Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Once I let Him into my heart in this way, things changed and have not been the same." Amanda

Amanda's last name has intentionally been omitted. Please respect the omission.   

Josh,                10/30/2010                     

My apologies if I was keeping you from sleep last night. ... The fact is, I've been trying to work up the courage to confess something to you. ... I just really wanted to share something with you, but was scared. I wanted to tell you the truth.

I don't know why I 'm doing this, but I know that I have to, and I can't push it out of my mind. Literally, the only person I've confessed this to, aside from you right now, is God. I keep trying to put it off and just try to talk to you in other ways, but this is just eating at me. I won't have access to a computer for another week, just my mobile web, and it will torture me to go another week without saying this. So here it goes....

Somehow, two weeks ago, I friend requested you. I was looking for family members. The only thing I can figure is that I have a cousin named Josh that lives in Cahokia, but somehow I got to you. You sent something back asking me if I had saw you on t.v. (to find out why I had requested you) and I had no idea what you were talking about. So I googled you, and the rest is history. I've still never seen you on t.v., but I read your blog. 

This is the hard part for me to admit. At the time, I was in serious trouble. I was seriously killing myself. Not like suicide, but a much slower way. Daily, I was ingesting 15 to 20 Vicoden, at least 6 Ambien, and about 12 beers per day. I was like a zombie. I was numb. I didn't feel happy, sad or mad. I didn't care and honestly that was my exact goal. I would have never purposely killed myself, but I didn't really care if I lived.

Then, like I said, I read your blog. I've never felt worse in my life. It was weird. I mean, I felt guilty, but also overwhelmed by your inspiration. So, you would think that I would have wanted to take more pills and booze, but I felt the exact opposite. 

I could not believe all of the years I wasted out here. I was free to do anything and I had done nothing. I was so jaded and sick, and I had done it to myself. I believed in God, but never worshiped Him. I just felt sorry for myself. I just made excuses. The second I read your blog, I knew in my heart that I could never give myself one more excuse to continue on this path that would seem justifiable anymore.

Since I was about 5 years old, I don't really remember being happy. Really, I was angry and scared. My dad began to verbally abuse my family when we moved to Arkansas. He was not happy and he resented us for it. He would call us terrible names, throw things at us, and sometimes shake us. I was afraid of him, but I loved him. It was so confusing to me. He treated my mom the same. This is what I saw growing up. I think what bothered me most is that my mom would make excuses, and tell us we just needed to be better. But it never mattered. There was always something else for him to be mad at.

Needless to say, I grew up thinking that I was not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough. I was popular in school, a cheerleader, but inside I was broken. I hid it from everyone. To this day, you are the only one I have told. I would let people take advantage of me, and I thought it was ok, because if I wasn't good enough for my own father, then why should other guys feel any different (?). To me, a controlling man or an abusive man was just the way it worked. I have never had a healthy relationship with any man in my life. I'm usually afraid of or suspicious of men.

Through the course of one particularly abusive relationship, I got a tooth ache. Guess what? That was the beginning of the addiction. I had never taken a drug in my life. Weirdly enough, when I took the pain medicine, it made me feel numb to my other pain, the pain in my heart. I didn't feel better. I just didn't feel anything at all. I remember it was 9/9/2001. I actually remember the day that I flushed ten years down the drain. From that exact day until 2 weeks ago, I have been a drug abuser. 

I have been a functioning drug abuser, but none the less still an abuser. I have been lying to myself, family and friends for almost 10 years now. It's crazy. This started with avoiding the pain of a relationship that ended in 2004, but, by that time, I was so lost and out of control that I really don't even remember what I was thinking. At the point of finding your blog, I was really hitting rock bottom.

So this is the really, really hard part to admit. I have told no one about this, not even my mom. There is a very complicated story behind this part, and it's very painful for me. My dad also sexually abused me, and, I do believe, several other family members. They're older than me, but they confided in me and they don't want anyone to know. I didn't even admit to them that it had also happened to me. This started happening before we moved from Illinois to Arkansas. 

I hope this is not inappropriate, but I have to say it. I have felt ugly, dirty, unworthy, wrong my entire life. I have never made love to a man. I don't mean I haven't you know, but it was never love. It was miserable, and I did not even want to, but I would just put my mind somewhere else. I'm 33 and I have never been in love with a man. Anytime I came close, I would find that once again I had picked another looser or abuser. Looking back now, I can see that it's all I thought I deserved. 

