My Mind Made Public -

I held off as long as I could ...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Gay Scientists Isolate a Christian Gene?

I really can't decide if this is funny, or so very sad. Either way it sure puts perspective on where our culture is at regarding the GLBT and Christian worldview of each other.

What do you think about it - funny or sad?

Much love.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hard Lessons of Forgiveness

Forgiveness can be a tricky thing. Many people, including myself, are able to talk about forgiveness as an important task in order to move on. Some people, not-so-much including myself, are also able to actually do it in their mind, heart and Spirit instead of just vocally forgiving the person(s) who have wronged them. A friend of mine, Margaret Feinberg, recently wrote a book titled The Sacred Echo. In it she so eloquently talks about how God communicates to us anyway he can—directly or indirectly. Hence the title, Margaret’s thesis is that God continually uses the ‘echoes’ in our lives (the reoccurring smaller, more indirect occurrences in our everyday lives) to reiterate the big idea he is trying to communicate. Such a thing has happened to me recently:

Forgiveness = Freedom

Two different ‘echoes’ have convicted me to this post. First, Mike Foster recently gave me a copy of his book, Deadly Viper Character Assassins. From p. 51-57 he (and co-writer Jud Wilhite) talks about the Precedent of Grace. Here is the portion that I couldn’t shake from my head for the last week:

“A new model of belonging, respect, and grace is needed to move from a culture of concealment at work to a culture of honesty. We must hold high the values of forgiveness and second chances. What are your secrets that you are afraid might come out? Is it better to live in fear or freedom?”

If there is one thing that I really make a concerted effort on, it’s being totally transparent at all times—if anything, pretty much every single person closest to me continues to tell me that I’m too transparent and need to stop pouring my guts out to every stranger or media person I come in contact with. Good or bad, that’s just not me because no matter who I talk to, no matter what the other person’s intentions are, I roll with full disclosure. But the part of Mike’s words that really hit me was the last question: “is it better to live in fear or freedom.” Over the past week “Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. Freedom.” has been echoing throughout my Spirit.

Then as I was getting ready for work this morning a song by the Casting Crows came on, Here I Go Again. This song talks about a person whose best friend is dying and the person feels convicted because he/she always dodges talking about the God stuff, and now it might be too late. Here is the portion that I couldn’t shake from my head:

“Lord you love him so; you gave your only son. If he will just believe, he will never die. How then will he know what he has never heard—Lord he has never seen mirrored in my life. Maybe this time, I’ll speak the words of life with your fire in my eyes. But that old familiar fear, it’s tearing at my words. What am I so afraid of, because here I go again talking about the rain; mulling over things that don’t live past today. As I dance around the truth, time is not his friend—this might be my last chance to tell him that you love him…but here I go again.”

And at that moment I felt like a fraud. I stand in public and talk about Christ’s unconditional love, as we are all his children made in his image, and yet I am still harboring a special place of hate and resentment in my heart for a select few people. Then the final association hit—I loathe, fear, and I am crippled by these few people like many of my brothers and sisters in Christ feel about gays and lesbians who are, or were, close to them at one time. No longer will I do that. So here is my freedom through truth, freedom through forgiveness not spoken, but contently given to God. It’s taken many years for me to get here, but if I’m to publically move forward for what the Lord has asked of me, then I can have no place for secret hate—even if no one knows but me. Here is my secret list of people I am forgiving once and for all:

For the past four years there has been a man who just won’t leave me alone—not The Marin Foundation, not anything I do, say or write. He runs to any newspaper or magazine that will listen to him and he spews hate against me and what the Lord has asked me to do. He lies about me—he blatantly makes up things I’ve said, things I do or things I’ve done, and he just won’t stop. One day, with vengeance in mind, I Googled his full birth name (that I found out from one of his relatives that I so happened to meet). And wouldn’t you know that the very first thing that popped up was his mug shot and home address because he is a registered sex offender for molesting a young boy in the late 90s. He’s covered everything up really well because he has a new identity. He is a very successful businessman, heavily involved with child advocacy rights in his community, and he donates A LOT of money. No one knows the truth—but now I did. I printed his sex offender page off the internet and I’ve hid that page in my cabinet for the past 3 years, waiting, for just the right moment to publically hold it up in front of TV cameras, reporters and a huge group of people—finally exposing this man, his lies and false motives. But I’m not going to hide it anymore. I burned it today. It’s gone, it’s given up and committed to the Lord an no more will I feel like I have to defend myself against this man and the media outlets that love to listen to his garbage. I forgive you. And I am now going to be intentional about learning to love you because you are no less of a child of God than me. I am free from your traps; I have released myself for carrying you as a secret burden and thank you for being the one to bring this all to light.

I also forgive two people who used to be very, very close to me. They have decided to go in another direction and say negative things about me and tell some media gossip folks partial truths to very personal things that we all experienced together. I forgive you. I will no longer deny what you two meant to me, and how you two set me on the path the Lord destined me to be on. You two still mean the world to me, and that is why I resented you and what you did so very much. I have released myself for carrying you as a secret burden. Thank you for letting me love you, and one day I pray we can all connect again and restore what we had years ago.

Overall, the media has not been my friend. People always tell me, “no media is bad media.” Well, I don’t agree. But from now on I am releasing my secret burden, resentment and hate, to control what others say, twist or write about me. I can only be me, transparent and honest, and how others use that for their story line is up to them. I forgive them, and I am looking forward to the next opportunity I will have to be honest and transparent all over again—no matter what.

