Monthly Archives: October 2017

Are You About to Come Out to Your Christian Parents?

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Coming Out

In my mini-series on ‘coming out’ for LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning) people, especially young people with Christian parents, I have so far looked at the matter from the point of view of the parents of the LGBTQ+ person.

Today, I want to share another piece by Susan Cottrell of ‘Freedhearts‘. Susan is a strong, loving and totally Christian advocate of LGBTQ+ people and especially of those who are young people still living with their Christian parents. In this piece, Susan shares practical advice and points out relevant considerations for young people who may well have to ‘come out’ some time in the near future. Click the graphic below to go to the article.

If you are a LGBTQ+ person who is considering ‘coming out’, then I would definitely suggest you read that article – it’s brilliant. Susan has a huge amount of experience in helping and standing alongside people in danger of rejection, either by parents or churches, for either ‘being gay’ or for affirming those who are. Personally, I don’t give two hoots what people think of me as an affirmer, but then I am not in a position where such people’s opinions make the slightest bit of difference to me. But I understand that for some people, the stakes are much higher, and this is why I have done this mini-series.

Be blessed. Grace and peace to you.

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Did Your Child Just Come Out to You?

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Coming Out

In this, the second part of my mini-series on ‘coming out’ for young people of Christian parents, I want to share with you the wisdom of Susan Cottrell, of ‘Freedhearts‘.

In this piece, Susan gives sound advice to Christian parents whose child has just ‘come out’.

You think it might never happen to you? Well, how would you know? Because if your child is an LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning) person, they might not feel able to tell you, because they know your views on the subject!

I would recommend all Christian parents read this article – not only ‘just in case’ your child does ‘come out’, but also to give you a better understanding of how Christian parents of LGBTQ+ young people can continue to affirm and support their child once they ‘come out’ despite what they think ‘the Bible says’.

Click the graphic below to go to the article:

This is a real issue affecting real people, and we need to examine this, as a Church, in a Chrstlike manner.

I know a Godly couple whose daughter recently ‘came out’ and which caused much soul-searching in their congregation…and those people in that church have essentially been forced – by their circumstances – to learn how to continue in their acceptance of that precious young life. And, so far, they have done very well…they knew that child from a baby and nothing has changed, except that now they know something that God has known about all along.

So, I recommend you read the article – it will stand you in good stead should you need it!

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Traditional Christian Parents Reveal Changed Views on LGBT

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Coming Out

Like many other people close to the Father Heart of God, some years ago I ‘came out’ as a strong affirmer of LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning) people and their relationships. I’m writing this mini-series in order to help people whose children are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and to give you what I believe is a Christian perspective on the subject.

When the child of an Evangelical Christian ‘comes out’ as an LGBTQ+ person, all kinds of things could happen, from total acceptance right up to total rejection, and all shades in between. Personally, I don’t understand how a parent can ever reject their child, but tragically there are those who do. And the result of this rejection, for the LGBTQ+ child, can result in ruined lives – I won’t go into detail here but sometimes we are talking homelessness, suicide, severe emotional trauma – you get the idea. And that’s just with the parents – the person coming out has other social links too that could also bring suffering: church; school; friends; colleagues. It’s not easy by any means.

But today we’re looking at parents. In this short video from Facebook page ‘Christians Talk’, various Christian parents describe how they came to terms with their child’s sexuality, from the point of view of people who formerly had believed that LGBTQ+ was ‘wrong’. Also in this video are Rob and Susan Cottrell, whose work I have featured before in my blog, and will feature again over the course of this mini-series.

There we go. Meditate on that and hear what the Spirit is saying to you!

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North American F-86 Sabre

This entry is part 18 of 18 in the series Beautiful Destroyers

The F-86 ‘Sabre’ is certainly one of the most beautiful aeroplanes from the Cold War era, and is an icon of the classic jets genre.

First used in combat in the Korean War, the Sabre soon proved itself to be the best of the fighter aircraft in the United Nations’ arsenal, and it was the only fighter capable of facing the North Koreans’ MiG-15 fighters on equal terms. Other fighters fielded by the UN were either slower piston-engined prop jobs like the F-51 Mustang, or straight-wing jets such as the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star and the Gloster Meteor, which were a good deal slower than the MiG-15.

