Accepting Evangelicals Conference

Second blog of the day! Please do go look at my previous blog if you haven’t already! It was a poem and it’s exactly what I’m about to write about that inspired it, but I’ll explain that more further down.

If nobody has heard of accepting Evangelicals, they are amazing! I fully recommend taking a look at their website (I will post a link at the end!)
But they are group of evangelical Christians, passionate about accepting everybody, especially those within the LGBT community.
They, in my opinion, bring church back to what it should be. They are about bringing everybody together, so that there is no isolation.
As you can imagine, this was exactly the kind of conference I wanted to be part of. After a week of illness I was so blessed to be able to go!

What I saw there actually blew me away. The passion for God was almost tangible!
The room had such an amazing atmosphere, so full of love and passion!
Every one there together, LGBT and straight allies worshipping together with total freedom to be who they are. Total freedom to be who I am!

Vicky Beeching spoke in interview on stage, and the point she made is that people say that she doesn’t take the bible seriously but actually it’s about taking the bible very seriously! Looking into scripture, looking at context and actually taking time to really think.
She spoke of the hurt, how hard it is to come out as gay within the Christian faith, and about weighing up the cost. But also about the freedom in being able to be who you are.
Honestly an inspiring woman. She speaks simply, but her words are godly and so full of truth.

The next person to do his talk, was Steve Chalk. He is the founder of Oasis who were part of the evangelical alliance until he started to speak out and put across the view that same sex relationships weren’t sinful.
There was so much passion in his words! He spoke dreams and how the world didn’t need dreamers, they needed people with vision! Visions are things that get into every part of your body and make you do something! You need people of vision, to change the things that are hurting the people we are called to serve!

I came away so uplifted! The church has a long long way to go on this one.
Yesterday the Catholic Church wouldn’t agree to the popes proposal. But yet the Pope still opened conversations that so desperately needed to happen.
I’m not catholic, but it doesn’t even matter.
What we need is, regardless of denomination, people with a vision!
We need people who want to see, every single person welcomed with in the church exactly as they are.
We need people that realise, that maybe here we’ve got it wrong.

I fully believe a change is happening right now. I think that eventually the church will be one that’s more inclusive. But yesterday I got a glimpse of what that looks like, and it’s the truest reflection of Jesus I’ve seen in a long time.

We need you. It doesn’t matter how much or little you can do, but do something. I don’t want to wait years for church to look this way and the longer it takes, the more people we lose from the church, the more people we isolate.
If this is going to happen, everyone of us needs to be talking and making people think. Nothing changes through silence.

At the beginning I wrote about the poem I wrote this morning. I wrote it because I wanted to show how as humans we get it wrong over and over but how that’s not of God.
When this battles won, there will be more but that doesn’t mean that we should just stand at the sidelines. God created us all to serve. The time we should have been doing that properly was yesterday. Let’s get it right now.

http://www.acceptingevangelicals.org/

Creation equality.

This ones a bit different to my usual blog posts.
I wrote a poem last night after coming back from an amazing and inspiring conference, which I’ll be posting a blog up about this evening.
But for now I thought I’d share the poem.

When man was created out of the dust and the mud
And woman soon after, Adams rib, Gods love.
And as they stood hand in hand
Man and woman, woman and man.
They were both in Gods image,
He didn’t differentiate.
He loved them the same, there was no hate.

But then sin came in, jealousy, anger.
And as people divided, one side shouted louder.
History through out repeated over and over.

People marginalised, one sided bible interpretation.
Until one voice loud enough, shouts out across the nations.
Martin Luther King, stood up and fought slavery.
A part of the bible, returned to former glory.

God made us unique, we were created to serve.
But yet we keep wounding, lessons go unlearned.
We are told to go out and preach the good news.
But instead we isolate because of one sided views.

We miss the hurt etched on the faces
Of those who love God, yet no one embraces.
We refuse to acknowledge their homosexuality.
Because it doesn’t fit our plan for Christianity.