So, back to two weeks ago. I read your blog and then I just sat there for like 3 hours just staring at the wall and thinking about what I was going to do. Then I sat there a little longer and cried. I could not stop crying. I stayed in my house for like three days and spent most of that time on my knees praying. For the first time in my life, I realized that I should be praying for forgiveness and for strength, not for God to just make it easier on me.

I realized that all of this time I had been asking God to take away the pain, He didn't want to take it away. He wanted me to feel it and deal with it. I had not felt anything in so long. He wanted me to feel alive and aware. Once I let Him into my heart in this way, things changed and have not been the same. He didn't take the pain away, but He gave me the strength to deal with it. I have not had one pill or one drink since the moment I read your blog and story. I have tried many times in the past to quit, but never turned to the Lord for strength. I always felt sick and miserable. This time I can't even believe that I had been doing these terrible things for 10 years. I honestly have not once thought about wavering. I have not once felt week or sick, and I know that is because I have His strength behind me. 

I feel Him with me every step of the way and I will never end this journey. I know that God has given me a second chance and I will never let go of it or compromise it in anyway. I know how fortunate I am, because I know where I have been.

Honestly, I am going to say that since the minute I read your blog, I have not been able to get you out of my mind. Every night, every day, and just about every hour I thank the Lord that somehow he brought you into my life. I know that you would probably say that it was Him, and not so much you, but it was Him through you. I now know how I accidentally friend requested you, because I know that it wasn't an accident at all. It was a miracle.

One more thing I have to admit is that I have been sending you messages or comments regularly, wanting to tell you what I am telling you now. I was too afraid at first because I wasn't sure if I could trust you. I have felt, from the first second, that I owed you this thank you, but was afraid of putting it out here like this. I don't know why, but you are the only person in my life that I have ever trusted, and I don't even know you. The weird thing is that somehow I feel like I have known you my whole life. 

I see all of the wonderful comments sent to you from people. They are so beautiful and inspirational. I could never begin to put things into words the way some do. I actually have been trying to make a good impression, because I wanted to be your friend, and somehow I think I have come off, looking and sounding, like an idiot. I realized tonight that I must be truthful in every aspect of my life, in order to be true to God. I felt that I was still lying, because I wasn't being honest with you. You - the one person who God chose to make such an impression upon my life, to save my life. I could not go one more second without expressing this. 

Seeing you in the video when you went to the beach for the first time was incredible. My Nana lives in Biloxi, MS. and I spent many summers with her trying to escape my home. I have been to the beach so many times, but I can promise you that not once did I have an experience like that. I admit I watched that video of you like 10 times and just cried. I watched every move you made and the expressions on your face. You were truly at peace. You appreciated every second. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The way that you just laid there and soaked it all in and then just exploded with joy. I thank God that you had that moment.

I guess it's definitely true that the Lord works in mysterious ways, and I am so thankful for it. ... I hope you do not think I'm totally insane, because I don't think I have ever felt better in my life. I owe you so much gratitude. If ever you need anything, at any time, never hesitate to tell me. I will never forget you and how you, along with God, spoke to my heart in a way that it had never heard. There will not be a moment that I will not carry you in my thoughts and in my prayers. I will always hold you in the highest regard.


Thanks for sharing this with me. How did it feel writing this? How does it feel knowing I know? Would you be ok with others knowing about this?  Pray about this. Your testimony could and would help so many others. You could help introduce others to a saving relationship with Jesus, just as others did, on my blog, for you. :) Powerful! God is so good! I'm so happy for you! :)  ~ Josh

Thank you and I would be ok with others knowing. For the first time, since finally confessing all of that, I don't feel tied down by it anymore.

Yes, for the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I truly know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement.  I know things will only get better and better.

~ Amanda

Saturday, October 30, 2010

November 3rd 2010 "Hope Road" Fundraiser

I received this, in an email thread, from a friend. I reached out to the producer and have exchanged emails with her. It appears as if she sincerely wants to impact the lives of others throughout this country and, possibly, the world. She has a heart for this issue. I thought you'd like to know. She could use your practical and prayer support. 

