Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘HIV/AIDS

I recently heard a minister say that America isn’t a Christian nation anymore. We conservatives like the idea of a Christian nation—I know I do. I’m thankful that I don’t live in 1940’s USSR or 1970’s China, but as it applies to eternity location doesn’t matter. Because our citizenship is in heaven, Paul said for us to be content whatever our situation might be: whether we’re in America on a Sunday morning or in the salt mines of Russia.

This minister—Scott Lively—has stated that Uganda is a Christian nation because they are taking a stand against homosexuality. Apparently this must be Mr. Lively’s litmus test for what constitutes a Christian nation. In watching the documentary Missionaries of Hate, I heard a Ugandan pastor preach about gay sex practices—extreme information that would be similar to a minister preaching that all heterosexual couples use whips and chains—yep, that extreme. However, sex details of any kind are inappropriate to be included in a sermon. As he spoke the congregation was ‘in a lather’ against the gay community. A message of this kind only sows seeds of hate and fear.

What would Jesus do—in Uganda, for instance? The only lifestyle Jesus challenged was those people who believed that they were holier than others. Jesus looked at all men and women as being precious to God, and wanted us to give unconditional love to our neighbors. Read Matthew 22:36-39: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Right now in Uganda there’s a critical piece of legislation that we conservatives need to say a hearty “no” to its passage. This bill seeks to imprison or execute homosexuals; it’s morally wrong and totally un-Jesus. As Christians we need to actively oppose this legislation. Why? Let me offer a few reasons…

  • First, it’s wrong to target the gay and lesbian community—or any community. An example we can surely remember is how several school shooters targeted the football players. In the end only God knows what’s in a man’s heart, and our command is to love.
  • Secondly, this legislation is fertile ground for a ‘witch hunt’ if someone wanted to get even with another person; or if someone assumed the ‘guilt’ of another simply because of that person’s manner of speech, dress or associations.
  • Finally, if it starts in Uganda, where will it end and what other groups will be targeted as part of ‘cleansing’ the nation? Germany is a good example of this type of cleansing.

I think Martin Luther King stated it quite well in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: …I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Please speak out for those who need your voice. Consider the words of Martin Niemoller:

“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
and by that time no one was left to speak up.”


I’ve been reading some books lately that are along the same subject: what does the world think of us? Us being conservative Christians…or simply Christians. In my humble opinion I think many Christians take liberty in the verse that says “the world will hate you because it hated me first” (loosely translated from John 15:18). Being a jerk doesn’t qualify for ‘being hated’ in the manner Jesus was talking about.

The first person I think of regarding a misuse of this verse is Fred Phelps. He isn’t liked because exhibits no Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). But where are we creating a problem that interferes with people coming to Jesus?

One area I believe is when we mix politics and Jesus. Jesus was about sacrifice and grace (unconditional love) that draws people. Now let me just jump right in and be more specific with a current event…when we’re out in force saying rude and unkind things about our President, then non-Christian say “oh yes, they’re political, therefore Christians are…” So when violent calls are made to political foes, people see Christianity as being a violent political religion. Jesus tells us to be content no matter what the circumstances. Therefore when I can’t get into a doctor for six months–I will have to rely on Him to help me through. Total trust in Jesus, now isn’t that a novel concept? I wish it was 1960 again but it isn’t and I know that Jesus will keep me even in the darkest hour of need.

Try reading Lord, Save Us From Your Followers! by Dan Merchant (or just get the video!) or unChristian by David Kinnaman (this is back by research done by the Barna group, a recognized church research organization.

