from the breach

Isaiah 58:12

Thank You, Alan Turing — May 22, 2015

Thank You, Alan Turing

Powerful and thought provoking words. I am very proud to call this blogger my Pastor.

Phillip Wright

Alan Turing

How do you like your computer gadgets – your iPad, your laptop, your smart phone?

How do you like living under a democracy instead of a dictatorial Nazism?

We can thank Alan Turing for both.

Alan Turing, Ph.D in Mathematics, was a logician, cryptanalyst, code-breaking phenom and marathon runner.

He is considered the father of the modern computer. Time Magazine had this to say about him, “The fact remains that everyone who taps at a keyboard, opening a spreadsheet or a word-processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine.”

He was considered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill as the one who made the single-biggest contribution to the Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany.

He never fired a shot.

Here’s how he did it.

As a member of a secret British counterintelligence team during WW2, Alan Turing developed a method of cracking the previously unbreakable Nazi…

View original post 1,015 more words

Advertisements
Love the sinner. Hate Steve. — May 16, 2015

Love the sinner. Hate Steve.

There are a few things in my world that I can always count on:

  1. Stray animals will miraculously find their way to my house.
  2. I will forget something important every time I travel.
  3. My favorite football team will find a way to disappoint me every season.
  4. My computer will automatically restart right in the middle of an important project.
  5. I will see one of the following comments in an article or post at least once a week:
    1. “Love the sinner. Hate the sin.”
    2. “God made Adam and Eve. Not Adam and Steve.”

I am a pretty laid back guy. There are not many things that upset me. For some reason, those two comments push me over the edge – not because they convict me or cause me to question my beliefs. Those comments bother me because I know the hurt and alienation that many people feel when reading them.

I get that most people have the best of intentions when penning these amusing little phrases. I also understand that everyone has a right to their beliefs. I just wonder if there is a more constructive and gracious way to make the same point – a way that does not devalue the humanity of those on the other side of the debate.

“Love the sinner. Hate the sin.”

It sounds very Jesus-like, perhaps something that might be highlighted with red lettering in particular versions of the Bible.

I have been on the receiving end of this comment more times than I care to remember. My first thought is always “Aren’t we all sinners?” When someone says, “Love the sinner” it seems to imply that they have somehow conquered sin and now stand blameless before me. I should feel honored that they are offering  “love” to a wretch like me. Jesus conquered sin, but I am pretty confident that it is a daily battle for the rest of us.

I recently finished reading the book, Torn, by Justin Lee. I cannot say enough great things about this book. I wish I could have found a book like this 20 years ago. All in God’s timing I guess.

I had numerous “Aha!” moments while reading Torn. It’s one of those books that you have to step away from every once in awhile so you can process what you just read. One such moment was after reading what Justin had to say about this very subject:

“It doesn’t feel very generous when someone is saying it (Love the sinner. Hate the Sin.) about you.   Yes, I know I’m a sinner, as we all are, but something about the phrase feels condescending and dehumanizing, as if I’m now ‘the sinner’ rather than the person’s friend or neighbor, and ‘loving’ me has become the new project they’ve taken on out of obligation to God rather than a genuine interest in my well-being.”

Christian author Tony Campolo sums it up best, “Love the sinner and hate your own sin. And when you correct the sin in your own life, then you can start hating the sin of your neighbor.”

“God made Adam and Eve. Not Adam and Steve.”

Poor Steve. Steve has unknowingly become the poster child for the Bible’s views on homosexuality. People HATE Steve. Apparently, God hates Steve as well. I always get the same picture in my head when I hear or read the Adam and Steve statement:

It’s a beautiful sunny day in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve are sharing an apple while lounging under a fig tree. A few yards away we see Steve sitting alone. Then God walks into the picture. He passes right by Steve and joins Adam and Eve. Adam asks God, “Who is the weird stalker guy sitting over there by himself?” God replies, “I don’t know, I didn’t make him.”

It’s silly, I know. But once again we have lowered the value of one individual because of his differences. If your point is that you don’t agree with same-sex relationships, why not just say that? Why imply that someone’s very existence is a mistake? I may be wrong, but I doubt this statement has ever changed someone’s opinion on the morality of same-sex relationships.

I wish we could just remove these statements from our list of Cute Christian Sayings. I wish we could replace them with things like, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 12:31) and “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

I have close friends and family on both sides of the Christian/Gay dilemma. We don’t always see eye to eye. I have Christian friends that don’t understand how I can claim to be a follower of Christ and still be gay. I have gay friends that don’t understand how I can follow after a God who “appears” to despise me.

