Galatians 8:22-23 “Against These Things, There is No Law”

Galatians 8:22-23

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

 Reflection:

If a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, or if at the very least a person is filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control… then sharing or giving love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control cannot be sinful regardless of who you love or attracted to or what your gender or gender expression is. If the Holy Spirit is guiding you or helping you, you can’t really go wrong.

Why do portions of society deem LGBT people sinful abominations? Why do some in society see the LGBT as a pack of illegals ineligible for equal rights? Perhaps its because they don’t recognize the Holy Spirit as it works through us and with us? Perhaps they don’t understand that no demographic or group of people has a monopoly on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

People who try and control religion or manipulate religion or faith or spirituality are pretty much what is wrong with religion and faith and spirituality. The Holy Spirit bestows these gifts universally to all of God’s creations. These gifts are offered freely to anyone with the capacity to share them with others and make use of them for others’ benefits.

If people claim to know what love is but cannot offer it to all people equally, then maybe it isn’t love they claim to know but rather an “ism” or “phobia”? If people claim to know the gifts of the Holy Spirit but lack the ability to display or express them to all people equally, then do they know the Holy Spirit?

What keeps people from showing love to all people? Is it fear? Is it bigotry? Is it prejudice? Is it racism? Is it flat-out hatred? Or is it that they never felt what real love is? It could be a combination of things.

If the LGBT community wants to be treated equally among all, I think we need to display and share the gifts of the Holy Spirit and let folks know, we love, we are patient, forgiving, dependable, faithful, joyful, peaceful, and so on. We need to share kindness to invite it. We need to offer love to invite love. We need to offer patience and forgiveness if we ever hope to be received with patience and peace and kindness.

It goes back to doing onto others as we would want done unto us.

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Posted in Equality, Faith, Forgiveness, Galatians, Holy Spirit, Hope, Hospitality, Inspiration, Love, Love thy Neighbor, Opinion, Peace | Leave a comment

Isaiah 56:7 — The Church is For All Peoples

A house of prayer for all nations. A house of prayer for all peoples.

Isaiah 56:7 “these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

“When the church has obtained the grace and humility needed to embrace those who are different, the truth of the gospel will be set free of the corruption and deception that have perverted it since the first century.” — Rick Joyner, “A Prophetic Vision for the 21st Century”

Reflection:

I know I have brought this up before in earlier blog posts over these last few years but now more than ever in 2018, it bears repeating and re-visiting. Anyone who would deny a person from having a relationship with God is ignoring the basic truth that it is not for them to separate God from His creation. No one can control God and dictate terms to Him. No one can deny God His creations. No one can deny someone from their Creator.

No one has the right to take away a person’s spirituality. No one has a right to shame a person for being spiritual. No one has the right to silence a person’s expression of spirituality or religious identity. In the same breath, no one has the right to strip away a person’s right to their identity as LGBT or Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, or atheist.

Whatever a person’s faith journey or choice, God welcomes all peoples and all nations to His church. I believe God is bigger than man’s ideas of religion, church, sectarianism, denominations, and theology. To be honest, I think God is even bigger than the Bible and all the holy texts mankind could ever write or conjure up.

Holy texts may be inspired by God or some divine entity, but in the end, who are we to define God or put Him (or Her) into a convenient archetype or framework or single image? Who are we to try and shape what God wants? Who are we to try and manage or manipulate God’s plans for humanity? Who ultimately has control and final say over the course of human events? While we may have free will, who has the eternal word and who passes ultimate judgment over our actions and souls?

So why do we think we can be each other’s gatekeepers and wardens over God’s church? Why do we think we have the right to impose upon others? By whose authority do we say who belongs and who does not? Some say God grants authority or Jesus grants authority– but they ignore what both God and Jesus say regarding who is worthy of salvation and redemption and forgiveness. They seem to forget that Jesus died for the forgiveness of all sins for all people.