But when God created woman and man
He didn’t differentiate, he had a plan
He knew their hearts, he created them whole.
He knew exactly the words etched onto their souls

So now what we need is to head back to the start.
Back to creation, back to the heart.
One sided views, one sided theology.
When actually God created equality.

Fear

When I list my phobias, there aren’t many. Going under water, spiders, wasps and down escalators (Yes I know, if this blogs ever made you think I was normal, I apologise.)
But these aren’t my true fears, they are not the things that hold me back. They aren’t the things that stop me from reaching my full potential.
I’m not down playing phobias. In fact I’m pointing out the opposite.
The reason, if somebody asks me what my phobias are, I list the ones above is simply because they are the easy answers. They are the answers that I can say, that may produce a laugh, or a shudder but they don’t end a conversation. They don’t reveal enough of myself for people to give me a strange look and put a barrier up,But they also aren’t a problem. They are no more than an inconvenience.

When I was little I learned the bible verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I sang songs about it, I read about it, and generally had the verse engrained into me.
As with everything, putting that into practice is a whole lot harder than memorising the principle.

Confidence is fragile, as is trust. It goes wrong a few times and it gets dented. It’s hard to pick up those pieces and put that verse into action time and time again. Fear is powerful and it limits.

For me my true fears are ones of rejection. Not saying things to people that I fear they may reject me because of it.
Also failure, I’ve missed so many opportunities as a result of fear that I may fail, or lack of confidence that I’ll make it work.

I know I’m not alone here, so many of us have problems and fears that keep holding us back.
I kind of think of it as God standing at the sidelines at sports day shouting “you can do it! I’ve told you so! Go!” We far too often are the little child, too afraid to run.

Imagine if you had no fear, imagine nothing held you back. You were so confident of your strengths, that we never missed an opportunity and were always totally honest about our feelings with others.
That’s real freedom, that’s the freedom promised to us. We just need to take it and own it.

I’m 26 now, and there is already so much I haven’t done due to fear. So my goal now is to get to a less fearful place by the time I’m 30.
I wish I could say I could just start now, but realistically fears take time to undo. Trusting in God, means taking time to learn again.

One step at a time, but we can all get there.

Here are my goals;
1. to be totally honest about every part of who I am, instead of hiding a part away from certain people incase I end up rejected.
2. To attend university, instead of coming up with lots of excuses to myself about why it’s not plausible.
3. To not pass up any opportunities that come my way because of fear.

They may seem simple, but to me these are huge.
Time to start living in freedom!
What are your fears? Please feel free to join me!

Feminism and Christianity

This is something I’ve been wanting to write about for sometime, but actually a topic I struggle to find words for with out just repeating others.

Growing up I wouldn’t have considered myself a feminist. I’m not even sure I knew what the word meant! The closest I ever got was thinking “there is no way on this earth I am burning my bra!” Of course (fortunately for me) being a feminist does not mean bra burning.

I think what actually made me think about feminism in a new light was having two boys.
This probably sounds odd to some, but I found they were limited.
An example of this was when my eldest who has just started his first year at primary school told me that boys can’t cry at school. It breaks my heart that already he is limited by the stereotype of what it means to be male.
Emma Watson really did get it right in her speech to the UN about he HeforShe campaign. Feminism affects us all, both males and females.

I’ve also came to realise other things. If I go out in the evening and dress up, I somehow become dehumanised. It’s acceptable in our culture for men to shout out at me as if the reason I am walking is for their pleasure. I am not human. I am not equal.
It’s ok in a club for men to grab me and try to kiss me. That’s why I’m there. I am not human. I am not equal.

Objectification is what we see all around us. Female celebrities plastered over pages of magazines. There to be drooled over or criticised. They are too fat, too skinny, wear the wrong clothing, look too tired, the list goes on. Is it any wonder then that this continues into our lives?
It’s men that dominate in government and in business. It’s hard to feel respected.

If you think I’m over exaggerating, do an experiment. On a Saturday night, go for a walk along where the clubs and pubs are local to you, and watch how the younger women are treated. It’s as if we are walking on their territory.
Look at the people who have made it to the top and see how dominated it is by males.

