with them, we found open hearts and minds, but the one exception to that was among the religious. I had several experiences that gave me a greater understanding of what Jesus must have dealt with during his time on earth.

The first of these experiences was actually with a dear family friend. A few years ago he decided to go to Israel on the birthright program in order to get in touch with his Jewish roots. Although his mother is Jewish, she decided to embrace Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus) as Messiah many years ago, and raised him in the church. When he arrived in Israel, he was given a place to stay in a religious school (yeshiva) near the Western Wall. Over time, he came to embrace the teachings of that school and rejected Yeshua as Messiah. I wasn’t sure he would even meet with me, but finally late one night he sent me a message and came to our hostel to see me. He quickly informed me that he was not allowed to enter a Gentile building to talk to me, and asked if I could come out. When I came out, he told me he was not allowed to hug me. Since it was a little cold, I asked if we could go to walk, and he said we could, but I would have to go change into a skirt. I ran up to my 3rd floor room and put on a long skirt so that we could walk together. We walked through Jerusalem for the next 2 ½ hours, and I asked him to tell my why he decided to convert. His whole rationale was about the Law. Since God doesn’t change, and since Gentiles say that it’s okay to eat non-kosher we must be wrong. He informed me that he has found his truth, and that he is happy. The problem is I am sure he’s not. It is as though somebody has sucked the life right out of him. He only smiled once– he used to smile all the time. He was careful to follow the letter of the law, and every bit of the spontaneity I loved so much about him is gone. Second Corinthians 3:6 tells us that the letter of the law kills, but the Spirit gives life. My friend is case in point, and how it grieves my heart.

The second experience that helped me understand the religious animosity Jesus faced came in the form of a testimony I heard near the end of our trip. In the hostel where we were staying, I met a young volunteer who had run away from her religious family in Jerusalem after they arranged a marriage for her that ended up being extremely abusive. The rabbis in her sect would not allow for divorce, and she managed to get to America to stay with relatives for a while, but her move was clearly unacceptable, and she was basically stalked by the leaders. She had been told that if she ever set foot in a church, she would die, and she became so miserable that she walked into a church one day hoping to do just that. To hear her tell it, she did die, but in a good way. She died to the old way of life and became a believer in Yeshua. He set her free from the bondage of legalism, and now she glows with the love of God. What a contrast between these two young people. One has embraced bondage and the other freedom.

Finally, there was a third experience that seemed to tie everything together for me. We spent a day with our friend who is an American born Israeli citizen. He is an expert in Torah law, but also happens to believe that Yeshua is the Messiah. While at his house, he did a bible study with us from Leviticus 19, which deals with God’s command to Israel regarding holiness. Our friend said that when he thinks of holy, he thinks about meanness. To him the first images that come to mind when considering holiness are hateful religious attitudes. As a Believer in Yeshua, he has faced much persecution for his faith by religious people. The average Israeli would never bother him, but the ones who claim to be holy are the ones who give him the most trouble—much the same as when Jesus walked the earth. The common people embraced him, but the religious did not. Our friend says that the passage in Leviticus on holiness is obviously relating holiness to loving God and others. He said that true holiness flows out of a relationship with God that is only possible by receiving the redemption He offers. Only those who know they are sinful and have accepted the Messiah, who sacrificed himself and took the punishment for theirs sins, can be truly holy. Isaiah 53 says that like sheep we have all gone astray, but that the Lord has laid the iniquity of us all on Him. True holiness is based on receiving this wonderful gift, and not on rigidly holding to a set of rules. The Spirit gives life, but the letter of the law kills.

After returning to the States, I decided to read the Gospels with a new perspective based on my travels. Yesterday I landed in Matthew 7, which starts with “Do not judge.” Certainly mean religious people spend a lot of time judging others. The problem for them is that their own standards come back to haunt them, and they end up in miserable bondage like my friend. It is not just the religious in Israel who have this problem— it is universal. As a Christian, I have both judged and been judged. This happens when we set our standards above our relationships—when we love our ideals more than we love God and people. Judging is basically an act of pride in which the judge sets himself in the place of God. Jesus implied that a judgmental spirit is usually the result of spiritual blindness. When we think we are holier or better than anyone else, we are operating in blindness. Jesus compared it to someone trying to remove a speck in his brother’s eye when there is a log in his own eye. Judgmental attitudes almost always flow from a failure to honestly look at our own hearts. They spring from a focus on rules and regulations rather than heart issues. My trip to Israel really brought this to light, but I know that the American church is just as guilty.

When you find fault in another person, what is your first thought? Is it one of condemnation or love? Do you run to tell others about it (gossip) or share it with others as a “prayer request” (gossip) without loving the person enough to speak first directly to him or her? Do you focus on that person’s issues without evaluating your own heart? Are your motives pure, or are they based on pride? Do you enjoy pointing out others’ mistakes? If so, you probably have a problem with pride. Do you find yourself angry with someone? Do you stew in anger as you imagine the motives behind that person’s actions? If so, you have set yourself up as judge—a place that is reserved for God alone. Jesus’ most harsh words were aimed at religious people. He showed grace and mercy to those who were automatically considered sinful by the scribes and Pharisees. To sum it up in the words of my counseling professor Robert D. Jones, “The only thing worse than being an adulterer or thief (or whatever the sin) is being proud that you aren’t one.” True holiness is not mean like that. It cares for God and others. It is kind and never mean (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

Luke 18:9-14 

 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people —greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’

 “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me —a sinner!’ I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”



Living in the Overflow

Oh Lord, how I love You! Today I pray that You will use me. Don’t let me get so caught up in worldly endeavors that I forget your eternal agenda in the midst of life. Give me spiritual eyes to see the important matters of life, and the resolve to give them priority. People that I love are blind and held captive by the evil one. I pray You use me to help them see, so that you can free them. Give me the wisdom and love needed to speak truth. Help me be more afraid for their souls than their reaction to my words. Your truth offends those who are perishing, yet it is the very thing that liberates. I guess it’s much like life-saving surgery. Give me the skill to use your 2-edged sword in a way that penetrates to soul and spirit, revealing the thoughts and intentions of the heart without damaging their spirits. I have seen your Word misused too many times. I know it is not my place to judge, but to proclaim truth. Let love be my only motive—not fear, not pride, not self-righteousness. It is your kindness that leads us to repentance so remove any remnant of impatience in me, and let me reflect your amazing kindness. I surrender myself now and ask that You would magnify yourself in my life today. Amen  

Dear Child, rest in Me today. The answer to your prayer can only happen as you wait on Me. That is where your strength is found. Abide in Me and in my love. Apart from Me you can do nothing. My Spirit dwells in you. Therefore, remember who you are and walk in the Spirit. My purpose for you is to bear fruit, and I have equipped you. Your obligation is to surrender your will and resources to Me daily. Remember it is my doing and my burden, not yours. You are simply to allow Me to shine through you. When you do, love will be your guide, because I am love. Love is patient, so your impatience will not be able to surface as you stay surrendered to Me. Anxiety and fear will have no place in your life, because my perfect love will cast them out. Your life will radiate with my kindness, and some will come to Me as a result. Keep your eyes on Me, and enjoy fellowship with Me. In my presence you will find peace and joy that will overflow into the lives of others. Overflow requires no action on the part of the vessel. It must only be available; therefore, yield yourself to Me and from your innermost being rivers of living water will flow out to a dying and thirsty world.   Hebrews 4:12, Rom. 2:4, Is. 40:31, John 15:1-17, 1 Jn. 4:8 & 18, Jn. 7:38