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.
One year ago this week Leslie and I walked into the dark, unremarkable basement of Hollywood Presbyterian Church and sat down in a circle made up of people whom some in the mainstream Church would rather forget. There was a time when I believed they should be forgotten or at least ignored. I was the leader of Exodus International, the largest Christian organization in the world offering hope for change to anyone impacted by homosexuality. That change had come to mean ridding oneself of homosexuality. These folks all came from Christian backgrounds and had damaging stories about Exodus and the Church. They were no longer interested in the change Exodus represented. Though I hadn’t been connected to or even met most of them, the organization I was leading bore responsibility for some of the anger and hurt they carried into the ominous basement that Sunday afternoon. As the leader of Exodus International, I was their enemy.
I had been intentionally listening to stories like theirs for months. I knew something had to be done. The hurt was extensive and I believed it was my duty to make things right. I needed to repent and apologize to this group. The apology had to be unequivocal, unconditional. I asked Lisa Ling and her crew to capture the apology on camera so others could also hear and receive. The entire 3 hour and 25 minute ordeal was filmed and portions of it ended up being featured in an episode of her hit TV series Our America on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). It only seemed fitting to partner with Lisa as she had facilitated a coming out journey of sorts for me when she pursued me for an interview that aired in March 2011.
Leslie and I were in church yesterday morning for the first time in 3 weeks. The last two Sundays we played hooky. The first week we celebrated a birthday. Last week, Leslie’s mom kept the kids for the whole weekend and, well, we savored every moment of our much-needed time off by doing very little.
But, because our church is such an amazing place we simply cannot stand to stay away for long. We love it. Every part. We love our pastor and his wife. We love the other pastors, staff, and their families. We love our Life Group. We love the people—the ones we know well and the ones we don’t. We love the music. We love the teaching. We love Grace Church. It’s home. It’s family.
Cross-posted from the Exodus Blog
In 2009 I spent ten days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Prior to going, I spent time researching the country, its people, and the state religion of Malaysia—Islam. Months before my trip I called one of my Malaysian friends and asked her a number of questions about how the Christian Church is treated in her country. Her answer both surprised and comforted me. She said, “We are guests of Islam and Islam is a gracious host. We are guaranteed freedom of religion, worship and practice as long as we do not proselytize (seek to convert others).”
Once I was in Malaysia, I saw a thriving Christian Church and population, one that wasn’t fighting its host country or culture, but rather co-existing quite nicely and peacefully. I found the Christians there incredibly servant-hearted and patriotic, loving a country, culture, government, and people of whom they were the minority by far. In my own hotel room there was a Koran, an arrow on the ceiling pointing to the east, a mat for me to kneel on, and instructions on how to pray. I also learned that all citizens of Malaysia, regardless of the religion they are allowed to profess and follow, are considered Muslim.
Cross-posted from the Exodus Blog.
Have you ever wondered what people think of you? As my husband is Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International, I have. At present, he is somewhat of a conundrum for a lot of people. There seems to be some confusion about who he is, what he is saying and what he stands for. Here it is in a nutshell: while he has repeatedly stated his biblically orthodox view of sexuality, he has also stated his belief that one particular sin is not some how more offensive to God than another. As his wife, I have stayed out of most of the chaos but there are a few things that I cannot be silent about any longer. So here it goes…
In this week’s video Alan makes some clarifications regarding his Pure Grace interview concerning the GCN conference we shared a couple of weeks ago. He also answers our question of the week, “How Can Christians Respond to the Gay Marriage Discussion?” Along with these important topics we cover other ground we hope you will find helpful and informative. If you find this video to be a valuable resource, please help spread the word by clicking “Like” or “Share” to pass along this resource to your social networks. Thank you very much and have a very blessed Easter.
Check out the Exodus Mid-Week Review for March 20th, 2013.
In today’s video we cover a lot of ground including a new resource called “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert” and the question of the week “Why is the church important for people with SSA?” As always, let us know what you have to think. Please “Like” and “Share” this video to help spread the word. Have a great day!
Today we have a special Exodus Week-End Review. Tune in to see Alan Chambers being interviewed by Clark Whitten, Pastor of Grace Church in Orlando, at The Pure Grace Conference. Alan talks about his beliefs, the Gay Christian Network, and why the truth and grace of Jesus Christ are one and the same thing.
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I am thrilled to be a part of the Body of Christ. Though imperfect, I see a tremendous groundswell of truth, compassion, grace, and service, which accurately reflects the heart of Jesus Christ.
Contrast that to 1991, the year I sought support for my struggles with sexuality outside of the four walls and community of my local congregation. I was afraid of being cast out because my story was different. I had no confidence in the church’s ability to treat me kindly or extend grace. I will never know whether my perceptions of them were right or wrong. I simply couldn’t risk what I believed would be my reality if I “came out” to them. So I sought help from Exodus International.
We’ve all broken dishes at one time or another. Leslie and I are avid collectors of family artifacts and have inherited hundreds of pieces of china and other breakable mementos. Because we display these rare treasures rather than store them, some have been broken. Because of their sentimental worth we try to fix these pieces. In some cases we simply put them in a box with other broken wears in hopes that we can do a mosaic with them later.
You see, even broken heirlooms are of high value to me. Yet, until today I hadn’t considered the deep value of the actual fracture. I have long preferred fixing these items in such a way that their brokenness is masked, which is how so many of us treat our own personal struggles, weaknesses and failures. We go to counseling or support groups to “fix” ourselves and then try to pretend nothing ever happened. Like that’s even possible.