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Archive for December, 2011


2012!

Thursday, December 29th, 2011


New Year 20122012 Is Upon Us!


The end of a year! My mind is racing with how to end this year, begin the new one and somehow figure out what is really going on in my mind right now!




“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matt. 6:34 (Message)


As I am sitting in my office listening to quiet instrumental music at 5:30 this morning I find my mind seems to be blank. But honestly, I don’t think the mind of John Smid is really ever blank. I am seeking, asking, searching for answers to lifelong questions. Whenever it seems my mind is empty, that’s a default for me.


It is two days before New Year’s Eve. It is a time where we are supposed to reflect, hope, dream, and certainly be with special people to “ring in the new year!” Some would say it is also a time to evaluate where we’ve been and if we had accomplished the goals that we set last year at this time.


As good business people, ministry leaders, and mature adults, we are led to believe we must set new goals. We are told that making priorities as we look at the year coming is vital to passing through this tunnel of the change of the calendar. Oh, yes! 2012 is upon us in only hours! What are my goals and priorities?


When I was the director for Love In Action people all around me would often ask, “John, what are the five year goals for Love In Action? What are you expecting to happen in the next ten years?” It seemed that setting long term goals was the responsible thing to do and certainly with fund raising in mind, it seemed significant to the non-profit world. Financial projections, project budgets, and fund raising goals were paramount and yet, always caused me unending frustration in my attempts to put my heart’s desires onto paper and into spread sheets for others to understand.


As I go through what appears right now to be a challenging time in my life personally, goals and financial projections just don’t seem to resonate with me this year. I am having a hard enough time figuring out today, much less next year, or five years from now.


I am in the midst of life questions and wondering what the real answers are to them. Where does truth lie? What is God’s truth in relationship to human frailty? Where will I be in one year? Five years? Honestly, I have no earthly idea. When I attempted to put my life into goals all through the years, it seemed that my goals never seemed to really play out because of the nature of human life. Set the goal, walk through the year, and find in the end it turned out dramatically different than you would have ever thought. I remember setting wonderful goals and putting my desires out for the world to see to find out in the end, God had something different in mind.


one day at a timeSo, right now, sitting in my office at 5:30 in the morning, I am taking this life one day at a time. Today I have a Skype phone call with a close friend at 8:00. My wife and I are cleaning a house at 10:00. I have lunch with a long time special friend whom I haven’t seen in a year. This afternoon, another catch up phone call with a new friend in Pennsylvania. Then over dinner I will meet with several other men to share life, and try to care for each other. When evening comes and I will close out the day with my wife, play with the dogs, and get ready to go to bed. Yes, another day will have passed. What’s on for tomorrow? Well, I’m not on that page of my calendar yet.


It is now 7:30 and I have put two more things on Craigslist for sale. I have thrown out a whole wastebasket of unwanted paperwork and some junk from the top of my desk. And, I am looking for other stuff that needs to go OUT of my life! Time to clean out the year. I’ve collected far too much stuff and it is cluttering up my life. I have a yearning to lighten the load so I am closing my eyes and tossing it!


There, that is my New Years preparation. Take it one day at a time, tomorrow has enough cares of its own. Maintain good relationships with family, nurture friendships and spend time where it is eternally significant. And, lighten the load. Throw it out if you don’t need it any longer.


Well, my mind isn’t empty after all. Actually I think I just cleared away some junk there too!


May releasing balloons..you have a wonderful, curious, energizing, challenging, and life changing New Year!


And while you are heading to the weekend celebrations, think about your family and friends and lighten the load.


 

Happy Holidays?

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011


child is bornHappy Holidays or Merry Christmas? You decide.


Jesus came to our world!


Christians are celebrating that Jesus became one of us, a human walking this earth. He wanted to join our world for a season because He wanted to be able to say, “I understand.” Others may be celebrating a fun family holiday, or Santa Clause, or maybe Kwanza or Hanukkah. But clearly, in our diverse world, not everyone is celebrating the birth of Jesus.


I am mindful this time of year that Jesus’ birth changed my life and changed everything about the way I think and live.  I am comforted that God made a plan that would include me in a very intimate way.


“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Heb.” 4:15-16


What does this say to me about how I should relate to others?


