Tending Fence

I enjoyed a quiet drive through the country today. One of most favorite things to do. I had my youngest daughter with me and I was pointing out different things and sharing some of my experiences growing up in the country. It wasn’t too long and she was engrossed in something on her phone, so I just moved to musing to myself.

I was struck by a particular sight that I’ve been mulling over. It seems like this was on my mind since the instant I saw it. A large acreage heavily fenced in…a well-worn path just inside the fence line obvious from daily trips tending to the fence…pastureland that has long passed from valuable and useful into a state of neglect and harboring weeds, thistles, saplings, and brush. A gently rolling landscape of what must have been, in the past, the pride and joy of someone…but has since devolved into just something ugly.

The thought came to me immediately that this is what has happened to the church in some places. So much attention has been paid to tending fence to keep in the flock and keep out the unwanted, that the vitality and beauty of the thing has turned ugly from neglect and distraction on lesser priorities. To the point that those who pass by have no interest of getting in any longer.

I remarked to my daughter that the owner needed to do some serious “brush hogging” and burning to save the value of his property.

Maybe God does, too.

In some places I’ve been told I’m not wanted, no longer valuable, not even to be a greeter or usher…certainly not to “minister” in any way. There have been times I’ve been tempted to just keep moving on and not give the church a second chance. But, I keep driving by, hoping against hope that one day I will find an open gate and a pastureland that is beautiful from its tending.

But, then again, I’m a country boy.

Show Me What I Don’t Know

I get it.

I am a sinner. I have failed. I have miserably failed. I have broken promises. I have demolished covenant. I have undervalued love. I have stretched patience. I have assumed upon grace. I have presumed upon mercy.

You think I’m a mess. You tell me that frequently. So, you try to fix me, to redefine me, to rebirth me, to re-conceive me, to re-imagine me.

You preach about me. You lecture about me. You write about me.

You protest against me. You wish to isolate me. You want to banish me. You dream of imprisoning me.

You compare me to the worst of humanity’s evilness.

I get it. You don’t think much of me.

At least, that’s the message I’m receiving.

I know you say you are doing all that “in love.” I know that you say “loving the sinner, but hating the sin.”

You wanna know something?

I’m not buying it.

Because all your damned bluster sounds more like “hating the sinner” than anything else.

And…I’m not really getting that you “love the sinner” anywhere in all that. You say that you love me, but I’m not getting that at all. I, in fact, do not know that you love me.

I’m wondering, instead of telling me something that I don’t know, would you…could you…show me what I don’t know?

If you believe so strongly that Jesus is with you always and that His love is more powerful than any other force known to man, and you want me to experience His love, then why don’t you just show me?

Why are you so afraid of me and those like me? Why must you insist on speaking only about us, and not engaging us eye-to-eye?

Why must I always be kept at arms length, doubted and feared?

Why must my sexual habits be more important to you for defining my relationship with God than the testosterone-driven – and straight – male?

Why are the rules so exclusively and unequally harsh for me?

I suspect that the reason is that you simply don’t know me. You haven’t spent time with me. You haven’t asked me questions. You haven’t listened to my testimony of faith. You haven’t put your arm around me. You haven’t looked me in the eye.

You haven’t experienced my heart.

But, if you want me to really know that you love me, then that’s what you are going to have to do.

Show me.

-Trevor

Gay ≠ Lesser

Good thoughts…important questions.

Another Anomaly Among Many

I recently sat down with one of my friends to catch up on life, and the reflections that I had after that conversation are the basis of this post. Now, I generally try to refrain from writing angry/irritated posts just for the sake of it, but I’ve been realizing that if this blog is going to be about my experiences, it has to include everything, because other people have probably felt those things too. So I’ll try not to just go off on everything, but what I write here is going to encompass all the different things that I’ve felt and experienced.

What I’ve been thinking about since my friend and I had that conversation is this: why do people automatically view us as being somehow dirtier, more sinful, and less sincere about our faith just because we identify as LGBT? Why do our theology and our motivations get questioned…

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Going All In

So, I’m going all in.

My pastor contacted me the other day and wanted to know if we could do lunch. I said yes, wondering what was up. The last time we had lunch was a rather stressful one, for me anyway, when I told him my “story” and “came out” to him. So, I was wondering what this appointment was all about. Lots of different imagined conversations zipped through my head. By the time the appointed time came, I was pretty edgy and had my emotional walls strongly erected.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when he said that the Minister of Worship at our church was leaving, and he wanted to know if I would be interested in taking over. Wha…?? Whoa…wait a minute! You know what you’re asking? That’s a really important ministry role in the life of the local congregation. You know who you’re asking?? I mean, I’m the guy who messed up really bad. I’m the guy that you know as the guy who lost his ministerial credential and almost his marriage because he had an extramarital affair. With a guy. I’m the guy that told you not long ago that I’m gay. Yeah, I’m that guy. So…what? Say again!?! Me??

Yeah. Me.