We disagree. We debate. Ultimately, we choose to love each other despite our differences. I respect their opinions, and they respect mine. Will I ever make a difference in their lives? I hope so. I know that they make a difference in mine by just showing me a little mercy and grace.

I have had my share of people who have walked away or “unfriended” me. I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. It’s hard to feel rejected by those who claim to love you unconditionally. I have learned that sometimes they need a little mercy and grace as well. It took me 30 years to come to terms with who I am so maybe I need to cut them a little slack. Hopefully, they will get things figured out quicker than I did.

The sad fact is that people come and go. I had a pastor tell me once to envision my life as an empty cup. It’s my cup, and I get to decide what I fill it with. I can fill it with friends, family, my career, hobbies, etc. However, if I fill my cup with things that are not eternal then what am I left with when those things are gone? My cup is empty.  If I fill my cup with my faith in God, then I will always be full. All those other things in my life become “overflow”. Who doesn’t love a little overflow?

I started this blog with the hope that the breach between these two groups could somehow be repaired. If it can work in my small sphere of influence, why can’t it work on a much larger scale? Thankfully, I know that I am not alone in this endeavor.

Momma’s Boy — May 10, 2015

Momma’s Boy

You can’t tell your story without talking about your mom. That doesn’t mean that the story will be a pleasant one. Thankfully, mine is.

I am proud to be known as a Momma’s Boy. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Men are what their mothers made them.” That is true in my case. I know my dad played a big role as well but since its Mother’s Day I am going to focus on her. Sorry, Dad.

Of course, we had our problems. I was far from the perfect child. I honestly think that the term “terrible twos” was first uttered by my mom. My list of terrible transgressions included:

  • Drinking paint thinner. It had brown paint in it, and I assumed it was chocolate milk. This, of course, resulted in a trip to the emergency room.
  • Shoving a model plane propeller up my nose. Another trip to the emergency room.
  • Swallowing a quarter. Emergency room.
  • Pulling a pot of hot coffee on top of myself. Emergency room, followed by several weeks in the hospital and a couple of surgeries.

I am sure my mom and dad could add more items to this list.

I wish I could say that it was better once I “matured”. As I got older, the infractions just intensified:

  • Burning down the field behind our house.
  • Stealing candy from the gas station and then selling it to other kids in my 5th-grade class.
  • Releasing a jar full of fire ants in the girls bathroom.

I will leave my teenage years to your imagination. I am sure you get the picture.

My mother was just a kid herself when I was born. She could have shirked her responsibilities and focused on enjoying the remainder of her teenage years. She did not do that. She got a job and focused on taking care of me.

She is truly one of the hardest working people I know. She is one of those employees that companies dream about and wish they could clone. My parents taught me and my brothers the value of hard work at a very young age. We watched as they struggled from paycheck to paycheck just to keep food on the table for three growing boys.

For over 30 years, she has worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant in a nursing home. Anyone that knows anything about this field will tell you that this is one of the toughest jobs around. A nurse once told me that a CNA does the work that no one else wants to do (cleaning, changing, etc.). My mother has spent a majority of her time as a CNA working with those suffering from Alzheimer’s.

I remember her often coming home from work with bruises and scratches. Sometimes the patients feel confused and afraid. Sometimes they feel angry and do not understand what is happening to them. Sometimes they act out. My mother lovingly and patiently cared for them regardless.

Never getting angry.

Never taking it personally.

Anyone that knows my mother can tell you how deeply she loves the residents at her nursing home. They are her second family. I know that they feel the same way about her. I know because I have met many of them myself. I witnessed their eyes light up when she walked into the room. They feel safe with my mother. They feel dignity. They feel love.

Recently she was offered a promotion. It was a position with more responsibility and better pay. I was very proud of her, but I could tell that she was nervous about the change. She took the job. It was not long before gave up that position and was back “on the floor” as she calls it. The new position meant that she would spend less time with residents. She could not handle being away. She needed to know that they were being taken care of properly and did not feel she could do that from behind a desk.

My mother has taught me a lot about the true nature of God over the years.

There have been many times in my journey that I have felt confused. Many times that I felt angry and could not understand what was happening. I wanted to act out. I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and just give up.