Recently I was asked to share a blessing before a volunteer holiday meal at the local theater I work with. I thought about who these folks are. There is a lady who is Jewish, a man who is an atheist, someone who is from India and is Buddhist. There are others who are Christians. How would I give a meal blessing that would in fact be a blessing for them all?


“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9


I thought it was interesting that when the host asked me to stand and give the blessing, many of them bowed their heads even though I didn’t say “let us bow our heads.” I didn’t bow my head and rather, I just began to talk. Very quickly I saw that others looked up and I saw their eyes. I’m sure they were curious as to what I was actually going to do.


“Today, I realize that sharing a meal together is an awesome opportunity to be thankful. I am thankful for our “Community Theater” because of the word “community.”


I appreciate the awesome relationships we have here. I am thankful for the things I have learned through you all, through the year I’ve been here. I am thankful for the management and the donors who all make this possible. I realize that we build and present plays here, but I think the real benefit of this opportunity is all about the relationships. I am thankful for the meal that we have all brought together to share with each other. Amen.”


As I led us through this thankful process, I saw heads bobbing in agreement. The theater director nodded easily when I spoke of the real intent of the theater being to build relationships. I could see that they were all with me in heart as I was speaking, I also realized that I was basically quoting Scripture.


“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” 1 Cor. 10:31-33


For the good of everyone I decided that it would be arrogant and presumptuous to bring a Christian prayer, “In Jesus name,” to a group that is not a Christian ministry, and is not comprised of all Christians! I see what Jesus did in leaving His heavenly realm, He came to earth, deferred to human form and experience so that He could build an intimate relationship with us. So, I decided that it would emulate Jesus’ heart to include everyone in my thoughts, and my prayer.


“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.” Matthew 6:5


Within minutes, the fruit of my decision bore out. Betty, the little Jewish lady came up to me and said, “John, thank you so much for your wonderful prayer. (note, I didn’t do it in prayer form, I didn’t ask everyone to bow their heads, and I didn’t say in Jesus name). I said it wasn’t really a prayer. She continued to comment, “Oh, but it was and John, you included us all. Thank you so much.”


What was the outcome of my sensitivity to those there? First of all, everyone there knows me well enough to know I am a Christian. So, It created an avenue to continue building a relationship with Betty and others. Just like Jesus being sensitive to us, it opened more doors to building an authentic relationship which often includes talking about my own faith.


God could have decided to descend to earth in His Godly form, scaring the begeebies out of us while He threw his heavenly robes around, or whatever God looks like in His God form. But, He didn’t do that. I could have prayed a Christian prayer, and loudly proclaimed, “In Jesus Name.” But I didn’t.


The next day, we were all together again for a project and afterwards shared some Pizza and drinks. The whole discussion surrounded our faith, we talked about the differences, we discussed the Bible, we asked each other about what we do to celebrate this time of the year. I asked Betty about Hanukkah and how she has celebrated that in her life.


Betty once again said, “I want to thank you again for being sensitive. I’ve been really hurt when Christians push their religion on groups through the assumption that we all see Jesus like they do.” Again, my decision to include others into my life proved to increase vulnerability, discussion, and further dialogue about our faith, and God!


At this time of the year there is a lot of discussion amongst Christians about how to greet others. Many are really pushing the “Merry Christmas” message in public venues. Personally, this is fine amongst those who believe as I do. But with those I don’t know, I would rather be a blessing by being more inclusive?


Last year oak-king-winter-solsticeI reunited with my cousin after many, many years. In speaking with her she said she doesn’t celebrate Christmas. She talked about her interest in the “Winter Solstice”. I wanted to send her our annual Christmas letter about our life during the year. I thought about how delicate it was that we had reconnected and really didn’t know each others lives very well. When I was getting the mailing ready I found a stamp that was a “Winter Solstice” stamp. How perfect! This would allow me let her know that I listened in our conversation and didn’t want to push the Christmas issue with her. I wanted to value her, the person and was really glad to have found that stamp. Her response to our reunion was, “John, I’ve never known a Christian like you.”



“Happy Holidays, Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!”


These more inclusive greetings may draw some people closer to you! It is through us that they may see Jesus emulated . I don’t think He would push an agenda of offense, rather He did everything He could to draw people closer to Him. However, He did have a lot to say about those who are religiously pushy. While He challenged the Pharisees with great passion  I think He  may have gone into the sinners homes to wish them “Happy Holidays!”