Blessings, Josh 

I am producing a film called Hope Road which focuses on the sexual exploitation of our children and youth. You can view the trailer by clicking on the link in this paragraph. This film is focusing on the solution NOT the problem, there is enough footage on the problem. Will you read this email and view my website to get a full understanding of our work? Then join us at the IMPROV at Zona Rosa (7260 Northwest 87th Street, Kansas City, MO 64153-1934) on Wednesday, November 3rd at 6 pm in support of Hope Road, a movie which will deal with the needs to battle sexual exploitation of children and youth. There is no charge for this event however, it is a fund raiser and we'll be asking for donations. Your donations are completely tax deductible. AND - will you please forward this email to your email group? Frankly, I need your help and forwarding this on will make a difference.
The issue of Domestic Sexual Exploitation of Of Children and Youth is becoming more and more evident and focus on finding victims is in process. However, what do we do with children and youth when we find them? Space is either non-existant or extremely limited. Working to End Sexual Exploitation is a calling so many of us share.  From providing therapy to survivors of sexual exploitation, to education, medical and psychological needs as well as learning social skills will be necessary for rehabilitation. We currently have almost none of this in place.  This film will be given to those of us working in this world - what a gift helping us raise funds, train and educate where it's needed. 
We believe the change this film can bring to our community and communities across the country is great.  For example, when the film is produced, it will serve as a powerful tool to 1) educate providers (from law enforcement to school teachers and from social service providers to physical and mental health care professionals) 2) influence law and policy 3) empower communities across the country to build their own anti-sexual exploitation efforts 4) assist non-for-profit agencies that serve survivors in raising their own funds for Sexual Exploitation Survivor Services; etc.  We need you to make this great change become a reality.
Sponsors include Kansas City Alliance Against Human Trafficking, Healing House, Kansas Attorney General's Office, The Wichita Children's Home, Sunflower House and Cress. Also supporting the effort is MOCSA Metropolitan Organization To Counter Sexual Assault

While nothing is funny about the problem of sexual exploitation, the program for the evening will include The Funniest Housewives of Orange County, including comedian Cindy Burns and a viewing of the trailer for Hope Road.  Please view the flyer that is attached to this e-mail in PDF format. Cindy Burns and troupe will be performing at 6 and 8pm. The 6pm show is by invitation only. 

I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, November 3rd at 6:00. Please contact Susan Cook at 816-716-0330 or for reservations or questions.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shouts of Grace, written 1/18 through 1/19/04

On 8/2/94, I was sentenced to two 30 years sentences. One for Armed Criminal Action. The other for Murder. On 8/3/94, the Missouri Department of Corrections changed my sentence, without the permission of the courts, to 60 years and placed me under life sentence sanctions. 9 1/2 years later and almost 11 years into my bit, I wrote Shouts of Grace.

Upon being sentenced to spend my life in prison, God helped me express my soul through words. In those days, I was so closed in that I couldn't trust anyone. My heart wouldn't allow me, but God gave me His Word to find strength to trust in Him. He's given us His Word.

When I wrote it, I'd been in for over a decade. My D.O.C. time had reached 9 1/2 years. In retrospect, I could say I was relatively late in my bit, but the reality is that I wasn't. At the time, I had no idea when I'd be released. When I wrote it, I had no attorneys and my case wasn't in the courts. All I had was faith. I had faith in His grace. I had set my heart to serve, loved my Lord and believed Psalm 91:14-16's promise.
"Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him My salvation."
You might wonder where I got the title and the theme? The answer's in Zechariah 4:6-7.
"Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it!"
You might also wonder at the tone of the words.

Why do I call Him the God of all these things? The answer is in His title. He's God. Now, I know one path of thought is that because He's God that means He's the one doing everything and that Satan really does nothing and isn't to be blamed. Another line of thought is that God does it all, so we should blame Him. And yet another line of thought is that God does good things, Satan does bad things. Here's the thing, God is...God. Whether He's in it, responsible for it or merely the source of strength we need to get through it, He's God and Satan is not.

At the time I wrote this, I wasn't concerned with those debates. I'd done that before, and found nothing but excuses. Over the years, I'd come to understand that God's power and influence over creation is far above my ability to understand, but His heart? hhhhhmmmm...that was different. His heart was revealed on the Cross. His heart was revealed in the purpose of His power displayed (1 John 4:7-9), so ...I praised Him. I shouted to Him. And I thanked Him that He is God and I am not. I still do.

