Tag Archives: faith

Faith and Sexuality Dialogue in Philly: Oriented to Love

Thursday through Saturday I’ll be in Philadelphia for Oriented To Love: a dialogue about Faith and Sexuality. The dialogue is sponsored by Evangelicals for Social Action.

The event aims to bring various people and perspectives together to listen and understand. More details about the event are here: http://www.evangelicalsforsocialaction.org/oriented-to-love/

I would really appreciate it if you kept me in your thoughts and or prayers this weekend!  I’m continuing my efforts of engaging churches and communities on the intersections of race, sexuality, and reconciliation.

– Darren

walking on water

I took a step of faith tonight.

Oh,what I would do to have
the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is,
And he’s holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name
and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
time and time again
“Boy, you’ll never win,
you’ll never win.”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
the voice of truth says “do not be afraid!”
and the voice of truth says “this is for my glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

– “Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns

I’ve decided to search for something better.  Once again, I’m at a place of trust and surrender.  Father, I’m committing myself to you.  Lead me and guide me.  You’ve called me out and I’m responding.  Take what I have… my brokenness and frailty and build me into what and who you’ve called me to be.

Thank you Father,

Amen

Renew Me / Everything He Promised

Good morning!
Listen to Renew Me by Martha Munizzi : http://www.napster.com/player/tracks/16499703

This has been an AWESOME morning for me.  Last night I had the opportunity to sit down and fellowship with a man of God.  In our conversation, I was reminded of my purpose and what God is doing in my life.  I received confirmation that God’s plan is active and God’s agenda is being pushed.  I went home with conviction and encouragement.

This morning I downloaded two songs in particular to listen to: “Renew Me” by Martha Munizzi and “Everything He Promised” by Dorinda Clark-Cole

The first song is a prayer song… “Renew me, remake me, create in me a clean heart oh God / Restore me, transform me, create in me a clean heart o God/ Restore me, transform me, create in me a clean heart o God/ Change my heart O Lord, I’m broken before you now, Take me as I am, receive this sacrifice.”

This captures what has been my prayer for years now.  As I’ve faced my struggles, my cry has been “Lord Change My Heart… that my life may be renewed” and as I look back, I’m seeing God– step by step– doing just that!

Listen to Everything He Promised by Dorinda Clark-Cole : http://www.napster.com/player/tracks/15492550

This is the second song that blessed me overwhelmingly this morning.  I literally cried as I sat on the train listening to this song. It’s a song of rejoicing in the fact that God is bringing to pass everything he promised.  I’m overwhelmed with thanks and praise for God bringing be back to Chicago and sustaining me.  It has been difficult, but the reality of the situation is that I’m STILL HERE!  God is STILL WORKING! and THE PROMISE IS ON THE WAY!

One line of the song repeats “The tears you’ve sown… you’ll reap with Joy” and indeed I’m expecting my harvest!  God’s love is amazing.  His plan is sure.  And I’m just happy about it!

I hope you’ll be able to listen to these songs and that they will in some way be as much an encouragement and a blessing to you as they have been to me today.  I love each of you and appreciate God placing you in my life.

The last lines of the song say “Don’t give up! Go All The Way! You’re Almost There!” and that is my encouragement to each person reading this!

Still Standing In His Grace
Darren Calhoun

Tuesday June 20, 2006 – 10:01am (CDT)

I’m Sorry

I feel like I’m appologizing to my 360 peeps, but in reality the one I’ve sinned against is God.

Things are going well right now, the doors are opening for the dance ministry, I’m getting calls for web design work and photography, and I’ve got good friends/family.  God’s favor is going before me in many areas of my life… in in all of this, I still find myself to be sinful — and casually continuing in it.

Just to clarify it now, we all will have areas in which we need improvement, etc… but I’m talking about sinful habits that you previously learned to overcome and had previously let go of… these are the things that I haven’t been watchful over.  In fact, when God convicts me about it, he brings to mind the very things I’ve taught others– from experince!  It’s like I’m relearning old lessons, retaking classes that I already passed!  And for that, I’m sorry.

My relationship with God isn’t about skipping hell, or having a better life… my relationship with Him is my reason for being on earth.  To willfully continue in behavior that strains that relationship is just disrespectful.  I love my Father and whooooo does he love me!  (oh yes!)

