Archives For theology

About 8 years ago I was contacted by Vicky Beeching about designing a logo for her women in worship network blog. I was super excited to work with her because I was a huge fan of her work since her vineyard days. I had just seen her open for delirious and Rebecca St. James and this just became a monumental business relationship for me. I had the pleasure of doing logos, photo editing, and design-work for her websites and in the mean time learned more about her via her blog.  I loved doing the work for her because I had a real connection to her worship songs that she wrote. They were not the typical 3 chord, made for radio, theologically drivel songs that were all around me. They were rich, expressed anguish, poured out lament and joy at the same time. Honestly her albums always reminded me of the Psalms.

Somewhere along the years we lost touch on the business end, but I still followed her life thanks to social media and the internet. Then in 2014 Vicky announced that she was gay on an article on the independent in UK. Of course the world… her world…. blew up that night as every christian that admired her or agency that signed her had to decide how to personally handle the situation or reconcile singing/promoting her songs.

I woke up that morning, saw the article, saw the people that I respect in Christian world respond and was floored by it all. There is a moment for those of us who have been in the church a long time when we realize that there is a lot of UGLY in the beautiful thing we call the Church. I saw a lot of ugly that day and felt I needed to respond, if not for my own self, but also so vicky and others could see that there are those of us out there that don’t fly high the banner of condemnation and hate.

This was that post.

I still stand by every word I wrote in that post because I truly believe Love has no strings. Grace has no prejudice and BOTH look like Jesus.

Ever since the announcement I knew that she would have to write a book to tell her story. Maybe one day I will follow suit. In the mean time I could not wait to get this book for a few reasons. First is because I knew I shared a similar church journey being in the same kinds of fellowships and being brought up with a dogmatic and sometimes extra-biblical theology. I’m still processing much that in my own life and I was hoping her book would help me remember things as odd as that seems. Second because in the journey I have had theologically and in my faith over the past 5 years I have tried to unlearn so much in order to make Jesus my theology. This has forced me to be editable and allow the Lord to speak into 40 years of noise. My hope in reading this was that the Lord would speak through her story in a way that would challenge me.

When the book finally arrived I opened it up, began reading, and could not put it down. Within 2 days I had devoured it. She is a brilliant writer and that makes for an easy yet compelling read. It was everything I had hoped this book would be and more. It was raw, honest, earthshaking, heaven drawing, emotional, theological, heartbreaking, and joyful all in one read. To be honest, this book reminded me why I love Vicky’s music.

I want to keep my review as to the content as simple as possible because I’m pretty sure I could go on for days discussing it. I will sum up my review with a bullet point list because that is what all the cool kids are doing.

  • Vicky’s story broke my heart for her and for those dealing with the same story
  • I am ashamed once again by how the church can wield the beautiful work of Jesus as an whip and abuse people with it. I remember being in those kinds of churches. I remember being in similar prayer meetings in the 80’s and 90’s. It gutted me knowing I stood in those rooms and wasn’t fully aware of how dangerous those meetings were to those who just needed to know the true love of God and that they were not a mistake.
  • I found myself repenting, maybe not as a contributor to that vitriol but as a bandwagon youth group person who had no room for grey and who was convinced God was black and white and fit neatly into the box I stuffed Him into.
  • There is a quote in the book where she said “I love the church, and I consider it my family. It’s extremely painful when families inflict damage on one another, but I’m choosing not to walk away…” – I think I read that line about 10 times as I have felt that in my own relationship with the church. Vicky goes on to share that it is her hope that one day LGBT equality would be the norm much like other things in the bible which were debated over an over again in regards to their acceptance.
  • One of the reasons Jesus spoke in parables or stories was to give context, make theology more accessible, and to simplify. Of course people hearing and reading those stories have dissected them and gutted them to the point that every single little thing had meaning, even though that was not Jesus’ intent, and then they subsequently missed the TRUE meaning entirely. I think you have to read this book much in the same way. Don’t pick it apart because it’s a lifetime crammed into a few hundred pages. Instead take a deep breath, exhale your dogma, and try and see the meaning behind her story.
  • In the last 3 years specifically, the Lord has had the LGBTQ community on my heart to pray for, love, and speak to as often as possible about God’s love for his creation. I’m actually not sure why God has made this a reoccurring theme in my brain and prayers, but because of it I have spent time in discussion, listening, and reading anything I can on the topics vicky addresses in her book. I knew I was not going to pick up 300 pages of answers, but I did know that vicky studied and knew the word, science, and other areas and I would for sure find insight through this story. What I was not prepared for was more unlearning. The age old phrase when anything doesn’t match our paradigm is “you can make the bible say anything you want” and the hardline fundies would say “IT’S VERY CLEAR”. I’m not sure how to express my opinion on the topics in the book other than I’m open to anything God would show me and I’m willing to be wrong about everything but Jesus. I have been called a heretic many times this last year or so ironically because I choose to make Jesus my theology so If my openness to God on this topic makes me fit that category again then hand me my nametag.
  • I found myself trapped in the time between times reading her heart-wrenching story. I wrestled with her words and heartbreak and I found myself in the end cheering for Jesus the healer and God who loves without strings.
  • The good news is this book is dripping with THE GOOD NEWS even in the midst of the rubble.