A benediction in closing:

Thank you Lord for allowing me to be free to forgive and free to live my life the absolute fullest I can through your unrelenting grace. Allow me to never change my transparency because I’m scared of what might happen with it. Thank you Lord for this opportunity to release these secret burdens that no longer will haunt my Spirit. In Jesus’ holy name—Amen.

Much love.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Weigh-in #2

Today is January 28th and it's time for weigh-in #2 for My Own Biggest Loser competition with myself.

Current Weight: 252.7 lbs.

Weight lost since last weigh-in: 3.3 lbs.

Total weight loss thus far: 6.8 lbs!

My next weigh-in will be in three more weeks on February 18th.

Much love.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Best Advice I Have Ever Been Given

I love reading interviews, especially when the person being interviewed is asked, “What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?” because I’m fascinated by the words that stick with a person for a lifetime. Unfortunately for me, I’ve never been able to answer that question because no clever words of wisdom have ever really indwelt themselves within me (except of course for certain Scripture, but that was not told to me—I read it).

That is until today my friends!!!

I was talking on the phone with my Dad this morning, and he gave me the following advice:

“Haters are like kidneys—it’s all about filtering through the junk to release the good.”

Let us all then be like kidneys:

Filtering through the haters, doubters, naysayers and skeptics by continuing to pursue the miraculous works that our Holy Father has placed upon our lives—a vision that is only grand enough for the Lord Himself to believe in. “This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10b

Much love.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Reflections of Speaking in DC during the Inauguration—Part 4

And what did happen next was one of the greatest honors of my life to date:

A lady came up to me and gave me a big hug, thanked me for my words and life’s experiences, and said she felt very challenged and yet encouraged that things can change in this culture war. As it turns out she then revealed to me that she was a representative from the Smithsonian Institution Museum in Washington DC! She then expanded and told me that my sermon touched her heart, and wanted to place and archive a copy of my speech in the museum.

Wow! Ok, an archived copy of my sermon in the Smithsonian? That sounds just fine with me!!!

So we talked a little more and she pulled out an official Smithsonian release sheet, which I signed. She then told me that she would be in touch with me soon to give me the full details of it’s placement in the museum. And here we are today—my sermon: Homophobia and Bridging from within the Evangelical Church will be placed in the Smithsonian! As soon as I’m given more info of when it will be in there and where it will be placed, I’ll be sure to let you all know.

I’m so humbled and truly blown away by all of these things in how the Lord has been blessing our bridge building vision (which is His vision). Look at what He’s doing, and we’re all in this thing together!

And then the rest of my night, and my trip to DC were over. I went back to my room (after hanging out with Rick Ufford-Chase—the former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church—and his lovely family), and I contently passed out.

The next morning, Inauguration morning, I took my time and headed to Reagan National Airport once again to catch my 12:45pm flight. As if in another parallel universe, I felt like I was in a ghost town from the moment I stepped into the cab until the moment I walked onto that plane. There were no cars or people on the streets, nobody in the airport (in fact, from my first step into the airport to boarding my plane, I counted a grand total of 53 people!), and I didn’t wonder where any of them were. All I had to do was peer at any TV screen—which were all tuned to CNN—to see for myself how an entire city, nation and world had gathered live in Washington DC (whether physically or virtually) to celebrate the Inauguration of a man many thought would never have a chance.

And for the rest of my life I can say that for just a little bit, I got to be there, experience, and participate in some small way in history. What a trip!

On my flight out the pilot took us right over the Capitol Building as the Inauguration was still commencing. Below is the picture I took from my seat.

History has been made, and now let’s see were the future will take us.

Much love.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Reflections of Speaking in DC during the Inauguration—Part 3

When I walked up to the All Souls Church I just took in the site—it was beautiful and looked like a tradition-steeped colonial church built in the 1800s. Later that evening I came to find out that (here is their blurb about themselves):

All Souls has a long tradition of promoting social justice issues [within religious views]. In the first half of the 1800s it was known for its opposition to slavery, and counts among its past ministers the prominent abolitionist William Clay Channing. The Revere Bell at All Souls was stripped of its status as “Washington’s Town Bell” after the congregation tolled it to commemorate the death of John Brown. It was thereafter called the “Abolition Bell”.

As I walked into the speakers lounge I was greeted by:

Rita Nakashima Brock (her book, Saving Paradise, was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the “Best Books of 2008”),

Bob Edgar (now CEO of Common Cause, he served 12 years in Congress, and a part of the congressional class nicknamed “the Watergate babies” who were elected in the wake of the Watergate scandal and led to sweeping Congressional reforms),


Dr. Vincent Harding (close colleague of MLK Jr.—Dr. Harding wrote speeches for MLK, including the famous “A Time to Break Silence”. Since MLK’s death Dr. Harding and Coretta Scott King co-established the King Center in Atlanta and they speak around the country on racial reconciliation).

That set the tone right then and there.

When the time came for us to head towards the sanctuary we had a difficult time due to the overflow of people who gathered outside to try and somehow squeeze into the main seating area. After a little detour we finally made it into the back of the sanctuary. And when I walked in, my eyes popped wide open.

