A Message of Hope

Over the course of these last six or seven years since I have come out of the closet and openly acknowledged to myself and pretty much the world that I am transgender, I have seen tremendous changes in myself and also the culture and society around me. While there is still hate and transphobia in pockets all through the town I live in, I do see many more instances of acceptance and respect. I see people inspired by the example I present. People know I am not putting on a show or act or “playing pretend” to gain attention or to stir controversy. People more often than not are judging me by the content of my character and conduct. I wish this were the case all the time, but that is not always the case. The situation is getting better though by leaps and bounds.

The more visible I am and the more comfortable I become in the clothes I wear and the expression I present, the more confident I become and the more certain I feel that coming out has been the right thing for me to do. I am especially encouraged when I find that what I am doing with my life is inspiring to others who are dealing with the same issues of identity and self-discovery. I am more motivated to continue my own journey as I realize others have begun looking to me as inspiration and motivation.

I know that as society becomes challenged to re-evaluate what they think, know, feel, and assume about gender expression and gender identity and sexuality, more pathways to understanding and expression will open up. I think people will continue to realize that the world is not just black and white or static or dynamic– but varied and fluid and adaptable and ever-changing.

At some point society will come to understand that there are much bigger issues to face-off against than whether or not we should allow gender barriers to exist or gender stereotypes to persist. I think people will see that we face much greater challenges than deciding who could marry who and what people should wear or how people should dress, act, think, feel, and express themselves.

We are dealing with a world that must face the realities where population exceeds the means to feed, clothe, and shelter said population. We face a world choking on pollution and plastics. We face climate change, deforestation, erosion, and wildlife extinction events. We face childhood poverty and starvation, we face childhood obesity in the United States, and continued problems with police brutality, social injustice, racism, corruption in government, and so many other issues too many to name.

But there is hope. As the struggle for equal rights and social justice advances with the LGBT community, so too does the broader struggle towards more progressive advancement on environmental and social issues. Social movements are growing and people fed up with injustice and the stagnant status quo of corruption and inequality can take pointers from the LGBT community. It may have taken us decades to win the right to have same-sex marriage in the U.S. but it was done and that movement inspired other movements and can still inspire more movements to come towards equality and social justice. With the LGBT community, we have shown that nothing is impossible.

Churches have become open and affirming in many places. LGBT history is being taught in some schools. LGBT culture is becoming more accepted. People are recognizing LGBT members representing us in state and federal government too. We are earning our equal spaces in society. And as we gain our spaces, we can continue to fight for those who remain left out.

There is hope and we are an example of that hope for ourselves and for others.

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Thoughts on Mathew 16:21-28

Mathew 16:21-28 (NRSV)

“From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it ptofit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?’

“‘For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.'”

Reflections:

God’s ways are not our ways and our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. There is a lot to unravel and pluck with this passage of Scripture but the main idea I come away with can be summed up like this:

The love Jesus has is worldly and while Peter is trying to cope with the likely loss of his friend, teacher, and companion, and he fears abandonment and the end of a spiritual journey, Jesus is trying to remind Peter that something far bigger than the friendship of two people is at stake here. There is a much bigger picture to be seen. Jesus is going to sacrifice himself for the redemption of all humanity. He is not abandoning Peter. He is gaining the Kingdom of Heaven as well as the Earth. He is bringing humanity back to God.

It is also clear to me at least that the other main point in this passage speaks about the value of the soul and the value of the relationship God wants with us. The soul is a priceless thing. All the riches of the world cannot  buy redemption or buy freedom from guilt or shame. You cannot buy forgiveness. Why? Because all the riches of the world are worldly things and not spiritual things, for one. Also, there is no heart in the riches of the world. Redemption and forgiveness comes from God and from Jesus Christ. Redemption and forgiveness comes from love– and no amount of money can buy God’s love or Jesus’ compassion.

You cannot cheat your way to redemption and there are no short-cuts to be found. Forgiveness and redemption comes from the grace of God and from faith and good works– but mainly from the grace of God.

If we become too attached to the worldly affairs around us, we begin to lose sight of the bigger picture and the ultimate prize which is our ultimate salvation and our reconnecting with God in His Kingdom.

Do not fear loss and separation. Jesus’ resurrection brings full and total restoration! There is nothing God takes away that cannot be restored. We learn this in the story of Job too. God makes right what was wrong or dysfunctional or unjust. Jesus died so that we might live more closely with God. Peter didn’t see the bigger picture and did not understand the resurrection fully and what would be restored. His spiritual awareness had been blurred and blocked by his own humanity in some sense.

His need to keep his friend actually clouded his spiritual discernment. He had known Jesus was the great redeemer and savior and Messiah, but he didn’t quite see him fully– he saw him only with his human eyes as opposed to his spiritual eyes. He could not see Jesus as more than his friend in that moment. He could not see beyond the surface of his feelings.