Vicky mentions in her book Kintsugi which I have heard of before. It is a japanese art that repairs broken ceramics with precious metals like gold and silver. It is literally the art of precious scars. It makes the pottery more valuable and amazingly enough more durable. The “scars” become a feature that gets exhibited instead being hidden. I have always found that art beautiful and it’s meaning even more so. After reading This book it has taken on a new meaning and I pray that the Church becomes a place safe enough for people who are broken to display the precious mending of God. Maybe we aren’t right about what wholeness “Looks” like. Maybe there are people who we have determined have a grace expiration date that could be embraced by Jesus if we weren’t see dead set on standing in the way.

God is LOVE
(God) is patient, (God) is kind. (God) does not envy, (God) does not boast, (God) is not proud. (God) is not rude, (God) is not self-seeking, (God) is not easily angered, (God) keeps no record of wrongs. (God) does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (God) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (God) never fails. JESUS is God. Jesus has always been God. God has always looked like Jesus. there never was a time when God didn’t look like or act like Jesus…

So if we intend to be more like Jesus we should be less concerned about being perfect and instead allow him to perfect us.
We should be willing to be editable, full of grace, recklessly loving, and willing to do whatever it takes to show people that the LOVE of God is far deeper and wider than even our own hearts allow.

Yes I’m preaching because regardless of your thoughts on LGBTQ in regards to your “stance”, you have been given ONE mandate… It’s not to do conversion therapy, it’s not to do exorcisms, it’s not to condemn, it’s not to cut off and remove…..

It’s simply to love

I think this book is a critical book for our time. It is a must read and I am convinced every church leader should read this in order to understand the damage that comes from us NOT loving God’s creation.

Maybe it is fitting that such a big word would have a big task.

Intercession. To stand in the gap. To fight for somebody when they can’t fight.

We can interceed or intervene on behalf of a person with our words and our actions. Some of us have been in an “intervention” and it saved our lives.

In this instance I am speaking about the action of intercession or intervention through prayer. This is not to bend the will of God, but instead to join in with the army of heaven in a spiritual battle over the minds, hearts, and lives of others.

For two days God put on my heart a list of people to pray for.

Some He called me to pray for them so that they might find healing in their life. Intercession is powerful.

A few He called me to pray for them so that I might find healing in my life.
Forgiveness is powerful.

I found the peace of the Lord by going to battle.

I would encourage anyone who has been reading this reflection series to take a step back, get out of your own head and intervene in another persons life THROUGH pray. Pray blessings over your enemies. Pray for peace over your loved ones.

My prayers were ones out of Ephesians.

Ephesians 1:18-20

18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.[a]

19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 3:16-19

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

There is power in the one we PRAY TO. There is healing in the name of Jesus. There is freedom in our God and there is peace in His spirit. Take some time to delve into that.

The ancient and wise philospher, Chumbawamba, once said

“I get knocked down, But I get up again, You’re never going to keep me down”

I have been amazed at my journey so far this Lent. I don’t know what it is this year that is making things so different for me. Maybe it’s the trials and wounds of the last few years. Maybe it is because in a few months I turn 40 and it’s forcing me to take a real look at my life. Not in a “I need to buy a corvette” kind of way, but instead with an understanding that truly each moment counts. Where am I headed?

