My Dad’s Sweet, Strong Heart

I was recently asked, “Where do you get your understanding of God?” Because I desire everything in my life: my worldview, my relationships, my actions and reactions, even what I think about myself to be based on who I understand God to be, this is an important question. While both my own study of the Bible and sound teaching from others have shaped my awareness of God, my immediate answer was, “from my father.” I am by nature a picture person and things come to life when I see them. My dad was a picture of a good father. I see God as a Good Father and everything I read and hear about Him verifies that picture.

Before and especially since my dad passed away on August 2, 2013 my thoughts have lingered on this question and my answer. My earthly father gave me the gift of understanding what it’s like to be in relationship with my Heavenly Father. Because of who my dad was and how he treated me, I rest in the unconditional and gracious love of God. I know that’s not the case for everyone. There are some fathers who have abused and/or abandoned their children causing them to feel ashamed, unworthy, and insecure. For you dear ones, I am sorry and I long to help. Hopefully, sharing a bit about my dad will help paint a better picture of a good father and more importantly the Good Father.

Towards Peace & Conversation

 

The world is fraught with bad news. It has been since the beginning and will be until the end. Ironically, after however many thousands or millions of years (depending on your theology, or lack thereof) humans are still surprised wars continue to happen, that people die, and senselessly bad things happen to really good people. We don’t expect this reality. Maybe because God didn’t create the world or its inhabitants to experience the decay that has been unstoppable since Adam and Eve fell in the garden. Our expectations match what was to be our original perfect reality and not what became our actual reality post fall.

Andy Crouch, prolific author, speaker, and Executive Editor of Christianity Today, says it like this,

“We live in a bad news to bad news reality in the church. We start in Genesis 3 (the fall) and end with Revelations 20 (the lake of fire).”

Andy’s point is that even the Church, the entity Pastor Bill Hybels calls the hope of the world, has succumbed to this grim, joyless, and visionless existence. As Believers we live like the rest of humanity, in shame and defeat, with a poor image of God the Father, Redeemer, Creator, Author, and Finisher. And, we become a poor reflection of Him.

Forever. For Always and No Matter What.

Leslie croppedOn the morning of January 3rd, 1998 I repeated the prayer that had been mine for nine months for the very last time. I woke up early and began getting ready for what I knew would be a full day. I needed to be dressed and at the church by 7:30a.m. for pictures. It was my wedding day. I was 31 years old and knew that the fulfillment of this day’s plan would change my life on this earth.

Long before I started dating Alan, I made a mental list of what I wanted in a spouse. My list was short. It didn’t include the things I was attracted to but rather those qualities I thought important in the man I’d share my life with. As a believer in God I knew I would be attracted to another believer. As a person who loves to laugh, I knew I would be attracted to someone who was at least fun if not funny. As someone who is average looking, I didn’t expect to get anyone who was more than average looking. There were only two things I wanted from my husband.

  1. I wanted him to like me first.
  2. I wanted him to be someone who could tell me “no.”

In other words, I wanted him to be interested in and pursue me first. I wanted him to see me, to know me, to want me, and to love me. I didn’t want to be responsible for pursuing him or catching him. I didn’t want to change his mind. I wanted us to be his idea! As a person who has some strength of opinion, I also wanted someone I could follow. I wanted someone I could trust to not only lead me to where I wanted to go, but more importantly to places I didn’t want to go.

Alan is the only person to ever meet those two qualifications. Subsequently on our first date, when he leaned over the table and looked me straight in the eye and asked, “So when are we getting married?” without reservation or hesitation I answered, “January 3rd is a Saturday.” That was March 10th, 1997, the day I began my 9-month prayer. With as much honesty as I could muster, I acknowledged that I loved Alan and thought that marrying him was the purpose God was leading me towards. I admitted I could be wrong and asked God to please interfere if He knew better. On our wedding day, as I put on my make-up I asked God to stop the whole thing if I had missed the mark. I thought it would have to be a sizeable obstruction at that point, like some horrible car accident, but I was willing. Because the day proceeded with only minor hiccups (like our hired Roles Royce not showing up to take us from the church to the reception and a lit candle flying out of a candelabra), I married Alan and have never doubted whether it was the right thing to do. I trusted God and my relationship with God.

After a year of wedded bliss, I had another lesson to learn. Alan and I got into a bit of a squabble. Nothing earth shattering. It was simply about money. So typical. After a short exchange of unpleasant words, Alan left to run errands and I was left vacuuming. In my heart I heard a gentle whisper that could have only been God. “Do you trust ME?” I answered, “Yes.” He asked a second time and I responded the same. He asked a third time. I turned off the vacuum and sat down and said, “Of course I trust You.” “Then trust the ME that is in Alan.”

It was a new level of trust. I trusted Alan and wouldn’t have married him if I hadn’t. The reality is though that humans make mistakes and disappoint people. I needed to trust the God in Alan and their relationship even more than I trusted Alan himself. In that moment I learned to rest. It isn’t my job to be his accountability or his teacher or his savior in any way, neither are those jobs his to perform for me. I run the same risk of being wrong as he does. Only in God’s hands are we secure enough to be trustworthy. Only in His hands can we rest securely, peacefully, and thoroughly.

In the New Testament of the Bible, we are shown a picture of Jesus as our bridegroom. Those who believe in Him are called His bride. I am so thankful that He liked me first. He saw me, knew me, wanted me, loved me, and made a way for me to be in relationship with Him and His Good Father. I did nothing to make Him love me. He pursued me. He keeps me. I am so thankful that He is my guide and counselor and friend. He leads me to where He wants me to go whether it is beside still waters or through the valley of the shadow of death. I can and do follow Him.