That night, my concerns were for something more fulfilling. In that hour, my heart was concerned with His deliverance. In that midnight hour, I saw God's powerful desire to set me free, even more than He already had. He had free'd me throughout my stay in prison. He'd free'd me of fear and rage. He'd free'd me of the walls inside me. I had faith He would free me of the walls around me (which He did 5 years after I wrote this song). I desired whatever freeing He had for me on 1/18, 1/19/04.
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Matthew 5:6 
 Shouts of Grace
written 1/18 through 1/19/04, in the midnight hour
by Joshua C. Kezer, copyrights 2004

There has come a time in our lives
When we must make a decision
To shrink back or stay the course
To believe the lie or that He is risen

Now I believe God is in control
And I believe we will rise above this
Just as I believe Jesus is Lord
And I believe Satan is defeated (2x)

With shouts of grace (grace), shouts of joy (yeah)
Let the river flow and overflow
and gain control
With shouts of grace (grace), shouts of joy (yeah)
Let the world come and bow before Your throne
With shouts of grace

Can we see Him and what's all around us?
Do we see the angels.....surrounding where we are?
Open our eyes, Lord, and show us Your bounty
Make us to see, Lord, Your host standing guard

Build up within us a praise that is mighty
Make us to shout, Lord, an overcoming blow
Flow through us a wind that is living
Let us see, Lord, new life in the bones (2x)

With shouts of grace (grace), shouts of joy (yeah)
Let the river flow and overflow
and gain control
With shouts of grace (grace), shouts of joy (yeah)
Let the world come and bow before Your throne
With shouts of grace

(chorus extended) 
We will look to You, God of the mountains
God of the valleys
We will trust in You, God of the weak
God of the strong

And we will praise Your name, God of the plagues
God of the Blood
And we will follow You, wherever You lead
Wherever You go
Yes, we will bow before You, for we know
You are in control
God of grace

(instrumental pause)

With shouts of grace, shouts of grace
With shouts of grace, shouts of grace
grace, grace, grace (3x)

There has come a time in our lives
When we must make a decision
To shrink back or stay the course
To believe the lie or that He is risen

I hope you find strength in it, as I do every time I read it and reminisce on that night. I hope you're free'd, as I was. I've known dark night's of the soul. That wasn't one of them.

Prior to this, I'd shared this with a few others. Now, many of you. It excites my heart to know that people from all around the world will now share in this experience with me. Every time I check my stats and find that a new section of the world has read my blog, I get excited. To go from being inside a maximum security prison to maintaining a blog that reaches across the globe is definitely a sign of God's "grace".

I hope each of you takes the time to comment on this entry. Some of you may find it difficult to do so. I've been told that the blog isn't letting some people comment. Some of you might try going to the follow button at the top of the blog and choosing to follow the blog via that option. I think it will allow you to post a comment, once that's done. ...whether you speak English or not or if you're a Christian or not. Thank you for reading my blog.

Blessings in the name of Jesus Christ,


Monday, October 25, 2010

Our Hiding Place, Our Hope ~ Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior

"His oath, His covenant, His blood, 
support me in the o'er whelming flood, 
when all around my soul gives way, 
He then is all my Hope and Stay. 

When darkness veils His lovely Face, 
I rest on His unchanging grace, 
In every high and stormy gale, 
my anchor holds within the veil. 

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, 
All other ground is sinking sand."

"When our wounds are raw and bleeding, God wants us to turn directly into Him. He wants us to run to our Hiding Place, our High Tower, our Balm of Gilead" Marilyn Plott 

Proverbs 13:12. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when desire cometh, it is a Tree of Life."

