Tag: loyalty

The Letter Every Parent Should Write To Their LGBT Child

As parents, we want to parent well. We love our children deeply and want the very best for them. There are many things that shape the values and philosophy we carry into the raising of our children—spirituality, beliefs, culture, family, traditions, preferences, not to mention the often unshakeable manner in which our parents parented us. However, nothing should ultimately dictate the attitudes and actions we manifest towards our children more than unconditionally, unconditional love. No matter what parenting mantras we adopt along the way, however holy and seemingly righteous, without unconditional love taking center stage, we are powerless and bankrupt of true influence with our children.

The journey of being a parent is a daunting one where the playing field is constantly shifting beneath us, each stage along the way requiring careful adjustments. Parenting often feels like a constant tripping down the stairs where the main goal quickly becomes to simply stay on our feet and manage the fall—none of us our perfect or have the inside scoop. Yet, there is no greater opportunity to win the heart and shape the life of our children than in the giving of unconditional love when our children need it most.

When a child finally steps to the edge and invokes the God-given courage to reveal themselves as being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, there will perhaps be no greater moment and opportunity in all of our parenting to reveal to that child that ours has been a hug, all along, from birth until now, that is truly unbreakable and unstoppable—no height, nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation will separate the embrace of love, loyalty, and pride we have gripped around them. There was no fine print in our parenting that is now called into application. There were no loop holes or contingencies that warrant us a way out or a justified shrinking back. The very same joy we had when they came out of the womb is still the very same joy we have when they “come out” of the tomb of living a lie in fear of being fully known for who they truly are—lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Whether in agreement or disagreement, whether in affirmation or in confusion, we still declare in determined resolve, “this is my child with whom I am well pleased.”

This, is unconditional love when it’s needed most.

Yet sadly, while Jesus is calling our Lazarus-children to “come out” and truly be alive and fully live, unwrapping from the burial clothes of fear and condemnation that suffocate them—we can miss the moments, and even, intentionally or not, turn our children back towards the grave, wrapped once again in fear and shame. For ours is a powerful voice.

No, our children are not expecting nor desiring nor needing our perfection, but rather they long for a simple, unyielding, unbreakable, undeniable connection of loyalty and unwavering pride, sealed by an unconditional love for them that nothing can reverse or restrict. We are all born with this ancient sense deep within that this kind of love is not only possible, but ultimately the essence of God and life—and thus, the most important gift we can give, especially when everything within us or around us would tell us not to do so—when we feel those voices of our faith, culture, family, or inner convictions telling us to place conditions, to put up walls, to tighten the grip, or even condemn our very own children.

Regardless of the situation, regardless of our creed, we never make a mistake when we give unconditional love—we always make a mistake when we withhold it. Leaning on our own understandings to the reduction or removal of unconditional love always creates a detriment and depravity God never supports.

See, the truth is, we are constantly sending letters to our children, whether we intend to or not. Every day is charged with cosmic opportunity—messages of life welling up from our souls colliding and reverberating into the atmosphere of our children’s living and being. Never underestimate the power of the living letter we are forever composing to our children. The most beautiful and transformative words we can write within these verses and inject into their veins by script and action—”I love you no matter what,” “I’m forever proud of you” and “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”

Nothing can change the course of things like these kinds of words spoken and displayed genuinely from a parent.

Whatever has happened, whatever path has traveled beneath your parenting feet, it’s never too late to write that letter.

It’s never too late.

Perhaps, today is the day.

For today is a new day, full of Grace, truth, and promise.

Now is an opportunity as good as any other to give echo to the Father’s heart through your voice spoken into the life of your LGBT child.

And maybe, here is the place to begin—the kind of letter you can write, the kind of letter you should write, and I pray, the kind of letter you will write.

Son / daughter,

You are beautifully and wonderfully made, as is—whether lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, it matters not. The One who holds all the stars in the sky holds you with deepest affection. You are not, nor ever will be, a problem to be solved, a question that needs an answer, nor a mistake that needs transformation—you are a finished, divine work of art. I am always proud of you and there will never be a day I don’t take great joy in calling you my child, no matter what. You are of the greatest gifts from God in my life. No, I am not a perfect parent, and yes, there have been desperately important moments I so wish I could have back that I missed showing the relentless loyalty and love I have for you. I am sorry, at times I have been flat out wrong—wrong about God, wrong about you, wrong about life, wrong about most everything. I’ve done a whole lot more talking than listening, selfishly absorbed with myself. Yet, this remains true and the deepest desire of my heart, that the same unconditional, affirming love the Father has for me, is the same love you know and experience to have from me as well, as much as I am capable of humanly doing so. For He loves you, delights in you, is proud of you, believes in you, and so do I—He will never leave you nor forsake you, and neither will I. I stand with you, by you, and for you, forever.

With deepest love,

Mom / Dad

Scaffolding And The Art of Building

Whether it’s building relationships, a team, a new business, or a new church, there is a certain process that takes place in doing so.  Understanding this overall process is extremely interesting and beneficial in many regards.