One last thought, as a bride of Christ, we get so much more than we think or imagine we deserve. It’s like me ending up spending my life with someone who is incredibly handsome (especially with the beard, rrr!), exhaustingly funny, and who not only believes but also lives his faith.

Forever. For Always and No Matter What.

Question of the Week – Why Is The Scripture Important for Those With SSA?

Over the years, the Bible has been used and abused concerning the issue of homosexuality. Many people with SSA might approach the scriptures reluctantly as a result. However, the Bible is God’s love letter to all people and is meant to be a source of life and encouragement. Check out today’s video where Alan answers the question, “Why is the scripture important for those with SSA?”

Exodus Week-End Review – March 7th, 2013

In today’s video we share about the importance of scripture for those with SSA, highlight a very helpful book by Dr. Mark Yarhouse, invite people to partner with us for the Exodus Freedom Conference, and more. If you find this or any of our Exodus Week-End Review videos helpful, please “Like” and “Share” them with your social networks to help spread the word. Thank you and God bless!

Judge Less, Pray More – Letter from Alan Chambers for November 2012

Cross-posted from the Exodus Blog.

Everyone is clamoring for the No. 1 spot in the great gay Christian debate. For some, it isn’t enough that people hold to a traditional, conservative, and biblical sexual ethic; they also want to emphasize that homosexual sexual expression is more egregious than other sexual sins and deserves greater judgment and eternal consequence. Others insist that there are no scriptural mandates limiting homosexual sexual expression for believers. While most of us would never even question heterosexual sexual ethics, some seem fine with making special exceptions for the gay or lesbian person.

The arguments are never-ending, one-dimensional, and secondary, at best, in the grand scheme of things. None of this is rocket science. I am not a Bible scholar (though I greatly appreciate them and their role in my life and in this discussion), but I am a believer in the one true Christ and nothing gets more attention or time in my life than He does. While “theologian” isn’t in my title, I do take studying God’s Word seriously and read it more than anything else. So, as others identify as Wesleyan Arminian Christians, Calvinist Christians, Anabaptist Christians, gay or ex-gay Christians, I have to admit I am just, simply, irrevocably, a Christian.

Evangelism Overhaul: Practical Grace

Last Sunday Alan gave a powerful and practical sermon at Grace Church Orlando titled Evangelism Overhaul: Practical Grace. You can listen to the sermon through the player instance at the end of this page. Here are the notes for his sermon if you would like to follow along.

Evangelism Overhaul – Practical Grace by Alan Chambers

August 26th, 2012 

I. Repent/Recommit

A. Repent of our own immorality and recommit to holiness.

1. Samson Story

B. Repent of Hostility and Recommit to Bold Love

1. Jonah Syndrome

2. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:35)

John 13:35 (NASB) – 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

1. Anger vs. Hostility

Should Exodus International Fire Alan Chambers?

Written by Exodus International board member John Warren and cross-posted from the Exodus website:

Should Exodus International Fire Alan Chambers? by John Warren

Robert Gagnon made the unfortunate decision to attack a key ministry leader for unfounded reasons on June 30, 2012, in his article, “Time for a Change of Leadership at Exodus.”   He claims to know Alan Chambers, but then he attacks him for espousing doctrinal positions that aren’t those of Mr. Chambers at all.  Dr. Gagnon knows full well the difference between speaking extemporaneously as Mr. Chambers is called upon to do, and writing a scholarly work that is researched, edited and very carefully written.   Alan Chambers is President of Exodus International.  Exodus is the leading global outreach ministry to churches, individuals and families offering a biblical message about same-sex attraction.   Dr. Gagnon also knows that Mr. Chambers’ role places him in a position of constant scrutiny from parties on multi-faceted sides of issues which are complex and have diverse implications.  Mr. Chambers would be the first to acknowledge, as he has done a number of times of late; that a “mulligan” or the opportunity to expound on a particular response or comment would have certainly been preferred in some of the cases cited in Dr. Gagnon’s article.  However, Mr. Chambers, as well thought out and prepared as he is for each of his public speaking opportunities on these complex and sensitive matters, does not enjoy the luxury of writing 35 page articles which are researched, edited, and strategically circulated in an effort to discredit the subject.  Mr. Chambers is a minister of the Gospel of our Lord, and he is in the trenches day after day and week after week serving a diverse and complex constituency to that end.   Surely Dr. Gagnon must be able to see the heart of this man and this ministry.

Thoughts From a Simple-Minded Jesus Lover

Brilliantly simple Op-Ed in Christianity Today by Alan. Here is a quote from the introduction of the two page article:

Everyone is clamoring for the No. 1 spot in the great gay Christian debate. For some, it isn’t enough that people hold to a traditional, conservative, and biblical sexual ethic; they also want to emphasize that homosexual sexual expression is more egregious than other sexual sins and deserves greater judgment and eternal consequence.

Others demand that there are no scriptural mandates limiting homosexual sexual expression for believers. While most of us would never even question heterosexual sexual ethics, some seem fine with making special exceptions for the gay or lesbian person.

I find the arguments above exhausting. They are never-ending, one-dimensional, and somewhat pointless in the grand scheme of things. In the words of my 7-year-old, “That argument is so last year.” Out of the mouths of babes.