An Epiphany

Strange.

one of Our exercises at this retreat was not to say anything to anyone for a couple of hours. There was to be complete silence. We were to be mindful of what was around us and to appreciate the little things in nature! We all went out for personal walks, taking in all that creation has to offer.

I was a little apprehensive about it since I don’t like People telling me to do things like this. I’d rather do it on my own terms.

I walked around the building, picked up half a rock, an old balloon and later a beer bottle with some beer still inside. I set them aside by the door but held on to the rock. I found another rock by the building but I felt that it should stay where it was.

I took another walk around the building, looked around and suddenly stopped.

Standing in front of me was this tall majestic white leafless tree. It brought to me Memories of my childhood when I would look Out my bedroom window and have conversations with an old gnarly dark tree. It seemed as almost it was the same tree but instead she was tall white and young! I sat under her until the lunch bell rang. Said absolutely nothing yet much was exchanged, like old friends catching up. It was all emotional.

I cannot explain any of it at this time but this was my old childhood friend, who I never realized I missed until today.

“Hello tree, missed you lots. Looks like life has been good to you. You’ve grown tall and healthy among such beauty and solitude.”

I’m not going to try to over analyze it or figure out anything for that matter. I will just let it be what it is and perhaps discover more later.

I Felt safe and protected, like a big sister (or brother) watching over me. Next to her was a larger tree, darker in colour, her brother perhaps? I was lovingly introduced and we spent some quiet moments together.

She left me a gift, something I could treasure. A branch stood hanging, obviously an old branch that had broken off. I managed to get the branch down, then peeled the old bark and gratefully accepted the gift.

Standing there, I realize the interconnectivness of all the trees around me. Everyone there had a reason and a purpose, that it all played in a slow moving dance, every spot the right spot, nothing to chance.

This was only a tiny microcosm of the entire universe. Galaxies spinning, stars exploding, planets forming. Everything there is a time and a season. (ecclesiastics 3)

I would like to add that I’m not a worshiper of nature but a worshiper of God, however I can’t explain this experience except perhaps it’s a way to illustrate the connection we truly have with Gods creation that we are not separate from it all, that there is a bond with all that is around us, including one another.

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“Dying Daily” is a False Gospel

Tim's Blog - Just One Train Wreck After Another

Question: Which of the following statements is not taught in the Bible?

A) You have to die to self and live for God.

B) You have to die daily in order to live for Jesus.

Answer: Neither of them are found in the Bible.

How do people come to the idea that we need to keep dying for Christ? I think it’s because people want to think there must be something they should be doing, something that is on their shoulders when it comes to living the Christian life. Then they read verses like these and fit them into their preconceived notions:

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11.)

and,

I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:31.)

The problem is that those verses…

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Acceptance

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This past Wednesday I came out to the world through Facebook. Many already knew or suspected. Most of my friends knew since I interact with them almost daily but for those who I hardly saw or talk to, that post was for them. My boss at work knew as I came out to him last spring and the rest of the work gang, well, I think most suspect and it seems they don’t care.

We are in a completely different time than when I first moved out this way from Saskatechewan back in 1996! I was even surprised to hear from some of my friends way back. Some suspected and yet nothing changes. I am still friends with them and there has not been any negative responses at all. I am quite humbled by the fact that some who I thought might have misgivings or maybe even outright hostile were in fact accepting and genuinely happy for me.

I expected my friends here in Vancouver who did not know or heard it for the first time for me to be accepting, but back in Saskatchewan? That was a surprise.

It is so freeing and I hope this will pave the way for a relationship I can hold on to this time….

Here’s to my next stage in life….

The Power of Your Love

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Most of my friends on Facebook already know, some suspect and some, don’t have a clue. This is something I’ve kept in my heart, hidden from most people outside of my immediate circle of friends because of the negative connotations and the push back I would get if it got out. However, With the changing times, I am more inclined and feel safer about sharing this today about myself.

You see… I’m Gay and I always have been… I just tried to live straight.

I did not choose this, and I certainly did not originally want it either.

I started realizing I was different when I was 12 or so but had no frame of reference to what it was. I could not figure out why guys seem more interesting than girls. I found girls unattractive and usually I avoided them. When I realized what was happening, I began hating myself keeping my feelings hidden from everyone as I tried to figure out what was going on. I was hoping it was a faze, something that would disappear over time.

