Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

Archive for May 2013

I don’t know Randall Arthur in the flesh, but I believe I know his heart inside and out because of his books, especially the newest called Forgotten Road. I want to introduce you to a man who has the heart of God in his pen.

We all have our approach to the gospel. I’m from a Charismatic background, but I applaud my Church of Christ and Catholic relatives and their faith. When it comes down to our connection to God it’s the work of the Cross. It’s all about grace. Grace separates us from all other religions. We are forgiven because we trusted Jesus and believed He is the only son of God who died for our sins.

It wasn’t Jesus who started all the rules: long hair, short hair, no makeup, freedom to wear makeup, no dancing, no movies, G-movies only, etc. I can speak with authority on this because at one time I was a rigid conservative.

Enter Jason Faircloth.

I came across the book Wisdom Hunter in the early 1990’s. I was already writing my book, and felt a kindred writing spirit (which Mr. Arthur knows nothing about). God was already pressing upon me the importance of grace. I heard that Mr. Arthur also lost his job as a missionary when he wrote the book because the story hit a little too close to that denomination.

Jason Faircloth is one of those mega-church preachers who had long been able to move people in a legalistic fashion according to what he thought God wanted. And, it is assumed by one of Faircloth’s prayers, that he lets God know when it is time to do things. However, God doesn’t move when his daughter runs away and marries. On her way to the hospital to have her baby, the unthinkable happens and she dies. Soon after his wife dies and he spends years looking for his granddaughter. During this time Jason comes to know what grace is all about. The story is a simple parable that should have a place on your bookshelf.

Faircloth is in several other novels, including the newest one called Forgotten Road. Many times a week I think of the ending when the main character is willing to exchange a death sentence with someone who has done evil toward him; are we able to do the same? I’m not giving away the story, but this is grace: when we give all we have to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

Grace is a difficult road. Capturing a true picture of grace is something Randall Arthur does well. When you finish one of his books, you feel refreshed and filled with the true power that comes with being a follower of Jesus.

Advertisements

I know what happened to John Paulk in terms of logistics, because we are Facebook friends. I know he’s gone from a nerdy looking man to Chef Cuteness in the last 13 years. I know I’d like to cook like him. I know he’s a dedicated father and has gone through deep pain with recent changes in his life. But I’m here to talk about what happened to him…

You see I’m an unofficial expert in the way things look. I can see print and know if it’s off by a fraction of a millimeter. I’ve been given a good eye for balance and what looks right: too many words in a sentence, the balance of flowers in a centerpiece, too much fabric in a dress, and too little grace in our churches.

My Twitter account has been blowing up with all kinds of religiously negative words about John. Everyone has their input, so I’ll tell you what happened to John Paulk: In 2000 he walked into a drag bar, if my memory serves me right. It was in DuPont Circle in DC, I know for sure. He was there for about 45 minutes before he was recognized by someone who told the press. Because of John’s position with Exodus it was a big deal. After that a series of official statements were made by the board of Exodus International—a board from a ministry based on high Christian standards.

This isn’t about Exodus, because I’m very impressed with the willingness of Alan Chambers to listen and embrace the hurt. No, this post is about the board that was overseeing the program in 2000 and what happened to John Paulk…

For a moment I will digress. We conservatives love to point fingers. We say our problems would be solved if only we had an Evangelical President, hadn’t let gay people marry, hadn’t legalized pot, and on it goes. Ironically our fingers never point to ourselves. There’s nothing ever said about getting before the Lord with sack cloth and ashes, and repenting for our sins. The top of our sins should include not being Jesus to others.

Where would John Paulk be today if one of the male humans on that board had been a man and washed John’s feet? What if they hadn’t sent him off into the vast wilderness called “excuses”. I have no idea what happened outside of all their weekly missives of “what really happened that day on DuPont Circle”, but soon John disappeared from our lives. These men went right on with their lives believing they had been the voice of God in the matter. Instead they abandoned him in his hour of greatest need. How could they sever ties as casually as one would unfriend someone on Facebook? But Jesus tells us a story like this in Luke 10. The priest and the Levite have nothing to do with the man wounded on the road, but the Samaritan comes along and helps.

Just recently John Paulk issued a statement about that time and the years since. His words were raw. As I read, I could feel the beat of his heart. Suddenly a new decade of gossips rise up to try to take John down: their words are condemning; their fingers are pointing. Some are close relations and some are self-proclaimed experts, but none are seeing through the telescope of grace. They offer no edification. I suggest they don’t know grace. The grace we saw when the Amish embraced the family of the shooter. The grace we love to see when the Bishop gives Jean Valjean the candlesticks.

What happened to John Paulk happens to countless others in our churches. They probably aren’t associated with Exodus, but they have hurts and stumble, and then we continue to pour salt into their wounds. We must remember that there’s only ONE difference in our faith and countless other religions: Jesus took our sins in an act of grace. We are told to walk in His Steps. Consider the verse below. Consider what would say if it means grace and grace only…

Matthew 28:18-20…Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.