"Love is patient and love is kind." -- 1 Corinthians 13:4
Love yourself. Be
patient with yourself and others. Growth takes time. Give
yourself time and space needed for growth, healing and recovery.
"Speaking the truth in love, we are to
grow up in all things unto Christ." -- Ephesians 4:15
freedom Christ set us free: therefore keep standing firm and do not be
controlled again by a religious yoke of slavery… The whole law is
fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed
by one another." -- Galatians 5:1, 14-15
steps to recovery are just a beginning. You can follow through in
your own spiritual growth into self esteem and effective spiritual
living and sharing by finding or starting a spiritual support
group. Be creative. Let God guide you into what works for
Further discussion on growth and healing can be found in my book
Steps To Recovery From Bible Abuse
in the following Lessons:
(Click on Bible references to read them.)
No. 49. "GROWING UP IN CHRIST"
Luke 2:39-52; Hebrews 5:1-14; Ephesians 4:11-15
No. 50. "THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE"
Matthew 11:28-30; Psalm 23; John 11:25-53
No. 51. "GROWING UP IN LOVE"
Luke 10:25-37; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
(Click here to see this lesson in full.)
No. 52. "GROWING UP IN SELF CONTROL"
John 10:1-18; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 9:16-27
On to "Follow Jesus' Steps"
"HOPE, FAITH AND LOVE"
Update for March 24, 2004
recent days, I have realized just how important hope, faith and love
really are. I just concluded a trip to Phoenix, AZ, last Friday
and Saturday, to share with a wonderful group of GLBT people in a
conference that aimed to equip the saints for ministry and to expand
our witness and our influence for good to other GLBT people. I am
grateful to Rev. Rula Colvin and to Kent and Ross for their leadership
and personal help to me. I am grateful for every person who
participated in the conference and for all who came to celebrate God's
love and to learn and grow in the ability to share our faith, hope and
love with others.
I have listed some new websites below that you might like to see. These are people I met and enjoyed at the conference.
do not live in a vacuum or in isolation. Our lives touch others
and make a difference that we can never fully measure or
understand. At this time, I am at the lowest point emotionally,
financially and physically since I left the Baptist College in
Charleston in 1981. I don't really know why. I have lost my
job, as you already know, and nothing yet has developed to provide
basic living income. I also have experienced the loss of several
very close fiends who have either moved away or have decided to cut off
contact with me. I feel alone and abandoned. But that is
temporary and will change.
WHY AM I SHARING THIS WITH YOU?
I read over what I just said, I realize that I need to clarify why I am
talking like this now. I have not given up hope, faith or
love. I am confident that God is with me and is using all of my
present distress to teach me something that I really need in order to
take the next step in God's plan for me, whatever it might be.
As my friend Richard used to say: "Pain is our teacher."
I descend deeper into the abyss of uncertainty and a profound sense of
loss, I am confident that God is at work in every detail of my present
situation and is preparing me for something that I never imagined
before. What that is remains to be seen.
is to some extent a "leap into the dark" and cannot be understood or
explained. Hope springs eternal in the heart of every believer,
but hope is not the foundation that stands unshakable beneath our
trembling feet. Love never fails: "Love never gives up." I
still love everybody I have ever loved. I am a lover. I
love people and give whatever I have to them. I am
generous. As some say, I am generous to a fault. My entire
life and ministry has been a great joyful experience of giving myself
away, and I do not regret a single minute of it!
I continue to need your prayers, encouragement and support.
MEETING NEW PEOPLE
am meeting a lot of new people. That's good. I met a lot of
really wonderful new people on my trip to Phoenix last Friday and
Saturday. One person who came to the conference just to meet me
is a deaf gay man named Henry from Phoenix who has been exchanging
e-mail with me for five years. Rev. Rula had enlisted Brian to be
present for my talk on Saturday morning so that he could sign for
Henry. I was very impressed with Brian and Henry. I learned
a lot that I needed to know by being with them and listening to and
observing exactly what was happening.
always learn a lot more than I teach in conferences like the recent one
in Phoenix. The joys, hopes, fears and dynamic lives of the other
participants in the conference inspired and informed me, and I am
grateful. Just getting to know and learn from many people at the
conference was a great event for me. Excellent musicians and
musical performers enlivened and inspired the conference. (See
links below, especially for Peterson Toscano, Desert Rose Healing Arts,
and Rev. Gayle Nicholson: Celestial Synergy Institute.)
WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?
really do not know. Yet, like the old saying goes: "I do not know
what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future!" God
still runs the universe and my own small little life. God is
always with and within you to give you understanding of who you are and
to show you the way of life and joy and peace that God has planned for
anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be known to God, and the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding, will guard you hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7. See link below for all of
March 24, 2004
See results of Karen Dammann church trial at Soulforce
Rev. Gayle Nicholson: "Celestial Synergy Institute"
Desert Rose Healing Arts
See this excellent website on Same-Sex Marriage
Update for February 15, 2004
LOVE MAKES YOUR WORLD
is the theme of the entire New Testament. "God is love" and Jesus
demonstrated the meaning of "love" in life and teachings. Today,
Sunday, February 15, is the day after Valentine Day. Yesterday I
received a wonderful porno Valentine greeting card from one of my best
friends who lives in Washington, DC. It was fun!
