I hadn’t intended to write this article today, but I’m burdened for so many parents and family members who desperately desire their loved one, who is affected by homosexuality, to be free. They’ve read all the books; watched the DVD’s; they’re part of a support group; and they’ve talked about this until they are blue in the face, both with others as well as their loved one. They have done all they know to do and yet nothing has changed. In many instances, things have just gotten worse! My heart bleeds for you. I understand this pain. I went through it with my own daughter several years ago. Not related to homosexuality but sinful behavior nonetheless and certainly a hindrance to our relationship for many years.
I want to encourage you to press on toward the goal to win the prize which you have been called heavenward in Christ Jesus! Do not become weary in well doing for in due time you will reap a harvest too great to contain! The enemy is the agent of discouragement, depression and despair. Be of good cheer my dear brothers and sisters for He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
I know from what the Bible teaches that love is the answer. The world offers a very different definition of love, many definitions, in fact. But the only one who can offer a true understanding is the one who created love. He is love. I believe we have three tools in our love belt, and we are not using them nearly enough. Our first tool is:
1. Prayer: Have you ever been praying and before long you find yourself going over the laundry list of items you have to complete at work or home? I’ve been talking to the God of the Universe, pouring my heart out to him only to find myself a few minutes later having a conversation with my husband…in my head. I traded communion with the most High God for a day dream! I know, it happens to all of us. Satan attacks us in our prayer time like nothing else! His first goal is to talk us out of praying by convincing us that we don’t have time right now. We can do it later, before bed. The problem is we’re so tired at the end of a hectic and overly committed day that we drop into the bed and pass out having completely forgotten about our prior commitment to pray. When we do remember, it’s usually a point of condemnation the enemy brings to show us our failures. His second strategy is to interrupt us with a myriad of distractions. The phone rings and we realize that we should have turned the ringer off in the first place; a knock at the door; a remembrance of a vital task; sleepiness, pain, or hunger. Hunger, oh that one gets me every time. His final attack is to subtlety convince us, whether we admit it freely or not, that our prayers are not nearly as powerful as the free will of those we are praying for. What a lie! God said to me, “Either you believe me or not Meleah. I said you could move mountains with your prayers. Do you believe me?”
“Yes, Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!” This is my daily prayer. Do not let the enemy steal your most powerful weapon. It is the only offensive weapon you have in your arsenal. All the others are defensive. Draw the sword of the spirit and pray God’s Word out loud and you will storm the gates of hell. None of us is praying enough. I realized this as I read Jim Cymbala’s books Fresh Faith Fresh Fire and Fresh Wind Fresh Fire. He tells of miracle after miracle that has occurred at the Brooklyn Tabernacle because of the faithful prayers of the faithful believers there. I encourage you to get into a prayer group and pray with them weekly. It is transforming my life and the lives of my family! Prayer is a powerful way to love someone. It’s also a powerful way to love God for we are showing our dependence on and trust in him. Think of it as metaphorically taking that one you love by the hand and standing beside them at the great throne of God. Then you sit them down and leave them there, trusting that God will do the rest. There is no need to lecture or remind them. He and his spirit can handle it from there.
2. Praise and Worship: Acts 16 shares the account of Paul and Silas on a journey and a trial that ensues. They had committed no crimes. There only crime was obeying the will of God and as payment they were severely flogged, or beaten to a bloody mess! Persecution. Trial. Challenge. Pain. What did they do? Get mad and blame God? Ditch God and go their own way? It was midnight and they were in the thick of the situation. Does it feel like midnight for you? Is it so dark you can’t see the way? Do what Paul and Silas did. They praised and worshipped God. “23After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
What was the result? Well read for yourself… “26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household.” 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.”
A miracle and the salvation of many, there is power in praise and worship. David, a messed up man after God’s own heart said that God inhabits the praise of his people. Don’t you want to invoke his manifest presence in your life? I know I sure need that. You can praise and worship alone in your room and in a sanctuary full of other believers. I believe BOTH are best. Some of my most intimate worship of him is alone in my bedroom. I’ve also learned to worship by hanging out with worshipers. Pastor Paul Sheppard says, “Hang out with turkeys to help them but hang out with eagles if you want to learn to fly.” I’ve found some eagles who have taught me to fly to a higher level in my worship. I challenge you to do the same.
3. Testimony: And when you’ve done all you can do, the most effective measure you can take it to be so radical for Jesus that you look just like him and draw others, including your loved one to him. They know you better than anyone. When they see his transforming power to change you, they will believe he can help them! I know no better example than from a new book I’m reading called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It’s based on the book of Hosea. Michael Hosea, a godly man has been given the task of not only marrying a prostitute named Angel but in loving her. She’s a hard pill to swallow to say the least. Reminds me a bit of myself in the early days. There is no way this man can love or forgive in human terms. She’s done too much and continues to do so. It’s one thing to forgive something in the past but an ongoing something is quite another story. It is in his personal and powerful relationship to God that he is able to love her in a way that completely resembles Christ. It is a challenge for Michael but he perseveres. I encourage you to read it. It’s such a lovely picture of the kind of quiet love that is “Jesus with skin on.”
I know some Christians who love this way, and I know some who don’t come close. Rick Warren in his wonderful book, The Purpose Driven Life says that the reason most people don’t get saved is because they have never met a Christian. The other reason most people don’t get saved he says, is because they have. We must be radical lovers of others if we are going to make a difference and have others take notice. We’ve got to stop giving lip service to these things and begin to have them manifest in our daily lives. Then we won’t need to say a word. Their curiosity will draw them to us and ultimately HIM. This kind of uncommon testimony and radical love can only come from a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus where he is the priority in our lives.
The world has become a very noisy place. Satan has lots of traps and deceptions, much false spirituality that appears quite lovely. They are counterfeits but as the word says “To a man who is full, honey is not inviting but to one who is starving, even what is bitter tastes sweet.” We must offer something very real if we want them to take notice. It was the radical love of a body of believers that drew me out of an eight year relationship with my partner. An 8 year relationship! I thought I could not live without this woman. God used a bunch of believers at a big church to show me His great love, and I have never been the same. The love I experienced from HIM, much of it through the attitudes, words and deeds of THEM overshadowed all other love, even my love for her.
So, there you go. Put on your love belt and pull out those tools and just maybe next year will be the year HE moves. Joyce Meyer calls it a “suddenly.” I can guarantee you my parents were shocked when I called to tell them. They had no idea. My partner and I had just moved into a new home in the swankiest neighborhood in the plushest area of Florida. But when God moves, HE doesn’t play around. My hearts desire is to see miracles this year. To see those addicted to pornography, be completely free. To see mothers, daddy’s and adult children healed and renewed in their relationship with each other. To see those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions delivered by the life transforming power of Jesus Christ to live in victory in intimacy with Him. Let’s all use our tools more. It’s what love is all about.