I saw TV cameras all over the floor and the balcony, and sitting in the periphery were a gob of reporters, videographers and cameramen from various papers, journals and magazines. This is not to mention the 1,200-1,300 people absolutely packed into the pews, the balcony and sitting in folding chairs and on the floor—anywhere they could fit. This church might have been a historic church on the Hill, but it sure was not sized to hold so many eager people.

The first few rows on the main floor were sectioned off for us to sit and, and in classic Washington fashion, we (the speakers) were introduced and paraded down the middle isle to our seats in the front—walking between various politicians, Washington elite, and those who were able to get a seat. For one fleeting moment I felt like the President being introduced at the State of the Union walking down the middle isle as everyone stands up and claps. That was quite a moment for me (and then I started getting really nervous!).

I was the third person to speak—and I have to tell you about their stage and podium:

It wasn’t what you would think of as average. The stage was actually just the podium, as I had to walk up about 15 steps to get to the 14 ft. podium that towered over the attendees. It felt like an “old school excitable preacher” setting, as I could just image back in the 1800s preachers standing up there getting all riled up about the abolition of slavery. That thought pumped me up! So when I got up there to speak I peered around the sanctuary, looking at all of the TV cameras, photographers and people, just taking it in for one brief second—and I prayed in my Spirit:

“Lord, thank you for this opportunity to stand up here and communicate your message in front of the most unlikely of audiences. Send your Holy Spirit to indwell in this place and come upon me. Let your words clearly flow through me with enthusiasm and grace—and let’s give them something they’ve never seen! In Jesus’ Holy Name.”

The event planners asked me to speak on homophobia, so my sermon was titled:

Homophobia and Bridging from within the Evangelical Church

For the next 10 minutes I laid it down with all the passion and enthusiasm—totally everything—I had (if you’ve ever heard me speak you know what I’m talking about).

I ended my sermon with:

“So this is my call for all of us here today, as well as to all of my fellow straight evangelical brothers and sisters around the world: It’s time to stop running in fear—fear of what might happen, fear of what other people might think and fear of what is right or wrong! Only with that countercultural commitment can true, sustainable and systemic growth actually happen! Faith in our Holy God is not about sexual orientation; because it should always be that love is our orientation!”

And with that (and for some added dramatic effect) I immediately walked off the podium!

I then received one of the two standing ovations that were given throughout the night.

But what happened next was one of the biggest honors of my life to-date…..

Much love.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reflections of Speaking in DC during the Inauguration—Part 2

Monday January 19th came quickly as I didn’t end up getting to my room until about 1am. Even then I was still so excited for what I was about to experience that I couldn’t fall asleep until about 2am. When I woke up it was 10 or so, and I had scheduled to meet a good friend of mine, Brad Ogilvie, who founded the Mosaic Initiative and now lives in DC and works for the Quaker William Penn House on Capitol Hill as their Program Coordinator.

I love getting together with Brad because he is one of the growing number of gay men that I know who look at homosexuality, politics and religion in quite a unique, countercultural way from the overwhelming majority of the rest of the GLBT community. As Brad says:

“The most close-minded people in Washington DC seem to be the GLBT community and liberals who say they’re open minded.”


“Do you ever wonder why Gene Robinson is always reduced to—including GLBT organizations—being called “the gay bishop” instead of Bishop Gene Robinson? That’s not helping our cause because our own organizations even still focus solely on sexual behavior as the identifying characteristic.”

Here is an example of an AWESOME article that Brad sent around to our conservative Christian friends (coincidentally, the article was written by a mutual friend of Brad and I).

Since I had never been to DC before, Brad took me around and gave me the quick tour of what is called the “Mall”.

Here is a picture of me in front of the Capitol Building a few hours before I was to go and speak (taken with my cell phone).

The excitement in the air permeated every inch of Capitol Hill. People were packed everywhere—in the restaurants, on the sidewalks, in the streets, and packed in and around any legally walk-able area, museum or building. I found myself getting easily swept up in the excitement as well. I bought a shirt that had all the former President’s white faces in a circle around Barack Obama’s face which was placed in the middle. I usually see those types of shirts and automatically think, “Cheesy”. But this time it wasn’t so cheesy to see 43 faces of white men, and then 1 face of a black man—which one of these doesn’t look like the other?

My time with Brad quickly flew by and then it was off to the event where I was speaking at on Capitol Hill.

Much love.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reflections of Speaking in DC during the Inauguration—Part 1

My flight into DC on Sunday night, January 18th, started in Omaha, NE. I spent the weekend at Christ Community Church of Omaha, a Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) Denominational church, with my friend Richard Engle. What a great, loving group of people who genuinely have a heart to learn about building bridges with GLBT people. It isn’t often I can say that every person I met throughout that weekend was humbly trying to listen, learn and understand what it means to try and grasp the gay community through the gay community’s filtration system. Not only that, but I was excited at how many GLBT people attended the service—not that it is too much of a surprise anymore because it seems that no matter what church or conference I'm at or speak at (no matter how conservative or fundamental) there are always GLBT people who come to listen. But what did surprise me was the solidly constructed relationships those gays and lesbians already had with the largely conservative congregation. It seems as though many of the individuals at Christ Community have done a magnificent job on their own, and thus, the reason they were so eager to gain some additional perspective and framework to make their bridge building efforts more sustainable—corporately and individually.