My Heavenly Father is my overwhelming desire… I just want to LIVE like it!  So herein is the apology to the 360 community – I’m sorry but I may have to change some of my behavior to line it up with what I believe (and have professed all along).  I know this often ruffles feathers, but who gets mad at a drug additct for changing his life?  Or at a parent for spending the time needed to raise their child?  Or at a doctor for spending years in school?  It’s all for a purpose and a goal that is at the heart of that person…  so I just solicit your prayers and encouragement to be what God has called ME to be.

Who’s better to persue?  A man?  A woman? A career? A dream? — I’m persuing the God of ALL these things.  I’m not sad or down…but I’m uplifted and encouraged… God is working this out in me!  Just watch Him while u pray for me!

Tuesday April 4, 2006 – 03:15pm (CDT)

Commission of Comfort II: A Message of Hope

In part one I reflected on a scripture from 2 Corinthians Chapter 1 where we lean how God is the God of All Comfort. I belive that it’s part of our commission as the church to reach out and comfort those who are hurting.  Specifically I belive that those with same-sex attractions as well as the self-identified Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) community, should able to come to the church for comforting and healing.

Now I’m looking again at God’s message of Hope to all people. It’s a message that reminds us that if we use our free-will to choose HIS WAYS that there is hope for these hopelessly human lives that we now live. I’m challenging us as the Chruch to find ways to open God’s real-life love to people who live in our current soceity.

This is God’s message to his people concerning those who choose to come to Him:

“Make sure no outsider who now follows GOD ever has occasion to say, “GOD put me in second-class.  I don’t really belong.’   And make sure no physically mutilated person  is ever made to think, “I’m damaged goods.  I don’t really belong.'” (Isaiah 56:3 The Message)

God who looks out for everyone addresses those who are already ‘his people’… this could be looked at as the Church today.  He wants the ‘outsider’ not to feel like ‘an outsider’ when they are among us.  I’m not saying that this is an easy task.  But who is going to minister to the mutilated? So often we talk about people with tatoos, with extreme piercings, and even the transgendered… and we do so with such disgust… but how will we make them feel that they could ever have a place in the church?  Some changes are permanant– they are mutilated if you will (for the sake of the scripture).  But God says that these too should be made to feel they belong.

I’m challenging myself to ask these hard questions because it forces me to confront myself in how I view people.

In my previous post, some were concerned about the issue of repentance.  I believe it’s clear that God does call all of humanity to repent, to turn away from sin… this is a process that is prompted in our hearts by God, but we RESPOND to him with our decisions.

For GOD says:     “To the mutilated who keep my Sabbaths and choose what delights me and keep a firm grip on my covenant…” (Isaiah 56:4 The Message) (Emphasis Added)

Yes, we can choose how we RESPOND to our feelings and desires… EVEN if we didn’t choose to have those desires or feelings.  This isn’t the old message that has been echoed by many of condemnation and rejection.  God is welcoming all people to himself… it’s my prayer that we join in the grand welcoming party in our churches and figure out make that real in our ministries.

I’ll bring them to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.  They’ll be welcome to worship the same as the “insiders,’  to bring burnt offerings and sacrifices to my altar.  Oh yes, my house of worship will be known as a house of prayer for all people.” (Isaiah 56:7) (Emphasis Added)

People are hurting and rejected in the very place where they should be healed and accepted. As the Church, we must move beyond REACTIONS to the GLBT demands in the political and social marketplaces, and begin to RESPOND in a way that will welcome people to reconcile their relationships with God and with others.  It is in relationship with God that I belive we find deliverance and change — as God works this out in our lives… in his own timing.  Who could convince you better than God if your sexuality is being expressed in its ideal form?  In openness, honesty, and freedom we find out that God’s grace really is sufficient and that we can become all that God desires for us.

This is a beatuful passage of scripture, please read Isaiah 56 at BibleGateway.com

Again, the comments section is open to thoughtful comments and questions — if you agree or disagree, your views are welcome!   I’m working out my salvation… join me in my journey- we can learn something together!

Saturday March 11, 2006 – 12:55am (CST)

Sex, Convictions, and Honor

I’m thinking about this wonderful thing called life and that wonderful topic that for various reasons is filled with shame, wonder, awe, passion, joy, hurt, and a whole host of other emotions.  I’m thinking about sex.  (Ok… stop giggling).

