Thank You

One of those days when you really wonder if anything you have done has mattered.

Then…

She is in ministry, something she never really dreamed of…
He is up front leading the congregation in reading scripture…
She is a passionate minister with dreams of ministry that connects…
He is really grown up, playing guitar and helping lead worship…
That van is full to overflowing…
His singing reminds me of his simple prayer in an old pickup truck…
That family is now in His family…

And…it’s all HIS doing.

So, now instead of wondering, I simply say…

Thank you.

-Trevor

Dreams…Come & Gone

Last night, for the second time in as many weeks, I dreamed I was once again pastoring and preaching. It’s not a new thing, as I have these dreams occasionally. However, for some reason, this time it was particularly painful.

Painful for all that I lost.

Painful because that dream – that calling – has no venue for fulfillment.

Dreams come. They linger.

Gone.

– Trevor

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

Wanted

Wanted: a place

A place for me. A place of service and ministry. A group of people to whom I can give my life and my soul in community.

Would you take me?

I’m not perfect. Let’s just get that out of the way at the very beginning. I haven’t got life all figured out, and I certainly haven’t got my God all figured out, either. My faith is a journey, and it’s alive and well. And, even though I haven’t got Him all figured out, he certainly knows all about me. Amazingly, He loves me in spite of…well…me! 🙂 My wife and I have a solid marriage. That’s not to say that we don’t have our challenges, we do…and one of them is huge (a little bit on that a little later). We are the very best of friends and have committed to live our lives faithfully together for the rest of our days. Our children light up our world, and we love those times when those who have left the nest stop in at “home” and we are all together just being “us.” Love flows freely in my life.

I’ve ministered to dozens and hundreds, in cities and the countryside. I’ve buried the young and old and baptized the “all together” and the “challenged.” I’ve married the lovebirds and counseled the struggling. I’ve resurrected the church on its last leg, and planted a new vibrant organic congregation. I’ve preached and repaired, painted and cleaned, mowed and shoveled, taught and seeded. I’ve done just about everything in the life of a local congregation one could think to do. But most importantly, I’ve shared my heart and soul with my community of faith. I’ve carried their burdens. I’ve wept with them and rejoiced with them. I’ve led them to Jesus. I’ve been changed by their faith. I’ve spent 20+ years doing it. God gifted me to do that. He gave me the skills to do that. He called me to do that.

I need a place.

You OK with what you see?

Interested?

Would it make any difference if I told you that I am gay?
Would it make any difference if I told you that I am living a sexually pure life?
Would it make any difference if I told you that my wife and I are making our mixed-orientation marriage successful?
Would It make any difference if I told you that God hasn’t lifted His call from my life?
Would it make any difference if I told you that my wife believes in my call and supports me in that?

Are you still interested?

I need a place.

-Trevor

I Must!

If you are like me, you love to sit near a campfire. To stare into the flames. To watch all the different shapes formed by the tongues of fire…shapes that only last a fraction of a second…then to watch them transform into something new and unique. To soak in the warmth radiating out of the brilliant flames of orange and yellow and red. To be amazed at the power that is being slowly unleashed from the fuel right before your eyes.

It is nearly impossible to pull myself away. Always looking for more wood to throw onto the pile to keep the fire going. Hating to douse the coals and walk away to crawl into a sleeping bag only when it finally is the absolute last minute I can stand to stay awake.

The power of the flame intrigues me.

The power to allow the mind to be led away by the shapes and colors and heat and power…and to begin to contemplate the bigger things of your life. What am I here for? Who am I here to be? Why has my life turned out like this? When will I figure it all out? Who am I here to impact in a positive way? How will I do that?

It seems that the answers to those types of questions live in a burst-transform-burst type of cycle in our lives. I have some things that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am “here for” on this earth. Some have been temporarily laid aside in the former forms they took, but I’m convinced that they are not gone for good and that one day they will – must – be taken up again. In what form, I don’t know, but unquestioningly they must be done. God has given me some very specific abilities that I must use to make this world a better place. I have a passion to give of myself. To work for the betterment of others. To be a helping hand…a strong shoulder…a safe ear…a warm embrace…a strong support. Whatever.