I would also be remise not to mention the few precious hours I got to spend with my great friend—Chris Heuertz—International Executive Director of Word Made Flesh and author of Simple Spirituality. I truly love and respect him so much. Each time we are together his brilliant mind and his theologically and socially stimulating thoughts and ideas push and challenge my own to continue experientially integrating my faith into social environments within everyday life. He is the real deal, and I’m so blessed to call him a friend.

On Sunday evening I flew out of Omaha (and I was bummed I didn’t have any time to try and stalk Warren Buffet) en route to DC to speak at an interfaith event on Capitol Hill the night before the Inauguration. I had a quick layover in Chicago (which always annoys me when I have a layover in Chicago because that is my home—why do I have to layover in my own home?!). And when I boarded my United flight to Reagan National Airport, that’s when the impact of where I was going hit me square in the face.

I fly quite a bit so I’m fortunate enough to have a great status with United allowing me to sit in upgraded seats in the front of the plane. As I was one of the first to board I quickly noticed something interesting—I was the only white person I could see. I looked toward the entrance to the plane and started keeping a tally of the ethnicities of the people who boarded. On a completely sold out flight, there was only a total of 17 non-black people on the plane:

9 white people,
a family of 5 Indian people (of which 2 were kids),
and 3 Asians

As I sat in my seat looking around I started to tangibly realize the magnitude of what was going on. Not only so, but every African-American person on this late-night flight was dressed in their Sunday best—suits, ties, hats, dresses, heals, jewelry, long business coats, furs, etc. More-so for them than I could have ever grasped as a recipient male of white privilege, even the plane ride to DC deserved to be treated with respect and honor; the same respect and honor that each moment of this Inauguration experience means to African-Americans all of the world. Looking at this I was reminded that years ago, black people were only counted as 3/5ths the person of that of a white man. And now with as much pride as they could muster, a plane full of festive and exuberant African-Americans were about to fly to Washington DC to witness history first hand.

Much love.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ted Haggard's Documentary

A Facebook friend of mine, Darin Brown, sent me this link to an article by ABC News about Ted Haggard’s entrance back into the public eye after his scandal of down-low drugs and gay sex behind his family’s, congregation’s and all the rest of the evangelical world listening to his direction as President of the National Association of Evangelical’s back. Wow, that’s a mouthful. Darin wanted to know my take, so here you go…

It’s a well written article about the sad and pitiful life that has become Ted Haggard, Mike Jones (the man who ‘outed’ Haggard) and the surrounding cast of characters that have been caught woven this web (mainly his family). In the beginning of the article Haggard “blames his father” for everything that has happened to him in the past couple of years—his father started sexually molesting him at 7 years old. These are confusing times in a confusing life in a confusing world, and in reading that revelation it’s hard for me to critique Haggard’s life and experiences because they are a legitimate expression of what has happened to him in his past.

We all have to remember that no child—no person—should ever be molested, raped or be sexually, physically or mentally abused! Therefore I have no judgment for what such a situation psychologically does to a human’s psyche, and how that affects them moving forward. I’m just going to go off of what I know about him—you can read the article and make those other conclusions for yourself.

But I do know this much—sexual abuse does not mean someone will be gay or lesbian. I spent a section in my book about this topic because I feel it’s an easy way for the Christian community to copout against entering into a place of tension with the GLBT community without knowing the answers to the “why questions” for God. Sexual abuse is not normal—gay or straight. Research shows that there is an average of about 5-7% of the GLBT community who admitted to have been sexually abused as a child. Now, Ted Haggard could definitely have had his same-sex attractions come as a result of his father’s abuse, but far be it for any of us—or him—to so easily state that as fact. I question Haggard’s statement because three weeks after the scandal hit the press he made a public statement saying he is “completely heterosexual.” If it were that easy for him, why didn’t he do it earlier by stopping the paid-gay sex before it tarnished him and embarrassed his wife and kids? And if it were that easy for him, why in this ABC News article does he say that he “continues to struggle with same-sex attraction”?

Saying after three weeks that he is “completely heterosexual” is a spit in the face to all the true, honest and committed people in this world who faithfully work to overcome their same-sex attractions. Just the same, that statement is just a much of a spit in the face to all of the true, honest and committed people in this world who have faithfully tried “reorientation therapy”, but are now faithful and committed gay Christians.

And if all along Ted Haggard had a same-sex attraction, don’t you dare stand up at the pulpit of a 12,000 person church and as the President of a 30 million person strong National Association of Evangelicals and say on the record:

"We don't have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It's written in the Bible." Then Haggard looks into the camera and says kiddingly: "I think I know what you did last night," drawing laughs from the crowd. "If you send me a thousand dollars, I won't tell your wife." Later, another joke for the cameraman: "If you use any of this, I'll sue you."

None of that is funny Mr. Haggard, especially since at that exact time you were cheating on your wife with a male prostitute and taking crystal-meth.

HBO will be airing a documentary of Haggard on January 29, and coincidentally enough, the director of the documentary is none other than the daughter (Alexandra Pelosi) of the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. That is a strange clash of worlds in-and-of-itself because it is the same Nancy Pelosi who’s constituency is in San Francisco—and there are a number of conservative Christian organizations (the same Christian organizations who Haggard once represented) that constantly bash Nancy Pelosi for her continuing endorsement of the San Francisco Folsom Street Fair. I find it very strange that Haggard would pick the daughter of the person who endorses what Haggard’s target audience thinks is a depraved abomination.

