My Mind Made Public -

I held off as long as I could ...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Marin Foundation December 2008 Newsletter

The busiest season of The Marin Foundation’s existence just ended. From the beginning of October to right before Thanksgiving I was speaking around the country 50 of 60 days. During that period I flew 21,713 miles, visited 16 different cities and spoke at 22 different events in front of about 17,000 people live—and prayerfully this is just the beginning of what is to come in 2009 and beyond! Looking back on this season brings not only excitement for what is to come, but also a heavy heart filled with mixed feelings about where The Marin Foundation has come from.

I clearly remember the beginning months as I started The Marin Foundation after just quitting my comfortable job working at the world famous Drake Hotel in Chicago. I wasn’t exactly sure how to start getting the word out, so the best way I knew how was to open Chicago’s phone book, flip to the section labeled Churches, and just start calling. There were 2,671 churches listed in Chicago, and I thought there’s no better way to introduce myself then to do it in person. From the first church under the letter A to the last church for letter Z, I called all of them. For the first 6 months of The Marin Foundation’s existence, 7 days a week, I set up 2, 3, 4 or 5 meetings per day with senior pastors. During that period I was the Chicago Transit Authority’s best public transportation customer. Here’s the kicker—I stopped counting after I got laughed out of the 641st church! That’s right, I stopped counting after the first 641 times I heard the phrase:

“You’re 24 years old and want to do something that has never been done before? Stop wasting my time.”

After all of that embarrassment I thought I heard God’s voice wrong. But I didn’t—I knew I didn’t. And so I kept plugging away in the midst of everyone thinking I was crazy. And yet 3 ½ years later I humbly had the opportunity to speak live to 17,000 people in a 60 day period! That realization just floors me as I remember those beginning 6 months getting laughed out of 641 churches who all believed a bridge couldn’t be built between the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and religious communities. Look how far we’ve gotten in such a short period of time—and it has been because of your spiritual and financial faithfulness that The Marin Foundation is able to continue. Not only have I had the chance to get our bridge building message out to thousands of Christian people who will go back to their own cities and make a significant impact for the kingdom, but The Marin Foundation has also continued to make a direct impact within the gay and lesbian community here in Chicago and throughout the country as well. Through this past year we have had a unique opportunity to partner with a variety of GLBT organizations to facilitate many different trainings, workshops and classes to bring a more thorough understanding of Jesus to those gay and lesbian people who desperately seek him out. And I’m seeing first hand the power of our Father’s work in so many people’s lives!

Thank you all so much for faithfully being such an integral part of The Marin Foundation and our work in making systemic changes between two communities that only know one way of interaction—fighting within a culture war. I know the economy has been rough on all of us this past year, but I humbly ask that you please financially give to The Marin Foundation as we operate 100% off of your donations (securely via Pay-Pal through our website! No donation is too small, and know that each dollar you give is another dollar invested into God’s work—God’s same transforming work that 3 ½ years ago was laughed out of 641 Christian churches who didn’t believe a bridge could be built!

Upcoming Events:

Jan 10 Andrew Marin will be attending a training for Productive Prison Ministry, as The Marin Foundation gears toward partnering with local prison’s to reach the gay and lesbian community who are locked in jail.

Jan 17-18 Andrew Marin and members of The Marin Foundation team will be at Christ Community Church of Omaha in Nebraska.

Jan 20-23 The Marin Foundation team will be in Southern California consulting with various agencies, churches and organizations on how to implement The Marin Foundation’s bridge building work.

Feb 10-13 Andrew Marin will speaking 3 times (part of a General Session and two workshops) at the National Pastors Convention in San Diego, CA—hosted by Zondervan Publishers and InterVarsity Press. For more information please visit:

Feb 14-15 Andrew Marin will be speaking at the Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh, PA. For more information please visit

Feb 21 Andrew Marin will be giving an all day training on Bridge Building to the Elders of Willow Creek.

March 6-8 Andrew Marin will be speaking at the Dallas, TX Urban Youth Workers Institute RELOAD. For more information please visit

March 14 Andrew Marin will be giving an all day training at the United Church of Christ St. Louis Area Pastors Gathering.

April 2009 The official release of Love Is An Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community (InterVarsity Press). Pre-orders are currently being taken at

***2008 Donations will continue to be accepted through January 9, 2009***

Participate Now Online in our Current Research Study

You can now anonymously participate in the largest national research study ever done in the GLBT and religious communities, Religious Acculturation within the GLBT Community, through our website at
We have 49/50 states who have participated, and we still need participation in South Dakota. Though participation from any State is still desired as well!

God Bless and Much Love.
Andrew Marin

Monday, December 29, 2008

Go Get It

This is a picture of the famous American author and philosopher Henry D. Thoreau. Ok, so he's not a good looking dude ... but none the less he had some really challenging and thought provoking things to say throughout his life. I have a magnet on my refrigerator with a quote of his:

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined."

What an inspiring word for all of us. I was given that magnet by my mom during my rehab after my baseball career was ended by a sixth concussion that resulted in serious brain damage (I'll eventually expand on this in another post). My left frontal lobe didn't work. There were no synapses firing, I had no short term memory, no word retrieval skills, no speech fluency and the right side of my body was disabled. The neurologists said that I was legally mentally retarded with the brain capacity of a 9 year-old at 20. The doctors told my family that I would stay that way because the likely-hood of a full recovery was very slim.

Miracles happen. God is the I am. And I hoped for hope that one day I would again see the Lord's will completed in my life because all of my dreams were shattered in one moment during a practice on my home university's baseball field May 1, 2001. I hung onto Romans 5: 3-5 throughout the seven months of intensive brain rehab and physical therapy, working so hard to reclaim a normal way of life that I no longer knew - and didn't know if I could ever regain:

Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

And besides that passage, I frequently looked at Thoreau's words because I knew the Lord longed for me to live the life I've imagined, because my dreams were only His dreams for me. I thought those dreams were baseball, as I was one small step away from playing in the pros. And among everything that happened after my accident, I daily, and faithfully busted my hump and went confidently in the direction I felt the Lord was leading me. The Bible is the ultimate story of redemption - something the Lord longs for all of us.

We all have the ability and the power through our Father to live the life we've imagined in God. Go confidently, go faithfully, dream big and go get it!

Much love.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thoughts on Obama and Warren

In light of the Pope controversy yesterday and it being Christmas Eve today, I wanted to link you all to a friend of mine, Scot McKnight, who wrote a brilliant post about Obama's choice to have Rick Warren give the invocation. His post is by far and away the most level-headed, well thoughtout commentary I've seen. Be blessed by his words and insights. You can read his post here.

Have a Merry Christmas.

Much love.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Pope's Comments about Homosexuality (revised)

The BBC News reported today that, in his year-end speech to the senior Vatican staff, the Pope stated that gender theory blurs the distinction between male and female and could thus lead to the self-destruction of the human race (click here and here for two versions of the story.)

Throughout his speech the Pope threw out various (and classical) intellectual jargon surrounding the topic of homosexuality—“language of creation”, “metaphysics speaking of the nature of the human person” and “gender theory.” All in all he ultimately stated how same-sex behaviors go against the Creator’s intent. I understand the Pope is an intelligent man; otherwise he wouldn’t have been voted to lead the hundreds of millions of people who are a part of the Catholic faith all over the world. Yet his language regarding homosexuality seems to be stuck in a place from decades ago. It seems as though the Pope has not given any thought to, or struggled with, a further understanding of what it means (and how it looks) to draw gay and lesbian people to Christ—through a faith that encompasses a true come-as-you-are culture.

His, and many other Christian’s (Catholic or otherwise) mindset is for the GLBT community to be fixed when they enter the door…or fixed before they enter the door…or fixed on the Christian’s timetable…or conditionally accepted as a child of God only when certain things occur. There is a clear distinction between validation and affirmation, and yet many Christians (seemingly what includes the Pope as well in this scenario) do not see these two constructs as independent of the other.

No no no my friends. Although the Pope was attempting to make the point that sexuality is a creation issue and not a political or philosophical issue, his tact, again, is not up to par coming from a man who is suppose to set the forerunning tone as an example for all other Catholics—and Christians in general.