But the Sabre was fast (it was just supersonic in a shallow dive), manoeuvrable, had good visibility from its bubble canopy, and was often flown by experienced combat veterans who had fought in WWII. In many ways, the Sabre and MiG-15 were virtually equal aircraft, each with strengths and weaknesses with respect to the other, very much like the Spitfire and the Messerschmitt 109 were in the Second World War. Here are a preserved Sabre and MiG-15 seen together at an airshow in the USA (photo is clickable to magnify):

But the Sabre is just plain beautiful, and that’s one reason why I’m featuring it in ‘Beautiful Destroyers‘.  Look at those lovely clean lines, the perfect wing sweep angle, the sleekness of the curves of the fuselage…this is a beautiful aeroplane in the same league in the beauty stakes as the Hawker Hunter.

In the photo above, you can clearly see the ‘bubble’ shape of the canopy; this gave the pilot an excellent all-round field of view; this is very advantageous in close-in air combat. There is an old fighter-pilots’ adage: ‘He who sees, wins’ and the Sabre’s canopy certainly fits the bill for that purpose.

Armed with six 0.50″ machine guns, the Sabre packed quite a punch – the six 0.50-cal machine guns were a proven weapons fit from the Second World War – but they did not have quite the range of the cannon with which the Soviet fighters like the MiG-15, and jet bombers like the Ilyushin-28, were armed.

Indeed the early Sabres were in some ways some of the last of the gun-only armed aircraft; changes in the performance of jet bombers meant that there had to be new developments in air-to-air combat that would enable fighters to bring down Soviet bombers which had nearly as good speed and altitude performance as the fighters that would be trying to stop them in the event of a war.

Eventually, the ability to stop fast jet bombers was realised by the advent of air-to-air guided missiles; indeed the Sabre was one of the first aircraft to be fitted with early versions of the AIM-9 ‘Sidewinder’ heat-seeking missile. But in the meantime, other methods had to be developed to enable interceptors to attack enemy bombers without being exposed to withering cannon fire from the tail turrets of aeroplanes such as the Tu-95 ‘Bear’. (Remember that at this time in history, the ‘Cold War’, the threat of nuclear war was ever-present, and the West and the East both poured tons of money into developing effective defences against enemy nuclear-armed bombers). The temporary stop-gap measure adopted by the USA and Canada, at least, was to arm their interceptor jets with many unguided ‘folding-fin aerial rockets’ (FFARs) which had explosive warheads but which had to actually hit their targets directly in order to cause damage. A good number of these rockets were carried by various interceptors, from 24 in the F-86D (below) and F-102A, to a massive 108 FFARs in the Northrop F-89D ‘Scorpion’. The idea was to attack enemy bombers using a single head-on pass, using a specialist radar-guided attack computer which launched all the FFARs at the target in one (hopefully devastating) salvo. Hopefully, the combination of reasonably accurate aiming and the ‘shotgun’ effect of having so many FFARs in the air at the same time, would bring down the enemy bomber before it got to its target. That’s what interceptors are supposed to do.

And so was born the F-86D ‘Sabre Dog’; the FFAR-armed interceptor version of the F-86. The inclusion of the fire control radar and the retractable rocket tray meant that the airframe shape was nowhere near as graceful as the gun-armed F-86s, but I suppose it was for a reason and it did its job. The F-86D was never intended for fighting against enemy fighters, though; its entire armament for its mission was based around the single salvo of FFARs, to be used to intercept a single enemy bomber. You only got the one shot. Here is the F-86D, and another shot showing its retractable rocket tray, which was just under the cockpit:

The big black dome on the nose of the Sabre Dog (which I feel spoils its lines!) is the radome containing the fire control radar for the FFAR aiming computer. Here’s another shot of the whole FFAR salvo going off:

Impressive though that looks, this technique is of questionable value at best; it was appallingly inaccurate, and it was fortunately never really necessary to use it for real, in this role at least. (See the Wikipedia article on FFARs for more on this)

Now, this is more like it. Here is a gorgeous painting of an F-86 punching off its drop-tanks as it prepares to engage a North Korean MiG-15:

Drop tanks were an idea from the Second World War, where fighters could extend their range by carrying extra fuel in external tanks. Because these external tanks increased the weight and drag of the aeroplane, they could be dropped, or ‘punched off’, as the enemy was sighted, hence the name ‘drop tanks’.