Recently, I watched a program on the special dynamics and ins-and-outs of constructing a very large skyscraper in China. It was interesting to learn that at the foundational level of the building, the workers primarily used scaffolding as the main method of building from the ground up.

Scaffolding itself must be constructed to enable the building of the actual building. It’s an important tool and step in the process. The scaffolding goes up quickly and easily, allowing the work of building to move forward.  From a distance, the scaffolding can be so extensive and prominent that it’s hard to see the actual building that’s being put together. At certain moments, it’s even easy to visually confuse the scaffolding with what is actually the building.

Scaffolding, as important and valuable as it is, is not permanent nor the actual building. At some point, the scaffolding must be removed for work to continue, and at higher levels, scaffolding is rarely used at all.  As the scaffolding is removed, the real building is revealed. At first it seems a bit naked, smaller, and vulnerable, but the real building is finally revealed and further construction is enabled to move forward.

What’s interesting is that whether it be in building a skyscraper, relationships, a team of players, or a church, there are people who turn out to be the “building” and those who turn out to be the “scaffolding.” There are some who serve a more temporary role like scaffolding, and those who serve a more permanent role, like the actual building.

Neither one is necessarily better than the other, just different.

What’s important is to understand that not everybody in your relationship life, team, or as you build a church (or business) is going to be permanent kind of people. Second, when the scaffolding type of people distance themselves, fall away, or move onto others things, it’s important to understand that 1) it’s part of the building process 2) it feels uncomfortable, weird, and even hurts when it happens 3) it looks like things are moving backward when in fact things are moving forward 4) it better exposes and reveals who the building type people are in your life, team, business venture or church plant.

When the scaffolding type people come and go in your life, try to resist taking it personally and even trying to explain their temporary stay. Scaffolding people serve an important role and purpose in your life, team, business, or church plant. Enjoy their presence, praise their value, and celebrate them when they move on, as much as possible. However, try not to be too surprised when scaffolding type people do what all scaffolding people do (often sooner than later)… move on.

Furthermore, appreciate the builders that become revealed as the scaffolding detaches. Nurture them, thank them, invest in them, and inspire them as you build the future with them.  These are the people who are truly “with” you, the life long friendships, the team players who will be their through the winning and losing seasons no matter what. These are the people you build with and build upon. These are the ones you draw closer and allow more influence in your life, business, team, or church plant.

As God builds your relationship life, business, team, or church plant, He will use different people in different types of ways. Trust God to show the differences.

Happy building!

True Friendships

Relationships are the marrow of life, and friendships being a very important aspect.

Seems to me though, maybe we throw the term “friendship” around a bit too freely. Just about anything qualifies for the term, “friendship” these days.  The person who knows a person who knows a person that you know… boom, that’s a friend.  The person on Facebook who you can’t even remember how you were “friended” in the first place… there you have it, another friend. The term “friend” could mean just about anything today and describe a wide variety of levels of intimacy between people. Nothing necessarily good or bad about that, just our cultural reality.  We all want to be “friend” heavy.

Yet, though we may know a lot of people, call a lot of people friends, and love to increase our “follower” and “friend” totals on our social networks, I would venture to say we are a culture lacking in “true friendships.”

The truth is, especially in our culture today, that over a life time you may have only 1-5 true friendships. And after reading further, you may realize you only have one or two, if that. The irony is deep as like never before we have so many ways to connect with people, but yet we lack true friendships in our life.

This is not anything necessarily new I guess, Jesus (while on earth) only really had three (Peter, James, and John).  Yet, I would say we are less prepared as a culture to develop and maintain true friendships, not because of a lack of ways to connect, but rather because of a kind of aversion or maybe even inability to connect at the level of true friendships.

What are the hallmarks of a “true friendship?”  Here are 5 ways to know if you have one…

1) You don’t have to inspire nor solicit them to be interested or engaged in your life-  If you have to be the primary one to keep a true friendship going, you don’t have one. In a true friendship, you don’t have to work to keep them interested and interacting with you. They have their own energy to be consistently interested and involved in your life. It’s never a one way street. You don’t have to drag them along into having a genuine care, concern, and consistent investment in your life. It’s not a “we only talk when I am the one to call” deal. Both of you are holding up the relationship, not just one of you. If you feel a consistent imbalance in the shared energy towards the friendship, you don’t have a true friendship.

2) They are with YOU- If a person is merely “with” something about you, you don’t have a true friendship.

The foundation of a true friendship is to be “with” that person, for life. Most people with whom we are friends, though they may be “with” something about us (our vision, cause, opportunity, shared interest, work, children, neighbors, project, etc.) that is shared in common, they are not “with” us.  Given the removal or diminishing of what they are “with” about us (vision, cause, job, opportunity, or benefit we bring, etc.) they would likely not be truly be “with” us.