Romans 5:5. "Hope does not disappoint; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Stop Living Like a Christian Atheist by Whitney Hopler, a Contributing Writer

Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Craig Groeschel's recent book, The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as if He Doesn't Exist, (Zondervan, 2010). 
Sure, you believe in God. But does the way you live reflect that belief? Too often, Christians seem more like atheists because they live as if God doesn't really exist - despite saying that they believe in Him. God wants more from you than just belief. He wants you to act on your faith by living it out in every part of your life. That's the only way you can grow closer to God and let others know that your faith is real, so they'll be inspired to seek God themselves. 
So stop living like an atheist and start living like a Christian. Here's how you can deal with different obstacles that can prevent you from fully living out your faith.
When you believe in God but don't really know Him: God wants a close relationship with you - one in which you get to know Him well. He promises in the Bible that those who seek Him will find Him. So make it your top priority to pursue a closer relationship with God. As you get to know God better, you'll change into a better person throughout the process. Tell God that you want to know Him more, and invite Him to transform you and your life. 
When you believe in God but are ashamed of your past: Shame will give you an inaccurate view of yourself and keep you from embracing the truth that God loves you no matter what. You have great value as someone He has made in His image. So, reject what your shame says about you, so you can hear what God says about you and start living with confidence. Confess your sins, repent of them, and pursue healing, however God leads you, such as through counseling. Ask God to help you use your experiences from past mistakes to minister to other people who are struggling in similar ways. 
When you believe in God but aren't sure He loves you: Don't waste time and energy worrying about whether you're good or important enough to deserve God's love, or trying to earn His love - that's all futile. Instead, realize that God, in His essence, is love. Since God's nature is to love, He loves you completely and unconditionally. God's love for you will always be bigger than your sins and failures.
When you believe in God but not in prayer: If you don't pray much, ask yourself honestly why you don't. Is it because you don't expect prayer to lead to real change? Give prayer a try and you'll start to experience its power to change both people and situations. Is it because prayer is just a boring ritual to you? Pour out your deepest thoughts and feelings to God, listen to His responses, and you'll discover that prayer can be exciting. Is it because you're not sure that you know how to pray the right way? Rest assured that there's no formula for prayer; God will hear whatever you pray, however you pray it.
When you believe in God but don't think He's fair: Bad things do happen to good people in our fallen world, but you can count on God to bring about justice ultimately in the eternal realm. Remember that whenever God does allow you to suffer, He has a purpose for your pain that will ultimately lead to something good. Also, considering how often people sin, it's good that God doesn't give us all exactly what we deserve in this world, because that would mean not receiving the good grace that He constantly gives.
When you believe in God but won't forgive: Remember that God has forgiven you freely and completely for everything you've ever done wrong, so let your gratitude motivate you to obey His call to forgive other people who have hurt or offended you. If you just make the choice to forgive - despite your feelings - God will help you through the process and empower you to forgive anyone for anything.
When you believe in God but don't think you can change: No matter what problems you're dealing with, you can overcome them if you rely on God's help to do so. Eliminate any excuses you may have for not trying to change. Replace every wrong thought that enters your mind with biblical truth. Cut ties with people who are holding you back from changing in the ways you hope to change and surround yourself with people who will encourage and help you. Trust in God's promise that with Him, all things are possible.
When you believe in God but still worry all the time: Recognize that worry is actually the opposite of faith, because by worrying you're telling God that you don't really trust Him to handle the situations you face. Rather than worrying about your problems, do all you can to solve them and trust God to do what you can't do. Invite God to work on each problem in His way and in His time. Whenever you catch yourself worrying, take that as a signal to start praying about your concern instead.
When you believe in God but pursue happiness at any cost: It's a mistake to believe that God wants you to be happy above all else. God isn't obligated to make you happy if you're faithful to Him. In fact, He may often allow pain to enter your life to help you grow in ways you couldn't otherwise. But God, from His unlimited perspective, knows what is best for you. Chasing after what our culture tells you can make you happy may make you feel good temporarily, but it will eventually disappoint you. Only God's blessings - which transcend happiness - will truly fulfill you in lasting ways.
When you believe in God but trust more in money: You can't devote yourself to both God and money, because your heart will be divided and a love for money will end up pushing you into sin. Realize that money is just a tool for living, and decide to control it well - according to the principles God has outlined in the Bible - so it won't end up controlling you. Ask God to teach you how to give sacrificially to thank Him for making the ultimate sacrifice through Jesus on the Cross to save you.
When you believe in God but don't share your faith: If you're not sharing your faith, you're not responding to an important call from God. Evangelism is part of God's plan for all believers. Ask Him to help you share your faith through your conversations with the people you relate to every day. Pray for people, serve them, and invite them to both your church and your home regularly.
When you believe in God but not in His church: You can't grow closer to God, build strong relationships with other believers, or represent God well to the world if you're not participating in a local church. So believe in God enough to truly give your life to it, which being active in church will help you do.
Adapted from The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as if He Doesn't Exist, copyright 2010 by Craig Groeschel. Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich.,

"Post this as your status"...?