How have you expressed your love to people so far this year?
AGAPE AND EROS
Beware of what and who you love. What you love will take over you life and control you.
most common word for love in Greek was "eros", from which we get
"erotic". The god Eros was the god of love (the same as
Cupid). "Eros" is not used even once in the New Testament for
NT words for love are "agape" (unselfish desire for the good of another
person) and "phileo" ("brotherly love" or friendship love). The
word "kiss" in the NT is a variation of the word "phileo." (See my web
site links below.) Look up Matthew 26:49 and Luke 7:45 for the
very significant intensive use of "kiss" both of Mary kissing the feet
of Jesus and Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss. This intensive
use of "kataphileo" (fervent, repeated, intense kissing) was used of a
passionate lover's kiss. This word is used only in Matthew 26:49
and in Luke 7:45 and also of the loving father's greeting of the
prodigal son in Luke 15:20.
"Agape" is the word
for "love" throughout all of 1 Corinthians 13. (See below.)
JESUS AS THE DEFINITION OF LOVE
using the word "agape" for the love of God and of Jesus, the writers of
the New Testament created a new concept of love that was as radical as
it was new. Love was not defined as the desire to possess another
person but rather as the desire to lift up and help another
person. Eros was possessive. Agape is outgoing and
giving. God does not need anything from you, but you need
everything from God. God's love to you expressed in the life and
teachings of Jesus is unconditional giving. How much
unconditional giving are you able to practice in your relationships now?
WERE DOES LOVE COME FROM?
5:5 declared that: "The love of God has been poured out within our
hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." The love of
God (as demonstrated in Jesus) is a gift from God and not something you
can earn or learn. This is why you find yourself and your mission
in life not by reading a book, going to church or looking to spiritual
leaders to show you the way but by looking within your own heart and
mind to find what God has already put within you by creating you in the
image of God and by giving you the Spirit of Jesus.
cannot accept and love others until you accept and love yourself.
How can you love your neighbor as yourself if you hate and despise who
LOVE YOURSELF FIRST
first step in learning to love is to love you. Accept
yourself. Feel good about who you are. "Come out" to
yourself. All of my work in my website and in updates and in my
book is aimed at helping GLBT people feel good about who they are and
quit hurting and destroying themselves and each other!
Methodist GLBT support ministry has recently sent out a request for
GLBT people to tell about homosexuals who have been murdered or who
have committed suicide because of homophobic pressure and abuse.
We have to face the fact that we are under siege and this is war!
the training session that I attended with SoulForce in St. Louis during
the Southern Baptist Convention, the walls of the church where we met
were covered with huge photographs of GLBT people who had committed
suicide because of religious misinformation, lies and abuse.
Homophobia is not just a social disease. Homophobia is murder.
WE CANNOT GIVE IN TO HATE
matter how evil and destructive our opposition might become, we cannot
afford to become like them. We can maintain our sanity and our
self-love and self-respect so that we can calmly and carefully respond
to every lie and every abuse with dignity and effective action.
We have to be logical, objective, realistic and practical.
Otherwise, we are our own worst enemy.
never gives up" (1 Corinthians 13:8). When love fails, we
fail. Love yourself and love others as Jesus demonstrated in life
and works. In the Spirit of Jesus, you can out love your enemies
and overcome evil with good. Now abide faith, hope and
love. But the greatest of these is love.
Valentine Day 2004
Thank you for your encouragement and help.
See 1 Corinthians 13
Click here for "Love":
Also see JOHN 12:3-8 and 13:1-17, 34-35
Update for April 9, 2003
YOU CANNOT CHANGE OTHER PEOPLE
can waste a lot of your time and energy trying to change other
people. Religious people especially work hard to change other
people to fit their own ideas of truth. Most of the negative
e-mail I receive is from people who are praying that I will be changed
or who want to convince me that I must change or be damned to hell for
my web site!
one man in my former Baptist church learned that I was gay, he wrote to
tell me that he and his wife were praying for me that God would either
change me or kill me! So far God has not answered their prayer.
YOU CAN CHANGE YOURSELF
you are concerned that other people are out of whack and that their
lives are a mess, don't try to change everybody else. Change
yourself. You can change yourself if you want to.
change that will make you also an agent for change is for you to become
an activist for the truth and for freedom and acceptance of GLBT people.
I received the following letter from my friend, Cindy Hadden, who has
lived for the past four years in the ministries and activism of
Soulforce and has experienced her own growth and the dramatic changes
in others that just a few people together can bring about. Cindy
has eloquently set forth the challenges and issues that we face in our
community. Thank you, Cindy, for telling it like it is!
Here is Cindy's letter:
Wednesday April 9, 2003 - 1:00pm
Dear Editor -
am so glad I was able to visit the beautiful cities of Cincinnati and
Dayton. I was here from Seattle with Soulforce to stand in
solidarity with Mt Auburn Presbyterian while their Pastor, Steve Van
Kuiken stood trial yesterday. What a transforming time for all of
us! As a veteran of Soulforce for 4 years, I have made new
friends and allies in many cities across the nation.
