Peacemaking / Reformation

Recently I saw John Crowder post this quote from Thomas Merton;

“If I can unite in myself the thought and the devotion of Eastern and Western Christendom, the Greek and the Latin Fathers, the Russians with the Spanish mystics, I can prepare in myself the reunion of divided Christians. From that secret and unspoken unity in myself can eventually come a visible and manifest unity of all Christians. We must contain all divided worlds in ourselves and transcend them in Christ.”

This reminds me of something else I once heard activist Jarrod McKenna say. It was along the lines of,

“I am Protestant. I am Catholic. I am evangelical. I am Pentecostal. I don’t want to separate myself from any of our rich heritage, or our responsibility to work on the ways we have collectively contributed to injustice.”

Further, I recall a quote attributed to Augustine (which I also can’t seem to find) that was something like, 

“Our theological errors are usually not manifested in what we affirm, but in what we deny.”

All these thoughts resonate a lot with me. I feel like in my own life, the reason I have often struggled to feel at home in any spiritual community is frequently related to how narrow the (sometimes unspoken) boundaries of that community are. At their core, they are often centered around wonderful values that I whole-heartedly give my “amen!” to. Yet I see so much of the Body of Christ that is unseen or unheard within each tribe. Pieces of the Body that I value and align with myself… Continue reading Peacemaking / Reformation

Looking Back

I did not choose to be awakened by the Gospel when it started becoming so compelling to me back around 2008/09/10/11…It countered the theology that had been handed to me, and was not a Message I would have gravitated towards easily. It was not very appealing to my pre-established (self-righteous) sensibilities. Rather, I was confronted. And I was romanced. And I mostly resisted — until slowly, but surely (over years), I learned to cooperate with the Spirit’s tender, persistent work on my mind and heart. 

I always take comfort in looking back on that.

And on the ways I was prepared for that season.

And on the ways transformation has unfolded further for me since those initial, sweet, bewildering days of discovery. 

I did not chart out this path of my own initiative. It called out to me. 

Seeing how clear that is frees me from false responsibility. I do not have to waste time defending the path I am on. Nor do I have to figure out exactly where it is headed. I trust that the same sovereign Lover who wooed me in the first place will continue to confirm His will, direct my steps, and lead me to green pastures. 

And He will bring forth fruit that speaks for itself.

#AsburyRevival Observations

A few weeks ago I was listening to Lindy Conant’s song “Another Wave.” She sang the lyrics, “Here comes another wave of revival. Can you feel the earth shaking? The time has now begun!” As I listened, there was a freshness to the song. I sensed the Spirit was underscoring the words of the song, saying, “I know you kind of believe this, but I’m serious. Here comes the next wave. Pay attention.” 

I’m so impressed by what I see and hear is happening in Asbury lately. I hope to visit soon if the gathering continues, but I’ve been observing a lot already from afar. And a few things about this move of the Spirit are really standing out to me… Continue reading #AsburyRevival Observations

My Recent Trip to Iowa

Last week I had the privilege to share some of my life’s story at a gathering in Iowa for Christians who wanted to learn how to more effectively connect with and dignify queer people. I was on a panel with one of my favorite authors, and we were interviewed by my absolute favorite podcast host. Needless to say I was über nervous going into it! That is, especially because I wasn’t sure if my voice condition (spasmodic dysphonia) would interfere. Thankfully, everything went smoothly and the crowd gave fantastic feedback on that part of the event.

As any statistics you look at will make abundantly clear, the Church historically hasn’t been a super hospitable environment to people who don’t conform to heterosexual norms. Over the last year or so, that reality came a bit closer to home for me. It increasingly seemed to me that a lot of Christians I knew were disinterested in developing a more open-hearted, missional approach to relating with queer persons. To be at this conference though in the middle of rural America… filled with hundreds of believers who were sacrificing time and finances to try and rethink how they navigate these relationships… it was such a breath of fresh air. 

Many of the people in the room were over the age of 60, leading and participating in very conservative evangelical churches. When they spoke with me it was clear they had truly tender, humble hearts. It gave me a boost of hope for the Church to be surrounded by hundreds of individuals who were actively and intentionally learning to embrace Christ’s own posture toward those who have been misunderstood.