This makes me wonder a few things:

-Does he think he’ll get more of a fair shake on screen about his past if it comes from a very liberal director whose mom is political public allies with the GLBT community?

-And whether that is true or not, the surrounding evidence still leads me to question Haggard’s motives for making this documentary—just to get back into the public eye or is he really making a true plea for redemption?

My thought is that if he were really making a true plea for redemption to the broader Christian community, he would do so with his target audience (conservative Christians) in mind—and there are no lack of conservative Christian documentary directors.

I don’t claim to know Ted Haggard. Maybe one day I’ll have the stomach to watch his documentary—not on January 29th though. I know too many spouses and children who are indelibly affected by parents who are “found out” after the fact—and it makes me sick to think of the people who willfully caused that pain.

And the one thing I keep thinking—his poor wife and kids—how embarrassing and tragic for them. And they couldn’t do a darn thing about it.

I hope the best for Ted Haggard and his family. I also hope that he would just tone down the public rhetoric of his now all-of-a-sudden “having a message of redemption for a lot of people struggling with sexual issues” and peacefully and quietly seek God with all he has from a far distance away from any TV or documentary cameras.

Much love.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Non-Profit Life

I don’t like Mondays. You might think I don’t like Mondays for many of the same reasons everyone else doesn’t like them. You’re right. But, and there is a big but, here is my dilemma:

Since The Marin Foundation doesn’t have a huge staff (and by huge I mean anything above 3 people), I get stuck spending all of my time on Mondays doing the thing I can't stand doing more then anything else—administrative work. Monday is my designated “Administrative Day”.

From the time I get to work Monday morning until the time I leave Monday evening I:

-do my expense reports
-collect the previous week’s donations
-make receipts for those donations
-prepare thank you notes for those donations (and stamp and stuff the envelopes)
-deposit the donations
-balance the budgets
-run any office errands that might need to be run
-coordinate times and schedules for the volunteers and interns for their next week of participation
-And my absolute favorite—like what happened this Monday—try to somehow fix any technology problems; in which I have absolutely no clue how to do.

I know, I’m 28 and my generation is thought of as the technology generation. I guess I missed that one. Instead, I call my I.T. guy (also known as my Dad—who for some odd reason is one of the only people in his generation who knows everything about technology).

Then as I promptly wasted a good and annoying 7 hours ramming my head against my concrete wall trying to figure out how to fix my broken computer, my Dad (who unfortunately is not local and can’t physically be there to always help me), finally laid it to me straight:

“You’ve had that computer for about 7 years now, which in computer life is like 126 years old. It’s time to get a new one.”

So that’s what I did today picking it out with the help of my I.T. guy!

As I was going through this ridiculous mess I started to think to myself, “Man, how much more productive could I be if for eight hours every single Monday I didn’t have to be The Marin Foundation’s accountant, assistant, janitor and national project coordinator?”

Ah, but such is the life and growing pains of owning and running your own 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works to build bridges between two culture-clashed communities—you can’t always find (or have the luxury to pay a great salary to) the full amount of help you might need or want.

Sooooooo…..anyone want to raise some support and come to Chicago?! Hit me up!

Much love.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Public Opinion with Athletes Talking about God

**Disclaimer: This post is about sports—college football in particular. I’m sorry if you don’t follow sports or know any of the names I’m going to mention, but you’ll get the idea of the main point that I’m communicating.

So …

Yesterday I was watching ESPN (shocker….), and on the show Rome Is Burning hosted by Jim Rome, sports columnist Rick Telander (pictured above) from the Chicago Sun Times was a guest. Telander went on to say that the main reason the Heisman trophy winner and current University of Florida junior quarterback Tim Tebow (pictured below) decided to return to college for his senior season instead of entering the NFL draft was to “continue to wrongly proselytize everyone about his faith” (Tebow’s parents are Christian missionaries in the Philippines, where he was born).

And then Telander started to say the same things about the most well respected head coach in the NFL, Tony Dungy (pictured below) claiming that because of the separation of Church and State athletes and coaches shouldn’t talk about their faith. I hate to bring this to Telander's attention, but Church, State and professional sports have nothing to do with each other.

Here’s my only point to Mr. Telander:

Just because he doesn’t like to hear about the faith and God of Tebow and Dungy, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t talk about it when they feel God is the reason they’re able to do what they do—on the stage they have. I think Mr. Telander is forgetting that we live in a free, democratic society—the same free democratic society that allows him to write his opinionated column each and everyday in the Chicago Sun Times as well as being able to give his opinions on national TV.

This is the second time I’ve heard Telander publically make a derogatory comment about Tebow talking about God. And before he does it again, maybe Telander should thank Tebow and Dungy’s God for setting up a system of free-will, allowing Telander to get paid to freely communicate his derogatory opinion about God in culture on national TV without penalty against him for his words. If Telander gets to publically state his opinions about his thoughts on God in sports, then so can Tebow and Dungy.

Much love.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Obama and Bishop Robinson

Since yesterday I have been asked quite a few times what my thoughts are regarding Obama's choice of the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop, Gene Robinson, to give the Invocation at the Lincoln Memorial. Just like I believed that Obama strategically chose Rick Warren to publicly reach out in a bipartisan nature to the millions of conservatives around the country, so I believe he is doing the same for the gay community by selecting Robinson.

