About Me

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Wichita, Kansas, United States
I am chief among sinners, rescued from the despair of my former life by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. It is not my desire to judge, but as a simple beggar, I wish to tell others where I found the Food that leads to Eternal Life, Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life and the True Vine.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Long time gone...

It has been a long time since I posted to this blog, but I decided to revive it. I felt it would be helpful to record my thoughts, because the process requires that I organize my thoughts. And organizing my thinking is always a challenge for me since I have "attention deficit disorder". So excuse me if I occasionally ramble, but my thoughts wander, and getting them all to wander in one direction is the challenge that blogging may assist me in addressing.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Death and dying...

My father and my mother are 26 and 25 years older than I am, respectively. I am also an "only child". As I am 56 years old, that makes my father 82 and my mother 81.  Yet because of my illness, I have lived with them now for fifteen years. For four years, I have been "on disability". I receive a stipend, but I would not be able to live in our home on my stipend alone. During this time, my parents have been a source of both financial and emotional support. But time is taking its toll. My mother is suffering from a recurrence of cancer, and must undergo chemotherapy. And my father is becoming more frail. Thinking about death and dying is unavoidable, as our time together seems to pass all too swiftly. 

As an evangelical, I viewed death with a sense of triumphalism. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. But death also seemed remote...somewhat unreal. When I attended funerals (which are far less of a "church" function than among the Orthodox), I often heard evangelistic sermons stressing the gospel message (I Cor. 3:3 ff.) and our blessed hope. But now that I am faced with the very real possibility of the death of my parents, death has become less of a theological concept, and more of an ominous reality. At the same time, I am now an Orthodox Christian, and am still learning what death means to the Orthodox. It seems to be approached with far greater solemnity.

I feel as though I am facing the "perfect storm". I have not yet developed a "support network" in the Orthodox Church, and view the loss of my family with great apprehension. They are not, "Orthodox", although they are what an evangelical would call "good, Bible-believing Christians", who have both "accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior". They would both affirm the tenets of the Nicene Creed, although they would understand the words "one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" differently. I earnestly believe that I will see them in heaven. But that does not salve the pain that I feel in anticipating their loss.

I am ashamed of myself, because I am afraid of shadows. Rather than truly enjoying the time we have left together, I find myself fretful and depressed. Jesus says that we are not to be anxious for either food or raiment. The Apostle Paul says that we are to be anxious for nothing, but are to let our requests be known to God. Yet I am weak in this body of sin and death, and long again for joy, that I may not be a burden to my parents, who face sufficient burdens of their own. I believe, O Lord. Have mercy and forgive me my unbelief.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Loneliness

Sometimes I experience loneliness. Heart-rending, mind-bending loneliness. Often, as I understand, HIV/AIDS is accompanies by clinical depression. So I attribute much of my melancholia to the effects of HIV/AIDS. I am fortunate in having a supportive family. By the grace of God, my parents, although elderly, are still alive, and I am living with them. I am thankful that God has not left me without caring, human contact. Some are not so fortunate.

I recently had what used to be called a "nervous breakdown", or "nervous exhaustion." Now they call it a severe "anxiety attack." What stood between me and voluntary self-committal were some very helpful therapists, and my family. I openly wept in their arms. God forgive me. I cried like a baby--the completely helpless cry of someone at the end of their emotional resources. I cried out for fear of being left alone.

I said "God forgive me", because the resources of my heavenly Father are unlimited. The grace of God in our Lord Jesus Christ were sufficient for the Apostle Paul, regarding his "thorn in the flesh". Yet I am poor in faith, and sometimes it is difficult to trust all my cares to God, Whose arms I cannot see or feel. But that is just the point. We are to live by faith, not by sight. We trust in the Truth when all around us seems to fall apart. 

But we often forget the arms of those in the Church, ready to hear our confessions before God, ready to support and uphold those of us who fall in their own weakness. And we all fall--continually. But God has given us the Church of Jesus Christ, members of the very Body of Christ who are His arms and legs, His hands and feet. Christians are saved to be "Lone Rangers", but are to serve one another and bear one another's burdens. And the Church had been a very real solace to me in this difficult time.

You say you know and love Jesus Christ. Do you also know and love His Church, that He bought for such a dear price?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Resolutions...

How did "once or twice a week" so quickly become "once every two weeks"? Time seems to go by so fast, at least in comparison to my creativity, which sometimes comes unbidden, and goes with equal mystery. I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, but I can ill put into words my struggles. I suppose, or at least I hope, that these struggles in my faith--with my faith--will result in my spiritual growth. I will write again after they work on my cable connection tomorrow.

All in His time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I've decided to end my long silence and resume blogging. I shall endeavor to write something regularly (hopefully 2-3 times per week, if I can maintain some sort of discipline in my writing). I will be posting on two or three blogs, but don't worry. It is likely that I will repeat what I have written on this blog (otherwise the time required to be creative would drive me to distraction - and at the current price of gasoline, I can hardly afford to drive anywhere.....bad pun!). Most of what I will write will be my reflections on Christian discipleship, and my own walk in Christ (it is the only walk of which I have intimate familiarity). Much of what I will write will be from the perspective of an Orthodox (Eastern/Antiochian) Christian.