I was flummoxed. I was shocked. I was surprised. I was nearly speechless. We talked about worship in general…I shared my worship theology/philosophy. In the midst of my shock and surprise, I told him that I would think and pray about it and talk to my wife, and let him know. He needed an answer fairly quickly.

So I thought about it. I prayed about it. I talked to my wife about it. God said yes. My wife said yes. So, I said yes.

I’m kind of scared. I’m kind of nervous. I’m kind of excited. I’m kind of thrilled. I’m kind of really, really pumped!

Next Sunday I jump in. Not sure how I’ll land. It’s been a while since I did this, I’m a little rusty…ok, a whole lot rusty. But I’m more than willing to give it a shot. I’m willing to help out my church during this time without a key staff member. I’ve always been that kind of guy, willing to pitch in and help wherever I can and however I am skilled/gifted.

But, of all the things I’m feeling and thinking, the most powerful thought and feeling I have right now is…unworthy.

Why has my wife stayed with me?
Because I’m totally unworthy.

Why hasn’t God released His call off of my life?
Because I’m totally unworthy.

Why did God lead my pastor to talk to me?
Because I’m totally unworthy.

Why has this door been opened for me?
Why this second chance?
Why?

Because, I am not worthy!

Actually…in spite of not knowing how she loves and how He works…I do know what this is.

It’s not a position or a job or a ministry I’m jumping into.

It’s grace.

And I’m going all in.

-Trevor

I Will Speak

This was written by an aquaintance of mine. It is simply too good not to pass on.

“Sure, I could be silent. 200 years ago, people said the same about slavery: Just shut up. I’m sorry, but this won’t go away, whether I speak or not.”

“But for the sake of the voiceless, I will speak. For the sake of those who are being kicked out of the church by the legalists, I will speak. For the sake of those who prayed endless nights to be “changed” but were not, I will speak. In fact, for the sake of Christ Himself, who recognizes nothing of His own Spirit in this homophobic, heartless and legalistic bunch, I will speak. Perhaps, just perhaps, some will finally listen. And show the compassion that should be the very heart of the gospel, rather than laws that have never been able to save anybody.”

“Amen” or “Thank You” is simply not sufficient.

Count me in!

-Trevor

And I should care…why??

Because, to be honest, it hurts.

Deeply.

So, why should I care so much?

Why should I care about the Church?
Why should I care about having a “conversation” with the Church?
Why should I care when the motivators for and feeders of healthy conversation are ignored and I find myself, instead, swimming in a sea of negativity?
Why should I care when the church kills the conversation?

Why should I care so much?

Why should I care about the church and the meaningful ministry it can have in the LGBTQ community?

Why should Trevor care??

Why should I care when it was at the hands of “good church people” that I was sexually abused?
Because, it was also at the hands of other good Church people that I was shown love and concern.

Why should I care when it was at the hands of “good church people” that I was placed in even more frightening vulnerable situations?
Because, it was at the hands of other good Church people that I was shown the proper attention and care.

Why should I care about the church lumping my gay sexual orientation in with pedophiles and rapists?
Because, it was at the hands of heterosexual men that I was abused, and the message needs to be shared that straight men may be just as risky as gay men.

Why should I care when it was at the hands of “good church people” that I was introduced to pornography, specifically gay porn?
Because, it was at the hands of other good Church people that I was shown what it meant to live a holy, circumspect life.

Why should I care when it was at the hands of “good church people” that I was bullied because I was a skinny and somewhat effeminate boy growing up?
Because, it was at the hands of other good Church people that I was shown full acceptance and value.

Why should I care when I try to offer some new vocabulary to the church, and in response they just tell me with great contempt that I’m being “politically correct?”

Why should I care when I am told by my specific faith family that I just need to move on because I don’t totally agree with their stance?

Why should I care so much about the Church?

Why??

Deep roots.

-Trevor

Why Maybe Gay People Should Stop Coming Out

This message could not have been presented more eloquently or powerfully. Honestly…I had to stop a couple of times and clear the tears from my eyes.

This should be reblogged everywhere, posted to FB and discussion boards, and taken into the pulpits across Christendom.

WOW!

-Trevor

john pavlovitz

PersonBehindDoor
Closets aren’t for people.

Last night, I attended a nonprofit event in Greensboro and had the chance to hear a message from Wade Davis, a former NFL player and an eloquent advocate for LGBT rights.

Davis’ powerful testimony included a statement which spoke loudly to my heart as a pastor and Christian. His words were, (and I am paraphrasing to the best of my recollection):

Closets aren’t for people. They’re for old coats and shoes and dust. I was never in the closet, I just couldn’t be honest with who I really was to the world around me. As a gay man, I’m not coming out of the closet. I’m inviting you in.

To me this was more than just a matter of semantics, or simply a clever bit of wordsmithing.

This was revelatory truth.

As much as I’ve tried to be an ally to the LGBT community, and to facilitate real conversation between it and the faith community…

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