In every major religion, there is an understanding that the ambitions of mankind are easily tempered by the authority of something greater than man. We all must bow to the laws of nature, for example. We are all held down by gravity. We are all subject to the laws of physics and we all must adapt to our environments. God’s creation tempers us.

We all answer to God. If God says we are His, we are His. We have a right to worship the God that gave us life, food, water, shelter, and a planet to live on. We have a right to respect the world God created and we have a right to worship.

By blog is a humble attempt at creating that safe space for the LGBT community to be a part of something spiritual, inspirational, hopeful, and worshipful. It is an attempt to make a bridge where no bridge is easily found. It is an attempt to prove to people in the LGBT community and their allies that they have a right to be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, spiritual, religious. and faithful.

While I do focus much on a Christian perspective, I see places for all LGBT in all religious faiths and practices.

God is an infinite and all powerful entity. All things are possible. Inclusivity and diversity is God’s nature. Look at what God created for proof.

 

 

Posted in Editorial, Equality, Faith, Freedom, Hope, Inspiration, Isaiah, Mission Statement, Open and Affirming Churches, Opinion, Pride, Self-Reflection, Spirituality | Leave a comment

God Grants Courage

quote-about-god

Reflection:

God endows us with many gifts and skills. Some of them take a while to find and notice. Sometimes we simply don’t see what it is that God gave us because it is actually pretty obvious or easily taken for granted or just overlooked. Sometimes we doubt God exists. Sometimes we doubt that God is really involved in our lives. We wonder if God is paying attention.

But when we are most tested or challenged, I would wager that most of us look to some higher power to rescue us or pull us out of the fire or frying pan. I suspect in the greatest hour of desperation, we look for God and hope and pray He can save us. Desperate situations tend to make believers out of all of us, I think. And when the miraculous occurs, we thank God when those miracles happen.

The challenge I think is for us to seek God during the ordinary. Build the relationship with God each day whether we feel we need Him or not. Let God know what is on your mind and in your heart. Let Him know you are willing to trust Him and listen to Him.
Let God know honestly what you are feeling and thinking. Let Him work His miracles through you. Let Him bless you.

 

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Ordinary Things Becoming Miracles

I got to thinking this morning about how each of us is endowed with a variety of skills and talents and abilities– not all of which need to be extraordinary or spectacular. I got to thinking that some of the things about ourselves that we might take for granted, like abilities or skills, might look differently when used to help someone in need or in a desperate situation. Imagine the impact a hug could make to someone who is scared, lonely, or depressed. Imagine the difference that could be made in the life of someone disabled and stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire. Imagine the change in a person’s outlook for the day when someone is willing to just listen for a while and have a chat.

Ordinary things can make extraordinary differences in the lives of folks when you least expect it.

I got to thinking about how much pressure we might apply to ourselves to play superheroes and to make large sweeping social change over systemic problems like poverty, homelessness, depression, addiction, and so on single-handedly or some such. But I think it is the accumulation of all the little things that really matter that add up to make the bigger difference.

I also think that attitudes tend to change when accomplishment is made real. Knowing that some good came out of your efforts, you feel empowered to continue to do good and to continue to make those efforts. When you strain on making larger efforts or going beyond your means, it shouldn’t surprise you when success doesn’t come easy or come at all. Disappointment kills moods and kills enthusiasm.

So, I say take baby steps, do the little things right and well. Do the small things that might make the bigger difference in any given situation. Reach out to those in need of a helping hand, a welcome hug, a listening ear, a casual chat, help with a flat tire, or something like that. Find little ways to pay it forward. Little blessings can bring bigger miracles.

Posted in Hope, Inspiration, Love, Love thy Neighbor, Opinion, Self-Reflection | Leave a comment

Reflections for April 15th, 2018

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This is me. This is me as a transgender woman, three months into hormone replacement therapy. This is also me standing at the door to my church in Willimantic, CT. This is me as a Christian. This is me as I am. This is me being honest, sincere, and humble. I am not hiding anything. I am not trying to pull a trick. I am not trying to deceive anyone.