The next day when I returned to St. Louis I went to a prayer meeting. In the meeting one of the men present received a phone call from his wife that he decided to answer. She was calling to tell him about a dream she’d just had that morning. In the dream, God spoke to her and said that a significant part of the Body of Christ is hidden within the gay community – carrying gifts of joy and freedom that the rest of us really need. And, the Lord added, “they have a greater revelation of their true identity than a lot of other believers actually do.”

Needless to say, the whole week was a great reminder that there really are people with “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” the Father’s own perspective over His children. Despite our slowness to respond, He is committed to – one way or another – helping us rightly recognize, esteem and care for one another.

May we too be committed to His reconciliatory work, for the long haul.


Shoutout to the Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender for all you do for the Kingdom!

Taking the Bible For What It Is, As It Is

My Theological Evolution

My theology has shifted in different directions several times over the years. When I was a teenager and stopped believing in the pretribulational rapture, it was because I was convinced by scripture that my previous perspective was not what the apostles actually taught. In my early adulthood, when I dramatically changed my theology of identity and sanctification, it was because I became convinced that my own Protestant tradition was articulating those doctrines in a way the Bible itself does not. When I went through deconstruction in my late twenties, I re-examined the notions I had about fundamental doctrines like original sin, atonement theory, Hell, and even the nature of scriptural authority itself — precisely because I was trying to more seriously wrestle with the Bible and be honest about the conclusions its authors intended to lead me towards.

Throughout this whole, ongoing process, I feel like I have grown more confident not only that my theology is more properly grounded in truth than it used to be, but that it has become something filled with beauty. It has become more Jesus-centered. It has become something I actually want to share with people — and not just because I’ve been told it’s my moral responsibility to do so.

In my 30’s, I started more deeply rethinking my theology as it relates to my own sexuality. I committed to follow the same pattern that I’ve always followed. I looked at the scriptural texts. I learned everything I could about how they were translated and what they communicate when pieced together. I did my best to acknowledge where the authors confirmed or challenged the perspective I already held, asking the Holy Spirit to help me discern the Lord’s will through it all. Continue reading Taking the Bible For What It Is, As It Is

Your Will Be Done

Nothing is more reassuring than knowing you are in God’s will, where you’re assigned, led by His input, in His timing.

Knowing with clarity that you’ve heard from Him and gained His approval in your decisions gives such confidence. It’s incomparably better than trying to force your own poorly informed dreams and plans for your life to work.

To join Christ in saying to the Father, “Not my will be done, but Yours” — is such a source of joy and security. It is the only way to guard our hearts from regret.

Real Love

Sometimes I don’t feel like I can sing loud enough, raise my hands high enough, or get low enough on the floor to sufficiently express my love for Jesus. I want to give Him everything… My reputation. My obedience in the secret place. My diligence in daily walking out His plan for my life. Any sacrifice I can make that will feel like the semblance of a worthwhile offering in return for the impact of His unfathomable kindness towards me…

Even with that being true, and feeling it to the core of my being at times, I am continuously reminded of how empty it would all be if that’s how I measured my sense of spiritual well-being or godliness.

I keep being brought back to the simplicity of 1 John 4:10,

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son…”

I am the object of Love. The recipient. 

He is Lover, I am Beloved. 

My passion and devotion wane, but His fountain never runs dry.

My response to Jesus’ gift of Himself is infinitely inferior to the revealed Love-of-God-in-Christ. It pales in comparison. 

Above all else, I just want to be marked by a growing confidence in this scandalous Love — ever enamored more deeply still in the face of it.

Thinking Aloud Here….

It seems to me that part of the Church has a good grasp on how the Gospel so wonderfully relieves us from the pressure to measure up when we face our ongoing weaknesses and failures, and part of the Church has a good grasp on how radically empowering and transformative the Gospel is. But the two camps seem to only emphasize one of those messages, often downplaying the other side.

One side says we have been declared righteous and made “legally” justified before God — able to draw near to Him to experience compassion no matter how continuously rough and messy our lives are.

The other says we are dead to sin and free from its slavery by virtue of our co-crucifixion with Christ — now needing to learn who we are and discover how to walk in the victory that His finished work provides.