Now, let’s do a little background:   I’m looking at how its becoming unpopular for believers to have convictions.  It’s one thing to simply believe something or hold it as true.  It’s another thing to be convicted about that same thing.  The conviction caries with in that this must be adhered to.  In our society, the only absolute seems to be that we must adhere to nothing. So often when one acts according to their convictions, they are chastised as being “extreme” or “too religious” or whatever.  There are some people I’ve run across on 360 who’s beliefs I’m not in agreement with, but who’s conviction I admire and realize a need to step up in my own life.

In Romans 1, the people were in the wrong because they had no conviction… they didn’t feel that what they believed about God was important enough to alter or curb their behavior, they did whatever they wanted to and God let them.  A lot of times we only hear this passage in relation to homosexuality, but it’s truth in the text is applied to everyone reading!  We have to do more than just believe!

What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. (Romans 1:21 , The Message)

How many of us have felt this way: that there is no sense of direction… or at least no significant one?  That somehow what everyone is chasing after (a hot body, a good sex, etc…) isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.  That happiness isn’t nestled in the pleasure sensations that rise from between ones legs.  Then we ‘evolve’ into the relationship model, but we still don’t go for it God’s way.  We come up with a list (albeit simple or complex) of what we would like in our relationship, but we don’t consult God in what we seek for.

I’ve often seen this pattern heterosexual or homosexual… sex is ok as long as both of you want to do it.  That’s about the extent of our convictions (and even that is a blurry line with all the manipulation we throw into the equation).

I’m not criminalizing sex at all.

However I am concerned about our abandonment of God and his desire for our lives (not just sex).

Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, The Message)

And this is the point of all this discussion:  God has given us a fresh chance in Jesus… so often we take the grace and mercy, the love and kindness and run out with full of belief but low on conviction.  We believe that God loves us, that sex is good, and that he wants us to be happy.  But we don’t have any conviction that he cares how we live and wants a say in our lives.  At the very core of this is our bodies and what we do with them.

Since the Master honors you with a body, honor him with your body! – (v.13b, The Message)

Where has the honor gone?  Why is it that the most honor we can muster is for the physical appearance of the body… we’ll worship a hot body or a sexual satisfying experience, but we won’t honor our selves any higher than that.

…remember that your bodies are created with the same dignity as the Master’s body. You wouldn’t take the Master’s body off to a whorehouse, would you? I should hope not. – (v.15, The Message)

I’m not saying I’ve been perfect in this avenue, but I feel a conviction to do better.  It’s an inward thing, that’s working its way into my actions.

There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever–the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another.   (v.16-18, The Message )

SEX IS GOOD

It’s our God given desire to become one with another.  I think it comes from our desire to become one with Him… it’s a shadow of the most personal intimacy that we experience in true fellowship with God—that closeness where two become one.

Sex is Good, God is Good, now it’s time to be Good and Godly in our sex.  Remember he redeemed us so that we could have a chance to get things right and really live.  And who could make sex better than the one who made it?  Who could show us how to be pleased and fulfilled better than the one who created you, your hot spots, and every part of your body?!  God wants us to enjoy sex, but he has a prescription for how to do it right.  Let’s seek him and get this thing together!

Tuesday February 21, 2006 – 07:04am (CST)

To Deny Myself… Dumb or Divine?

Why do people get so “caught up” in being “true” to themselves? I so often hear people criticize when someone chooses to make a change in their life/behavior. They often argue, you’re not being true to who you really are. Then they’ll pose the question: What if you still feel the same way or want to go back to what you used to do?

Then I thought about who we are in God. We are made in God’s image and likeness… God makes choices… we do too. God didn’t make us like the animals in that we are NOT ruled by instinct. Yes we have some natural instincts, but we ultimately have the uniqueness of an intelligence to choose to go with the instinct or to do whatever else we can think of.

We use the power of our intelligence in all kinds of ways. We decided that we should be able to fly. We decided that we should be able to communicate over thousands of miles. We decided that no matter what the environment is, we should harness it and make it conform and become liveable to our tastes. Man has great power and we do what we will with it. God noted this in Genesis when man was building the Tower of Babble… he basically said whatever we set our minds to do, we’ll eventually do it. (Gen 11:6 )

We exercise this same liberty in other areas of our lives. We choose to ingest things that we know aren’t good for our bodies. We indulge in activities that we know put us at risk for long-term health problems. We do all kinds of things that we know are contrary to our nature. I’m not going to even get into what’s good or bad but I want to focus on the fact that we constantly choose what we will do above our natural instinct.