As a great friend brought up, the Apostle Paul reminds us that the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. And with that in mind, what is the Pope doing other than talking—and ticking off A LOT of GLBT people around the world? What is he winning for Christ with gays and lesbians by just talking? What is the Pope doing to build a peaceful and productive bridge by tangibly reaching out to gays and lesbians to show them what and who Christ is—not just standing from a podium telling folks what Christ wants them to do. And if this is the example the Catholic leader sends, how can he (or we, or the gay community) expect any Christian to do otherwise? We (and the gay community) can’t.

Although I do not have a same-sex attraction, I have looked at myself as a part of the GLBT community for the past 9 years as I have been unconditionally loved and welcomed with open arms to live life with all of the people who do—regardless of my, or their, difference in theology with one another. Even I am offended by the Pope’s heavily tread argument. I actually don’t know if I can call it an “argument.” How about this: instead I’ll say that, “even I am offended by his classic use of overly debated, traditional language and theories surrounding GLBT and religious issues that have already proven themselves to not build a bridge, nor draw gays and lesbians closer to God.” It’s as if both sides are still convinced that eventually they’ll systemically convince the other that their belief is right. How long must this false ideal persist?

I believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God. I know many gays and lesbians and people with a same-sex attraction that believe the same. I also know many on both sides who don’t think that’s a valid statement as interpretational issues have tainted the original intent of Scripture. Yet there is a way to make room for uncomfortable conversations and places in which people have differing theological belief systems—and yet something significant can still happen for the Kingdom—together. We all don’t have to agree on every doctrinal issue, but the least any of us can do is to willfully reach across the divide and welcome another into knowing what it means to really know Jesus. Does the Pope believe that? Does the Pope want to reach across the divide and listen, learn, not judge, not condemn but rather measurably love the GLBT community without knowing the end result? I don’t know. From his words and his lack of actions I am leaning towards an answer of “no.” But maybe I’ll be proven wrong? I hope I’ll be proven wrong! As I always say, we all have until our last breathe to accomplish what the Lord has set out for our lives—and that includes the Pope as well. :)

I’m not asking the Pope to change his beliefs to something he'll never believe in, I’m just asking him to consider what it means to productively, peacefully, boldly and intentionally build a bridge to the GLBT community.

The wholistic message of the Bible is how believers are to live in relation to, and relationship with the world and all that make it up—not to save humanity from anything except by tangibly ushering humanity to the Eternal King and Judge to let Him do as He said He would—bring love and redemption to those that seek Him out. As a Christian community, I plead that each of you reading this would go out of your way today (especially in this Christmas season) to call, email or talk to someone you know in the GLBT community and tell them, as a believer in Christ, that you love them with all that you are and long to see them know Jesus—no strings or conditions attached.

Much love.

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Top 17 Things of 2008

Why is it the Top 17 things you might ask? Well, I couldn’t settle on just 15.

17. Live Danity Kane concert

16. Love Lockdown by Kanye West

15. Dark Knight Movie

14. The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs

13. David Cook winning American Idol

12. Chicago Cubs great regular season (let’s just forget about the playoffs—please!)

11. The entertaining Presidential Election and the subsequent Saturday Night Live spoofs

10. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Movie

9. Adventures in Missing the Point by Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo

8. Body of Lies Movie

7. Gas prices lowering back into the stratosphere

6. Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw

5. Being the Friday night General Session speaker at all of the Youth Specialties National Conventions

4. Having the humbled honor of officiating 2 of my friend’s weddings (including my best friend’s wedding held in a Chateau in Southern France—and then getting stuck in the airport in Paris for 17 hours)

3. The birth of my God-daughter, Addie Overgard

2. Wrote and finished editing my first book—Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community...IT'S NOW ON AMAZON FOR PRE-SALE!!!!!

1. My 1 year wedding anniversary

Can’t wait for 2009!

Merry Christmas as our Savior came to love and forgive.

Much love.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Too Funny For Real...

A good friend of mine, Marko (who is the President of Youth Specialties), posted this video on his blog last month. It is the funniest thing I've seen in forever. Please click here and watch it! I was laughing out loud (to myself) for a good 5 minutes.

Much love.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

A good friend of mine Ramiro Medrano gave me, for my birthday, two tickets to the Chicago premier (private screening) of Brad Pitt’s new movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The screening was at 8pm on my birthday (the 16th), and lucky for me the weather was horrible that day. Therefore due to inclimate weather, my wife unfortunately couldn’t go to work that day….bummer. :)

We had a great time hanging out, and capped of the night with this extravagant event. I didn’t really know what to expect with the movie. Yes, it has gotten some really good reviews—but from my experience “movie reviewers” only love movies that I generally can't stand. So my hopes weren’t too high for this one.

But I have to tell you that I was gripped every single second of its 2 ½ hours. I’ll admit it, by the end of the movie I was bawling like a baby. In fact, I could hardly find our car in the parking garage because I was crying so hard. I don’t know if any of you dudes out there have ever seen The Notebook—well it was kind of like that (and yes, I cried like a baby at the end of that one too). The quick summary is that Benjamin ages in reverse of the average human. That’s all I’m going to give.

I don’t know who thinks of movie plots, but most of them seem to be copy-cat plots with some little changes here or there. Benjamin Button was the most original thing I’ve ever seen (this movie was adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book of the same name written in 1922). I felt like I was getting punched in the gut over and over again as the movie went on—and yet they were able to inject the perfect amount of humor at just the right spots when you thought you couldn’t take any more emotional pull.

Let me just say that this movie impacted me a GREAT DEAL. It was a thoughtful exposé on the continuum (and constantly moving ways) of life, death and fate (or the not-so-subtle undertow of the unique ways God clearly) weaves lives together independent and interdependent of each other. The will to continue living—and the strength to start over again when life doesn’t work out—was brought out in this movie more then any other I think I have ever seen.

If you’re brave enough, you should see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But before you do, stock up on Kleenex and be sure your emotions are at 100% charged, because you’re going to use every single one of them from the first minute to the last.

Much love.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Need to Lose Weight!

This is going to be my first entry letting everyone know how fat I feel. After just getting off of my brand new scale (that I bought just for this fun adventure) I weight 259.5 lbs! That’s right, I weight like 260. Wow. By far and away this is the fattest I’ve ever been. Let me explain—as I feel like I need to somehow justify my crazy weight gain:

1. This is in part due to my first year of marriage (really though, not so much)
2. I gained 21 lbs. in 7 weeks as I wrote my book
3. I gained another 6 lbs. editing my book in three weeks
4. I quit working out
5. I quit eating healthy
6. I decided wearing sweatpants was the best form of comfortableness, so I went with it

All together that adds up to a gain of 39.5 lbs over the last year. A couple weeks ago I had to break down and by some new pants because I can’t fit in any of mine. My sweet looking wardrobe has been serious stifled because I can’t really fit in any of my clothes either.

The question is, why now am I choosing to try to lose weight? I think now’s a good time to start changing my health because:

1. It’s before New Years, so technically this isn’t a New Years Resolution that I’ll end up failing at.
2. I’m tired of getting winded after walking up a couple stairs
3. My stomach gets in the way of me putting on my socks and tying my shoes
4. I’m embarrassed standing in front of so many people talking about being a distinct Christian when gluttony and being obese are both just as bad as any sin anyone could imagine.
5. But most of all, I’m not comfortable in my skin or with myself in this roly-poly state.

And since I’ve clearly not been able to lose weight on my own (or technically, even care about losing weight), I’ve decided to make it public. If nothing else, I’m going to totally embarrass myself in front of everyone if I don’t work hard and lose weight because I’m going to write a post about my progress every 3 weeks from here on out. I’m doing this like Diddy. He did his whole weight loss thing on MTV, and as far as I know, MTV has way more viewers then my blog. Plus, what about all of those people on the Biggest Loser? Would you get up on national TV in a pair of spandex with your fat hanging all over the place? No thank you. To spare you that thought, here are recent pictures of me in all of my glory. The first one is the day I turned my book in to my publisher. Minus the beard (that was an experiment gone wrong), my belly still looks the same.

And this second picture was taken Nov. 21, 2008 as I spoke at the Youth Specialties national convention in Nashville, TN. As you can see by my belly, even my trick-of-the-eye sweater isn’t hiding it too well. Drat!