Please feel free to share your own experience of the Christian life with me.

God bless and keep you always.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My Testimony

I believed in the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ when I was 16 years old, through the testimony of a friend of the family. Enthused with my new faith, but with a poor understanding of the Christian life and the nature of spiritual conflict and daily obedience to my Lord Jesus, I struggled when confronted with the temptations of college in the ‘60s. I later became involved with the campus ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, which proved of some help with my spiritual life. I believed I had been called to the ministry, and sought to continue my education at Dallas Theological Seminary. It was there that I discovered that seminary preparation was not designed to address issues of besetting sin or spiritual immaturity, but to further prepare the mature for service.

I had struggled with homosexual temptation, and became involved in a sinful liaison outside of seminary. I praise God that He granted me no peace in my deception, and eventually, in despair, I took the autumn of my senior year to go to L’Abri to seek answers. The personal ministry of Francis Schaeffer was instrumental in planting the seed for true repentance. But my lack of practiced commitment when I returned to seminary resulted in a return to sinful behavior, and an attempt at suicide. I left seminary, became involved with the homosexual “community” in Dallas, and descended into drug use and dissipation. Nevertheless, when I was encouraged to become involved in the Metropolitan Community Church of Dallas, I could not. God would not allow me to deny fully what I new to be true, though I denied in practice. When I reached the nadir of my misery, I went to a deacon in a nearby Baptist church, who urged me to contact my family and return home. My family, who are Christians, received me with open arms, and the long, slow road of repentance and healing began in earnest.

Mine was not a dramatic "healing" or overnight change. I had years of struggle, punctuated by failures, remorse, repentance...and progressive transformation. In all of this, God would not let me go, and I clung to my belief in Jesus Christ as my Salvation, Hope, and Lord of my life. But what I believe was the turning point in my life occurred some years ago, after I had decided to shut the door on my past behaviors and actively pursue heterosexual relationships, including dating and possibly marriage. I was attending OSU for professional continuing education in the restaurant business. Because of my increasing knowledge of HIV, I realized my former lifestyle had presented some risk (although my actual participation in high-risk behavior was minimal), and decided to get tested as a precaution. It was the outcome of this test that set me back on my heels...I was, in fact HIV positive. In fact, the clinic at the school I was attending for continuing education in my career indicated that I had been HIV positive for some time.

The implications of this discovery were stark, and the impact on my future plans was dramatic. I realized that I would probably not be able to pursue my continuing education or career as I had planned. And I also realized that seeking a relationship with a woman—my hopes of marriage and family—was no longer an option. Such a relationship would put a woman's life at risk, and subject her to an emotional stress caused by my possible incapacitation and subsequent care. I did not believe that I could not truly love a person and knowingly subject them, even with their full knowledge and assent, to such risks. So my choice was difficult, but clear. I could seek friendship, but could not seek a spouse. I would live a celibate life, with all that it entailed. And I must tell my family, who were largely unaware of my struggles with sexual preference.

Fortunately, my family accepted the news with shared grief and mutual support. I finished my classes and returned to live at home with my parents. Later, I moved to Boston to seek work, but was made aware that there was a seminary north of Boston in South Hamilton, where I could complete my degree. I spoke to an administrator at the seminary, who accepted me as a student on a provisional basis. By the grace of God, I also received medical attention from a Christian doctor who had spoken at a church I attended in Boston, and God has seen fit to prolong my life. As I matured, so did my understanding of the forgiveness of God and His power in my life. I was supported and encouraged by my family and church (often an all too unusual situation in people seeking to overcome homosexual passions and activity in their lives). And rather than seek the fellowship of people struggling with the same issues (which I deemed could be dangerous, and a potential source of temptation, given the emotional dynamics of such a situation), I sought out fellowship with heterosexual couples and individuals, in order to "re-socialize" my life in a more appropriate context.

I completed a seminary education at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1993 and returned home, where I now worship at St. George Orthodox Cathedral, minister through a blogsite and forum, sing occasionally, open to God's leading. I am committed to Jesus Christ who is truly Hope, Salvation, Life, and Lord. I am not free of temptation, but, by God's grace, such temptations have become infrequent, and God has preserved me from falling. I sometimes mourn the inability to seek a life's partner, a woman whom I could love and who would love me, for my frame of reference has indeed changed. But I have learned to rely on God to meet my emotional needs. And God's provision of loving parents, a supportive church, and some close heterosexual friendships has enabled me to rejoice in my life and His abundant mercy.

I believe that every day I live is a gift from God, and that I will die no sooner and no later than God shall allow. God, in His grace has brought me through the devastation of disobedience and its harsh results, borne in my own body. He reminds me that His grace, which has brought me thus far, is sufficient. So I humbly praise the Lord Jesus Christ, who atoned for my sin, and who, by the power of his resurrection, enables me to offer my life as a living sacrifice, made acceptable as an act of worship to Him. To the Triune God alone be the glory.

The righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the recemtion that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood. Romans 3:22-25a

I want to know Christ, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead. Philippians 3:10-11