The fighter would then be lighter and cleaner and better able to engage the enemy. The idea was that you would use the fuel from the drop tanks first, so that the tanks would hopefully be empty by the time you ran into trouble and jettisoned them. Or, if you didn’t make contact with enemy aircraft, you could just bring the tanks home empty and use them again.

The Sabre served with many nations’ air forces , including the Royal Air Force, for many years and in many operational theatres, with the last ones being retired from service in the Bolivian Air Force in 1994.

So, there she is; the F-86 Sabre. Beautiful lines, sleek, fast and deadly. A ‘Beautiful Destroyer’ for sure.

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Five Signs You’re Trapped In Legalism

My blogging friend Mike Douglas comes out with some excellent stuff on his blog. And this post is no exception. At the risk of giving a spoiler, Mike uses at the end of his piece the three most important words that Jesus ever uttered – “It is finished!” Jesus has done it all for you. All you have to do is to enjoy the freedom.

The essay is linked to here, but I will also reproduce below what Mike wrote. This is wholesome stuff and it is my prayer that it brings you into ever-increasing freedom:


“A response from one of my readers got me thinking… He wanted to know why some Christians could be so harsh in their views and be so willing to judge others faith and salvation when they don’t agree with them.

Here was my answer to him:

‘How do you explain the far Christian right? In a word, fear.

For some believers, they think salvation or acceptance by God involves saying the right things, voting the right way, supporting the right things etc. If they don’t, they live in fear of being judged and sent to hell. Being ‘right’ is all important.

Therefore, if you or I were to disagree with them, we are not saved and cannot be one of them. Because we are wrong and being right is everything.

And, sadly, they also feel that since they are absolutely right, any disagreement is persecution for their beliefs.

Rather than being angry with such people, it makes me very sad. Rather than living in the glorious love, acceptance and presence of a loving Father, such folks opt for ‘never to be sure’ striving to make them good enough for God. I don’t want that.

Thanks for writing. Reject the legalistic nonsense. It’s all about Jesus!’

What is legalism?

In short, legalism is adding anything to the gospel. Legalism takes the words “Follow me” and adds rules, clauses, and rituals. It’s WRONG, and, over time, you believe its lies. The ultimate lie being Jesus wasn’t enough. Legalism shifts the end goal from Jesus to something else.

Here are 5 signs you might be trapped in legalism.

  1. You believe God loves you. But you don’t believe He LIKES you.

Right now, what God look like? Is he smiling? Frustrated? For much of my adult life, I pictured God with a slow, disapproving, puzzled head shake. Don’t get me wrong. I believed God loved me. But I didn’t believe he LIKED me. But He only loved me in the global sense that He loved everybody.

And we all know loving someone and liking them are two different things. When you like someone, you enjoy their presence. You welcome their company. You ask them over to watch the game or go to the movies.

And here’s what legalism does. If you don’t believe God likes you, you won’t draw near to Him. Legalism never allows you full access to God’s presence. At some point, the “I’m not good enough” or “God isn’t pleased with me” voices will speak to your heart, forcing you to retreat.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, God is pleased with you. And, when you suck at life, that doesn’t change. You can blame Jesus for this.

  1. You have never been sure about your salvation.

I can’t tell you how often I have asked Christians and others, “On a scale of 1-100, how sure are you that you will go to Heaven when you die?’ I have got many answers covering the full range of possible answers. But the least common answer is 100.

Here’s the rub. There are only two possible correct answers: 0 or 100. How we get to Heaven and the only way we get to heaven is putting our faith in Jesus. Either we have [100] or we haven’t [0].

Isn’t it awesome we can all answer 100! But so few of us do. We have doubts. Despite what the Bible tells us. We have doubts because we think we must measure up, there must be more we must do, or we think we might blow it. That’s legalism.

I have asked many Christians and others where they would go tonight if they died. Most aren’t sure. They might even tell you they’re sure, but if you asked their heart, you would receive a different answer. Do you believe in Jesus? In what He has done for you? Then your answer is 100. Learn to rest in what Jesus has done, not what you did.