The GLBT community has been UP IN ARMS at Obama recently, totally furious at him since his selection of Warren. I have been told by many in the gay community across the country that they see the choice of Warren as a stab in the back by Obama because of Obama's promises about repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell and his favorable take on gay civil unions. For that sole reason, it is my belief that Robinson is the quickest and most efficient way to tone down the blasts coming from an entire population of people who more then had Obama's back when election day rolled around. Politics is what it is, and Obama seems to be politically maneuvering with the best that have ever come (at least in my lifetime, thus far).

At the very least I can say this much:

During any election whoever is running for an office always talks about bipartisanship: "I will reach across the political divide and unite."

You can quote any politician who has ever run - they all say the same stuff. And whenever I hear those words from a politician I easily disregard them because I don't think I've ever actually seen it happen on a large public scale. And if it has, it's usually just the "safe" pick of a person who is already three-quarters of the way to the other side. Until now. It seems to me that Obama is trying to actually reach across and do something - or at least make a statement. Who knows if this is all for show or if it will last. But at least he's trying to set some type of unique precedent the day he takes office.

I live in Chicago and I come from the political juggernaut that is Chicago politics, so I'm naturally very skeptic of anyone that received their on-the-job political training in my unfortunately corrupt city and State. Though for the time being, good for Obama and what he's trying to do. I can only pray his original bipartisan promises continue.

Here is a great article from the New York Times about the Obama/Robinson situation.

Much love.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What are Dreams and Where do they Come From?

Those questions are something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately because I have no idea what’s the right answer to either of them. The reason dreams have been on my mind is because I’ve been having some real funky ones as of late. And by funky I mean strange, not-so-nice or haunting. None of them have been reoccurring, but each one has a really vivid story, plot, cast of characters (all of whom I know personally in one capacity or another) and something horrible, sad or debilitating always happens. The dream is that of a third party—like I’m watching myself in a movie—and I’ll always wake up right before the conclusion. Thinking about it now, that might actually be a good thing with the pattern my dreams have been following. I won’t go into a lot of detail (otherwise the length of this post would be longer then my book), but here are some of the more recent ones:

-My entire family gets shot in front of me as we are all walking up the driveway to go home and for the rest of the dream I’m dodging the murderers from killing me too.
-I’m back in college playing baseball again and when it’s my turn to bat, I’m always skipped as I stand on the on-deck circle waiting for my turn—a turn that never comes. I stand there watching everyone else launch baseballs off of their bats as I long for just one more time to feel what it’s like to get a hit.
-The devil morphs itself into different everyday objects and then pops out at me at different times throughout the course of my everyday life. He then tries to kill me over and over again, beating the living daylights out of me. I end up constantly fist fighting him and in the fight he’ll disappear and then reappear in the form of another object shortly after.
-I’m in an airport terminal and I’m sitting at my gate and my flight never gets called, and no one has any answers as the rest of life flies by and I’m stuck not knowing how to catch up or get out.
-Vivid images from my past that I would never want to relive (times of sorrow, guilt, sadness, death).
-An army (definitely bad guys) of some sort chasing me, and we end up at my parent’s house (the house they still live in and the house I grew up in). They kill my family trying to find me and they finally do find me hiding—and then I wake up.

All of these darn dreams are dramatically affecting my sleep, and no matter how many hours I get a night it still feels like I’ve pulled an all-nighter, every night. I need an answer to what's going on—or at least I’d like one. It would be easy for me to fall into anyone of the many classic interpretations about dreams—whether secular psychological or Christian based. The secular world would like me to believe that there are symbols or archetypes imbedded in the dreams, where certain objects or scenarios mean certain things in real life. The Christian world would generally attribute good dreams to God and bad or unsettling dreams to the devil or evil spirits. But that would all be too easy. Besides, I don’t know if I agree with any of those beliefs. Who knows; maybe it’s just some rogue brain synapses randomly firing that causes a mixture of memories and fears? If that’s the case, I wonder why the rogue synapses don’t ever create for me happy or comforting dreams?

I am one of those people who remember dreams with crystal clear clarity. I’ve always remembered them as far back as my mind will let me go. And as I think about my time growing up, I clearly remember that my dreams—even as a kid and teenager—were still as terrible as they are today. This is not to say I never have a peaceful nights sleep. In fact, I have many peaceful and refreshing nights sleep—just not recently or with 99.9% of the dreams I remember. Maybe it’s just that I only lock-in and remember the bad dreams, which is why I never remember the good dreams that give me a rested spirit in sleep?

Recently I’ve been praying and talking to God until the moment I fall into REM sleep, and that has just seemed to produce more spiritually related haunting dreams. Who knows what any of this is or means. I just hope that I can, soon enough, once again sleep peacefully and know what it’s like to wake up refreshed. I do know this much though—our God is a God beyond dreams. I’ll stick with that in place of any of the previous explanations and know that no matter what happens in my head while I sleep, the God of the present while I’m awake is far greater then any fear, guilt or situation that might haunt me as I sleep.