In a true friendship, there is a deep loyalty to be with YOU above all else. By your side (where possible), on your side, with you. This is true whether you are right, wrong, up, down, or somewhere in between. Whether circumstances, settings, locations, etc. remain the same or change.  It is an unconditional devotion to be with YOU.  All relationships have ups and down and times where things are going well and when they are perhaps not, but a true friendship always lands “with you.” Any moments of tension are few, and that, quickly remedied. Oh, and by the way, you can be by somebody’s side and on somebody’s side without agreeing with them. This is a special dynamic, nuance, and skill of true friendship.

3) They have your best interest at heart- Because they are “with you” they want what is best for you. They rejoice when you rejoice, and mourn when you mourn, not the opposite.  They want to see God’s work in you come to completion to the point they highly invest themselves into you that you might be blessed. Theirs is an investment of themselves into yourself. And if ever push comes to shove or a crossroads is met, they put your best interests even above their own. They have your back, your best interests, and will protect what God is doing in and through you at all costs. They are givers in the relationship, above and beyond being a taker. This is a cornerstone of true friendships.

4) They speak the truth in love- These are not people who are playing you, saying what you want to hear, or flattering you because of what you bring to their table or can give them down the road. These are people who speak truth into your life. When they do, they wrap it in love.  You can trust that what they are saying, however hard to hear, is coming from a pure place and a pure agenda. They show up for the relationship with openness and honesty, always chasing any darkness in the relationship out of the shadows and into the light.  They are willing to confront you when you are wrong, and willing to confess to you when they are. They don’t let things fester or go underground, bur rather value having a clear and clean atmosphere in the relationship. They don’t just tolerate you, they love you.

5) They believe in you- They are your greatest fans and encouragers. They assume the best, not the worst. And when you fail, their hope remains. They do not give up on you.  No, they may not believe in everything you do or don’t do, but they still believe in you. There is a loyalty to you that is unbreakable. They want to lift you up, not bring you down, cheer you forward, not gloat when you fall backwards. They believe in you. They see God’s divine hand upon your life and the Master at work.  They see you as God sees you, like only a true friend can and would. They love you, like you, and believe in you. They bring out the best in you, and call you away from the worst. They aren’t perfect, the relationship isn’t perfect, but they are a true friend.

That being said, a couple questions…

Who are you true friends?

To whom are you a true friend?

How to Have Hot Sexy Sex

One of the vogue things to do in contemporary church world is to give some kind of shock-and-awe type message series dealing with SEX, complete with a highway billboard sign and public relations plan to deal with the controversial nature of the series, usually aimed at drawing a crowd and grabbing attention to a church’s ministry.

Isn’t that what attracted your eye to this article?  Ruh, roh Scooby!

I get the whole desire to “reach people” and be “edgy” and “draw a crowd.” But more and more, I think people are becoming wise to cheesy, spiritual church gimmicks.  Did I just use the words “cheese” and “sex” in the same article? Yikes, my bad!

Obviously, the issue of sex is important to God, and God has a lot to say about it. To be sure, segments of our culture have taken God’s gift of sex and trashed it.  The Church needs to share the Gospel and its relevance to every area of our life, including sex and sexuality.

Yet, at the same time, I wonder if we are selling ourselves short and appearing a bit desperate to our culture when we play the “SEX” card to fill seats, even if we have a side-kick intention to seriously apply God’s counsel to an important issue.

Yes, I am sure for some who have traveled down this road, that their primary intentions were good and well planned, and had every heart and desire to see people reached and lives changed for Christ. Furthermore, I am sure their event or message series may have even been effective and life changing for some. Obviously, no matter what you do, someone will find fault with it. Everybody who knows me, knows I love to push the envelope just as much (if not more) as the next guy.

Finding fault is not the intention here, rethinking our “best practices” perhaps is. Not because we have gone drastically wrong, but because maybe there is room to do better. My humble opinion. This, from a guy who has been known to push things a bit beyond the creativity and controversial limits of what probably would have been more effective, and learned the hard way because out it.

Maybe what is best is to make sure to be “gimmicky-free” in our ministry planning and marketing.  You can be humorous, edgy, and highly attractional without being gimmicky, it just takes a bit more effort, carefulness, and creativity. Who defines when you cross the line? Not me, for sure. But I think common sense and listening to gutt checks can go a long way to discerning well. So often, when we get creative and cavalier, we minimize the voices of common sense that don’t want to crush our ideas, but just craft them a bit for the most potential effectiveness, short-term and long-term.

O.k, that’s it, end of sermon. Oh wait…

So, that you are disappointed… here is how to have HOT SEXY SEX!

1) Get married first

2) Lovingly serve your spouse with respect and humbleness (all the time)

3) Stay loyal and true to your spouse

4) Discover and meet their top emotional needs (highly recommend “His Needs, Her Needs” book)

5) Be open, honest, and show up emotionally

6) Communicate well

7) Take care of your body and appearance

8) Find a Christian counselor to help deal with any deeper issues

9) Do 1-8 consistently and the HOT SEXY SEX will take care of itself.

4 Key Ministry Relationships

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