I wrote this on my Facebook account and got a decent response. It wasn't a mass response, but the comments were interesting and thoughtful. As such, I'd like to share with you the full article I wrote on 10/20/2010 and I'd appreciate your response.

I understand today is a day to mourn gays who have been pushed into committing suicide due to the thoughtless abuse and cruelty of others. My heart goes out to anyone who is pushed to harm themselves. The pandemic of people being pushed too far has spread throughout every corner of the world. It saddens me.

That being said, I've noticed that Christians are posting this propaganda that proposes we understand that being homosexual is not a choice. That saddens me as well.

As Christians , I wonder if we know enough about the Word. Have many of us have really confronted the violence of the Cross? 

Post this as your status if you know or love someone who is gay. My wish for 2011 is that people will understand that being gay is not a disease nor a choice. People who are gay are not looking for a cure but acceptance and equal rights. I copy pasted this in effort to end intolerance and ...hate.Will you do the same?

As I stated, I regret the pain hateful and uncaring people cause others who are going through gender identity issues. There's no cause for their selfish and ignorant actions. I'm opposed to intolerance and hate. 

But... how many Christians still have the courage to remain steadfast in the teachings of the Bible? What does the Bible say on this issue? Let's examine it. 

"The Bible consistently tells us that homosexual activity is a sin (Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). Romans 1:26-27 teaches specifically that homosexuality is a result of denying and disobeying God. When people continue in sin and unbelief, God “gives them over” to even more wicked and depraved sin in order to show them the futility and hopelessness of life apart from God. 1 Corinthians 6:9 proclaims that homosexual “offenders” will not inherit the kingdom of God.

God does not create a person with homosexual desires. The Bible tells us that people become homosexuals because of sin (Romans 1:24-27) and ultimately because of their own choice. A person may be born with a greater susceptibility to homosexuality, just as some people are born with a tendency to violence and other sins. That does not excuse the person’s choosing to sin by giving in to sinful desires. If a person is born with a greater susceptibility to anger/rage, does that make it right for him to give into those desires? Of course not! The same is true with homosexuality.

However, the Bible does not describe homosexuality as a “greater” sin than any other. All sin is offensive to God. Homosexuality is just one of the many things listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 that will keep a person from the kingdom of God. According to the Bible, God’s forgiveness is just as available to a homosexual as it is to an adulterer, idol worshipper, murderer, thief, etc. God also promises the strength for victory over sin, including homosexuality, to all those who will believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:13)." 

I know this is a rough subject. I realize that some of you will be angry with me over this. That's the thing. Christians will only gain respect from the world around them when they speak up and tend to the needs, rather than cater. Having the courage to stand up for what you believe in because you know it serves the greater good of the community of people around you and their spiritual welfare more thoroughly is an act of honor.

I've men and women that are my friends that differ from me on various issues, some serious. Some of them are even gay. They respect me though because they know what I believe and that I stand firm. They know I'm not perfect. I don't try to pretend I am. But they know I'm a Bible believing Christian with no shades of gray. We need more Christians, absent the shades of gray. 

I know gay men and women. I've no malice toward them. And they know that. My malice is toward the sin. It's been said by empty vessels that we ought to "love the sinner and hate the sin" and most of you know an empty vessel when you hear and/or see one. I'm sure you know that's not the case with me. I have many flaws, but one of them does not lie in my love and concern for any of you or for anyone who may reach out to me in the days ahead.

Love the sinner and hate the sin? Christ in me has made that possible. Philippians 4:13. 

Why hate the sin? It was once said by an old preacher,

"Before we can comprehend or understand grace, we must confront the violence of the Cross and that it was our sin that nailed Him [Jesus Christ our Lord] to it, it was our sin that required the payment, it was our sin that beckoned the Father's heart to offer the ransom required and His awesome love that payed the debt without hesitation. Only then can grace be real for us. Only then can we truly know the depths mercy took to purchase grace...for us."  