For the last ten years I’ve been trying to see things from a different perspective than Southern United States, conservative Christian doctrine. I started by reading the Bible for myself and not through the eyes of “pick and choose” and “this is what my seminary taught”. Then I got very basic when I started seeing real life situations bleeding before my very eyes. Case 1: Pillar of the church family in Big Southern Town, USA where the family helped to start the church, Dad was head of the ruling board of that body. Mom was director of the children’s ministry. Only son came out as gay and the church “didn’t need them anymore.” Case 2: Wife is abused, but church members secretly gossip about what she did to ‘make him do it’ and will there be a divorce. Case 3: Gay father wants custody of teenage son. Mom and stepdad are abusing him. I was helping the father, and when I asked for prayer, a church friend said “well, I don’t think that is a good idea.” The boy was being routinely beaten and more. The judge in the case refused to listen to the boy or the father because the father was gay. The judge got his position because of family values and being a Christian. However, his honest desire to serve families was marred by idiotic teaching that a gay father cannot love his son and protect him as much as a heterosexual parent.

Not that all issues are gay-straight, but gay is the issue of the last two or three decades that divides the church. Before that it was Women’s Rights and before that it was the race issue…were we going to let “colored people” go to church with us? Ugh!!!! I moved to Alabama in 1964 and I can tell you it wasn’t pretty. We lived in a place that was ruled by the KKK. Sunday morning pew warmers (I will not call them Christ Followers even though they identified themselves as Christian) who had hate in their hearts for African Americans.

Therefore, use this Holy Week of the Christian faith to look at your life and how others see it. Choose to change to a course of being a Christ Follower…Red Letter Christian (i.e. do what Jesus said in the red letters) and forget all the other. Be His example!

I’ve been pondering this blog for quite some time. Actually it was before Thanksgiving that I began thinking about it, and as we get within hours of Christmas, I’m continuing to think of family. Tomorrow Liz and Chris will be arriving from Virginia, and Mom from Alabama. Friday my brother and his family will be coming for a couple of days. While I could survive one holiday without family, it would only be because I knew they would be there for the next one.

Three weeks ago my close friend lost one of her sons. In a flash a young man who finally had a goal and was making plans for his life was gone. In another part of town there’s a child I see frequently when I’m out. This child has no idea that I know who she is. She only knows family on one side because of a murder many years ago. One side took the kids and the other never made an attempt to make peace. There I am looking and thinking “wow if your family could only see you”—actually I know the family who doesn’t know the child. They are listen among the super-Christians in my hometown. Yet…a child who has their blood doesn’t know them.

There are many reasons why people don’t see their families over the holidays other than weather or distance. When we first married our church took in a girl who had been disowned by her family because she was pregnant. Others aren’t welcome because they’re _____.

Jesus was born so he could take our sin. He was born to die so we could have life. Our eternal security is based on the fact that Jesus gave unconditionally to people who didn’t deserve it.

If this holiday comes and your family isn’t there. Make the call. Open the door and welcome those who haven’t been home in a while. Make Jesus the reason…He did it for you.

0214091038 Supplies available to clients are those necessary items that can’t be purchased with food stamps.

There is something wonderful going on in Dallas. It is an AIDS Service Organization called White Rock Friends…an outreach of the White Rock Community Church and its mission is to support the HIV/AIDS community by offering a variety of programs to assist individuals in their day to day lives. It is more than just your bag of groceries and a pat on the back until next month…

I don’t know who began the program years ago, but right now Douglas Shaffer is the go-to man with all the facts. It was his vision to take this from government red-tape into a program that’s available to meet peoples’ needs. Clients become friends who come to the church facility on Tuesdays (for the store, only) and Saturdays to get their supplies like Pinesol, bandaids, and toilet paper. They can also get clothes and have a wonderful lunch. Daniel is the head chef of these lunches and he has only missed one Saturday in eight years. That’s dedication! Everyone there is dedicated.

0214091037Another thing that Douglas realizes is that many times our friends who are HIV+ or have AIDS need food for their pet. Pet food is in abundant supply at White Rock Friends (and so is Emma, the Maltese and mascot of White Rock).

The word in a nutshell for White Rock Friends is caring. Everyone who serves cares for the clients. The clients feel the love. For Valentine’s Day there was an elegant meal of chicken cordon bleu, green bean casserole, dressing, salad (with nice greens), fresh fruit salad, chocolate covered strawberries, cheesecake with caramel or strawberry sauce…and it was YUMMY! My family got the honor of serving food that day. We also got the honor of meeting many of the clients.