Steve's trial, though unjust, I made new friends again. Friends
who believe that Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people are
God's children, made exactly the way the Creator intended them to
be. Scripture teaches that "we need to be very, very courageous."
As we stood in silent vigil in front of the place of his trial, we were
that, but also we were blessed by his courage to stand for truth.
He obeyed God's law, by not discriminating against GLBT's. He
obeys the highest authority.
came from all over the country to look into Steve's eyes and say "thank
you." Each Soulforcee brings with them tens of thousands of
sexual minorities, who are forced to live closeted lives in fear and
terror. We come for them to Cincinnati. Those who are stripped
from their jobs, their homes, their rights to intimacy, the right to
teach, to serve, to pastor, to live as equals; with integrity.
They are wounded and killed with hate, often driven by false guilt to
self destruction. Those we represent watch us closely as they see
some of their perpetrators have a change of heart and mind in every
city. Just as the Iraqis are terrified and quite until Saddam's
regime is gone, so do many GLBT's stay hidden and silent until the
church universal puts a stop to this madness. Do you think
President Bush would be as bold to save these lives? A life having no
hope of equal rights, joy or peace, also told they have no hope of
being a child of God is terrorism.
thank Pastor Steve and the good people of Mt Auburn and their allies
for obeying the highest call of God and of conscience. I leave
Cincinnati knowing that hearts and minds were changed over this issue;
a "truth force" (Gandhi), "soulforce" (ML King), transformation in
Soulforce In Washington
CHANGING YOURSELF ALSO CHANGES OTHERS
avenues for changing yourself are open to you? What changes in
yourself could lead to changes in other people? Whenever I lead
or teach a workshop, I always learn and change more myself that anybody
else in the group. The word "dynamic" simply means
"change". Your life becomes a dynamic force for good as you
yourself experience change and growth.
and study. Listen to what other people really are saying to
you. Reach out to meet and try to understand people who are
vastly different from you. Get negative people out of your
life! Bring positive healthy people into your life. Ask God
to show you what needs to be changed in your own mind and heart, and
then let God facilitate these changes for you.
"ARE WE THERE YET? NO!"
Update for September 21, 2002:
"THE JOURNEY IS OUR HOME"
My friend Adam DeBaugh, Director of Chi Rho Press, in his most recent newsletter, "CHI RHO CONNECTION"
began a new feature called "The Journey is Our Home:" Sharing Our Faith
Journeys, the first one by Rev. Michael England. (To subscribe to
"Chi Rho Connection," send a blank e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
was inspired by the idea and by personal testimony of my friend,
Michael England. We are on a journey that does not end. The
journey itself is our home!
have to keep moving. You can never stand still. Your
spiritual journey with God is an ever-changing landscape of issues,
challenges, opportunities, and people.
story of the Exodus of the people of God in the Hebrew Bible is the
story of a long journey through the wilderness. Moses caught a
glimpse of the "Promised Land" but he never reached it. His
entire life was a journey. Much later, the spiritual classic "The
Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan cast the Christian life in the form
of a journey. What is happening today in your spiritual
journey? Do you keep moving, growing, learning, reaching out,
sharing, encouraging, and teaching as you go?
FAITH AS JOURNEY
Faith is an ongoing developing and growing experience that is dynamic and constantly changing. New people, new
ideas, new experiences all contribute to faith and help to shape your mind and heart.
takes risks. As a current advertisement says, "The greatest risk
is not taking one!" Faith moves you beyond the familiar and
comfortable into risky adventures of exploring new ideas and unexpected
people. What are you doing today to challenge your own ideas and
however, unlike faith, resists change and digs in to defend the past at
all cost. Religion protects itself against new people and new
ideas that threaten to "shake the foundations" and "rock the boat" of
entrenched traditions and time honored misinformation.
CONVERTING OR LEARNING?
journey of spiritual progress is more interested in learning from
people than in "converting" people to your own point of view.
This slight shift in emphasis completely changes your journey from a
closed system into an open-ended road to truth and dynamic
learning. When you meet a new person, do you ask yourself what
you can learn from this person or do you ask yourself what you can do
to convince this person to agree with you?
unbending legalistic judgmental religion is always on the prowl for
converts and never learns to listen and be open to new ways and fresh
paths into reality and truth. Like Yogi Berea said recently on
television, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it!" New
directions are constantly set before you in your personal
journey. Nobody else can make your decisions about new directions
for you. You have to decide which fork to take at every turn in
the road. Sometimes you are allowed to take "the road less
traveled" and learn that the path that best guides you really is love.
LEARNING TO LISTEN
to listen to other people is not only educational for you; listening is
a way to help others think about what is happening in their own lives
and to learn from their own journeys. Psychotherapists learn to
listen in non-judgmental ways that invite an individual to think
objectively and realistically about their own journey and to learn from
their own experiences.
journey is filled with multiple opportunities to learn and to teach, to
grow and to encourage others, to explore new territory and to
understand better what is already happening. You are living
through a time of unending ongoing revolution. Don't sleep
through the revolution!
STOP TO SMELL THE ROSES
you rush through your life at a dizzying pace, remember to stop and
smell the roses. Notice your world as you pass through.