I turned to God and the church in hopes I could be “cured”. I Did a year of Bible School, so I would eventually come out straight. I even dated a girl while in school (for about a year afterwards), but I still had the same feelings… I kept things hidden and did not talk about it.

I confessed to two of my friends, one of them my room mate and it was a release for me. However, we all thought of it as a sin and a thing I needed to be set free from. They were supportive, but they would try to “pray away the gay” in me

I became immersed in my local church, leading worship praying together with the congregation, took communion and tried to evangelize. I lead Bible studies for new and searching Christians, but all this time, I held this secret close to my heart. I perhaps I thought doing the works of God would help me to move forward and be set free from this. I was content with where I was, keeping all that under wraps and hidden even to myself.

Things finally came to head when I felt deep down it was time to do something about this. So, in my own limited understanding I started to date girls again. The exercise turned out to be a disaster as the whole relationship was doomed from the start. I eventually called it off and during this time I came across a book at the local Christian Bookstore (which I was an employee at the time) called “Pursuing Sexual Wholeness” by “Andy Cominsky”. Thinking it was a God send, I read it from cover to cover, and checked out the various Ex gay ministries that were listed in the back of the book. I chose one in Burnaby BC and a year later I was stepping off the train in VANCOUVER, with my suitcase and my cat to start a new life in a new city.

I was very much involved in the ex gay ministry, going as far as being a small group leader, and praying with others who “suffered” as well, but it was all in vain.
Almost 10 years later I was still gay….

and….

God Knew.

He knew my endless hours of agonizing prayers…

“please take this away” or please heal me”.

He knew my self hatred, internal homophobia and frustration.

HE KNEW….

and yet ….

No change… not one iota!

I became more and more disillusioned as I kept asking why.
Eventually I even stopped asking altogether and walked away, from the church and from God.
I accepted what is and simply dove into the gay scene….
That went on for close to Eight years, as I tried to find myself.

I walked away but God never left me.

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In Mid to late 2016 I began to look for a way back. I was craving real community and there was also a hunger that I know would not be satisfied except with God.
I gradually worked my way back in, starting with Word is Out Ministries at St Andrews Wesley United Church
Then I made it to their evening service at the church which was candlelight and Taizé music. I was surprised that I loved it, as I came from a Pentecostal/ Charismatic tradition. Then in Feb of 2017, I came to my first morning service. It was traditional, and formal, with hymns and spoken prayers. The Ministers wore robes and the music minister played large and intricate pipe organ.

Then the gospel choir did two songs that I knew from my evangelical past. “The Power of Your Love” and “I Give you My Heart”.

I was undone…

“Hold me close
Let Your Love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to your side
and as I wait
I’ll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love”

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“Lord, I give You my heart
I give You my soul
I live for you alone
And every breath that I take
Every moment I’m awake
Lord, have Your ways in me”

….. I then heard a still small voice say……

“Welcome back, I missed you”

I knew I found my home.

The God of the universe never left my side and like the Father of the prodigal son, embraced me and welcomed me back.

I was born this way. I did not choose these feelings, they were just there and no amount of will power, praying, fasting, walking up stairs on your bare knees or crying, stamping, naming and claiming made one iota of a difference.

Kathy Baldock, among others, played an integral part in reconciling my sexuality and God. Her tireless research, fierce love for the LGBTQ+ community helped me see as God sees me, a child of God who he Loves! Check out her book “Walking the Bridge-less Canyon”

I’ve come to accept my gayness knowing full well God loves me the way I am. It’s not a sin which I need to overcome, but a part of who I am. My identity is in Christ who loves me.
My world view, my theology my love for others has been turned right upside as I continue to discover who God is.

I have learned to see people, becoming more loving and compassionate to the outcasts, the marginalized and not to get hung up on their weaknesses and sin but to embrace them and love them unconditionally. God is in the business of loving and healing and we are his hands to help that be accomplished.

I won’t hide my spirituality or sexuality. It’s all who I am.

If you find this a shock or are uncomfortable, I challenge you to open your mind and heart, hang out with someone different from you and listen to their story, putting aside your own preconceived ideas and beliefs and simply listen. You will be surprised, if you allow it. Listening is the beginning of understanding and understanding leads to compassion and love. It is all a choice we make everyday. My gayness is not a choice, it is how God made me and who I am.