 

 

 

Posted in Jesus, Job, Love, Mathew, Spirituality | Leave a comment

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Reflections:

We know these truths to be self-evident, that under God, we are all equal and created in His image. We belong to God and God belongs with us. We are not alone in our sufferings or in our trials and tribulations and challenges. We have not been neglected or abandoned or left without gifts and blessings to see us through life. We have been given the breath of life and a path to salvation through Jesus Christ, who sees in all of us, something worthy of redemption.

The LGBT communities and our allies may be pressed in all corners of our our country and society, but we are among God’s children and we are God’s creation, created in His infinite image. We may be frustrated by slow progress towards social equality and social justice but we are still here and still an active force for positive change. We are still getting our voices heard and becoming more open and more visible every day. We may face fierce opposition but we are guided by God and we are assisted by God. We keep the faith and preach and practice love, compassion, honesty, integrity, sincerity, and empathy.

We can be assured that while we are in the trenches trying to fight the good fight, with God, victory is guaranteed. We have come so far already and while progress is slow, there is still progress. The destination will be reached. People are becoming more aware of our struggle for equal rights and social justice.

 

Posted in 1&2 Corinthians, Equality, Hope, Inspiration, Love, Pride | Leave a comment

Romans 11:29 “The Gifts and Calling are Irrevocable”

Romans 11:29 (NKJV)

“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

Reflection:

A simple phrase but none could be more profound really when you consider any relationship with God. Whether you seek Him or rebel against Him, know that what God has given you in gifts and talents and skills and abilities are yours and always offered to you by God. God’s plans for you will remain waiting for you regardless of where you are at in life. God wants you to succeed in life and wants you to thrive and wants you to live a fruitful and abundant life. It is not His intent to deprive you or to torture you or tease you. He is not some bearded guy in the clouds with a massive magnifying glass looking to fry you with the powers of the Sun. He is not about to smite you with lightning bolts either.

God is trying to nurture you and enable you to live a full life. He is trying to work miracles though you and do great things with you. He has set great things aside for you. Yet, when you rebel, when you go astray or choose a self-destructive path or intentionally look away from what God hopes for you, even still, know that God is looking to welcome you back to safety and security like the generous father to the prodigal son. His gifts and openness and mercy are for you forever so long as you acknowledge God in your life and meet Him with the same love and respect He has always bestowed upon you.

No one but God can take away what God has given you– and there is nothing in your life that could be lost that God Himself can’t restore if that is His will. It may be that you lose sight of what God has granted you. Or perhaps you are unsure about your gifts and God’s mercy. It is okay to be uncertain or afraid or even confused at times– but be assured that just as God is eternal, the peace and mercy and forgiveness He offers is also eternal when you reach out to Him.

Have faith and hang in there. Know that from the time of birth, God makes provisions for you and has prepared paths for you. And all paths, can lead back to Him and His forgiveness and mercy. That mercy has no end or limit.

 

Posted in Faith, Forgiveness, Hope, Romans | Leave a comment

Hebrews 8:13 A New Covenant Makes the Old Obsolete

Many so-called Christians who would cite the Law of Moses ( found in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy) as guidance and permission to discriminate, persecute, and punish the LGBT community fail to realize the impact and difference Jesus has on the Law of Moses and the Old Covenant. Never mind the fact that many so-called Christians simply cherry pick their verses from Leviticus or Deuteronomy to try and “win” their arguments against homosexuality or gender variance. Never mind that they form their arguments without an appreciation of historical context, societal perspective of Biblical norms in their times, or understand the anthropology or sociology of Old Testament Orthodox Jewish culture laws.  All that aside, they forget what Jesus Christ had proclaimed and what effect His presence has upon how Jews, Gentiles, and everyone in between.

Jesus established a NEW covenant! He set in motion a new understanding of what it is God expects from us. Jesus came to Earth to re-establish and repair our relationship with God and each other as a collective humanity under God. Jesus defined the new covenant as thus: that we love our God with all our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls and that we equally love our neighbors as we would want to be loved.

Hebrews 8:13 adds some clarification.

“In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”

Love becomes the primary vehicle for obedience to God. Sacrifices and strict adherence to rituals and rites will not determine one’s merits for salvation and neither will following the Law of Moses alone guarentee you choice seating in the Kingdom of Heaven. Works without faith grants you no bonuses and faith without works gets you no bonuses either. At the core of works and faith though is love for God and love for your neighbor. Love should guide your intentions and actions and prayers.

You cannot love God properly if you choose to antagonize or persecute or demonize His creation. You cannot love your neighbor if you go out of your way to try and punish your neighbor for being sincere and honest. You cannot love your neighbor through segregation or by building barriers and walls either. And if you are not willing to respect a member of the LGBT community as much as you would respect God our mutual Creator or yourself s a creation of God, then you have a serious problem to overcome.