“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1


happyholidays11So, you decide how you will greet people this year but before you do, consider who they are first and meet them where they are just like Jesus did. And If you don’t know them, bless them with a “Happy Holidays.”


 

A Shocking Picture

Friday, December 16th, 2011


“Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” ( 2 Chronicles 1:10)


firehydrant“Between The Purpose That Once Was–And The Unknown” (Kevyn Bashore)


Cameron Street, Steelton, PA


Wednesday, September 21, 2011


iPhone 4 Camera, Hipstamatic




The ominous and decaying building behind this fire hydrant is crumbling under it’s own weight. But there’s a beauty in its design and structure that can still be viewed by passersby. One can only imagine that the fire hydrant that once stood as a miniature guardian to protect this once thriving building from fire is now protecting something that the owners would probably celebrate if it burned down. The purpose of this hydrant has disintegrated amidst the peeling paint and wood.


What do we do when our purpose, the thing we’ve lived our life for, the thing we’ve passionately pursued, the thing we’ve lived and breathed for years, maybe decades, is removed or taken from our grasp? Many respond with anger, fear, grief. Some grow lethargic. Others hopeless. And some choose to end their lives over a loss of direction and purpose.


I wonder if anyone is protected from experiencing such loss at least once in their life? Some people appear impervious to such hardships. Others seem to be caught in a never-ending cycle of loss and despair. But to survive such disorientation and pain, one must experience renewal, sometimes in body, soul, and spirit, before catching a glimpse of a new vision and purpose to pursue in life.


Here’s to all those who feel like the fire hydrant in today’s photo. May you be renewed and grasp a passionate hope that will propel you into your destiny. (As written by Kevyn Bashore about his piece of art.)


shocked-1Wow, What a Shocking Picture!


Well, not for many. It is actually a beautiful capture of life. I have developed a great appreciation for photographic artists. I have often affirmed their artistic gift to us this way.


Photographic artists put a frame around everyday life so that I can enjoy the intimate beauty that I would have otherwise missed.


Kevyn Bashore has been working on a “365 – day” i-phone photo project. After coming across his project through FaceBook, I began looking over some of his pictures, this one struck me deeply. Then I read what he had written about his creation.


As I Looked at the Picture I was mindful of how many years I was invested in “ex-gay” ministry. I lived and breathed its life, message, story, and purpose. In many ways, I was the “fire hydrant” protector of its image, reputation, and mission. I stood in the gap many times when it appeared to be threatened. There were those times when I felt my purpose was to take care of any flames that might roar.


Many of you have been following my story, my writing, and have been hearing some very deep things from my heart. Thank you for listening.


God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.” (2 Chronicles 1:11-12)


I vocally, and personally held invisible swords against the enemies of Love in Action, Exodus, and the foundation for their life. I remember meetings where I spoke strongly about the history, the nostalgia and many of the artifacts that represented them.


When I was leaving my post at Love In Action three years ago, I strenuously created a list of all the things that were significant to the heritage. Things that rested on the walls, the floors, and the storage rooms of the ministry had often been something I felt a need to protect. I felt such a strong stewardship for these things that I feared if I didn’t create a document with information of the origins and significance that it would all be lost and no one would remember like I did. I gave that document to numerous people  that seemed to be left in charge with the hope that someone would take it seriously and take over my burden.


I feverishly scanned teaching material, informational books, literature and any other documents that might come to be needed in the event that they would be taken by fire, or even more fearful, destroyed by someone who didn’t care about them anymore. I was a self made guardian for the artifacts from the heritage of Love In Action.


Today, I am not so sure I feel the same sense of stewardship for those things. The real issue at hand for me personally isn’t so much about the things mentioned. But due to many changes in my perspective, I am digging even more deeply into my heart. Questions loom like: What is my heart’s desire? What am I passionate about? Or even a question that feels threatening, “Do I have a purpose today?”


strong mighty landmarkAs I looked at the fire hydrant picture, I saw myself as a strong, mighty, landmark of purpose. Yes, with my hands tightly clenched, ready to aim toward the enemy. I was needed, I had a purpose. I was the mighty hero for many people who wanted me to be the strong stable one who would never stop or move away. I pictured myself still sitting in my position as an old man. Funny thing, before I chose to resign, some of my friends were casting lots to see if John Smid would ever leave Love In Action!