For those of you who follow my blog, I'd like to remind you of a sermon I posted on it not long ago titled "Amen, Brother! by Pastor James Jackson"

2 Corinthians 1:20 (Weymouth New Testament). "For all the promises of God, whatever their number, have their confirmation in Him; and for this reason through Him also our Amen acknowledges their truth and promotes the glory of God through our faith." 

Amen: to be or become; so be it, truth, sure; may it be so; faithfulness; it is written. Its primary use is to indicate that the speaker adopts for his own what has already been said by another. A form of affirmation or confirmation of the speaker's own thought.

Amen is making a vow, a covenant that is sealed. It is aligning yourself, in agreement, to a statement and a commitment to follow through according to the original terms.

When we say “amen” in a prayer of agreement, we are saying that what was said is truth and then we align ourselves with that truth. We are declaring “may it be so; may what we have just agreed to come to pass”. Hmmm. Some things spoken in a sermon or prayer are not in accordance with the Word of God and, therefore, we can not and must not declare our agreement or alignment with that which was spoken. Some things we don't want to come to pass. We must, therefore, withhold our “amen”.

First, come into alignment (agreement) with the Word of God.
Second, listen closely to what is spoken in a sermon or prayer.
Third, give your “amen” only to that which aligns itself with the Word of God.

If the truth of God's Word is absent, then so must be our “amen”. Too often, we say “amen” without understanding or believing what was said (in a sermon, prayer or statement). It is used as a religious phrase by rote (mechanical or unthinking routine or repetition).

Once we understand the will of the Lord and put into practice His Word, our “amen” can and will be spoken with confidence and assurance. 

"Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." (1 John 5:14-15)


I'm curious, Christian, would you say "amen" to the status update that's been asked of you or the Word? Would you love the sinner and hate the sin? Would you take a stand? 

Comments from my Facebook account: 
"I'm glad you posted this, Josh. I've been talking a lot about this with various people. I think most people would see me as a person who at least TRIES to love the person and hate the sin although I know I fail. But you said something that I firmly believe and something that lots of people (both Christians and unbelievers) do not like. That gay people, while they have not been BORN gay, could have been born more susceptible to homosexual desires. Like any sin. I'll just say it...I do not think having a drink or two is a bad thing (drunkenness yes) but I will never go to a bar without other like minded people there to hold me accountable. I don't frequent bars anyway but if I were to go for some sort of event or social gathering I would do so with someone who is also a lover of Jesus and knows about MY susceptibility to drunkenness. I stay away from what is a strong hold for me. I'm very prone to all sorts of addictions and I have to be careful about it. I know I fail. But I know when it's bad, I recognize it and I repent. Eventually :)
It's a very thin line we, as Christians, are force to walk right now with these tragedies. I want nothing more than to go back in time some how and just give those kids a hug. Maybe that wouldn't have saved them...but maybe it would've. It breaks my heart to pieces that we often miss the pain in someones eyes or in their behaviors even when it's RIGHT in front of us. One of my favorite lines from a song is from the song Cut by Plumb. It says "and these scars wouldn't be so hidden if you would just look me in the eye"
Jesus wasn't afraid to look people in the eye and see the pain. And address it. I think we often don't look people in the eye. We're too worried about us. It's sad..." Jessica T. 
"Do not forget to entertain strangers; for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2" 

"Matthews 25:33-40"

"We should be the post our brother (and sister) leans on when he (or she) stumbles on his (or her) path to God. Some peoples path will be longer and harder than others. As long as we lend ourselves to their need, we are doing our job." 

"O Father of all people and lover of all your children. Give me a heart of concern and compassion for those who are left out and forgotten, especially those abandoned by the world.... Please give me courage to identify with those who the world not only shuns and shames but those the world persecutes and ridicules. Father, give me a heart like Jesus for the people that most depend upon Him. In the name of Jesus, my Savior, I pray. Amen" Angela S. 
"Very well said, Josh. While I do not agree, I do respect your position, especially in your lack of malice and/or hostility toward gays. I myself am straight, but the Bible also says that eating shellfish, pork, and meat and dairy in the same meal are abominations, and most of us don't seem to share those views. I stick with Jesus' central message..."Love thy neighbor as thyself." And bullying and cruelty are abominations as well. Good discussion, though, I really respect your conviction." William B.