My vision is to disciple people who are firmly and continuously grounded in both realities. I want to see believers reveling in the wonder of God’s mercy towards them everyday — unashamed of their finiteness, woundedness, and capacity to “miss the mark”…. but not ultimately defining their own essential nature (or their expectations for the future) by anything other than who they already are in Christ (Galatians 2:20).

Quick story about a different “Ian”…

Earlier this year, a few months after I lost a ministry job, I went to spend some time at Teleo Coffee in Kirkwood, Missouri one morning. I was working on my laptop, setting up my new freelance business. Meanwhile, I kept noticing this good looking dude sitting near me with long hair and a “Jesus loves you” shirt on. After sitting there for some time, he got up and approached my table.

With a grin on his face he asked, “Hey, I couldn’t help but notice the Greek tattoo on your arm man. What does it mean?” I told him the word means “loved unconditionally,” and explained a little bit of the spiritual backstory as to why I got the tattoo in the first place. “I thought I got the impression you might be a believer,” he said enthusiastically, and we started to chat a bit about our personal histories with the Lord.

I told him we should get coffee sometime and connect more. He gave me his name (Ian) and phone number, but told me he was leaving town and wouldn’t be back in the area for a good while. Nevertheless, he texted me later that day to ask me if there was anything he could be praying about for me. I responded that the main thing weighing on my mind was my financial situation, because I was late on making a payment that I owed. He asked me how much the total was. 

A few days later Ian messaged me to tell me he just got a paycheck… and then proceeded to send me a big chunk of money via Venmo to cover my bill!

I was so moved that a stranger felt led to spontaneously invest in me like that. I texted him and told him he was too gracious, and he replied, “God is too gracious! In fact, that’s literally what my name means.”

It felt like a wink from Heaven.

That’s just one of countless stories I could tell of how people have been the hands and feet of Jesus to me in this chapter of my life — encouraging, supporting and blessing me in surprising ways. In other words, intentionally modeling Christ’s loyal love in an embodied manner, as the Church that He intended for us to be to one another.

We don’t always get it right in how we treat each other… But then again, a lot of times we actually do. Either way, God knows how to step in, show up, and continue in every season to be exceedingly gracious.

Do you have even the slightest clue how much your very existence overjoys God’s heart?

God does not “tolerate” you. Nor does He just “accept” you. No, God absolutely cherishes you and celebrates every fiber of your being. He is mad about you, and wants you for exactly who you are (not “despite” who you are). 

Sometimes I hear believers say things like, “God will take you how you are, but He won’t leave you how you are. Can I get an ‘amen?’” Generally speaking, that kind of messaging really doesn’t sit well with me. It is true that God won’t leave us wallowing in dysfunction and oppression. His love is radically transformational, to be sure. Nevertheless, when He comes alongside us to lift us up, build us up, and empower us to live a more flourishing life — He’s calling the gold out in us the whole time.

We don’t necessarily have to view God as trying to “change” or “fix” anyone. He molds and shapes our futures with us without treating us like we’re mere projects to be improved upon. He crafted us in His beautiful image, and whether we see it in ourselves or not, that is the image within that Christ has successfully redeemed (see Ephesians 4:24).

God also sees our failures and our mess, for certain. Yet He is well able to differentiate who we are from all of that garbage. He will help you learn, grow and course-correct where needed, without ever treating you like there is something intrinsically wrong with you. You are not your own worst thoughts or behaviors, your untamed egotism, or your own self-righteousness (Romans 6:11). Further, your growth (or lack of growth) is not indicative of how utterly treasured and esteemed you already are in all of your uniqueness — to your very core. (Psalm 147:11, Psalm 149:4, Isaiah 62:3-5, Zeph. 3:17, Psalm 139:13-14)

There is no hoop you have to jump through for the Lord to like you, and no authentic part of who He made you to be that you can’t bring to His table of fellowship. As for any guilt, shame, or bondage that interfered with you knowing Him and His favor… He has already addressed and overcome it through His own self-sacrifice on the Cross, once and for all time (Hebrews 10:10).

You are simply and thoroughly desirable to Jesus. Even now He says to you, “You have absolutely captivated my heart, with merely one glance” (Song of Solomon 4:9). Continue reading Do you have even the slightest clue how much your very existence overjoys God’s heart?