Now when reconciling this with Christianity I look right back at Jesus.
He was living in a culture far less informed than we are today. He was living in a culture where women were well and truly second class citizens. In that time period women were considered weak minded and not given any respect with in society.
Jesus may not have been an out right feminist, but how he treated them was with respect. He allowed women to sit with him and be counted them as friends.
When he saved the women about to be stoned for adultery, he didn’t see her as less human.
When he rose from the grave, it was the women he allowed to see him first. Women would not have been as trusted as men in their testimony, but still he choose them.
He was born into a time where he was heavily restricted but yet he still pushed the boundaries.

You see feminism isn’t about trying to be better than men, it isn’t about hating men, and it isn’t about trying to take over.
It’s about respecting that women are capable. It’s about bringing what it means to be male to something that doesn’t mean you can’t display emotion. It’s about everybody being human.

When I’ve written in previous blogs about LGBT, or about changing the attitudes to cultures, races, and disabilities it’s for one reason. We are all human. God made us all unique, with different challenges and emotions.

Feminism is important because it’s very simply recognising the individual and allowing us all to grow as people, with out being hindered by stereo-types.

Culture is always changing, when it comes to human rights it should be us, the church, at the fore front fighting. We can’t afford to be the ones lagging behind.

How to respond if someone at your church comes out as gay.

Thought I’d keep this post simple.
Those who have been following my previous blog posts know I am pro LGBT.
I also have repeatedly said in my posts on here to stay loving, which ever side of the argument you are on.
I’ve noticed though that there seems to be controversy about what constitutes being loving.
Some people think, telling people that if they don’t repent of their homosexual thoughts they will end up in hell is being loving.
Some people think that by telling them that they are deceived by the devil and that they need to get him kicked out, they are being loving.

So this is my view on how you should respond.

1. Thank them for their honesty.
I’m not kidding you! If somebody has just taken the step to come out to you, it took guts. They have just put themselves in a vulnerable position. Be honoured they chose you, and thank them for it.

2. Tell them you care about them.
Let them know they are still somebody of value. This isn’t you saying you agree. This is you letting them know that you care. Believe me, they need to hear it!

3. Tell them God loves them.
Because, well, he does. He loves all his children, and it’s good to affirm that to them.

4. Let them know you are available.
Again this still isn’t agreeing. This is acknowledging that they need support. As we all do. If you don’t feel you can be the one to offer it, find somebody who will.

5. Pray with them.
Pray for Gods peace and love in their lives. Pray that God will stay close and that they won’t loose sight of him. Do not pray for God to change them. That can do more damage. If they God does think it’s wrong, then by praying God remains close, their hearts will change anyway. (I firmly believe God doesn’t think this.)

6. If they ask you if you think it’s a sin, be careful.
You don’t have to lie here. You can honestly turn around and say, I know God loves you.
You can honestly say to them that they were fearfully and wonderfully made. You can honestly turn around and say to them that God still has a plan for their lives.
You can honestly say that we are all sinners.
Tell them to seek God first and tell them to let God reveal his heart.

7. Don’t out them.
If you are the first person they have told, let them know they can tell others in their own time. Tell them that you will support them as and when they decide to tell others.

8. Hug them!
At the end of the conversation, hug it out.
You don’t actually have to hug them if hugging isn’t your thing, but any form of touch reaffirms that they are still valued and that you care. Even just a shoulder pat.

9. Talk about something else.
Make sure first that the conversation has ended, but awkward silences are, by definition, awkward. Ask them what they are doing at the weekend or something.

10. Walk away knowing you made a difference!
You may be worrying that it’s come across like you’ve condoned something you don’t, but remember this isn’t about you.
You’ve told told them to seek God, so trust him.
In the mean time you’ve just saved somebody from feeling alone and isolated. They aren’t going to be the next person to leave the church because of a lack of compassion. You have made them feel valued and loved and they have gone away in the knowledge that God still loves them too.

You don’t have to understand, don’t have to agree. Just be the light in their lives when they ask you to be.
Let God do the rest 🙂