Much love.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Big Personal News about the Inauguration

I recently got a phone call from the Olive Branch Interfaith Peace Coalition in Washington DC—and they asked if I could speak at their interfaith service and vigil the night before the Inauguration. The theme of the service is Peaceful Nonviolence, inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. I will be talking about the impact of homophobia and bridging the evangelical community (originally there was a well-known Jewish Rabbi who was to talk generally on the topic of homophobia, but due to a cancellation they thought an evangelical Christian instead, would raise eyebrows; and they thought of me!). Among the others (from a variety of different faiths) who will be speaking is Jim Wallis from Sojourners, and in attendance at their DC service will be a variety of Washington politicians and governmental elite.

What a sweet opportunity! I feel so blessed and I am very excited for this chance to be in Washington the night before the Inauguration and talk about the importance of God’s call and command to build bridges between His children and the GLBT community. And to think that there will be other faiths and politicians in attendance, pray that the Lord’s words through me that night will draw many more people to Him.

Much love.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Promotional Video for Love Is An Orientation

Check this out - it's the promotional video for my book, Love is an Orienation (which you can buy here or here)! Feel free to visit YouTube and write some comments and reviews!!!!! I hope you love it....

Much love.

Wise Words from a Unique Source

Here is the conclusion to a book I just finished. I thought it was relevant and profound. He said:

"“Early in my career I went around telling everyone of my lofty goals—that I’d be the best ever in my field. People laughed at me.

You’re crazy man.
Can’t be done.
Yeah right! No one in history has done the things you’re talking about.
You’re dreaming.

Maybe I was dreaming, but it was an attainable dream. I knew it all of those things could be done, just as I know I was going to be the guy to do them. I never once doubted myself, and that’s the attitude that gets me through everything.

Nobody is gong to tell me I can’t do something. Nobody. And when the world tries to beat you down, you don’t let it. It’s that simple. You stay positive. Focused. Keep your eyes on the prize. Put on blinders. Don’t look left, don’t look right. The goal is right there in front of you, and that’s where you need to be looking.

I was single-minded about becoming who I am today, and it paid off. And like I said, maybe that’s what it takes to succeed—that drive and that desire and that intensity. But if you want something badly enough, you’ll work for it. And when you get there, you’ll realize that everything you did to get there was worth it.

My daughter, Josie, will be a teenager soon. I’ve tried to be a good father, and I think I’ve succeeded more often than not, though I’m sure I come up short from time to time. Still, in one area I believe I’m actually qualified to give advice, and that concerns this business I’ve been talking about—this business about setting goals.

Josie, if you’re reading this, please pay attention: You can do anything you want in life. Anything. All you have to do is figure out what you want, and who you want to be, and stay on track. It will not happen overnight, but if you believe in yourself, and you stay focused, and if every step you make is a step in the direction of that goal, even a tiny step, you will make it. You will reach your goal.

Along the way, people will tell you that it can't be done. That you’re dreaming. That you should lower your sights and expectations. Don’t listen to them. They don’t know what they’re talking about, and they have already been defeated by life. And never, ever, lose faith in yourself [or God]. Keep dreaming.”"

These words were written by Jose Canseco in his second book, Vindicated. That’s right—the same steroid Jose Canseco that blew the lid off of the hidden secrets of Major League Baseball. But he does have a point, he does know something about achieving goals. He promised to his dying Mom that he would become the best baseball player on the face of the earth, and he did—in record fashion. He was the first player in baseball history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a single year. He won the American League MVP award. He won 2 World Series rings. And he signed the highest paid contract in Major League history (to that point), 5 years for $23.5 million.

In the end, he accomplished his goals, and so I think we should listen to his wise words. What about the steroids—didn’t those give him an unfair advantage? For what it’s worth, I actually believe him that about 80% of all Major Leaguers were doing the stuff. So no, they didn’t give him an unfair advantage against the majority of people he was playing against. None the less, re-read his words, and they’re encouraging and applicable to all of us chasing a dream others don’t think can happen—whether that is breaking baseball records or wanting to build a bridge between the GLBT and religious communities.

Much love.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Weigh-in #1

I weighed myself today, like I promised I would do, exactly 3 weeks after I started my shrink-me-down-to-somewhat-normal-sized-again-please workout and diet.

I checked in at 256 lbs even. That is a loss of 3.5 lbs.

Not bad considering I gorged myself during Christmas (which in my world constitutes December 23-28) and then again on New Years (which in my world constitutes December 31-January 2).

My next weigh-in will be on January 28th.

Much love.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

God in Quiet Time? –Part 2

In the last post I talked about my belief that the label “quiet time” should actually be called (and lived out as) “spending time with God” throughout the entirety of a day—due to the pressure (internal and external) that is put on a person to feel or hear something significant in a designated time slot having to be with God.

Here’s where this all came from:

I just got done speaking at North Park University (NPU) and I was waiting on Foster St. for the #92 bus to take me back to my office. I had a great talk as the undergrads at NPU really resonated with my thoughts, stories and challenges (can I just add a side note to say how much I love the folks over at NPU’s Center for Youth Ministry Studies—every time I’m there it’s a total first class event). I was flying high, and yet when the final Q&A time had finished and I packed up my stuff to head out, by the time I got to the bus stop I felt very incomplete. I hadn’t had my quiet time that morning, or the last ten or twelve mornings for that matter.

And I felt like a huge hypocrite.

How could I stand in front of a bunch of undergraduate students at a Christian university and teach them about building bridges with gays and lesbians and tell them how important the Holy Rock is in the process, and then know in the back of my head I hadn’t done what I thought I needed to do?