I Must!

You see, I believe this: It’s not about me. My life is not about me. My life is about living with a burning passion to the point that others will gather to the warmth of my spirit…to the authenticity of my life…to my unconditional love…to what it looks like to be an extraordinarily decent human being. To help someone else get through the tough journey called “life.”

The tricky thing with a properly controlled and helpful fire is knowing the right type of fuel to add, and right amount to add, and the right time to add it.

Most of the time when I contemplate these things, I’m looking for the next grand adventure in my life. Fact of the matter is – I’m living it right now! All the people who I need to touch in those ways for this time of my life are already in my life!

No time to waste just staring into the flames.

Throw another log on the fire and let’s get to it!

-Trevor

Risky Business – Follow-Up

Whew! OK…that went really well.

Last week, I wrote about “Risky Business.” Today was the day that my pastor and I met at a local burger joint and shared some time together. He listened as I talked, he asked questions and I answered. I was very transparent about my current circumstances and very raw faith. I gave him an “out” in allowing him to tell me “no” to the behind-the-scenes I’ve volunteered for. He showed himself to be a deeply concerned, caring, and loving pastor. He assured me that he wants me to minister “in any way” that I want to. I was very pleased to sense his heart that is anything but condemning.

I am convinced that the Church (the Body of Christ) was well represented today in our exchange.

I’m very grateful.

Other people receive what is represented by this fictional letter from “the church.”

Of this I am convinced…His Body can do much better in reflecting His heart. Today, I have hope that it happens…maybe more than we think.

We are all watching.

-Trevor

Risky Business

I last wrote about “My Friend.” I’m safe and secure in that relationship. He is not a threat to my well-being. I’ve known him for a very long time and he has earned my trust and respect. He has proven himself as the kind of friend that I require in my life to live a vibrant, healthy, and free life. The only risk in our relationship is that I will push him away or shut down…not play my role in a healthy way. And, I’ve been known to do that (one of the millions of things I’m trying to fix in me).

But now I’m into “risky business” territory.

My wife and I regularly attend church together. (Well…my wife attends more regularly than me, but I’m working on changing that, too) We have attended this church for quite some time. She is involved in a few different activities and ministries. I basically just show up and skedaddle out the door as soon as possible…the least amount of human contact in that setting, the best. But now, that’s all gonna change. I contacted the pastoral staff and volunteered to help with some “behind the scenes” stuff. That’s relatively safe…I’ll be unseen and unnoticed, at least as long as I do my job well. The risky part comes into play with the more intimate contact I had with the main pastor. I shared this blog with him and told him we needed to talk about it. It’s a huge risk. I don’t really know him. We’ve really only just greeted one another coming and going in the church building. So, I wonder –  Will he keep it confidential like I asked him to? Will he accept me as a friend? Or will he shun me? Will he accept me as a brother in Christ? Or will he condemn me?  Will he allow me to do the work I’ve volunteered for? Or am I unfit for any kind of ministry role in the church? He recently led the church in broaching the subject of ministering to the LGBTQ community. Does he really mean that? I guess I’ll find out, based upon his response to me.

There is a reason why the volunteering and relationship with the pastor is important to me. Those are two important facets of my faith expression that have been in play for most of my life. I want, I need to have that connection again. Not in the negative ways that it played out in years past, but in a new and dynamic way. You might say that it is a part of the weaving of the safety net around my life’s journey from this point on. Can my faith community, and it’s leaders, prove to be a safe place for me to worship and serve? As a gay man, living in a chaste mixed-orientation marriage, can I have the wonderful experience of a faith community that embraces me and allows me to bloom? Although nearly everyone in the church will be ignorant of the facts about “who” I am, the pastor will lead the way in how the congregation responds to me and my perceived value to the body.

This is a risky experiment.

I hope it doesn’t blow up in my face.

-Trevor