As I looked at the house in the picture, I realized that I don’t have a passion to protect it any longer. Like the house, my role with this former ministry has lagged  in my heart. My purposes of old have gone away. There isn’t anything to protect any longer and then the question is, “What am I to do now?” or even more challenging, “Who am I now?” Or, “What do I want to be now?


When I became a Christian

All those 30 years ago,  something dramatic occurred within my life. Prior to becoming a Christian I had no purpose, seemingly no skills, no real gift to mankind. I felt invisible, and unnecessary. But when Christ came into my life, it seemed in everything I put my hand to, along came a significant role for me to play within it’s structure or program.


First I was the founder and director for “Clowns Created by Christ” a pantomime Clown ministry. It grew, people became involved and passionate with me in that ministry. Then soon I became a “front end guy” for F.O.C.A.S, our Christian Singles ministry. Then I was invited to become part of the Executive Committee for that same ministry. I attended singles ministry leadership conferences and saw the potential of involvement there.


My direction changed when I went on staff with Love In Action as a House Leader for the residential community. I quickly became the Office Manager managing all of the office functions. Then within four years I was asked to become the Director for the entire ministry. At that same time I was elected to the Board of Directors for Exodus International.


In many of the churches I have been involved with I have been considered one of the honorary staff members being invited to staff meetings and planning events. No matter what I did, it seemed I found purpose, calling, and fulfillment in leadership roles. It seemed I now had a place in life that was validated and it appeared others bore witness to the important work I was doing. It all seemed so right, fulfilling, and certainly I gained accolades for how well I was doing. I had fought the odds of the homosexual plight. I looked as though I had fought the battle and won.


My role as the “Fire Hydrant” in life was solidly in place and it seemed nothing could move it, nor did anyone want it moved. Oh, to remove something as profoundly protective as the fire hydrant is a very threatening thing to consider. What if……. then what?


More Thoughts on The Picture!

heart of stoneAs I pondered the picture of the Fire Hydrant and the words of my friend, I went where my mind and heart would never want to go before. I began to wonder “What would happen if John Smid simplified his current life, found a cozy place by a stream with a wonderfully comfortable chair, and just rested?” “Would the earth rock off of its axis?” “Would someone’s life end?” “Would my life end?”


A couple of years ago an acquaintance posed a question for me to consider. “John, what is your heart’s desire?”


Actually, I had no answer for him and as I read the question in his email, I actually found my mind going into a frizzle! I didn’t want to think about that question at all! So, I put it on the back burner, but never out of my mind.


I always found a way to forge forward into whatever purpose or plan seemed to be in front of me. I would find a  a calling, a significance and affirmation somewhere. I would be ok without answering the question, because isn’t my heart’s desire ministry, prophetic ministry? Haven’t I always wanted that? Isn’t that what God created me for? After my first breath as a baby Christian seemingly that is where I’ve been! Yes, prophetic ministry where I proclaimed hope for those burdened in their lives. I was a public spokesperson to stand for whatever I felt strongly laid on my heart. It was well known that John Smid would have something to say, an agenda to challenge or at least a proclamation of right and wrong!


So, the plaque is falling from my heart little more this week. For the first time in a very long time, I am pondering the question. What is my heart’s desire?


“The king rejoices in your strength, LORD. How great is his joy in the victories you give! You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. You came to greet him with rich blessings and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.” Psalm 21:1-3


Oh, man, where will this lead me? Am I willing to let it all go and just move towards my heart’s desire – whatever that may be? I was talking with a good friend this week and began to look around the world I have created for myself. I live in a wonderful large home, having a nice place to entertain. I have a closet full of clothes, many of which I don’t even wear. I love my garden. I have a home office that many would drool  over, full of my own memorabilia and ministry “tools”. But do any of them really make me happy? Do I need them for fulfillment?


nest of pipesI realized I have surrounded myself with things that support my purposes. The infrastructure of pipes, valves, water sources all support the fire hydrant. They are all necessary as long as the hydrant is in place that will be used in case of emergency. But what if the house goes away and the neighborhood is no longer anything other than a pile of dirt? What then will happen to the fire hydrant? If it is removed, then what’s the purpose for the pipes and valves? They are no longer needed and therefore will rust away unless they are removed.