I started to cry at that bus stop. I felt like a fraud and I couldn't stop apologizing to God. And that is when his gentle and loving voice swept through my spirit and brought peace. He said:

“Andy, spending time with me isn’t just an extended chunk of silence. You’re not less connected to me because you haven’t sat down in a traditional form of quiet time. Your quiet time with me is all day, because you talk to me all day Andy. Relationship is not about the ask, it’s about the communication. And your daily communication with me is full and loved. Keep your spirit open and keep talking, and stop feeling bad or guilty about missing what you think is a proper amount of quiet time.”

We are all to live our daily lives fully encompassed in relationship and conversation with God, with the cognitive recognition we’re in his presence even when we don’t feel it. I have come to believe that many people think a successful quiet time has to be based on a feeling of ... [fill in your own blank] rather than the cognitive recognition of the sacrifice of being intentional to be in relationship with God throughout the day. So let’s then concentrate on the process of the relationship with our Creator and not just the block of time.

The lingering question then, is that: “You said in the beginning of the first post that alone time with God is not only a good practice, it’s also needed—what's up with your contradictions?”

I’m not asking anyone to go wholesale and ditch a traditional form of quiet time. But what I am asking is for people to put a proper perspective on what quiet time is meant to be—not limiting yourself or God to a half hour, an hour, two hours, etc. of time in a day that is meant to be the time to communicate with—or be communicated by our Father. My words are not an enlightenment on quiet time, they are a not-so-subtle reminder that the burden of being with God does not just have to permeate within a label of what we recognize as quiet time.

Therefore we are to “spend time with God” walking daily in the knowledge that our real-time God exists as such, and in speaking with him throughout the day is the same relationally, conversationally, and just as effective as spending all day, every day in quiet time with God.

If you don’t box God in, you won’t be boxed in yourself.

Much love.

Monday, January 5, 2009

God in Quiet Time? –Part 1

I’ve never been a big fan of the Christian label “quiet time.” I’m sure that may be offensive to some, but really, it’s not meant to be taken that way. Instead, I’m a big fan of labeling my “quiet time” as “spending time with God.” Let me explain. In a previous post I talked about the drastic change in my prayer life that has occurred recently: Away from asking and onto waiting. In Christian circles, prayer life has become synonymous with the term quiet time—and I understand why—it’s not easy to physically, emotionally and spiritually connect closely with God with a ton of outside distractions constantly interrupting what is meant to be a sacred moment in time. Therefore alone time, still time with God is not only a good practice, it’s also needed.

But I have also profoundly noticed that I feel quiet time gets overwhelmingly burdensome—too much emotional and spiritual pressure that it drains and paralyzes me for the rest of the day. And how can I effectively live my life tangibly lit up for Christ when I constantly feel like I’m 20-leagues below sea level carrying a grand piano on my back?

I started to wonder, why do I have to cram in all of my personally connected time with God into an allotted amount of quiet time within a schedule that I set? That’s an awful lot of pressure—pressure on me to get my whole being ready to be with God; and me pressuring (I would even call it limiting) God to fall in line with my designated quiet time. And when I look at this from a removed, objectified perspective, neither of those self-afflicted pressures makes sense within the broader picture of being able to, and wanting to deepen my intimate relationship with God.

For many years I actually thought I was the only one who felt like this. Many years, that was, until I started to go to seminary. You see, I went to secular schools my entire life. My world has been a very secularly involved life. I’ll never forget the first class I took at Moody and the professor wanted to start the class in prayer. I was literally in shock, looking around the room to see if anyone else heard his request. But then I remembered, wait, I’m at a Christian school with other Christians around me who wouldn’t mind starting class in prayer. What a thought?! But it was so foreign to me that the first time it happened it was also the first time I realized how far removed I had been from a Christian encompassed educational experience. That’s off topic though…

Anyway, the reoccurring words I started to hear from my fellow students was that they also felt bogged down by a perceived pressure (internal and external) to have some huge moment of revelation or peace or comfort each and every morning in a designated quiet time. And for the first time I wasn’t alone in my conflicted feelings about a felt-forced quiet time with God. What was to be an intimately special time had become a dogmatic routine of what “good Christians” routinely do to still be “good Christians.” And it didn’t feel right at all.

The problem with the label quiet time is that it makes an assumption that during the quiet time period, it’s the only true time to truly and wholly connect with our Holy Father—i.e. it’s the most efficient and effective way to communicate with God and he to communicate with you. And from my perspective, that belief sets a whole lot of people up for failure. What if I don’t feel connected to God at that moment—was my quite time ineffective? What am I doing wrong with God if I don’t feel as One? Is he not hearing me or recognizing my sacrificed time of being quiet trying to connect with him? Am I doing this in vain? Is this process even the right one? But if so many Christian leaders, professors, etc say it’s right, then I must not be right in feeling this way? What’s wrong with me and my relationship with God?

Let me just say this:

God is not just a God of quiet time. He’s a God of real-time.

And he wants us to be in a real-time relationship with him as well. Wholly and fully and emotionally and spiritually connectedness with God doesn’t just come during a pre-planned quiet time. To remove the pressure from the quiet time by shifting our mind frame onto a 24-hour daily experience through a continual conversational relationship with our Creator, will also release the false set of expectations related to a certain daily designated time of silence where all meaningful conversation has to happen.

Much love.