If you are ever in Dallas visit White Rock Community Church and find out how you can help this wonderful ministry.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra by Michael Tyler

Trans-Siberian Orchestra as photographed by Michael W. Tyler

On Sunday we went to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and with all the lights and acoustics I suddenly felt like I could be on that stage performing. I was dreaming like when I was younger and it seemed like the sky was the limit on what I could do and who I could become. When you are young you don’t think about not seeing a loved one again.

The last twenty-four hours has been nostalgic in that I longed to be back at my grandparent’s house. There were certain things that could only happen there with them like my grandfather calling Santa “Santy”. Or my grandmother always burning the bottoms of cheap biscuits–those you buy in four pack for around a dollar for the four.

Everyone was welcomed at their home. Family members who might not be welcomed anywhere else were welcome to come and have a bite to eat and fellowship. Because my grandparents were peacemakers, no one who had an ought with another got mad at Jewell and Ercie for befriending the other party. This gift has been passed down to my parents as they could have hostile acquaintances come to their table and peace would take over everyone…there was no more family or friend “war”.

This is Christmas Day…the day our Savior was born and it was through him that our sins are forgiven and we are reconciled to God. Today is the day you need to find that loved one who has been outside the warmth of your embrace…if you can’t find them by traditional means search through Google, Facebook and MySpace. Make this a “Lost Sheep Day” and welcome them home.

I started this blog by talking about youth and things we don’t think of such as losing our loved ones. On Christmas Eve morning I lost a friend named Jack. He was a beloved pastor who had the heart of a child and embraced everyone. I’ve known Jack for eight years and suddenly time was gone: time to tell him how much I loved him or how much embodied the grace of Jesus in his everyday life.

On Christmas Eve night a close friend became a grandmother. That baby is just like the baby that comes to everyone. Remember that special love the first time you saw your child, sibling, friend? If you are not in touch…reach out and get in touch TODAY!!! Blessings…

Read a review of my book by American Library Association executive council member, Diane Chen. This is from her blog on the School Library Journal:

…are the words to a popular Christian song. We sang it at CFO. As we sang I started thinking about grace being enough. You know it’s great to have grace extended to us, and (at those times) grace IS enough for us. Grace was and is all about the work that Jesus did on the cross. Yet in our neck of the woods we tend to enjoy meddling in other people’s business. Call it what you will, but we have an opinion on everything and how people need to do it. It might be the dress Sister Bessie is wearing. It may be the way our friends are raising their children. 

Does a worship service consist of three songs and a prayer, or is it an hour of rocking, jumping and swaying as we become deeply connected with the Lord? I personally don’t care much for Southern Gospel genre of music. Last night I went to a concert that was the Southern Gospel equivalent of Country Music’s Fanfare.  There in the middle of rose-scented talcum powder (no doubt applied with a fluffy puff) and Old Spice After-Shave, I found myself experiencing a little bit of heaven on Earth. I was caught up in the richness of harmony that’s sung (generally) with family.

In our Christian homes, sometimes there is a disruption of harmony. Family will be at odds over the silliest things…my closest friend’s sister-in-law was mad at her mother for four years because of dish detergent. Sometimes it is big: a child or sibling or friend announces (s)he is gay. Oh my…then we get all structure and legalistic on our dearest gifts from God. Then grace isn’t enough. At least grace from us—the grace that says “I’ll love you no matter what” to “until you change you can’t come home”. Maybe there’s even a hint that it would have been better had we died.

So if grace is enough, then grace is enough. Grace isn’t “love the shoes, love the dress” when we honestly hate it. That’s lying. Grace is laying down our expectations, desires, wishes and loving beyond reason. That’s what Jesus did, and it was enough.

I think if it was enough for Jesus, then loving beyond reason and when it is most difficult should be enough for us. And when you love beyond reason…heaven will open no matter where you are. Corrie ten Boom was able to tell the world: “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” Grace isn’t subtly wrapped in rules or ultimatums. His grace is enough!