Just in case you’re wondering, here’s the timeline of how I got so fat:

-I weighed 110 lbs. in 3rd grade (yeah, I was the fat kid for a while)
-Around 8th grade I came into my own … grew 4 inches and gained a lot of muscle.
-Playing three sports in high school helped a lot! I weighed about 185 throughout.
-Playing Division I baseball in college REALLY helped. I was 195 lbs. of solid, six-packed muscle—benched 315, squatted 450 and could do abs all day long. Ohhhh, how I long for those days!
-After I got hurt and my career was ended, I hovered around 210 (which was still healthy)
-Then I got tired of working out and so I quit. I shot up to about 225 pretty quick—where I have been for the majority of the last 4 or so years.
-When I got married on Nov 3, 2007 I was 230.
-From May 1-July 7, 2008 writing my book I went from 230 to 251.
-Then a couple more pounds here and there (because hey, when you’re already fat, who cares about a few more?)
-Finally, the three weeks I edited my book I went from 253.5 to 259.5.

And here we are today.

So here’s how I’m going to lose the weight:

1. Cut all of my food portions in half
2. Eat three meals a day (I have a problem with overeating, so when I start it’s hard to stop—I’m not one of those 6 small meal guys)
3. No pop or no dessert
4. Work out: Consisting of cardio, weights and then abs
What is my goal weight ... well, I'm not too sure. All I know is that I would love to get back down to my married weight first. So I'll say the first goal is to hit 230, and then we'll reassess. If all goes well, I would eventually love to get back down to about 210! :)

Hope it works! We’ll find out my progress on January 7, 2009.

Much love.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What Happens When you Dream Big and Fully Give Your Life to the Lord?

Crazy things like this happen:

(Picture of Andrew Marin speaking to a packed house at the NHL’s Nashville Predator’s arena at the Youth Specialties National Convention)

The word is getting out—the movement is happening—there will be a bridge built between the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and religious communities. All the Lord needs is just one person to believe it can happen. One person who is willing to give their life to the unknown. One person who cares more about living distinctly in God’s will then anything else. The Marin Foundation started with one person doing those exact things and it is growing with so many other “one persons” across the country who choose to live for God countercultural to what traditional secular or Christian means have ever known regarding homosexuality.

I never knew where any of this would have ever taken me—or us. But today, through our Heavenly Father giving The Marin Foundation team the drive and wisdom to push cultural bounds, we have been able to systemically start shifting the gay community and the church towards a place of peacefully understanding each other; coming to the table and being committed to not run no matter what—without ever knowing the end. As you read this, please commit with us in our unique work for the kingdom. The Marin Foundation has many opportunities for you to get involved, and we need your help in your own local community.

And also please, donate today to help our bridge building vision continue. The Marin Foundation runs 100% on charitable donations, and we literally could not continue without your spiritual and financial support. You can securely donate through Pay-Pal on our website at I know financial times are rough today, but any amount—no matter how small—is of the greatest significance to our work…God’s work.

Thank you so much for all that you spiritually, emotionally and financially give to seeing something happen that has never happened before!

Much love.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The “other” pink elephant in the middle of the room—Illinois Government

On the heals of GQ Magazine naming Chicago their City of the Year, our (I’m from, and live in Chicago) governor just got arrested by the FBI for trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat. Doesn’t surprise me one ounce. In fact, it has been common knowledge in Illinois that Rod Blagojevich has been under Federal investigation for months now. Can someone please tell me the thought process of how a man already under Federal investigation goes about making a decision to try to illegally sell the President-elect's Senate seat? As the Apostle Paul says:
"I say this to shame you..." (1 Cor. 6:5).
Let me make this clear:

I was one of the very, very few people in Chicago to NOT vote for Rod Blagojevich and his cronies.

Take for instance the other “winner” in my city's government: Todd Stroger. That nincompoop, along with good ol’ Rod, do nothing more then give their relatives 12% raises in the midst of an economic recession (can you blame Todd though, that’s how he got his job: from his dad! He just thinks that’s normal—and so does Mayor Richard Daly who was given his empire by his dad as well). Not only are family pay increases the usual, but these idiots also decided that it’s a great idea to raise Chicago’s sales tax to 10.25%...the highest in the United States of America! Are you kidding me?! That is over 1% higher then the next highest: New York City.

Where is the concern for the poor that they so boisterously claim to speak for? If they care so much about underserved and underprivileged people, why would they make everything more expensive for a group of people who already couldn't afford the previous cost of living?

How about Illinois' tollways—they get something like a million dollars a day in car tolls, and where does all that money go? Illinois gets multi-millions every week in the lottery, and where does all that money go? Why did Rod and Todd (sure sounds like they were made to work together, doesn't it?) have to drain our hard working teacher’s pension fund with IOU’s to pay for whatever they needed that couple billion to pay for? We still don’t know where that money is almost three years later!

Before his arrest, Rod’s approval rating was at 36%, and rightfully so. The problem is that most of Chicago—which accounts for a forth of Illinois’ total population—just vote along Democratic party lines. Why? Well, that’s just what Chicago does. We’re corrupt, everyone knows it, and hopefully this will finally be the catalyst to do something about it.

Don’t get me wrong—I LOVE CHICAGO. You’ll have to pry my dead cold body out of Chicago to get me to ever move anywhere else. I honestly believe that there is no better city in the world. We have clean streets and neighborhoods, we’re generally nice people who have found a good balance between the neuroticism of most of NYC and the sometimes too laid back ways of LA. We have a great tradition, amazing architecture, the country’s tallest building, and of course we have the Cubs! So much good, and yet one glaring bad—our ridiculous State government. I just hope Barack was able to escape the Chicago pull and doesn’t drain our country like so many despicable “leaders” have drained my city.

Much love.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Reflection of Writing a Book - Part 5

This morning I received the coolest email from my editor—it was my book in a proofed PDF, page-laid-out form. It included the Library of Congress catalog page, dedication page, acknowledgement page…the whole shebang. In fact, Dave (my editor) told me they’re sending it to the printer next week. HOW EXCITING! So here is my final reflection of everything I learned, summed up in a nice little paragraph:

Question: What were the overall lessons I learned most from this process?

I learned that writing is difficult and it takes time, patience and a lot of self-forgiveness. Writing cannot be rushed. It cannot be taken lightly, but it also cannot be take too seriously—hence the self-forgiveness. The thing that stuck out to me most throughout this process was that the moment I started to be nice to myself without constantly beating myself up for not getting x-amount of pages or chapters done in x-amount of time, was also the same moment that the Lord freed my mind to write and clearly think through the edits. And from there the words, pages, chapters and edits started to pour out of me. I finished the totality of what it is to get a book ready for publication in such a short time, not because I was pressured into it because of the quick deadline, but because I had something to say and eventually figured out how to provide myself with the optimal environment for success.

I think that writing isn’t so much about what to say, it’s more so about setting yourself up with the best place and opportunity to say it. For me, writing was an organic expereince; one that became environmental at its core. I knew what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. I just needed to give myself the proper environment, room and time to be able to do so. And that environement, room and time ended up being formulated by me being nice to myself, forgiving myself, clearing myself from technological distractions and as a great friend of mine Dr. John Fuder says: “Andy, know that you’re writing for Jesus!” As soon as I truly and honestly believed that statement, I was good-to-go! And the rest is now officially, history.

Much love.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Year End Reflection on my Weaknesses

As the end of 2008 continues to arrive quicker then I know what to do with, I wanted to reflect a little bit on what I’ve learned about myself. This past year has been a year of many firsts and big happenings:

-I got married
-I wrote and edited a book
-My Grandpa (who taught me what a humble, loving and hardworking man looks like) really digressed in his health—he now has full blown Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Please pray for my Grandma as she takes care of him everyday, as well as for restoration and peace as his life winds down.
-My organization grew almost 40% from last year even in the midst of bad economic times
-For the first time I was speaking around the country for a good majority of the year
-My best friend moved from Chicago to San Francisco
-My wife and I are remodeling our condo
-I started a blog—something I said I’d never do! :)
-And I’m still in Grad School…these classes just keep dragging on and on. Ugh.