So why is it that when someone chooses to “deny himself” we get so staunch on being “true to yourself”. Making it clear that to deny oneself isn’t to pretend or ignore the facts, but rather in light of these things being true or real to make a decision to do otherwise.

Most who’ll read this agree that Jesus is the Son of God come down to save mankind (short version). And just look what he did… (Phil. 2:6-7 Amp )

6Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained,

7But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.

Jesus denied himself to choose to do what he felt was important. He became like me… so I could become like Him. So often, people say… “well you’re only human” as an excuse to just live ‘however you feel’ but I say to the contrary, because I’m human, I can choose to live the way God made possible for me to live through Jesus. So what if I have desires that aren’t like God… I’m going to choose to let Him transform those desires and allow myself to conform more to His image and likeness.

I believe that in making an intelligent decision to conform to what I know to be God’s will for my life I’m indeed honoring who I really am. That is I’m empowered with my choices to do more than my nature dictates. I’m honoring God by using my choice to become more like Him.

So what if I still feel the same way? So what!?! People who take anti-depressants don’t always feel “up” and just because someone in anger management class has an outburst, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t keep work on managing their anger. Let’s be real… just because air-planes crash doesn’t mean we stop flying… and obviously because certain sexual practices carry the risk of STD’s we haven’t stopped having sex!

Let’s move past this fatalistic and naturalistic limiting of who and what we can be. This isn’t a big statement of faith… it’s quite a small one. I’ll just believe it’s possible!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the wrold. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” – Original Author Uncertain, Quoted by Nelson Mandela

Thursday January 19, 2006 – 06:23pm (CST)

I Can Fix It?

Do we seek after DIY (Do It Yourself) spirituality?

I’m thinking about one way I find that we (especially in church) respond to life: “just fix it”.  It’s one of the major things we announce to the world when we witness: “whatever’s wrong, God will make it right… just come to Jesus”.  When people come to us or we go to people, the motive always seems to be: if you can just give me the right bible quote, or come up with some wise, easy to remember, catch phrase, then everything will change and I’ll be alright.

I guess I’m concerned because so often we are disappointed by this way of living.  My experience in church has been very action or works based.  We unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) attribute success to how hard we worked and failure to the lack thereof.  It’s not to say that these aren’t key factors in the effectiveness of our endeavors, but we spiritualize it and attribute it to God.  In doing so, we send people away with this notion that if I can’t make it happen, I must somehow not be in the right place with God… now I’ve got to fix something so I can get somewhere.

Let’s make it clear that I’m not advocating “don’t do anything cuz you can’t make it better anyway” but I am challenging myself firstly and anyone who reads this to stop for a moment and look at the bigger picture.  In our pursuit of perfection and righteousness are we looking past the relationship with God and counterfeiting the fruit of that relationship with our great works and witty wisdom phrases?  We all know that we need to be better than we are, but for all of our efforts, are we ‘out doing’ God in his plan?

Isn’t part of the Gospel message that “Man is hopeless to attain righteousness and rejoin relationship with God… so God through Jesus restored us to himself and declared us righteous”.  Maybe it’s time to take a moment to worship God… not manipulate him or our lives so things can ‘be better’.  God allows the mountains and valley’s of our lives for the sake of us knowing Him more.  Just think about it, have you ever had a friend that you really thought you knew, but an extreme situation came up and you then saw a whole new side of this person?  Good or bad, had the situation never come up, you may never have come to know that person in quite the same way you know them now.  So it is with us; if our spirituality worked out the way we treat it some time, we would never have extreme situations and thus never have the need to know God our ourselves in a different way.

We don’t seek after and hear the word as to somehow bypass something in our lives… but rather, we grow in faith as we hear the word, that whatever we experience in life, we are equipped with the Faith of God to handle it and even benefit from it.

I know I haven’t written in a while, but this is where I am right now… comments?  (does this make since to anyone?)

Tuesday December 27, 2005 – 11:06pm (CST)