God never left. He lovingly and patiently cares for me. I feel safe with Him. I feel dignity. I feel love.

God is right there “on the floor” with us.  God meets us right where we are. There are no prerequisites. No disclaimers. No special requirements.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. (Matthew 11:28 ESV)

My mom often apologizes for the mistakes she made as a parent. I don’t think she realizes that it doesn’t matter. The good will always outweigh the bad in my eyes. She taught me about love and acceptance. About compassion and grace.

My prayer is that I will treat others with the same dignity, respect and compassion that my mother shows to her residents. My hope is that I am always known as a Momma’s Boy.

I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

Who am I? — May 6, 2015

Who am I?

Why is it that every time I see a post on Facebook labeled What Does Your Name Mean? I feel the need to check it out? I already know what it’s going to say. Why are names so important anyway?

Our names define us. A name sets us apart from the crowd. I AM Travis. You ARE…..

We get called many different names throughout our lifetime. Some are names of affection. Those close to me often call me Trav. Those affectionate nicknames typically signify a bond. Not everyone gets to call me Trav.

Unfortunately, we also get called names that are meant to be hurtful and mean.

I think it was obvious to some in Junior High that I was “different”. Luckily I had a friend who was “different” as well. There was a small group of guys that began calling us Peaches and Cream. I don’t really know if I was Peaches or the equally horrible Cream. To be honest, it makes me laugh when I talk about it now. That was NOT the case back then.

I did not want to be different. I wanted to be like everyone else, and I would have given anything to just disappear in the crowd. That is nearly impossible to do in a small town.

There were worse names that we were called but there is no need to get into all that. You get the point. I let those names crush my spirit. I watched as those names broke my friend’s heart. I heard other people called names different than my own.

“Nerd”

“Loser”

“Slut”

This will not be a post about how horrible my childhood was and how those people ruined my life. They were kids. Kids say mean things. I am still friends with several of those people today. We all grew up and moved past it.

Not everyone can do that. Sometimes those names never go away.

When I started going to church I thought the days of name calling were over. I could finally just be Travis. I was so VERY wrong.

I quickly learned that there were biblical names for people like me. They were names that I had never heard before. I did not fully understand what they meant, but they did not sound promising. The fact that they were generally spoken with a hint of disgust made it very clear: God was not a big fan of Travis.

“Abomination”

“Reprobate”

“Pervert”

There had to be a way to change my name. I did not want God to call me by any of those.

I started asking more questions about those names. The one that really sent me over the edge was abomination. It was explained to me that gay people were an abomination to God- that God would literally vomit at the sight of a gay person. I am not kidding. Someone actually said that to me. I would NEVER tell that person about my struggle.

On a side note, I often referred to my orientation as my ‘struggle’ during that time in my life. I have discovered that others in the same situation used that word to describe their journeys as well.

I would give anything to go back to days of Peaches and Cream. At least back then I had no idea that I made God sick to His stomach. These new names did more than break my spirit. They destroyed me.

Why in the world would I want so desperately to follow after a God who despised me? I just could not accept that He felt that way about me. I read my Bible. I prayed. I gave money to the church. I went to Bible College. I gave food to homeless people. I did all the things I was supposed to do for God to love me. I even dated women. Surely God would love me if I dated women.

I decided to do something revolutionary. I decided to not just blindly believe everything that was spoken from the pulpit. God gave me a brain and this wonderful new tool called the Internet. I had a mission. The first step was to understand this intriguing word “abomination”.

The word “abomination” is found in conjunction with homosexuality in Leviticus 18:22 in the King James Version of the Bible. I quickly learned that this was translated from the Hebrew word to’evah. There is differing opinions among scholars about the true meaning of this word. However, most agree that “abomination” is not an accurate translation. A quick Google search of to’evah will bring up hundreds of articles debating the true meaning of this word.

I attended Bible College, but am by no means an expert on Biblical languages and translations. All I knew was that this word no longer imprisoned me. I no longer envisioned God throwing up in disgust at my very existence. I still had a ton of questions. I am not sure exactly what answers I hoped to find. I think I was simply searching for proof that God loved me.

The truth is that I could not do anything to make God love me. I could not earn God’s love. It was His very nature to love me just because. (1 john 4: 7-21)

God does have names for me. Thankfully they fall into the affectionate category. He calls me His child (John 1:12). He calls me friend (John 15:15). He calls me forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). He calls me Trav.

What is your name? I may not know it. But trust me on this… God does.