Every flower, ever fragrance, every butterfly, every tree, every
sunset, every bird becomes part of your journey. God still speaks
through every detail of the universe. The heavens declare the
glory of God, and the firmament demonstrates God's work. Stop and
let God speak to you in new ways to make your journey more beautiful
and more enjoyable.
increasingly aware of the presence and work of God in your journey can
give a depth of meaning to your life that you never expected to
find. Every person you meet becomes a messenger from God.
Every event becomes a revelation from God. Every problem becomes
an opportunity to learn and grow. Every moment becomes
important. All of this will really make you tired! So you
also need to rest, relax, and let go.
LEARN TO TRUST GOD
do not have to control everything and everybody on your journey.
Let go and relax and remember that God is your friend and your constant
strength and guide through the Spirit that has been give to you.
You are made in the image of God, and God does not abandon or throw
away pieces of God! Your constant "safety net" on your journey is
the God who accepts and loves you unconditionally, just as Jesus said.
life! Live your life to the fullest extent of your personal
potential. Help others to do the same. We always share our
journey with a great company of witnesses who have gone before us and
who accompany us now. Have fun. The journey is your
home. Learn to live there in joy and peace.
September 21, 2002
Update for November 27, 2001
over means letting go. What do you most need to let go in order
to start over? A habit? A relationship? A job? An obsession? A
person? A religion? What?
New beginnings are possible every day.
In fact, every day is a new beginning. All of us have to live
"one-day-at-a-time". We really have no choice about it. How
much baggage from the past do you drag with you into every new day?
day presents you with new forks in the road. How you decide what
road to take determines who you will become and where you are
going. Are you pursuing a fatal dead end in relationships, job,
lifestyle, or habits? Have you already tried many times to change
course, but with only minimal real change of direction?
What really keeps you from starting over?
BASIC STEPS TO STARTING OVER
first step in starting over is usually a strong sense that something is
wrong with the direction of your life now. Despair with what is
happening to you now can trigger a strong need for change but not
necessarily the will to change. Where does "will power" come
from, anyway? Sometimes simply writing down a description of
where you are now and where you would like to be can help clear your
thinking and give you a new sense of direction.
get e-mail every day from people who are going through drastic changes
in their lives and are practically screaming for help in handling the
unexpected and threatening new beginnings that are being forced upon
them. Sometimes the changes are due to family rejection and
criticism, and sometimes lovers and partners leave or die.
Whatever you are facing, be assured that thousands of other people are
going through exactly the same things!
NO EASY SOLUTIONS
soon as you begin to consider starting over, mountains of obstacles
loom before you. People try to convince you that you cannot
change. The grip that others have on your time and emotions and
that your job or living conditions demand seem to be insurmountable
barriers to real changes in your life. But are they?
can you become objective and logical about what changes are possible
and necessary for you? How do you make most of your
decisions? Do you pray? Do you talk things over with a
trusted friend? Do you flip a coin? Do you read through one
of the Gospels and see if Jesus has anything to say to you about your
are not helpless in the face of disasters that might come your
way. You do have options. How do you explore and sort
to a quiet place and just think. Yes, think. Let your mind
do the walking and exploring for you. Your brain has been busy
all along dealing with your situation and your options; so ask your
brain to give you the results of your own thinking. You might be
surprised what you can come up with from within your own mind.
that nobody else can really decide what is best for you. You have
to decide that. You have God's help and the extraordinary help of
your own self-understanding and your own life experiences. Learn
from yourself. You are your own best teacher.
A WAY OUT
There is a way out of your present frustrations and confusions. But
it is up to you to find it.
for yourself. Don't let anybody else do your thinking for
you. Declare your personal independence and move on into the life
that you decide for yourself is right for you. Trust your own
judgment and your instincts. You know yourself far better than
anybody else can possibly know you. Be objective, realistic,
logical and practical. These will always be your best friends
when you face decisions.
with love, prayers and encouragement,
"WE DO NOT LOSE HEART"
Update for October 28, 2001
"Therefore, having this ministry (Greek: "diakonian"
– "deacon"), as we have obtained mercy, we do not lose heart." (2
Corinthians 4:1). Your mission in life keeps you from giving
up. God's purpose for you is ministry. The word here is the
word also translated "deacon" and is the Greek word for "slave" that
focused on practical work being done. The Greek word is composed
of " dia" which means, "to go through" and "konis" which means, "dust". "Diakonian" conveys the picture of the hard working slave "raising a cloud of dust" or the practical efforts of someone who
is willing to "get dirty" and work "in the dust" to do something helpful for someone else.
and I have an unfinished mission of "practical ministry" in giving
information and encouragement wherever needed. Backing off or
giving up is out of the question! We have made extraordinary
progress, and the best is yet to come.
friend and seminary classmate Dr. Mahan Siler performed the first
officially known church approved same-sex holy union in a Southern
Baptist Church in 1962 at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh,
NC. Since that time, the Southern Baptist Convention has adopted
increasingly abusive and restrictive policies regarding
homosexuals. Dr. Siler is retired from Pullen Memorial Church,
but he is far from retired in his activism and ministry of
encouragement and information for and about GLBT people.
An article by Dr. Siler, "Blessings Unforeseen," is printed in the current issue of "The Other Side"
magazine. You can read the article by clicking on the link
below. Dr. Siler writes from his own experience how congregations
are blessed in many ways by taking up the issue of accepting and
affirming gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual people.