That is the way I began to look at the “things” that surround the life of John Smid. If I allow my heart’s desire to be revealed and it isn’t the life I now live, then what value do all of these things have? Would I need a large home? Many of the clothes in my closet could be given away and not even missed. The office full of papers, tools, supplies, could be dispersed and no one would no they were gone.


What is the support system of our life – supporting? Is it our heart’s desire, or is it just busyness personified? Have I been a master at distraction these last 30 years? Have I succeeded in developing an internal denial system with things and ministry purposes? Have I been distracting myself from my very own heart’s desire not wanting to acknowledge that it may be changing.


And where do I want to go from here? Do I want to continue to try be a “Fire Hydrant” for a cause, or a ministry? Does God need me to be his Fire Hydrant? Or do I want to find true Sabbath Rest within my Savior that isn’t at all dependent on what I do for Him, but rather who I am in Him?


man's backFor years I have taught that it God’s love would not change on wit if we sat on our duff’s for the rest of our lives here on earth. But, do I believe that for myself? What if I find a cabin in the woods, simplify my life and just rest. Will that be ok with God? Will I be ok with that? Is it ok, just to rest? Or, do I need to busy for the Kingdom to feel accepted, loved, affirmed?


Should I stop and smell the roses? Do I take time to enjoy! Should i get out of the clatter and clanging of life and see what is really in my heart? Or, is that all still too scary to even think about?


What about your life?  Do you live on a treadmill of maintenance based on a false front, or a busy hero lifestyle?  Do you want to avoid the question – “What is your heart’s desire?” Are you living in an artificial environment where your life feels like a runaway train and you can’t seem to stop it? Do you believe the wheels would fall off if you stopped? Do you continue to maintain your kingdom without seeing the purpose has really changed?


Thank you Kevyn Bashore for capturing the beauty of the Fire Hydrant. Your creative genius has deeply affected my life.


If you would like to see Kevyn’s photo project, please click here.


To see this particular entry click the link below.


http://kevynbashore.com/2011/09/21/day-221-between-the-purpose-that-once-was-and-the-unknown-kevyn-bashores-iphone-photo-of-the-day-hipstamatic/

 

God’s Faith In Us

Friday, December 2nd, 2011


A good teacher1

A good friend began to share the story of his wife’s childhood. He shared that when Carrie was young she had an injury that appeared to diminish her mental capabilities. As she moved through grade school she was called a “retard” by classmates and certainly began to lose hope.


One special teacher began to notice this little girl and saw that she had potential to overcome the affects of her injuries. She began to work with Carrie individually and show that she had faith that she could improve.


By the time Carrie reached high school she had returned to normal academic abilities. Today, she has her degree in nursing and has helped numerous people in her medical profession.


So, the world called Carrie a “retard” but one person believed in her and she overcame her hopelessness.


Faith In Christ?

Christians often talk about having “Faith in Christ” and this is certainly a good thing. But what do we believe about His faith in us? Does Jesus believe in us? Is he that special one who goes against the odds and other people’s opinions or observations and  takes us beyond our own perceptions of ourselves?


As I talked with a friend, he began to ask me what my faith and  homosexuality. Before I could really answer his questions, he said, “John, aren’t homosexuals going to hell?”


Jim has lived with a homosexual struggle for most of his life, probably more than forty years. “Where did you come up with that idea?”, I quickly replied. Then my brain began to race with even more questions for him. “Jim, how in the world have you lived all of these years with that on your mind?” Jim had been involved in his church and a practicing Christian all of his life. His reply was, “John, that’s what my preacher says. He says all gays are going to hell.” I asked again, “Jim, Oh, my gosh, what do you do with that kind of thinking?” “Does this encourage you to live more invested in your relationship with God?” How could it?


He began to explain that he understood that if he could reject his homosexuality then maybe he could go to heaven. I then said, “Jim, that is a works oriented gospel, or at least a works oriented maintenance of the gospel.” He looked at me with sadness and then I said, “Jim, I think we need to talk a lot more.”