With all of those major events happening in one year it seems like my mind has been in a constant whirlwind. I’m not one who likes change. I don’t like limbo either. And yet that seems to be the exact place the Lord continues to put me in day after day, month after month. So I can either flow with Him or not. As my Dad says, “When the Spirit moves, just move with it!” And that’s what I’m trying to do with an open spirit that doesn’t paralyze me into fearing what is uncomfortable. It’s funny for me, because my ‘uncomfortable’ is not the unknown. It’s not people crying, sharing their lives or deepest darkest secrets. My uncomfortable is not entering into a constructive place of tension and staying there without being able to give an answer. My uncomfortable is rearranging my living space. It’s moving into a new office or condo. It’s buying a TV or some new furniture. I don’t know if this means that my priorities are dead on, or they’re way off. But I do know that I for sure know what makes me queasy.

There have been quite a few highlights this past year, and I hope many of them are just the start for what is to come. But if I only focus on the good stuff I’ll never grow. Therefore I’m going to publically self-assess my own weaknesses and start to work on them. None of us are without weaknesses; drat those weaknesses! So here are my two major weaknesses:

1. Self-doubt in the midst of trying to do great things for the Lord
2. Always trying to please everyone

The more I think about it the more I start to realize that my self-doubt comes out of my will to please everyone. No, I cannot please everyone. This understanding that I truly can’t please (when I say please I mean: help, assist, accommodate, agree, etc) everyone makes me think that I’m letting people down. Therefore, since I am not constantly able to do all of those things I doubt my ability to then be able to accomplish God’s ultimate goal for my life. I try as hard as I can, as Paul says, “to be all things to all people” so as to draw them closer to the Lord. But my mind wants that Pauline lesson to be so literal that it starts to overtake my rational reasoning of what actually can and cannot be done. I am learning the hard way that I am human—one man—who can only do so much. Regardless of my cognitive understanding of my own limitations, the doubt not-so-subtly creeps in. A friend of mine always tells me, “If the devil can’t get you to do the wrong thing, he gets you to do too much of the right thing causing the same result.”

And that is the balance that I’m trying to find right now as I move forward in my life’s work—both in my writing as a ministry and my organization. I have only really become aware of, or should I say, been able to put a label on my weaknesses just recently. Therefore I have been intentionally working on them by learning how to set boundaries, and also learning how to say no. Both of those things are extremely hard for me to do. But none the less are the two things in my life right now that will greatly hinder me in building a sustainable life’s work without quickly burning out. And any buring out is not what I’m here to do—or be.

Much love.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A British take on Thanksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving I was graced with a phone call from a great friend of mine: Wendy Beech-Ward. Wendy works for Spring Harvest, she knows absolutely everyone and she’s British! Cool side story—her husband was the band manager for Boy George and the Culture Club. Just adds to her coolness doesn’t it…

Anyway, as we were talking about the future and some exciting possibilities between The Marin Foundation and the UK based Spring Harvest and Soul Survivor, she said something I never thought about before:

“Why do American’s celebrate the day that we [British] found the country?”

She said that jokingly, but either way it was an hilarious satirical comment coming from a Brit to an American guy who needs to be culturally pushed. I’ve never, ever thought about Thanksgiving from a British perspective before.

We hijacked their holiday! What's up with that? :)

Regardless, I’m thankful none the less.

Much love.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reflection of Writing a Book - Part 4

The editing process sucks. It was the worst thing I’ve had to do in a long, long time! Not only are all of your words, thoughts, experiences, insights and conclusions shredded by your editor, but then you have to somehow refocus on the broader task at hand and try to write it all again more succinctly to what makes clearer sense to the audience. My thought about that:

“I did write it clear to the audience the first time, you’re just not trying to understand what I’m saying.”

Wrong attitude. This just elongated my editing process, and it sure made it more painful.

I had no idea how to edit such a large piece of work. My editor’s suggestions were clear and I agreed with them for the most part, but I had the most difficult time trying to implement any of them because I knew in my head what he took out of the text. And for me in that moment, the only thing that made sense was the original full explanation of whatever I was talking about – not the diced up edited version. In my mind I couldn’t separate my original manuscript from the new edited version. It was too watered down; missing too much meat and substance. As I was going through the edits I kept thinking:

“But this would have made sense if you just kept it how I originally had it!”

Wrong attitude. This just elongated my editing process, and it sure made it more painful.

To seek help I called my editor, friends, family and other people I knew who have written books before. None of them seemed to be able to give me a piece of mind (not their fault, I just wasn’t able to receive any of their advice.) Then my ever intelligent uncle, Michael Dalton, spoke up in conjunction with a few others (mom, dad, wife), and they laid it down for me. They said that it’s my name that ultimately going to be on the book, and I better darn well be happy with every word no matter who says what about the content. “Start from scratch [from my original manuscript] and refine it how you see fit.”

It’s almost as if the huge gorilla sitting on my back jumped off and released me from the paralyzing burden of having to conform to “The Man’s Edits.” (sorry Dave ((he is my editor and he reads this)): it wasn’t you, it was me.) And from that point of realization I was free to take what Dave suggested and carve that into a new, sculpted, and way better version of my original manuscript.

Although I might have felt free, the book writing/editing process didn’t change from my original experience: it was still the most constricting project I’ve ever done. In two, 60-hour periods of time (that is 3 days a piece, or 6 days total, for those who don’t like math), I only slept 3 hours per 60 hours. The crazy part was that I wasn’t even tired! I was so engulfed and immersed, reliving each word and story as I did when I originally wrote them down, that time flew by. An hour seemed like a minute and a day seemed like an hour. But I busted my hump and worked hard; harder than I ever worked before. I thought writing a whole book in 7 weeks was rough … how about editing a whole book in 3? Ouch! And I have to deeply thank the folks who gave me their comments and feedback on the edits:

Peter Marin
Eric Leocadio
Dr. Becky Kuhn
Kristen Sifers
Tim Otto
Dr. Jim Coakley

Brian McLaren
and especially my main man Dave Zimmerman – it’s all good in the hood brotha!

It’s done. It’s totally and utterly done and I can’t wait for you all to read it. So here is my next lesson learned:

Editing sucks. It takes HUGE amounts of time and it needs to be treated with the same respect that was given to the writing process. I totally underestimated the severe levels of difficultly that editing brings.

Please don’t make the same mistake because your life will be terrible for significant periods of time. I hated my life because I hated the editing process. It was too daunting and too overwhelming to squeeze into short periods of time. But I learned and grew a ton; and totally and utterly confident and excited for every word that has become Love Is an Orientation. I do know this much though, I’ll never read another, or look at another book in the same fashion!

One more thought – none of what I said was to ever rip on InterVarsity Press. I love them. I love my editor. I can’t wait to do more with them. They are my family, for real! They made this whole process go as smooth as possible. My reflections are just the internal dialogue and battle I faced within myself throughout this journey. And I can’t wait to share that journey with you through the book.

Much love.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Heart Haters (Or at least I try)

So I guess I couldn’t just go off quietly into the holidays now that I actually have some free time post-book editing. I’ll post about that in the upcoming days, but let me just tell you I went on a couple 60 hour stretches where I only got anywhere from 2-4 hours per sleep per 60 hour stretch … total! Ouch.

Anyway, something I want to talk about during this time of Thanksgiving is my ‘haters.’ I don’t understand haters. I don’t get them or why they’re so vicious. I don’t know why they think they have the right to say whatever they want, however malicious and/or false. In fact what I’ve learned is that about 99% of the people who talk trash about me have:

1. Never met me
2. Never heard me speak
3. Don’t care to try to do either #1 or #2

I had one such person at my last workshop in Nashville. He came in 40 minutes late, sat in the very last seat in the very last row in the furthest possible corner in the ballroom I was conducting my workshop in, and then he decided it would be a good idea to start yelling at me from the back of the ballroom. Who does that? Obviously this inconsiderate guy who didn’t care enough to show up on time, nor did he care enough to stay after for the 3 hour impromptu Q&A I had. In fact, we ended up getting kicked out of our ballroom because it went on to long … so we just found another room and kept it going! All of which that guy was no where to be found.