  1. You compare yourself to other Christians.

Legalism rarely celebrates others’ successes. It says only the best get in. With legalism, Jesus isn’t the standard. The standard is the Christian beside you. If your life looks better than Jim or Jill, you’re good.

When you make God’s approval a competition with other Christians, you secretly hope people fail. Rather than walking with people through struggles, you give yourself a silent fist pump. Instead of celebrating with people who accomplish great things, you silently hope they fall.

And it leads to an exhausting life, one where you ride an emotional roller coaster because you’re worth and acceptance are tied to other people.

  1. You believe outsiders must behave before they belong.

This is the core of legalism. There’s a standard outsiders must meet before being accepted. Legalism says you worked hard to get to this point. You’ve been in the church game for a long time, and until others get to your level, they’re on the outside looking in.

If you don’t allow people in, whether it’s in your worship, your home, or your life, you’re making a declaration over them Jesus never made. You’re declaring some sins are worse than others, and certain behaviors are too ugly or distasteful for God. Praise God that’s a lie!

  1. You believe in joy and peace, but you’ve never experienced them.

Legalism lets you see God, but it does not experience His grace, joy, and peace. The church today is filled with people who are deeply spiritual, but distant from God.

If your spiritual activities aren’t producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, you’re likely on the road to spiritual legalism. When you’re in God’s presence, you WILL bear the Spirit’s fruit (Galatians 5:22).

Is your heart increasing in joy and peace or cynicism and unrest? Does God appear more like a grumpy old man or a life-giving Father?

God knows you can’t live up to His standard. We sin every day. He doesn’t condemn you. He’s FOR you. Embrace the simplicity that Jesus did it all. Rest in the security of your salvation. Jesus has accomplished everything. It is finished! Nothing to add!”


This is excellent stuff. If I might add just a couple of observations: firstly, I mentioned above that ‘It is finished!”. When Mike says in his piece that for the legalist ‘Being ‘right’ is all-important’, I would agree entirely.

And one of the reasons why they feel so threatened by Grace, and those living under it, is that it threatens their ‘rightness’ and their carefully-constructed legal paradigms. One small puff of the wind of the Spirit and the whole house of cards comes crashing down.

When your security is in your Rules for who’s included and who isn’t, your security is not in the Finished Work of Christ. “It is finished!”

Secondly, and I find this really sad, but you will have met evangelists who say to their victims, ‘If you died tonight, do you know where you would be going?’ And Mike clearly demonstrates in his blog post that even once someone joins the Church, they still don’t know for sure, if they’re under legalism. Because they still don’t know if they ‘measure up’.

How sad is that? Jesus has done it all. All that is necessary for our acceptance with God, Jesus has done. God has given us everything we need for godliness (2Pet 1:3) However you believe that happens, just get hold of it.

Once again, let me write it: Jesus said, “It is finished!”

Wow!

 

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Faith and Law

One of the recurring themes in the New Testament is that the Law justifies no-one (Rom 3:20, Gal 2:16, Gal 3:11), but that instead we are justified through faith. And yet nobody would like to be known as a person who speaks against God’s Law, because the Law is said to be ‘holy…righteous and good’ (Rom 7:12). Clearly, then, there is a kind of tension between the two ideas.

Paul Ellis expands on these concepts in this excellent piece from his blog, ‘Escape to Reality’. This essay is well worth reading; I can’t recommend it highly enough. Click the graphic below to go to the post:

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On Proof-Texting

I’ve always found ‘proof-texting’ to be disrespectful both to the Bible itself and also to the person to whom that proof-texting is being done.

There is a world of difference between showing occurrences in the Bible of phenomena or ideas (which is what I do with my Scripture references), and ripping verses out of context (both local and taking account of the whole Scripture) in order to prove a point.

For a while now, I have wanted to write a piece on proof-texting. But my friend Tim Chastain, author of the blog ‘Jesus Without Baggage’ has gone and beaten me to it 🙂 Good on yer, Tim!

Without more ado, here’s the link to his excellent piece which says all I ever wanted to say, and more!

Click the graphic below to go to the page:

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