Siler deals with the LGBT affirming church "coming out" and letting the
larger community know of their spiritual progress and practical
encouragement for LGBT people. This is an important remarkable
Siler concludes: "Many Christians in this society fear that openness to
sexual minority persons threatens the church. Ironically, the
reality might be quite the opposite: The presence of lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgendered persons, and the dialogue they often
elicit, might be a key to deeply needed spiritual renewal.
Perhaps it is no less than the privilege and mission of these
congregations to confront these issues and call the church to embody a
more complete vision of the reign of God in our day."
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE DOES NOT BURN OUT
The term, "lose heart" in 2 Cor. 4:1 (Greek "egkakoumen")
means, "to become weary, tired." It is used to express "despair"
and "fear." The word is used again in Galatians 6:9 to say: "Let
us not be weary in doing good, for in due season we will see results,
if we do not give up."
love comes from God and is not dissolved by difficult people. Family,
close friends or lovers, even abusive family, friends or lovers cannot
destroy unconditional love. Sometimes we have to be realistic and
practical and keep a necessary distance from abusive people, but that
does not mean that our love has died, or that we don't care or give up.
"SPACES IN OUR TOGETHERNESS"
must be spaces in our togetherness" said Kahlil Gibran in "The Prophet"
in a wonderful passage about the dynamics of love. Spaces are
needed for growth and reflection. Emotions, especially anger, can
grow and develop unrealistic expectations and imaginary terrors in a
possessive relationship that give no breathing room and no escape valve
to allow you to let go and move on.
attitudes that force you to try to control another person or let
another person control you are not expressions of unconditional
love. When you experience fully the love of God flowing through
your soul, you can let go of trying to control others and let the love
of God control you, as Paul suggested in 2 Corinthians 5:14-21.
Remember that where the Spirit of God is, there is freedom!
practical ministry in your life depends on letting the love of God
control you and the Spirit of God guide and empower you. How hard
is it for you to distinguish between God-given unconditional love and
the kind of love that tries to control and possess another person?
WE HAVE PROMISES TO KEEP
woods are cold and dark and deep, and I have promises to keep and miles
to go before I sleep." None of us is alone in the great struggle
of the soul that is changing our world. This morning I received a
telephone call from a gay man in Israel who has called me frequently to
talk of his own personal struggle for self-acceptance and confidence in
God. He is reading my book. His name is David, and I ask
you to join with me in prayers for him.
never promised you a "rose garden" but Jesus did promise to walk with
you every step of the way. Jesus is keeping his promise to you by
being with you and within you through the Spirit to teach you, energize
you, and show you what to do at every moment and in every event that
you face. How you go about listening to the Spirit of God is up
to you. But do listen. Avoid listening to negative people
who can undermine your faith and your confidence in yourself and in the
God who made you, who protects you, and who continues to give you the
breath of life.
Click here to see current article,
"Blessings Unforeseen,"by Dr. Mahan Siler in "The Other Side" web site.
Read about Dr. Siler and Jimmy Creech in "Congregations in Conflict"
by Keith Hartman, 1996, Rutgers University Press.
See new information about Soulforce
plans for the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Missouri.
"LIVING WITH THANKSGIVING"
Added on 11/22/01: Thankgsgiving Day, 2001
an attitude of thankfulness part of your personality? Developing
a lively attitude of gratitude can make you a happier person and can
draw others to you. Thanksgiving is also a major part of your
relationship to God.
favorite encouragement passage in the New Testament contains a brief
reference to thanksgiving, which is easy to overlook: "Be anxious for
nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
make your requests known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses
all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ
Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7) A spirit of thanksgiving transforms
life into a celebration, no matter what your circumstances might be.
THANKFUL FOR PEOPLE
am grateful that my mother at the age of 90 is still active, alert,
vigorous in her faith and very supportive of my ministry.
Visiting with my mother last week at Martha Franks Baptist Retirement
Center in Laurens, SC, was a time of joy and thanksgiving. I also
visited with my daughter Susan and her partner Janice, who drove up
from Charleston. Visits with Rev. Jay Neely and George, with Dan
Lewis and David, with David Rutland and with Lanny Word also gave me
cause for being thankful.
Rev. Russell Dean and Helen led the Sunday worship at the Retirement
Center. Russell was our pastor in Clinton, SC, for many
years. His message on thanksgiving was inspiring. He
demonstrates in his life and ministry the attitude of gratitude that is
contagious and uplifting to residents of the center.
THANKFUL FOR PRACTICAL HELP
I was on this trip, I read a brief book by Dr. Albert Ellis and Marcia
Grad Powers that gave me some important practical help in gaining
control over my own emotions. I recommend the book to you.