Shocker! (and I’m saying “shocker” in the absolute most sarcastic tone I possibly can!) Here’s the point: He didn’t want to stay around. He just wanted to yell. He didn’t want to dialogue. He didn’t want to listen, learn or understand anything but his nasty close-minded point of view on a topic that he probably doesn’t know a darn thing about. And I’m sure he got every ounce of satisfaction he was looking for. Good for him as he then, like a snake, slithered out of the back of the ballroom like the coward he entered, and the coward he left.

But that’s how haters operate.

And slowly but surely am I getting to realize that first hand. I take everything personally, I always have. But where the Lord is really working on me these days is to understand that those attacks are not against me, but rather against his work through me. Either way it’s still totally foreign to me. Though in this Thanksgiving time I must say that I am prayerfully trying with all I am to be thankful for my haters and for those who totally and utterly disagree and don’t understand (or want to understand) anything I’m about.

A good friend of mine and I were sitting in a restaurant in Miami in between workshops I was conducting when one such hater scenario played itself out in real time as we ate our sandwiches. Because of that situation he wrote a blog post on his feelings on the differences between a hater and a critic. It’s brilliant; and it’s something that I have truly been taking to heart. I hope you enjoy it as well. Thanks for your insight Dave!

So as I am thankful for many beautiful things this season – my new wife of just over 1 year, my family, friends, those in The Marin Foundation, and those all across the country who are reaching out to do significant things for the kingdom between the GLBT and religious communities. Just the same I also have to be thankful for my haters as the Lord literally loves them just as much as he loves me.

Much love.

I'm Back

Hello everyone! It's official....

Love Is an Orientation is officially done, turned in and ready to go to print!

I'm back now, no longer 'off the grid.' Thanks for hanging in there with me over the last couple of weeks while I struggled to get everything done with total and full confidence in every word that I wrote - and all that I represent as a bridge builder for our heavenly father.

I want to wish everyone a happy and thanful Thanksgiving and I'll be posting on my recent adventures starting again on Monday.

Much love.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Youth Specialites Pitt

Before I go off the grid, I wanted to briefly talk about the last YS national convention held in Pittsburgh. I have to say that everything I said during Sacramento held true again! What a blessed and humbled weekend I had. But there was one glaring difference between the two cities:

As my friend Margaret Feinberg so elequently said to me before I took the general session stage - this region is more stoic in general, and therefore probably won't be as enthusiastic as what happened in Sacramento, especially around the topic of homosexuality.

Thank God she told me that! I was able to prepare my mindset before I went on, and indeed Margaret's words proved correct. It took me almost 10 minutes into my talk until the crowd started to loosen up a little bit and listen to what I had to say. As Marko, the President of YS put it,

"I noticed you threw a little more evangelical stuff in there tonight (vs. Sacramento) to relate to where the crowd was at."

What an observant guy ... that's why I love YS soooo much! They care enough to notice subtlties, and it makes all the difference in the world.

As for my talkback session and workshops, I once again stayed hours upon hours after each of them to answer every person's question. I love that more than anything else! My whole philosophy is that people pay good money to come to conferences, and I HAVE to make myself as accessable as I possibly can because what good is someone who talks and then darts off into their own little corner because they don't want to be bothered?!

Unfortunetly that is the norm, and I hate when speakers (especially the big timers) do such a thing. If it weren't for all of the people, those famous speakers wouldn't be famous ... so show respect! Anyway, I never want to be that type of person so I will always and forever make myself accessable because that is what the Lord has asked me to do!!! [For a point of clarification, I am NOT talking about any of the Friday speakers I had the privledge to be around. Margaret Feinberg and Soong-Chan Rah stayed, as I did, and answered every single person's question. They are legitimate people, and I truly love them to death! I hope that one day each of you will be able to hear their words and hearts for the Lord].

Enough of my little rant: The major thing that I noticed in the talkback and workshops in comparrison to Sacramento was that many of the people (inquisitive as they were), were coming from a completely different starting point. In as much as I could, I expected this because the topic of homosexuality isn't quite at the forefront of any headlines in Pittsburgh, Ohio, Kentucky, etc. from that region of the country. But the heart's of those in attendence were no less eager and yearning to see a bridge built to their gay and lesbian youth!!!!!

And to everyone who attended YS Pittsburgh, thanks for the questions and the heart to start this unique joureny together. I love you all so much!

Much love.

Off the Grid


I'm going off the grid for a few days (maybe a week). Next week my final edits for Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community, are due!

And when I say final edits I mean:

-This is it for real
-No more changes once I turn it in this one last time
-Final, final, final version of everything
-No more take-backs
-What I turn in is what you'll be reading when you buy it

And while I might be gone, I am going to be speaking at Park City Baptist Church in Dallas and then off to Los Angeles for the next of The Coalition's bridge building events in Southern California. Here is the promo flyer:

So if you're in Southern California come on out - it's open to the public. Here's a description:
“Building Bridges Between the GLBT Community and the Faith Community”
What happens when Bible-believing Christians get together with gays and lesbians … or gay Christians? Can something peaceful and productive happen for the Kingdom or does this relationship always have to centralize itself around the same old fights, arguments and debates? This large-group, day long training will intentionally bring these topics to the forefront as we discover what it means to learn, listen and understand our way through the culture war of GLBT-Christian relations. While being able to recognize a difference in theology, Elevating the Conversation will teach you the theory, practice and application on how to effectively build a bridge between the gay and lesbian and Christian communities in order to make a significant in Southern California from this day forward.

November 15th, 2008 9am - 2pm

Evergreen Baptist Church
1255 San Gabriel Blvd
Rosemead, CA 91770

CostPre-Registration $15 (Deadline - November 11th) On Site Registration $20 (includes all training and lunch)

Register online or by calling 800-734-8994
See you all soon.
Much love.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

I voted this morning.

It’ll be an interesting night not only for our nation, but also here in Chicago (Barack Obama’s setting up camp in Grant Park about a mile away from where I live – they are expecting about 650,000 people in attendance tonight).

More importantly, it’ll be an interesting next 4 years – whoever wins.

And regardless of whoever wins the election I know that the Body will need to rise up, together, and live faithfully.

Focusing on the Father and not the Flag.

The Lord has entrusted us with the responsibility to be a flesh representation of Him here on earth while our time lasts, and thus, our charge has clearly been defined as Followers of the Way – not the President – well before or well after November 4th, 2008.

Be Bold.

Much love.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gay Marriage

With the election coming up, and the vote in California for Prop 8 - otherwise known as the gay marriage bill - I have been receiving a lot of emails wondering my take on the whole issue. My bridge building goal is to elevate the conversation between the GLBT community and the Church, and so here it is:

Recently I was being interviewed on a national radio show and the host retold a story about speaking at a political rally outside of a courthouse. The rally was geared toward the fight to protect the institution of traditional biblical marriage. As he was walking toward the park where the rally was being held he noticed a not so subtle pack of GLBT protesters roped off across the street screaming at anyone seemed to be going in the rally’s general direction. The protesters held up cleaver signs in support of gay marriage and called the passer-bys names; dubbing them “religious right bigots.” The host went on to talk about “the gay agenda” in broad, non-specific generalizations; an “evil agenda” that has such a strong controlling influence that it poisons the minds of the GLBT community. His conclusion was that “rank and file” gays and lesbians blindly perpetuate political and religious upheaval around the country. “They [gays and lesbians] don’t even know what they’re doing. They just do it because every other gay and lesbian is doing it.”

I don’t know if I heard him right or not, but it sure sounded like he was blaming an agenda for brainwashing individual people’s actions. And I swear that is the exact same accusation the gay agenda folks blame the religious right for doing to Christians. During this particular interview and the next six interviews I gave, each host told me that the gay agenda was the single driving force of hatred towards evangelical Christians.

I’ve caught on to the pattern and this whole thing is ridiculous. All this talk of agendas is now officially wasting everybody’s time.

One of the main fighting points is over the legalization of gay marriage. Christian parents all over the country are already forced to have difficult conversations with their children about why their kid’s friends have two moms or two dads—regardless if the two moms or two dads are legally married or not.

