Tuesday, April 05, 2011

God Embraces

Who in their right mind would travel 5,000 kilometres to go to a marriage conference? Maybe putting it another way, who would travel 5,000 kilometres to the middle of West Texas to attend a marriage conference dealing specifically with the issue of same gender attraction?

This was one question posed to the group of nearly 160 participants who were in attendance. Participants who had travelled from across the Nation of the US as well couples flying in from Canada and the Philippines.

We did! This was our third year in attendance of the CrossPower Ministries Marriage Conference held in Midland Texas at Stonegate Fellowship. We know full well the impact that this marriage conference has had on our marriage and has given us many tools to use as we relate to one another as husband and wife. Though this conference is put on for couples who either the husband or wife (or both) struggle with same gender attraction, this marriage conference is also impacting the mentor couples that do not struggle who come down with the participants, as well, for the countless volunteers who served us.

The moment you arrive, you are served. You are served by an incredible spirit of love and humility. For those who volunteer from Stonegate, the participants are a symbol of what God can and will do in marriages submitted to Him. The lead pastor of Stonegate Fellowship made the comment addressed to the congregation on the Sunday following the conference, “who of you would travel countless miles to attend a conference primarily focused on your struggle? Who of you would attend a conference dealing with gossip, over eating, lying, envy, pride, lust?” It was one of those moments you just wanted everything to stop, to soak in those words. Truly, how many of us point our fingers or made a judgement or value statement about someone else, while we continue on, feeding our own ways of coping and medicating on our own substance of choice, to make us feel better?

It was humbling again to be surrounded by a community that loved on those of us who often have felt marginalized and fingers pointed at, or words spoken just in ear shot regarding the issues of same gender attraction. Many of these people openly express that even in their lives, they too had once humiliated those struggling with same gender, looked down upon “that issue”, rather than be Christ's hands and feet. I have not seen so many tears shed in one place by so many people humbled by the presence of the Lord, who calls us to love unconditionally, to serve, not expecting anything in return and to show kindness that goes beyond our knowledge of a certain issue.

It encouraged us, blessed us and caused us to also ask ourselves, “Who are we serving? Are there people who we may not understand that Christ is asking us to serve, not expecting anything, but just show love to, regardless?”

Jesus walked on the earth to become a personal God. He came to bind up the broken hearted, set captives free, to look after widows and orphans and to walk along side the outcast. He showed that to us, and calls us to do the same. He went to the cross to take away our shame, to make us all one with him. Sometimes we think that the ground at the cross is uneven and that some people are more accepted to be at the foot of the cross than others. Like Pastors, Missionaries, Leaders, and yet, we are all called to that place at the foot of the cross. We are all called to be there in solidarity towards one another, not with an air of supremacy over another person, rather with a knowledge that Christ invited us all there together for us to walk with one another despite our differences and struggles.

We experienced that at this conference. We got to journey with those who have not struggled with same gender issues, but who have faced many other struggles and issues in their lives and out of meeting with Christ, recognize the need to welcome and embrace those they may not understand.

Personally, it again showed me the picture of God the Father, who welcomes and embraces all of us, through the working of His Son on the cross. This incredible love for all people and once we begin to taste this love that He has for us, it should only instill a greater hunger within us to show this love to others.

May your lives reflect the love of your heavenly Father, who asks you to receive all that He has for you, so in return you may shower that love on others, especially those you may not fully understand.


scotlyn said...

Well said, Kenny! Thank-you for sharing your heart so openly and candidly.


Sarah said...

Good blog post! And I like the new look as well :)

I have a few questions... I hope you don't mind me asking. I'm looking for a broader perspective and it seemed fitting to ask with this blog post of yours.

What is the very thing that motivates you in your journey? Can I also ask what motivates you in your relationship with your wife Paula? What Paula? What motivates her? When you find you go through temptations and find that you're struggling... what motivates you to press through? What motivates you through to the next break through in your life journey and faith? What has been the very thing that has kept you on your particular journey till now?

You don't have to answer these questions ... if you don't that's OK, if only one or a couple that's fine too.

kenny said...

the very thing that motivates me is my relationship with Jesus/God/Holy Spirit. What motivates me in my relationship with Paula is again, Jesus/God/Holy Spirit. My desire is for holiness, above all else. This holiness comes from a sliver of knowledge of how much my Papa loves me that goes beyond understanding. I say sliver because we have all eternity to understand the love of God.
I am motivated in and through that extravagant love. When I struggle, I come to a desperate place, a place that I cry out to God, a place where I at times long to be, because it is in that place that I know my desperate heart and my neediness of a savior. That is the motivation that brings me through to experience more of what God has for me. It is a constant reminder that I need Jesus.
Everyone struggles...this just happens to be mine, and I am honest with how it brings me to the cross.
What has been the very thing that has kept me on this particular journey till now? There are so many different things I could say, but honestly, I love my heavenly Father. I think we do things out of that love that He has for us. He lavishes it out on me...why would I not remain faithful. I am coming to a new understanding of why God made a big deal about the temple of the living God...it is because we are the temple...and we are His dwelling place...and so in and through that, I long and seek after holiness.
Don't get me wrong this comes through making mistakes and not being perfect (whew...thank you Jesus), but what it does is constantly reminds me that I need Jesus.

Sorry if this just sounds simple, but really, for me, it is coming to a greater understanding of just how much God loves me...just as I am.