The title is: "The Secret of Overcoming Verbal Abuse: Getting Off the
Emotional Roller Coaster and Regaining Control of Your Life," published
in 2000 by Wilshire Book. Company. (See link)
of us LGBT people have endured verbal abuse, often from our own
partners and families. In showing how to handle verbal abuse in
constructive ways, Dr. Ellis shows how to approach and deal with many
powerful negative forces that invade our lives and our minds to distort
our views of our selves and others.
from interpersonal conflict in your life will always be cause for
thanks and celebration! Nothing more completely distracts us and
dominates our thinking at the expense of everything else like severe
conflict with the person we are closest to and love the most. You
will welcome anything that will help you to find a way out of the
emotional turmoil of an abusive relationship. You may not be able
to change the other person, but you can change yourself and your
emotional responses that are destructive and unproductive.
THANKS IN ALL THINGS
matter how awful an experience might be, there still is room to give
thanks for what you have learned from it. In all of your
relationships, look for the lesson God is trying to teach you, and be
thankful. The absolutely worst things that have happened to me
have been the experiences that best prepared me for my present ministry!
you go through "the valley of the shadow of death" or "the dark night
of the soul" in life's experiences or in relationships, you can come
out on the other side with fresh understanding and insight and with new
abilities to face your own pressures and to help others manage
theirs. It really is possible in all things to give thanks.
(Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18)
thank God for you and for every one who sends me e-mail to tell me
experiences and to share ideas and insights with me. May God
grant to you this day a lively sense of gratitude for the many good
things that bless your life and for the people in your life.
Update for October 26, 2001
Unconditional love can change your world.
Spirit of Jesus, who consistently practiced unconditional love, can
fill you and equip you with attitudes of unconditional love that will
transform your life and all of your relationships.
Unconditional love is described in 1 Corinthians 13. See below for my material on 1 Corinthians 13
and see Lesson 51 in my book.
love is unnatural. We bargain for love, sex, affection, and
acceptance from others. We resist loving anyone with nothing in
return. Even with our life partners we negotiate for love and
withhold or give love as we feel we are being accepted or resisted by
the other person. We usually place clear conditions on our
love. What does a person have to "pay" you to have your love?
"You don't love me if you don't do what I tell you to do" can be called love, but it is really a poor
substitute for the real thing, isn't it!
is patient, but we often are more patient with strangers than with our
family or our partner we live with every day. Unconditional love
is actually very rare, and we strive more to get it than to give it.
kind of love that we have in our inner being and express through our
relationships with others is communicated through words, tone of voice,
actions, attitudes, and by what we do not say and do not do.
things are unconditional. Love, however, is not love if it is
conditional. "The love of God has been poured out within our
hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans
5:5). Love is a gift from God and is passed on to others in the
purity of heart that is unconditional.
AN ENCOURAGING LETTER FROM SOUTH AFRICA
on October 25, 2001:
"Dear Dr Truluck
name is Nicky van der Bergh. I reside in Pretoria South Africa
where I pastor a small congregation of some 120 congregants, most of
whom are gay. I have been an ordained minister in the Reforming
Church of South Africa for 3 years, having previously come out of a
have recently appointed Eugene Mouton, a young propationer from the
Apostolic Faith Mission Seminary, to assist me in our rapidly growing
congregation. Eugene has motivated me to read you book,
Overcoming Bible Abuse, and WOW!
know you have mentioned in the book that we may use it as cell
group/bible study etc. but feel it only right to obtain your
permission first hand. Over and above using it in our studies
with the congregation in our Word School - a Christian school for the
laymen/women, I would like to quote from it in a devotional I am
currently writing, and also to use quotes in a book soon to be
story has truly moved me. After reading the passage on Jesus
feeding the 5000, the Holy Spirit lead me to host an "Open-Air" service
bringing both gay congregations as well as non-gay congregations
together. This in itself was powerful and has sparked a spirit of
unity between myself, my congregation and other congregations in the
The congregation I pastor is called Agallia Ministries,
which is charismatic by nature and we are currently experiencing
unbelievable growth. We are the first congregation that serves our
community who, coincidently, has their own church building and has an
active Word School. We have 7 active cell groups around town.
I would like to keep contact with you in order to obtain advice and assistance - I feel left out in the cold here and
it sometimes gets difficult. Looking forward to hearing from you, God Bless!
you for this letter, Nicky, and know that a lot of other people are
with you in your expanding ministry of information and spiritual
recovery from abusive religion.
always includes an element of encouragement. This letter was a
great encouragement to me in my own ministry. Encouragement in
Greek is "paraklete, parakaleo" and means literally "to be called
alongside." It is used of God standing with us and of you and me
standing with each other. Read about the sources of encouragement
and perseverance in Romans 15:1-7.
encourage others when we stand alongside them with unconditional
love. When we stand against others and attack their mistakes and
stupidity and criticize them and focus on their faults, we withhold our
unconditional love and push them away. We often are threatened by
getting too close to others, and one sure way to push them away is to
make our love conditional on their acceptance and love for us!
What do other people in your life have to do to deserve and receive
your love? What demands do you make before you will give your
love to someone else?
grace of God has been called God's "unearned favor". You cannot
do anything to earn God's unconditional love, because you already have
it. Nobody had to earn Jesus' love before Jesus would extend
unconditional love to an individual. What do you require people
to do to earn your love?
only basis for the love that Jesus extended unconditionally to all
people was the need of the individual and the ability of Jesus to
encourage and help. Nobody had to do anything before Jesus would
love and have compassion for a person in need. The Spirit of
Jesus is already with and within you. Your capacity for
unconditional love is already present with you. Unconditional
love, like every other dimension of your life, grows stronger and more
effective with exercise and regular use.