In research done by The Williams Institute and the Urban Institute, more than 65,000 adopted children are living with gay or lesbian parents in the United States. The same research also showed that over 14,000 foster children (3% of all foster children) are living with gay or lesbian foster parents.

Preventing legalized same sex marriage, or legalizing it, is not going to change the conversation for any Christian family.

As Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw acknowledge in their book Jesus for President, we find ourselves in a fallen world that dominates government and culture in ways that are not of our Father. It is not the Christian community’s responsibility to govern a world that we do not belong to; fight in wars that are in direct opposition to Jesus’ peaceful, non-violent approach; or reign over a government we are not a part of.

"For Jesus and his followers, the central question was, How do we live faithfully to God? It [the central question] was not How do we run the world as Christians … how do I run this profit-driven corporation as a Christian … how can we make culture more Christian … how would a responsible Christian run this war. But Jesus taught that his followers—or even the Son of God!—should not attempt to “run the world” (p. 167).

Let the politically active have what the politically active think belongs to them. Christians should think in God’s terms, not in human terms.

"Caesar could brand with his image coins, crowns, and robes, which moths would eat and rust would destroy. But life and creation have God’s stamp on them. Caesar could have his coins, but life is God’s. Caesar had no right to take what is God’s. We are also reminded that just as Caesar stamped his image on coins, God’s image is stamped on human beings." (p. 117)

The political world means too much to Christianity, and people mean too little. Love is a tangible and measurable expression of one’s unconditional behaviors towards another; it’s not a legalized rule written into governmental documents.

And whether or not gay marriage is politically accepted or denied, it still should not change how we as Christians live in relation to and relationship with, anyone who is gay or lesbian.

Much love.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Prayer for the Faithful

Thank you Lord for this opportunity to Be;
For this opportunity to be Yours.

Our prayers, wants, hopes and desires –

We pray them knowing what we pray and the end result we yearn to see,
but can never know or understand the Kingdom ramifications of how You are going to get those simple, yet passionate and heartfelt eternal prayers accomplished.

Because what is in our head never seems to play itself out how we ourselves think it so.

Our direct points from A to B, might end up A to B looped through C to Z, backtracked to M and on to O; followed by P and back to E ending in where our original B prayer landed us.

And you do it because you respect us,
and deem our prayer worthy to the best that only You know how to accomplish it –

fully; and thoroughly lived out as only You can grant Your follower their Kingdom passions.

Therefore Father:

Let us be who you need us to be.
Let us do what you need us to do.
Let us go where you need us to go.
Let us work how you need us to work.
Let us live how you need us to live.
Let us speak how you need us to speak.
Let us feel what you need us to feel.
Let us follow how you need us to follow.
Let us lead how you need us to lead.
Let us learn what you need us to learn.

Whatever those words mean to you, and whatever that will look like for me and my life –

take me; take us.

Take all of us – however You see it to the optimal expression of our Spirit’s prayers.
And take all of us to truly, tangibly and as real as we possibly can:

Live out Your will on earth as it is in Heaven.

Thank you and Praise you Holy Father.
In Jesus precious name;

Much love.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Top 10 Favorite Movies

In alphabetical order:

A Christmas Vacation
Austin Powers 2: The Spy who Shagged Me
Christmas Story
Happy Gilmore
Jurassic Park 1
Passion of the Christ
So I Married an Axe Murderer (This is actually my FAVORITE movie of ALL TIME!!!)
Star Wars Trilogy – the old school versions (I know that’s three movies but I’m just going to count them as one)
The Last Samurai

So what do you think of my choices? Any I left out, or, any of those I love that you absolutely hate (don’t worry; I’ll try not to take it personally and then hate you because you don’t agree with me).


Much love.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Speaking at Youth Specialties Sacramento - Part 2

And the conclusion to YS Sacramento ...

During the general session (GS) I started talking about my story, my unique experiences and how the broader Christian community has intentionally run away from any type of constructive tension that pushes us to cause growth when it comes to building bridges with the gay and lesbian community. I don’t want to give my GS all away … I don’t want to give away my quotes, my stories and the whole talk because then why would anyone want to come to the next two? So you’ll just have to live with that summary for right now!

As I was standing on a 7x7 stage, that was surrounded by thousands of people in a circular fashion on all sides, talking about homosexuality and the Church you could sense the crowd’s tension easing a little bit a few minutes into everything, not necessarily because I was saying what they wanted to hear, but because they found themselves strangely and uniquely gravitating to being able to in some small way relate to me as a straight evangelical man who was a former Bible-banging homophobe who was thrown in the middle of a crazy life because the Lord deemed it so. In fact, I actually got a few claps – the crowd still dumbfounded, but a few none the less. :)

My time flew by and I had no idea what just happened or the impact (or lack their-of) until my talk-back session after the GS. The talk-back session is what follows all GS’s where the GS speaker goes into a separate room and answers questions for an hour (and my talk back session was held in conjunction with 2 other GS speakers as well).

About 300 people showed up! And as soon as I said I didn’t have an agenda for what to talk about other than to answer questions 100 hands shot up. Sweet! I love questions. (I came to find out afterward from one of the YS staff that what happened during my talk back session had never happened before at any other event). Not only did a ballroom full of people show up, but it’s not like I had anywhere else to go so I told everyone I’d just stay until all the questions were answered.

And then we all got kicked out at 1am by a security guard! That was the theme for all of my experiences throughout the weekend.

My first workshop was at 8am that morning (thanks YS for the great scheduling on that one!). I thought I was screwed because I just spent 3 hours answering everyone’s questions, and, Question: who in their right mind (besides me because I was contractually obligated to do so) would wake up at the butt-crack of dawn to go to an 8am workshop on homosexuality after I just spend 3 extra hours with everyone? Answer: about 200 more people who tried to pack into a room fit for 67. People sat on the floor around me and beside me, people sat out in the hallway, wherever they could. I WAS SHOCKED! In going with the theme, another 70 or so hands shot up for questions, and once again, since I had nothing else to do I just stayed and answered all of them – for 3 ½ more hours!

Oh, and it didn’t stop there. My next workshop was on Sunday afternoon, and after the convention buzz about the GS, the talk back and the first workshop, YS moved me to a large ballroom (picture to the right). Another 300 or so people showed up to that one as well. And just the same, I stayed almost 2 hours after to keep answering questions.

My main point to all of this has nothing to do with the numbers. I would have done the same for 5 people. The main point though, is truly about the sheer numbers of people who:

1) Stayed hours after each session trying to process all of this new paradigm bridge building theology in real time, not knowing where they’re going to end up, but realizing that it needs to happen!!!

2) Those who pulled me to the side while I was walking in the hotel or the convention center needing to ask more questions because they had continued to wrestle with, think and about and challenge themselves while processing this new info well after the sessions and the Q&As were over.

And there is absolutely nothing more then I could ever asked for from anyone.

Throughout the weekend I was so tremendously humbled by everything. I was so tremendously shocked for how I (and the topic) were received. I was so tremendously encouraged by the number of church leaders from all over the country who gathered to purposefully enter into a difficult conversation without knowing where it would go. And I was so tremendously blessed to be a part of the greatest conference experience I have ever been a part of – not because YS treats both their speakers and attendees totally first class (which they do), but because of the mass amounts of hungry youth workers who face the gay-religious-mainstream disconnect every day of their life without any help, knowing the church can’t move forward until this topic is handled in the right way. What a great God we have, and what great followers He has produced.

I can’t wait for Pittsburgh at the end of the month.

Much love.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Youth Specialites Weekly Devotional featuring Andrew Marin

This podcast, #1386029, (go to Episode #10) is the Youth Specialties Weekly Devotional that was just released:

"This week Adam McLane shoots on location in Chicago. First, Jason Raitz from Willow Creek gives some training tips for those who oversee small group leaders. Next, Andrew Marin shares a devotional about the prayers of those called to lead."

My new family Adam McLane and Cathy Nerenberg came to Chicago to film it (the dull noise in the background of the video is my building getting tuck-pointed), and while they were here we went to the world famous Ann Sather's for breakfast, and got in some great hang time at my condo and on my roof. Speaking of the roof, you can see the view from it to the left; and poor Cathy is scared to death of heights! Adam, Cathy and I totally hit it off while in Sacramento - and now we're quite the trio to mess with!!! Watch out world!!!