The apostle Paul said this in Phillipians 3:12-14

12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[d] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

I wonder how many moments of my life can be defined by not pressing on to posses the perfection for which Christ first possessed me. Now, I am not talking about ditching netflix or refraining from mindless things. I am talking about the recognition that this “race” set before me matters. My growth in the Lord matters.

I came across a youtube video yesterday that I had seen before, but this time the Lord spoke to me through it.

It was the story of Great Britain’s 400m runner Derek Redmond, whose hamstring snapped during his event but was determined to finish the race at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games.

He never won a medal. Never made it into the finals. The footage shows him wincing in pain crippled on the ground as the runners next to him get a far distance ahead. Miraculously he stood up with an agonizing pain on his face and hobbled with one leg towards the finish line. When you watch the video it is much more heart wrenching than the written word because you can see every ounce that it took for derek to do what he did. He had made a promise to himself and his father that no matter what we would finish the race. Nothing would stop him.

He got half way and balled his eyes out… Suddenly he felt relief in his battle worn stride as his father ran on to the track, put his arm around derek and helped him finish the race.

I find it interesting that nobody remembers who won this race, but this man who lost it is etched into history.

I love that this same phenomenon happens in the backwards economy of the kingdom of God. The last shall be first.

Jesus set the race before us. This journey towards being more like him, growth, and life-change. However it is OUR choice to run.

Derek fell down… And then pressed on.
Paul fell down… And then pressed on.

Nowhere in the verses paul Writes does he say “sit still… wait”. Even waiting on the Lord requires movement. We still press on to grab hold of who Jesus designed me to be… reaching towards eternity.

Do you recognize what things make your spiritual hamstring snap? What takes you down?

I know my triggers. In my anxiety and insecurity words others say matter. I forget to trust I am who GOD says I am and instead hear the echo of others words rattling in my mind and heart. So I get stuck. I lapse into my comfort zone. I begin to believe lies and somehow convince myself that I need to jump into another persons “lane” in order to defend myself.

This has been wrecking me lately, because I am tired of having my hamstring snap and slamming to the floor. After years of getting wounded a person becomes desensitized to the stabbings instead of pressing on in order to heal or fight.

Then God showed me some things in that video of Derek I never saw before.

  1. This is NOT a footprints in the sand cute poem. It’s real life and in this race set before us God doesn’t pick us up and carry us. He doesn’t swing in an force anything on us.
    Matthew 11:28 ~ “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
    He brings rest and relief from the difficult journey. He puts his arm around us and helps us as we hobble wounded. Then He takes that natural moment of a friend helping another friend and He makes it supernatural as the “great physician” heals our wounds, stops the bleeding, and repairs our “muscles”. He does this as we press on. It is not easy, but every morning we have a choice. Am I willing to trust God and press on?
  2. In order to walk forward with Him in FREEDOM I need to leave the past behind. Typically our options for the past are ignore it or hug it. Jesus says to cast all your cares on Him. Let go what won’t let you grow. 
  3. I never saw it before but At the end of the video footage from derek’s “triumph”, official after official come up and try talking to the dad. One of them is clearly saying that he can’t be there and needs to let go of derek. The father yells at each of them, waves his hand at them and tells them to go away. I have no clue how I never saw that, but isn’t that like our God. There is NOTHING that can separate us from His presence. No weapon that is formed against us can win. The Lord is with us and in Jesus name the enemy and whose who try and convince us we can do life without Him need to leave!

Sometimes life is so hard.. But don’t quit!
There are times when nothing seems to go right and you wonder where God is in it all… He is Emanuel God with us.. He is right there with you.

Your feelings, beliefs and awareness do not determine his faithfulness.
HE JUST IS 
FAITHFUL..

So we can have an attitudee of expectation and assurance that God is who he says he is. We need an attitude that presses on and wants more, but is patient with God’s timing. This is a journey and not a sprint. We have so many things along the way to learn.
Paul wrote this section about 25 years after that day he was knocked off his horse. Notice he is still in process. Still working on his growth in Christ.
This is a lifelong goal. When we make a choice to follow Christ our life is no longer our own.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20

PRESS ON!