Chapter 51. "Grow Up In Love"
(Update for October 26, 2001. I suggest that you print out this page to more easily read and study it.)
Read Luke 10:25-37; John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
maturity in Christ is measured in terms of love. "Above all, keep
fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude
of sins. Show hospitality to one another without murmuring" (1
Peter 4:8-9). The word "murmuring, "Greek goggusmos,
is the same in Acts 6:1 where complaining developed about how some
people were neglected in the serving of food to the needy. You
can count on some of us to find a way to fight over love and how to
is never fully mature and perfect. Love is like recovery from
addiction. We once were addicted to self and self-destructive
appetites. We are in recovery, and recovery takes time. We
are on the road to recovery. We do not let go of the upward
calling of God to mature love in Christ. We are on the right
path, but we aren't there yet.
Love as the Goal of Growth
the story in Luke 10:25-37 of "the greatest commandment" and the
definition of "neighbor" in the adventure in compassion by a religious
and social outcast. Then read again the New Commandment of Jesus
in John 13:34-45 to love one another just as Jesus loved you. By
our love for each other the world will be convinced that we are
disciples of Jesus. Every use of "love " in John 13 is Greek agape, which is
the love defined in the life of Jesus and in "God is love" in 1 John
4. Love is the quality that makes us most like Jesus and
God. Read Matthew 5:43-48.
only way that you can love as Jesus loved is to be filled with the
Spirit of Jesus so that Jesus loves through you. It is not so
important what you do as what you let Jesus do through you. Jesus
said that we are to become fully mature like God ("perfect," teleioi).
Jesus was saying that we are to love our enemies and be impartial and
inclusive in our love just as God is inclusive and impartial in sending
sunshine and rain for everybody. To be the children of God is to
love, and to love is to be children of God.
How Does Your Love Level Measure Up?
a little experiment. Turn to 1 Corinthians 13 in your
Bible. Begin at verse 4 and everywhere the word "love" appears,
put in your name instead. Everybody laughed when I started the
list in a college class one time by saying "Rembert is patient.
Rembert is kind and is not jealous. Rembert does not brag and is
not arrogant." The biggest laugh came when I read the final
statement in13:8 with my name in place of love: "Rembert never fails!"
can have fun with this exercise in a group as each person reads 13:4-8
out loud with her or his name in place of "love". It will be
amusing but also a sobering experience. It can help us not to
take ourselves too seriously and at the same time realize that we have
a lot growing to do to become like Jesus in our love. Most of the
words that were used in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 also were used in the
Gospels to describe Jesus.
Wonderful Words of Love
to describe love in 13:4-8 were carefully selected and are filled with
meaning. As in all of Paul's lists, the first and last items are
especially important. They set the stage for the list and wrap up
at the end with a "big bang" conclusion. The words are practical
and not sentimental. They are realistic descriptions of
love as seen in the life of Jesus and in the acts of God. Let's
take a close look at each word.
Love Is Patient
Patient, Greek makrothumei,
for "long" plus "anger," meaning that it takes a lot to make you
angry. Patient describes God in Romans 2:4: "Do you think lightly
of the riches of God's kindness and forbearance and patience, not
knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" See
chapter 13 on "How Jesus Handled Anger." How do you handle your
anger? The answer to that question is the first measurement of
how much your love demonstrates the presence of Jesus within you.
When you let your anger control you, you have not yet let the Spirit of
Jesus control you.
against anger and impatience are necessary steps to spiritual maturity
in love. But how do we win? Watchman Nee tells in his book
The Normal Christian Life (page 126) a story about his visit with an
American Christian couple who asked him to pray for them about their
problem. They explained that they were in a bad way, because they
were very easily irritated by their children, and during the past few
weeks had both lost their tempers several times a day. They asked
Brother Nee to pray for God to give them patience. Nee replied
that he could not do it. He said he would not pray for their
request because the prayer would not be answered. They were
shocked and asked if they were beyond help. He said "No," and
asked, "Have you ever prayed for patience? You have. But
did God answer? No. Do you know why? Because you have
no need of patience."
that, the wife's eyes flashed and she became very upset and asked Nee
what he meant. His answer was, "You do not need patience.
You need Christ." He went on to explain that "God does not give
humility or patience or holiness or love in separate little
packets. God has already given us all that we need in giving
Jesus to us. I will gladly pray for you to have more of Jesus in
your life." This is a great and necessary key to every dimension
of spiritual growth at every level. We grow in love and in
everything else by having more of Jesus in our hearts and lives.
As we look at each of the words that describe love, think of how the
presence of Jesus within you makes them happen for you.
Love is Kind
The same basic word for "kind", Greek chrestos,
is used in Galatians 5:22 as fruit of the Spirit and in Matthew 11:30,
where Jesus said: "My yoke is gentle," which means "well
fitted." Kind is a word that describes the gentle and kind
attitude that respects the feelings of others. Kindness helps us
to accept others as they are and to respect their individuality without
trying to force them to change to suit us. Kindness controls us
when we "speak the truth in love" Truth not spoken in love is not
heard as truth. When my family drove away after a visit with my
parents, my father used to say, "Be kind to each other!"