Much love.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Refelction of Writing a Book - Part 3

I get this question a lot: Where did you write your book?

The first 2 weeks were spent writing at my home during the day. But the problem was that I was so nervous to write even one word because I ultimately knew other people were going to read them. And because of that I paralyzed myself. In order then, to take my mind off of everything I would turn the TV on, I would check my email, I would call people … anything I could do to distract myself from the pressure I felt to have to write a ‘generation changing’ book in 7 weeks. Then one night it was really late I was wide awake and decided to start writing.

I wrote and wrote and wrote from about 10pm-6am and it was just flowing out of me (this also coincided with the condensing of my outlines). I wrote 23 pages that first night and I was ecstatic! I realized that in the middle of the night no one is awake so I can’t call anyone, can’t email anyone, can’t watch any Cubs games on TV; I could just write with no distractions.

That was the most freeing realization I ever had! From that moment on I totally flipped my sleep/writing schedule upside down. I would write until about 6am or so each night, wake up about 4pm, wait for my wife Brenda to come home from work at about 5pm, we would have dinner and then I would kiss her goodbye and go to Chicago’s only 24-hour Starbucks underneath the world famous Chicago's Second City Theater at North Ave. and Wells St. Then from about 6pm until whenever I felt like stopping, I would write in one of those big and comfortable leather chairs that Starbucks has. Peaceful. Productive. Wonderful. My middle-of-the-night Starbucks writing time was just what I needed to escape and get away from everyone and everything for those 5 remaining weeks so I could concentrate without distractions. I thank God for that 24 hour Starbucks. It was quite, no one was ever really there from 1am-5am, everyone kept to themselves and like catching lightning in a bottle, I wrote my entire book in 5 weeks in the middle of the night at a Starbucks.

Knowing what I know now I still believe I had to flip my life schedule in order to get this book done. Not optimal, but essential. But, and this is the gracious big but, I’m looking forward to learning from this experience for book #2. I realized throughout my writing that I need silence, I need to be left alone and I need big chunks of time to write as I am not one of those people who can write a paragraph here and there. But I also know for next time though, I don’t have to flip my life schedule because of everything I learned from this first book. I feel confident enough now, that I can tackle another daunting project like this first one during the day instead of at night. I would like a life and be able to write a book; not just write a book.

Lesson #3: Learn what works best for you in regards to your writing environment and style and stick with it. It might not happen at first, but the more consistent you are the easier it becomes.

Much love.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Speaking at Youth Specialties Sacramento - Part 1

The name Youth Specialties (YS) carries a lot of weight with it. For good or bad, any big organization constantly gets both hated on and praised for their work and successes. There are some people out there who have nothing better to do then to try and discredit and rip apart people/organizations for no other reason because they have made something out of themselves. YS falls into that category. But as many in the ‘spotlight’ tell me, it comes with the territory. And with that, YS totally understands who they are, what they’re all about and the mass audience they command (YS averages anywhere between 13,000 – 21,000 people throughout their 3 national conventions each year).

So I’d be lying if I said I expected them to ask me to be a General Session (GS) speaker. I’d be lying even more if I said that I also expected them to ask me to be a GS speaker at all 3 of their national conventions! I was shocked. Why … a number of things which include the following:

I am 27 years old

I talk about homosexuality in a very non-traditional way

I am not pro-gay or ex-gay

I don’t have a book (not released, anyway)

I’m not super famous (PS – it’s like the only folks who get to grace a YS main stage session are big … real big, with a big following – and I am not that)

And I am reletively new to the public speaking "circut"

I am not anything that, from what I had previously gathered, YS was ever looking for. Not looking for, that was, until Marko (the President of YS) told me why they asked me to speak 4 times per convention. As he said in his introduction of me during the Friday night GS in Sacramento this past weekend:

“YS has looked for, and thought really hard for many years in how to address the topic of homosexuality. And in each idea we never found the right person or the right method to do such a thing. But I think our [YS] inability to talk about homosexuality has said more, loud and clear, then if we were to have ever talked about it. But we have found the person … “

Talk about setting the tone and the expectation for what I was going to be talking about?!

I wouldn’t have had it any other way because not only did it grip the thousands of people sitting in the audience, but it gave the intentionality this topic deserves in conservative/evangelical/ecumenical/middle of the road/swaying left/Christian/Catholic/general religious circles that it utterly deserves these days!

(even though I needed a big dose of Zanax while I was sitting in my hotel room before-hand totally doing the freak). Just a side note about why I was doing the freak …

Every person (past YS speakers and YS staff as well) I asked about the vibe and environment I was going to be walking into told me the same thing: “I have no idea how they’ll react, good luck and stick it to ‘em!” OH, isn’t that comforting?

When I got up on that stage the tension and uncertainty in that large convention ballroom was so thick it could have been cut with a flimsy feather – I mean we’re not even talking about solidly constructed butter knives!

And thus I started talking.

To be continued ….

Much love.

Friday, October 17, 2008

October 17, 1997

October 17th is quite a day for me. I’m sitting at O’Hare airport right now on my way to Tampa with a gigantic pain in my soul. In fact right now I’m starting to sweat even thinking about it.

October 17, 1997: one of my really close friends, Alli, got killed in a car accident. She and two other friends were driving and a drunk driver ran a red light at 90 mph and hit them square. Everyone, including the passenger in the drunk driver’s car were killed instantly … except the drunk driver himself. We were juniors in high school and it was the day before homecoming. I had the hugest crush on her, I looked up to her brother as a hero of mine and I loved her little sister and her mom and dad.

I call her family every year still on this day. What do you say – hey, how’s today treating you? There’s not much to say other than I love them with all that I am, always have and always will. I still visit Alli’s grave when I get out to the suburbs, and her picture is hanging on the grave. I look at the picture and talk to her, like she’s still here. It’s been so long, yet I remember every moment of how and when I found out as clearly as I am sitting here right now … and then to carry Alli’s casket from the church to the hearse to the grave is one of the most humbling moments of my life.

I’m not going to make this long nor am I going to gush about the time we had together. All I want is for everyone who reads this to do just one thing for me – don’t get behind a wheel of a car after drinking. I’m 27 now, and we were all 16 when Alli was killed. Our friends are all married now, and some are having kids … something that we’ll never see for her. Just think before you ever get behind the wheel, or in the car, with a driver that has drunk alcohol.

Much love.

The Coalition – Southern California Event #2

The second event that The Coalition held was an inclusive pastor’s roundtable that took place in Long Beach. What does inclusive pastor mean? In layman’s terms, it’s a pastor who is gay or lesbian or a pastor of a gay (or gay affirming) church. The broader scope of The Marin Foundation’s bridge building framework for systemic change between the GLBT and conservative religious communities is the following:

Host a conservative pastor’s roundtable to lay out our bridge building work

Host an inclusive pastor’s roundtable to lay out our bridge building work

After both have been given the new paradigm training, introduce them to each other for the start of peaceful and productive dialogue.

After that, introduce their congregations to one another as well for peaceful and productive dialogue.

After that, set up a framework of serving in the community, churches and being able to make a significant impact for the Kingdom together while still being able to recognize each’s theological differences.

After that, create a self-sustaining bridge building committee in the local community to continue this work.

After that, continue to follow-up and make sure everything is still running as if The Marin Foundation were still present.

Don’t think it can happen? Wrong. It has, and it is! Do you want to bring this to your city … hit us up and we’ll be there in a heart beat!

Anyway, at this last inclusive pastor’s roundtable were 17 of the most prominent gay pastors in Southern California. So many conservatives ask me:

How do you do it? Do they hate you? Do they yell? Do you yell? Does it get ugly quick? How do you handle their tough questions? Etc….

If there is ONE thing that I have learned over the years it is that the GLBT community is dying to be able to enter into safe, peaceful and productive dialogue with conservatives; they just don’t ever think it will go well or be any of those desired things – so they just don’t even try anymore. The crazy part is when there is a “third party” bridge builder providing the framework, environment, experiences and facilitating the conversation, miracles happen as the Lord is able to freely work and maneuver without the restrictions of human pride, hurt and vengefulness taking over.