God knows the souls and hearts and minds and thoughts of every single one of His creations. He has the power to open hearts and minds but also the power to set firm what you are thinking and feeling. He also holds the power to judge the open minded as well as the stubborn and hardened heart. If you open your mind to explore the history and society of the twelve tribes of Israel and the culture of idolatry and hedonism and pagan worship they faced in Canaan and Egypt, you would understand the context in which God speaks to Moses condemning ritual prostitution and understand the specific expression of sexuality that is being condemned as blasphemous.  Sex as ritual to pagan gods and goddesses for their favor– sex as an expression of idolatry– is the subject of that particular passage in Deuteronomy LGBT-haters love to use– but misuse as weapon.

The word of God cannot be a weapon. Not when God has given something of Himself to save all humanity and redeem each and every one of us. God created all of us in His image and declared us all good. It is when we rebel against God and do harm to each other or ourselves and reject God’s love that we get into deep, hot water. But at no point in the Bible is God asking us to betray our identities and souls and sincere hearts to appease Him. God will not accept lies and deceit from us. And God would know the truth of us! For those who have felt their closeted lives were lies, God understands.

God understands the risks and challenges when it comes to trying to live sincere and honest lives in face of discrimination and persecution. God is no stranger to persecution!

God cannot be the instrument of persecution or discrimination. God is all-loving and all-merciful. He is also the most patient and most understanding and comprehending. He has the power to deal with the perverted and corrupt and criminal. He also has the power to change lives and transform souls. If the LGBT community needed to be changed… believe that God would enable or make that change possible, if He felt it necessary. Perhaps it is not the LGBT community that needs to be changed, but the rest of society that needs to be more openhearted and open-minded?

Food for thought.

 

Posted in Deuteronomy, Hebrews, Judaism, Leviticus, Love, Love thy Neighbor, Old Testament | Leave a comment

Ezekiel 17:24

Ezekiel 17:24 NRSV

“All the trees in the field shall know that I am the Lord. I bring low the high tree, I make high the low tree; I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken; I will accomplish it.”

Reflection:

God will humble the haughty and arrogant who flaunts and boasts. He will humble and bring to justice those who exploit and manipulate. Those that think and act as though they are above the law and above justice and fairness… those that think and act and behave as though they are immune to judgment and justice will be dealt with. And those who are humble, who struggling day-to-day to meet their most basic needs, God will find a way to nourish and protect and uplift you. God has the power to see to your needs and can provide for the struggling and needy. God can provide or deny anyone. God is sovereign and judge and Creator. And what God takes away, God can also restore in abundance. God can make just what was once unjust and unfair. God can make equal what was once unequal.

God wants to restore souls, restore relationships, restore families, and restore hope. God wants to restore balance in our lives. God wants to restore justice and fairness and equality. We all have a part to play in making that happen. God puts us to work. God calls us to be His instruments of justice, equality, and fairness. We must speak out against injustice and inequality. We must be models of fairness and justice within our communities. We must be our own advocates and advocates for others as well– especially for those less fortunate and for those who are most vulnerable to exploitation or persecution or discrimination.

God will guide us when we pray and keep ourselves open to guidance. God will have a mighty hand in the work towards fairness, justice, equality, and balance.

Posted in Equality, Ezekiel, Hope, Inspiration | Leave a comment

Psalm 3 – Trust in God Under Adversity

Psalm 3 – NRSV

“O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying to me, ‘There is no help for you in God.” But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from His holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me. I am not afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. Rise up, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Deliverance belongs to the Lord; may your blessing be on your people!”

Reflection:

Even when it seems like an entire society would like to set God against you for being LGBT, the truth is, God has already made His decision about you. God has made you in His image and Jesus has decided that He has found you worthy to be heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus has taken upon Himself all condemnation and punishment and paid the price for the redemption of ALL MANKIND– which includes you and me and everyone else who is willing to step forward and confess Jesus as their savior and advocate. God can decide for Himself who He loves and who He has turned His back on– but in the case of the LGBT community as a whole, Jesus is clear about what is asked of all humanity! He asks that we love God with all our hearts and minds and souls and to love each other as we would love ourselves. Jesus expects us to love the stranger, the neighbor, and even our enemies as well as our God.

God loves us at least as much as we are willing to love Him as our Creator. God did not create us just for the sake of having something to hate and torment or torture and destroy. God is not petty. God is profound! God seeks to instill in our hearts compassion, love, kindness, and empathy– why else would He send a part of Himself down on this Earth for us? God sent us a model to follow in Jesus and made love the overriding Law in which to love by.

So when it feels like the whole world is set against us for who we are and how we live and love, never forget that it is love that trumps all things and if we live with love in our hearts for God and for each other, God will see fit to protect us and have our backs!

 

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