When I talk about my beliefs or faith or philosophy, I tell people right off the bat that I don’t claim to know everything or to have all the answers. What I do claim is that everyone has a right to ask questions, a right to learn, a right to find their own path, and a right to live full meaningful lives. I don’t go out in the world trying to convert the masses to my way of thinking and believing. I don’t cram my politics or ideology down people’s throats. All I do is offer people their spaces to find themselves, declare themselves, and be themselves. I invite people to share their experiences. I invite people to have experiences.

I tell people that have felt doors slam in their faces that I believe those doors can open. I tell people who feel left out or shrugged aside that there are places that still welcome and  include. I tell people who feel hurt that there are places in this world that provide healing. I tell people whop are afraid that there are people and places and organizations waiting to build you up and help you claim your courage. I tell people who feel they have no voice or fear that their voice can’t be heard that someone is always listening and there are places where you are free to speak your mind and pour out what is in your heart.

I try to encourage the LGBT community to have faith in themselves and in each other– but more importantly maybe, I try and encourage faith in a world where the LGBT community and beyond can find a middle ground, a place where respect and harmony and mutual compassion can thrive and not just exist with indifferent nods and tacit shrugs. I do believe that the culture of fear that surrounds the LGBT community can be transformed into a culture of courage and compassion. I do believe equality can be achieved and I do believe that having some kind of faith in a higher power and faith in each other will make the difference. If we all have that understanding that we are all a shared humanity  endowed wth incredible blessings and gifts, imagine the wonderful things we can accomplish together!

While we struggle in a world that seems eager to find excuses and reasons for why we should be divided or separated or segregated, it is imperative to put in even more investment and energy in finding reasons to do away with those lines of separation and segregation. When so many profit from instilling fear and paranoia, it is all the more important and vital that we look at what more can be gained from courage, communication, and community.

 

Posted in Hope, Inspiration, Introduction, Love, Mission Statement, Opinion, Peace, Pride, Self-Reflection, Transgender, Transgender Awareness, Transgender Hope | Leave a comment

Thoughts and Reflections, April 10th, 2018

A question I have asked myself often lately is this:

What scene or moment would sum up for you the impact of Jesus upon the LGBT community?

The answer, in my mind, is taken from at the Book of Mathew of the New Testament. It is the story of Jesus’ most profound Sermon on the Mount. Everyone may focus on the power of forgiveness and the resurrection and His last words on the cross upon His crucifixion, but in my opinion, if you want to truly understand the intent behind Christ, you have to go to His message, and for that, I think you have to go to His Sermon on the Mount as described in Mathew chapters 5-7.

The first thing that impresses me about the scene of the Sermon on the Mount is that the teachings are being conducted out in the open. All are free to gather and listen. The teachings are made available to all who are willing to listen and gather. No one is turned away. No one is judged by their appearance, status, wealth, race, culture, theology, politics, gender, age, or profession. The “church” at this point in His ministry is wide open and inviting and inclusive of any who are willing to listen and learn. And you are free to come and go as one pleases.

The second thing that I notice immediately is that Jesus is reaching out to all the marginalized. He blesses the poor, the meek, the oppressed, and those seeking fairness and peace and justice. His concerns are for those who struggle not just with their own sin, but in how the sins of others impact a person. He is concerned for the spiritual welfare of people in need. He is trying to instill hope in those that feel there is no hope.

Jesus is addressing the greater sins of oppression, exploitation, poverty, inequality, and war. He understands the mechanisms of human society and human nature that enables division and divisiveness. He acknowledges that most of the harm we endure is harm we visit upon each other through acts of greed, jealousy, arrogance, and ignorance.

Also important is the message that Jesus tries to hammer into our heads and hearts– that salvation is available to anyone. Redemption is available to everyone. Love is what will tie us all together and unite us. Compassion and empathy for others are the building blocks for the road to salvation. Love is the power that will enable us to rise to the occasion when the chips are down.