SimonChrist’s Faith in Us?

What would happen if we began to focus on His faith in us? When I went to see “The Passion of the Christ” several years ago one scene in particular stood out to me. It was when the guards walking Jesus down the road to His crucifixion Jesus fell under the weight of the cross. Simon picked up the cross and begin to carry it. It was right at that moment when Jesus stood up and came under the cross beside him. As he did, there was an intimate eye to eye contact where Simon looked at Jesus intently. There was an exchange at that moment that spoke deeply to my heart.


The burdens in this life will never have to be carried alone, but Jesus is right there with us, helping us, never expecting us to do anything by ourselves. My friend, Jim appeared to have believed that he had to carry the burden of his homosexuality alone in a desperate attempt to somehow maintain his connection with Jesus through His own efforts. He seemed to be so hopeless with this issue.


And to add to his own burden, his preacher seemed to have the same kind of thinking, without his efforts to maintain his walk with Christ through good behavior, Jim might go to hell. I think this is the deepest message all through the New Testament in the Bible. We are no longer under that Law, but under the grace of Jesus Christ at work in us.


The example of how the teacher came underneath Carrie’s burden and continued to walk with her into her potential is for me, an incredible example of how Christ came underneath Simon, and how He desires to come underneath us no matter what our burdens may be.


Works and Self Maintenance

A theology that is rooted in a self maintenance plan for salvation is a works gospel that completely denies the real gift of God’s grace. It is not of man’s effort, lest any of us boast! It is a gift of God!


It is my belief that salvation comes into our lives through the death and resurrection of Christ. It is given when we realize that we are in need of that gift in order to have eternal life with God. We are absolutely incapable of saving ourselves through any of our own good works. And, we are absolutely incapable of living a perfect life in attempt to maintain God’s favor.


I also believe that it is the power of God, through imparting the Holy Spirit into our lives that keeps us on the path. As we continue to humbly recognize that there is nothing we can do that keeps our salvation in place. It is the faith of God in us that moves us to the goal of a perfect eternity with Him.


As the teacher grabbed Carrie and believed in her when no one else did, her potential was realized. Whereas, Jim, believes in a hopeless self works and that without it he is doomed. Well, how could he ever do enough? Will he be able to reach the perfection needed for eternity through his own self effort? Not in this lifetime. So, it is hopeless unless he comes to recognize that God has faith in him!


“You Can’t Make It!”

Instead of encouraging Jim with God’s love for him, and Christ’s faith in him, his preacher reminded him regularly of how lost he is without his own effort to somehow clean himself up. He was reminded of how hopeless it is to even ponder an eternity with Christ. His pastor was the antithesis of Carrie’s teacher.


Actually, the message that we have to maintain our salvation by our own self works produces a separation from Christ!


When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love. – Galatians 5:4-6 The Message


It is God who is to judge these things. I find that it is so common for people to judge gay people into hell! Why is that? Why is it that slanders aren’t judged into hell by Christians? Why do the greedy and selfish people of this world seem to earn grace? For some reason, grace for the homosexual is withheld.


I do not believe same sex behavior is any worse than my own divorce and remarriage, or some greedy folks sitting in the pews on Sunday morning, or the ongoing lust that is in a man’s heart most of the time, or the selfish and dishonest gain of some pastors from their preaching, or the arrogance in the judgment of many towards some gay people. But who are we when we think we know someone else’s heart? If we are judging like this, we are wrong!


Paul says:

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 (ESV)


Commendation MedalIn this passage, Paul doesn’t even mention condemnation, he mentions commendation which means praise! What? Is he saying, in our judgment by God, He will bring praise instead of condemnation? Boy that is certainly a twist from what many of us have thought.


Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Phil. 2:12-13


After the all too familiar passage that talks about working out our salvation, it clearly speaks of how God “empowers us with desire to do better” and “empowerment” to keep walking out the gift of salvation!


This doesn’t surprise me because I have always believed that even my best decisions, my best actions come from Him. I cannot boast. It is His faith in me that motivates me forward. It is the gift of God to me that encourages me to seek Him all the more.


Regardless of what we may think about someone else’s life, actions or choices, God has faith in them even when we don’t.


Try to spend time encouraging others to know that God believes in them.