Tag Archives: spirituality

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

Stirred Up Leadership: 10 Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality

Stirred Up Leadership: 10 Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality.

Check out the above article for some great points about unhealthy ways we approach spirituality.  I’m currently reading The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero and it’s digging up some very key points in how we do church and relate to each other.

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)

Say it ain’t so Tonex! Is this good bye?

TonexWow… I know this will work together for Good in the end… but it doesn’t stop me from feeling the pain that he must be going through right now!

Quoted from Tonex’s blog at MySpace.com

After long contemplation and much financial & emotional hardship I have decided that Tonex needs go on hiatus from the music industry. I have tried very hard to endure all that I can from being misunderstood to being down right lied on and I don’t physically or emotionally have the capacity to continue on anymore under the current circumstances.

note: to hear the live interview on this topic go to http://www.kjlhradio.com/tonex.htm

I’m really overwhelmed. In Tonex’s blog, he goes through his personal list of woes and hardships that he’s endured recently.  I really encourage you to go read the whole thing for yourself here .  What disturbs me most is that he’s had to face such hardship in the hands of the “Church Folk”!  Now I’ll put my personal bias out here and I’ll make it clear… I love what I know of Tonex and his ministry.  But even if you are totally opposed to everything he does, does that exclude him from being another brother in the Lord… for whom Christ died?  Do we forget that artists and entertainers are people too… need Jesus too… need to be loved and cared for too- right or wrong?

This is a sensitive subject for me because of the difficulties I have faced in the pursuit of my faith.  I’ve become especially sensitive to those who the church frequently mistreats.  The church in the US has such an institutionalized culture and can be so exclusive of those who culturally don’t fit in. This isn’t to say that Christians should continue in any-old way of living… but we bar people from coming in the door based on the way people look or the way they might make us look. So many times we push ‘sinners’ away because we just can’t stomach who they are right now. I personally have been pushed away, forgotten, and ignored because the sins I struggle with are too uncomfortable for those in my leadership.

Again, I’m not in a place to make a judgment call about anything going on in Tonex’s life because I’m not in his life nor am I his spiritual covering. But it truly pains me to hear his struggle with LIFE.

One friend I talked to about this commented: “we put our grown up spirituality on other people and leave them no room to grow and mature into their faith. Then what we get is ‘burned-out’ Christians who shut down for years before returning to ministry—after they have matured”. I’ve always seen Tonex simply as one who’s maturing in his faith yet who’s bold enough to be himself in the process. We always praise the ones who “act just like so-and-so”, or who are “going to be the next so-and-so” but what about the one that leaves you blessed and scratching your head at the same time? Kirk Franklin falls into this same category in my book… a brother in Christ who just like all of us is growing and maturing, but who’s transparent enough to let us SEE God at work in his life.

I could go on for a while about this (and maybe there will be a part two) but I just want to leave on this note. JESUS was transparent about his life too. Have you ever looked at the temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness?

You can Read it HERE Mathew 4:1-11.

Think about when the devil comes to tempt you… when was the last time he showed up in red tights, sporting a big red cape, horns, and a pitch fork? Did he announce: “I’m the devil here to test you… please disobey God and do what I say.”? I don’t think so, when WE are tempted, he comes through subtle suggestions in our minds… suggestions that have just enough truth to make sense to us. He doesn’t sound like SATAN… he sounds a lot like YOU.

The Bible tells us that Jesus was TEMPTED in the same ways that we are. Now the other part for us to wrap our minds around is this: nobody had to know that Jesus ever felt tempted. Think about it… no body was there with him in the desert. Here he is, all alone, with little thoughts coming to his mind that might make sense—especially after the heaven’s just opened up and announced “This is my son in whom I’m well pleased… listen to him”. So why in the world would he come back and tell anyone that the DEVIL was able to bring a thought to his HOLY mind? Because Jesus wants us to know that yeah, temptation has knocked on his door too. But we can overcome it just like He did. He set a president… not to keep everything hush-hush but to say—look at my life… I was tempted by the devil to bow down to him, I cried and agonized in the garden about following through with the Will of God for my life, I experienced pain, rejection, humiliation, and suffering… and I’m THE son of God. He opened up the not so glorious parts of His life so that we can be free and have no need to hide the not so glorious parts of our own lives.

Anybody wanna be just like Jesus!?

It’s my prayer that as with all test and storms in life, this too work together for Tonex’s good… that on the other side of the tears and the pain, a glorious ministry of healing and hope spring forth for everyone who can identify with what he’s going through right now.

In the mean time, keep us honest and transparent folks up in prayer yall! It ain’t easy being on the front line being shot in the back by Christians who aren’t comfortable with you on the SAME team with them.

In the words of that infamous man of God: ToNeX

“2 each His own”,

–Darren

Wednesday January 25, 2006 – 01:52am (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)