I would be lying to you if I said these types of events are not without their moments of tension or skepticism. In fact, it's expected! Why should anyone in the gay or lesbian community trust me or the Coalition (even those who are gay and a part of the Coalition) without us ever tangible proving ourselves first and foremost that we are trustable?! Thus, the tension and skepticism is exactly where most everyone starts. And unfortunately I don’t believe many people actually want to ever enter into that place of tension … so technically, that is where everything ends just as quickly then. But willfully and intentionally entering into that scary place to just ‘be’ in real-time with someone else is an experience I always cherish (that is retrospectively cherish by the way – it’s always difficult and uncomfortable in the moment!). But regardless of any of those negative or awkwardness’s, the result is always a unique place of growth that pushes all involved to new places that were always once thought to be off limits. And the ‘elder statesman’ gay pastor who was in attendance spoke up towards the end and said that this was the:

“very first time all of us [the gay pastors in Southern California] have ever gotten together in the same place at the same time! And because of that, I [the elder statesman gay pastor] know this Coalition is doing things that have never been done before. I’m on board and can’t wait to get involved.”

Wow! It’s comments like that, that make me realize we’re changing lives while plowing a new path – one that has never been plowed. As my Dad says, “when the Spirit of the Lord moves, just move with it!” Amen Dad!

One quick example:

One of the gay pastor’s from West Hollywood (the Boystown of So-Cal) who had been quite cynical from the get-go, pulled me over to the side after that day’s roundtable was completed. He looked me in the eyes and said,

“When I told my colleagues that I was coming to this thing they all looked at me and told me I was walking right into a trap and I would regret even thinking of trying to be a part of something like this. And I can tell you right now that I am going to go back to all of them and let them know they were dead wrong. I am so grateful to have come today and be a part of this exciting new experience. Thank you.”

The Spirit is moving, so let’s just move with Him!!!!

Much love.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Reflection of Writing a Book – Part 2

In some of the original meetings with my publisher they asked me: “We want this book published like yesterday, so when, as soon as you can, do you think you can get the manuscript to us?” How was I supposed to answer that question?! I had never written anything like a book before and I had no idea how long it would take. I figured if I stopped absolutely everything I was doing in life and just concentrated on writing, I could finish it pretty quickly. Looking back on it now, that was probably not the best thing to say to an eager publisher! So we set the timeline at 7 weeks and I was at that moment an author – not Andy, not President of The Marin Foundation, not husband, son or friend. I was Mr. Writer.

From the end of May to the beginning of July I did nothing but write. I didn’t hang out with any friends, I didn’t see my wife, I didn’t talk on the phone, I didn’t check my email, I didn’t go to school nor did I do anything related to The Marin Foundation. I went on sabbatical and entirely canceled my life. Knowing what I know now, that was not the best way to handle this situation and I know for the future how to parcel time out better; not just with the writing but also with the negotiations. I found out after we settled on a manuscript deadline that publishers usually give authors about 9 months to write a book. And then the book still doesn’t get published for another 11-14 months after that because of the editing process, making the whole thing take anywhere from 20-24 months. At that point I realized what just happened – from the date I signed my contract to the date my book will be in the bookstores will be 11 months. Less than ½ the time it normally takes! But I look at this all as such a blessing as the Lord has fast-tracked the publication of Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community. He has deemed this the time to do this book for it to make as big as an impact as it can, and so far be it for me to stop or slow any of it down!

Lesson #2:

Make sure you get ample time from your publisher so you are not rushed and are put in the best possible environment to succeed and thrive so you don’t have to quit life. Balance is good. My 7 weeks were not balanced and it wore me out very, very quickly.

Much love.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Prayer and Biblical Leadership

I believe that I can communicate directly with my Heavenly Father. We have conversations. Crazy or not, I know what is true and I know the Lord of the universe loves to be in close relationship with his children who are made in his image. I’m not special … this communication is not just an Andy thing, it’s an all people thing. We’re all God’s children and because of that fact I know with everything I am that God’s intent to be in deep, transparent relationship with us can play itself out clearly through dialoged, direct communication with us through our (the) Holy Spirit. I’ll save the dispensation-and-speaking-in-tongues-post for another time, but why I said what I did was because a few nights ago I had one of those moments of clearly defined communication with God.

I have started to practice a new form of ‘prayer.’ My new form consists of me stopping all of the asking. Sometimes, especially recently, all I felt I did was ask, ask, ask for things, blessings, healings, etc. It got boring. It got repetitive. And I just don’t feel like God wants me to sit and ask. I felt so disconnected from my Creator; I hated it. I hated to pray because prayer shouldn’t be about repetitive askings. So I ditched it.

Instead, I want to be a doer instead of an asker. I want to be a meditater and not a repeater. I want to talk to the Lord of All, Jehovah, face to face; word for word. I want to tell God everything that frightens me, wigs me out or overwhelms me – and then I want to know in comfort that the Creator of everything hears me. I know that sounds like a lot of ‘wants’ but really, they’re less ‘wants’ and more yearnings. My spirit yearns for these things like it has never yearned before.

With all of this newly realized angst in my soul, what I have realized is that I have been trying to fit my prayer life/quite time/whatever you want to call it into a timeline. I’ll read the Bible for a while, pray for a while, and then start my day. And all of that has to fit into an hour timeframe. What kind of ridiculous rational is that? Do I seriously think El Shaddai will work on my timeline for making him talk to me? I did – until I realized the error in my humanly inept logic.

A man that I greatly admire and look up to, and someone I’ve never met, is Dr. David Cho. He is the founding pastor of the world’s largest church (about 800,000 members – it’s in South Korea). I heard him speak live one time, and it was the most powerful message I had EVER heard. It changed my life. I can talk about that later. But why I’m saying this is because Dr. Cho came through for me again. In an article I was reading, Dr. Cho was talking about his prayer life and the article read:

“Yet he [Dr. Cho] sets aside substantial time each day with the Lord for prayer. Once when the president of South Korea called, Cho’s secretary replied, “Mister president, you will have to wait your turn. He is taking with the Lord of the universe. Cho says his secret of success is “I hear and obey.””

Wow. When I read that I got it. Dr. Cho doesn’t put the Lord on his timetable; he puts himself on the Lord’s timetable. Dr. Cho “talks to the Lord of the universe.” I can talk to the Lord of the universe. You can talk to the Lord of the universe. I realized that in order to do that I have to wait on God!

Therefore my new prayer life consists of me waiting on God. I read the Bible until I feel it’s time for me to start communicating with God, and then I’ll stop reading and start talking. I’ll share, talk, have a conversation, pour my heart/insecurities out, pray the Lord’s prayer, repeat and meditate on one verse/passage of Scripture … and then I’ll wait on God.

And I won’t move until I hear from Him and we can have a conversation – or, not a conversation as my Father has mostly just been talking to me lately.

Let me tell you though; he doesn’t start talking right away. I’ve waited still, silently, for many hours before I hear one word. I’ve decided (and isn’t ‘decided’ such a stupid word when talking about this stuff – it’s not mine to decide), but anyway, I’ve decided that I’m not moving until the Creator talks to his created.

And what a blessing these past few weeks have been. I feel closer to God than ever before, not because I’m a better human being but because I have finally learned to prioritize the Almighty over everything else in my life – including asking for things while “praying.”

Here is the word the Lord told me the other night and it is about how to lead God’s people:

All of the great leaders in the Bible that God used for glorious things surrounding God’s people (Moses, Samson, David, etc.) had one thing in common:

They all knew how to humble themselves before God – sins and all.

None of them were perfect. Each of them sinned great sins by directly going against God and his commands (Moses and the rock, Samson as a Nazarite, David and Bathsheba), and yet all of them are biblically recognized as greatly honored in God’s eyes. Why? How can they all commit such violent sins against God Himself and still be looked upon by our Father as great? The answer … because they all knew how to fully, totally and utterly humble all of their being before God. Only God can know intent and motivation. And although at times we as fallible humans have the wrong intent or motivation, God recognizes his chosen by their spirit, not their mistake. And because of that I can learn from my forefathers Moses, Samson and David – biblical and righteous leadership begins and ends with the humbled heart as a believer, doer and graciously thankful follower of the Way. And that is the only way to lead.

Much love.