Love Is Not Jealous or Boastful or Arrogant
These three negative words deal with attitudes that make us unattractive to others.
Jealous, Greek zeloi,
comes from the word for "hot" or "boil." We get the words zeal
and jealous from it. It means that when you love you don't get
hot and upset when something good happens to somebody else instead of
to you. To boast means to brag and show off. It means that
you refuse to do anything unless you get credit for it. Arrogant
means "puffed up" with your own importance. It really does mean
"to be full of hot air!" See also 1 Corinthians 4:6, 18 and
Love Does Not Hide in Shame
The word is Greek aschemonei and
is the word "indecent, unbecoming, unseemly" used in Romans 1:27; 1
Corinthians 7:36; 12:23; Revelation 16:15. It refers to what is
hidden or covered because of shame. Love is out in the
open. This says something about our coming out of the closet,
Love Does Not Seek Its Own Way and is Not Easily Provoked
Read Romans 15:1-7, which begins, "We who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength
and not just please ourselves."
Love leads you to put the interests and needs of others before your
own. We usually call it love when we want others to meet our
needs and not because we want to meet theirs. When we try to
pressure someone else to do what we want whether that person wants to
do it or not, we are not acting out of love. "Provoke" is Greek paroxunetai,
and means "to urge on, to stimulate, especially to provoke to wrath, to
irritate." The only other uses are in Acts 15:39; 17:16. It
means something like, "Let's you and him fight!"
Love Thinks No Evil
The Greek is logizetai,
which is a term used in accounting and means that love does not keep a
list of hurts and resentments. Love is able to forget the things
that others have done to wound and hurt. To keep a list of wrongs
suffered at the hands of others is to live imprisoned in the
past. Part of love is letting go of the damage others have done
to you. This is a healthy move toward maturity for you.
Simmering resentments and nursing grudges can make us physically
ill. Love sets us free to go on and live in joy and hope without
having to drag along baggage from the past. I am sure you realize
how important this is for Christian homosexuals. Jesus offers us
freedom and joy, but we can never enjoy life as long as we won't let go
of all of the awful things people have done to us because of our sexual
orientation. Let go and live!
Love Does Not Rejoice in Unrighteousness But in the Truth
never enjoys seeing somebody else getting hurt. Love never goes
about listening and telling the dirt and gossip about others.
Love, however, rejoices in the truth. Living in the truth is
never easy. Love means coming out of the closet for many
homosexuals who are afraid of their own truth about themselves.
Love means giving up living in denial about our addictions, even when
those are addictions to sick and abusive religions. Love means
letting Jesus set us free to be our true self. It is good to live
in truth, but it is not easy. The truth will set us free, because
the truth of God's love has liberated us. The question that has
to be answered is "Am I ready for real freedom? Can I handle real
Love Bears, Believes, Hopes, and Endures All Things
"all things bears, all things believes, all things hopes, all things
endures." This is the order of the words in Greek. "Bears"
all things means "to cover," Greek stegei,
"to put a cover over something to protect it." Here it means "to
cover, pass over in silence, keep confidential." Love "bears all
things" by throwing a cloak of silence over what is displeasing in
all things" does not mean that love is hopelessly gullible and will
believe anything. That obviously is not the meaning.
Believe and hope are closely connected. The two terms together
mean that love says to the troubled person, "I believe in you. I
have great hope for you. I am confident that you can become the
person God has plans for you to be in Christ." Love means that in
our relationships with others we "believe and hope all things" in an
attitude of positive, supportive, encouragement. Love never
thinks of looking for opportunities to put down other people and say,
"Ha! I told you so!"
Love Endures All Things
"Endures" is Greek hupomenei,
literally the two words, "super" and "remain." Love means to
stand your ground no matter what happens or what others may do.
It means to hold out and remain instead of running away. It is
expressed in John 13:1, where "having loved his own who were in the
world, Jesus loved them to the end (telos)." Jesus loved his
friends until his mission was accomplished. Jesus did not run
away or abandon those he loved. Jesus set the example of love in
every way. To love is to stand firm and not give up on anybody.
Love Never Gives Up
The final word is Greek piptei,
meaning "to fall" and was used of a structure that collapsed or was
ruined. It meant "to become invalid, come to an end, fail."
Love, like Jesus, never gives up. Love never quits loving. "Love is not love, that alters when it alteration finds."
If we love only when we are loved, if our love is inconsistent, and if
we love others only when they are loveable, we have a lot of growing up
to do in loving one another as Jesus loved us. Love is the
greatest gift, because when you love, you give yourself.
Questions for Study and Discussion
Think about it: What do you mean when you say to someone, "I love
you"? My friend Dr. Roy O. McClain said, "I love you is never so
meaningless as when it has to be said." What do you think that
How has our popular romantic vision of love in movies, novels, songs,
and television distorted the meaning of love as it is presented in
Jesus in the Bible?
What is the difference in the meaning of love according to Jesus and
our romantic view of falling in love? What is the result of
confusing the various meanings of "love"? Growing in love is a
lifelong process. How far along the road to mature love do you
think that you have come so far?
On to "Follow Jesus' Steps"