Is Jesus speaking directly to the LGBT community?

When Christ asks us to love our neighbors as we would love ourselves, I believe so. Jesus never mentions condemnation or judgment against gays, lesbians, transgender, or bisexuals or asexuals. Jesus did not preach or offer condemnation. He preached love, forgiveness, and redemption. Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, gave an open and affirming invitation to all to consider yourselves blessed and welcomed and worthy of forgiveness and worthy of salvation and redemption.

Only when addressing the hypocrites among the Sanhedrin and Pharisees and those who manipulated and exploited the Mosaic Law for their own political and personal gains did Jesus exclude and indict. Only when folks were turning the temple into a market place did He show anger and disappointment. In most other circumstances, Jesus was a teacher, a healer, an advocate, and in many ways a social worker and activist for social justice.

I think Jesus can speak to the LGBT community and the LGBT community can engage and dialogue and gain a lot from the Gospels. I also believe that anyone from the LGBT community can approach Christianity and not feel threatened or challenged to somehow change who they are fundamentally. You shouldn’t have to feel like you need to change who you are or who you love or how you present or express yourself to be a “good Christian”. At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has already declared that you are blessed and worthy.

Posted in Hope, Inspiration, Jesus, Love, Love thy Neighbor, Mathew, Open and Affirming Churches, Opinion, Pride | Leave a comment

How to Live a Good Life

Matthew 19:17-19

 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

 Reflection:
If there was an instruction manual for how to stay out of trouble or to basically be a better person, Jesus was trying to provide the first and most important chapter of that book.
Jesus lets us know that nobody is perfect, no one is absolutely 100% pure and righteous either. We’re human beings. We have free will, we have quirks and flaws and finite characteristics, and we are prone to making goofs and mistakes. That being said, we were given plenty of gifts, skills, and talents to live pretty well with I think. We were also gifted with the capacity and potential to do great things. We were most importantly though, given the means to love one another and to discern right from wrong.
Living a good life doesn’t have to be any more complicated than trying to love and respect the God that put you on this Earth, love and respect your parents who raised you and provided for you, and loving and respecting your mind, body, and soul. It shouldn’t be a complicated process to try and love and respect your fellow human beings. Yet somehow it does get complicated.
How? We find reasons to dislike, distrust, fear, hate, and discriminate against others. We judge by appearances, we are taught our biases; and our preferences are nurtured but seldom explored or evaluated for their merits. We take comfort when we surround ourselves with like-minded people and we shy from those that challenge our views and thinking. We shy away from what we don’t understand and we shy away from intellectual curiosity and critical thinking and exploration– because that might undermine our deeply held beliefs. Our attitude may be to shirk critical thinking and reaching out simply because it requires effort and involves risk.
Stereotypes, lies, myths, false statistics, hearsay, and ignorance driven by fear mongering seems to prevent people from engaging the LGBT community. No one wants to see beyond the surfaces to understand the heart of the community. People are told to fear us. People are encouraged to hate us because we are not like themselves. They succeed in fanning this hatred by turning what is natural to us– love and living genuinely– into something unnatural. They don’t research the LGBT experience or create meaningful dialogues with the LGBT community if it means that their views and understanding of gender and sexuality may need to adapt or evolve or be re-evaluated.
People want to believe their beliefs are fixed and set like concrete slabs. They don’t want to re-visit these ideas and beliefs. They don’t feel the need to test them for their strength or durability and reliability.
If we didn’t apply critical thinking and if we didn’t explore and test knowledge, we might still accept the notion that the Earth is the center of the Universe and that the planet is entirely flat. We might also just as well assume that X-ray radiation is harmless and air and space flight is impossible and the combustion engine is just a pipe dream.
At no point in living the good life should we be cowering in fear or bending to untested myths and stereotypes. We should have the courage to try and understand each other, reach out to each other, and learn from each other. That is how we honor one another and build relationships.
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