Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

Posts Tagged ‘spirituality

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…

In the late 1970’s I read about a camp—Camp Farthest Out or CFO—where people go to rest with their families and get re-connected to God. I think it was in a book that referenced Jimmy Carter’s sister, Ruth Carter Stapleton. I just remember thinking how I’d love to find this camp. Then in 1982 a friend called and asked if I wanted to help with the youth.

In the council ring meeting (leaders) on the first day I was at camp, I remember a man saying that his kids picked CFO over the World’s Fair in Knoxville for the family vacation, because they loved CFO. I see that playing out now with my own children. My oldest is a youth leader this year. My youngest is so excited she can hardly contain herself, and says she is looking forward to CFO more than the trip to Disney World with her sister in August.

What makes CFO so special is that the power of God is so strong and people are so surrendered and things happen. As a need arises, it seems that someone comes along with a prayer or an answer. There have been times I’ve gone to camp barely able to crawl there spiritually.

This year I have no expectations, but am simply thankful that I can attend. The Lord worked out a summer school substitute and an understanding principal. As well the Lord has provided a fenced area for the dogs and a person to come feed them (I could buy 10 acres of land for what the vet would charge to board 3 dogs and a cat for a week). As well my best friend for the last 30 years is coming. She is very sick—has Lupus and extreme hypertension–but is making the trip down from Virginia. The night before we leave we’re having a house full of teens come over and eat Southern cooking! That means ribs, collards, corn bread and sweet tea.

 (The family on Father’s Day 2008).

There are lots of other exciting things brewing. My youngest is now swimming for a YMCA swim team AND she has won ribbons. She is being called an inspiration by some of the brass at the Y. She is overweight, but gets in there and competes as if she was Olive Oyle. (Did you know that swim meets that are not school-based last for six hours!?!?!). Her sister got her into it and now they are both swimmers.

I’m processing many thoughts as I go along, but haven’t felt compelled to write. I’ve been reading a great deal and sorting through questions. However for now we’re off to camp and time alone and away with God.

In the summer I teach government. At the urging of a student I watched the movie Bobby. It was a such an inspiring film; hearing RFK say good things about our country. As a class we had previously watched a documentary about Watergate–and when Bobby died we got Nixon. At the end of the Bobby there is audio of his speech from April 5, 1968 (the day after Dr. King’s death). The speech was called “The Mindless Menace of Violence”. Here is the quote that struck me:

…When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered….

As I’ve gone through my mail from people who’ve read my book And You Invited Me In, I’ve found that there’s a cry coming from the heart of people who are GLBT. It’s the cry of a broken heart. I know God has heard it, but many of us straight, conservative Christians have not. There is a common theme among those letters I’ve received. Words that come from the soul of GLBT brothers and sisters who cling to their faith in God and love for their conservative family. Here’s an example:

My life is pretty hopeless, I’m gay and I’m an abomination to God…I fear I will lose my family if they ever find out, and it would be more than I could bear. I’ve tried every way to change.

This is a person in deep pain. However, many times our conservative leaders make us believe that GLBT family and friends make a choice to live this life. It is as if they wake up one day and decide they want to hurt everyone in their life. Does this note sound like a person trying to cause hurt and pain? 

Our church leaders use words like “choice” or “political agenda” or “they will molest our children” to drive us to action against “them”, and before long we become afraid of them. Isn’t that what Bobby Kennedy spoke of in his speech? Through the hardness of our conservative beliefs haven’t we disenfranchised this group of people and made it an “us against them”?

I’m very disturbed today by a news item where a well-known evangelical leader said that a certain politician should not be quoting Leviticus because he “should not be referencing antiquated dietary codes and passages from the Old Testament that are no longer relevant to the teachings of the New Testament.”

I’m only taking one statement from a long interview, but how can this same minister then use Leviticus to say that homosexuality is an abomination? The word “abomination” makes love more difficult. This concept of “abomination” or “love the sinner and hate the sin” is retoric for placing chains around another human and making them feel unloved, abandoned…and when the ones on earth who are in charge of giving God’s love to another fail to do it THEN people don’t see Jesus. And we lose.

We know what we lost when we got Nixon. We’ve had nothing but lack of trust in our government for 35 years. What happens when someone loses trust in God? What happens when the GLBT person keeps hearing our crazy coined phrase of “love the sinner”? Because of those ideas and phrases we lose our family or friend, and they lose hold of God.

In I John 4:18 it says “there is no fear in love.” We must live our life where people don’t fear that our love is based on conditions. It is what Jesus was all about.

This is probably part one of a series of thoughts on the heart.

I’ve always been conservative, and keep more of a conservative leash on myself than most people would realize. On the other hand, in the last few years I’ve tried to listen to people on the outside to understand what they’re hearing from us. One thing that continues to pop up in commentaries and newscasts is that we conservative Christians are two-issue people: we’re pro-life and anti-gay. And when it shakes out, that’s about where we stand.

A decade ago the talking heads of conservative religion said that if you were pro-choice or homosexual you were the “doom of America”. Somehow that unbalanced train of thought continues today. What we don’t realized is that something happens when we make those our only issues…I’ll cover those in a minute….

First, Jesus was all about the spiritual. Pharisees and all those like them were going around making sure every mint twig was tithed and Koshered. Jesus ALWAYS spoke about a person’s heart–so we need to remember that in all we do. It was the giving heart of the widow in the “widow’s mite.” It was the heart of the Samaritan. Let’s put a new twist on the Samaritan for today.

There was a man in Hartford, Connecticut who was hit by a car and no one stopped to help. Many people passed him on the street and didn’t want to get involved. Surely there were many church people who drove or walked past. And God looked down and wondered what was wrong with their hearts that they could ignore someone in pain when all of them had so much–health, material goods, jobs, family, and so on.

I don’t know if America is going to fall or rise. If we fall, I can’t say what will be the magic bullet to kill the nation, but since Jesus clearly spoke about the condition of the heart we need to look inside an examine our ways. Because that’s probably why we’re sinking…

Therefore when we isolate a group and make them our scapegoat, then we disenfranchise this group of people. We make them non-people, and non-people become expendable. Once they’re expendable then you hear a grade school child say: well, it’s okay to kill a gay person. (And the child could not understand why I said it was wrong.)

If Jesus were to return today he wouldn’t ask any of my conservative fellows about the political issues of the day and how we changed the world by an amendment here and there. He’d ask if we treated our neighbors with honor–you know the neighbors who’ve just returned from a California wedding. He’d ask why we hadn’t been there to wipe the tears of our child we sent away because (s)he was “living in sin”. Jesus would ask how we could forget about this child’s pain because God never forgets about our pain. He never sends us away. That would be like the people passing the man in Hartford, and God isn’t like that…

Therefore, forget the outside…look at the heart, your own heart. Listen for the heart of the person you don’t understand. Listen for the cry of their heart.

What do you think about the earthquake in China? What about Dafur? What about the starving children in Myanmar? What about the Christians in Laos: the pastor who was killed and now his wife continues his church and preaches grace? What about a certain child I know who is dying and his parents don’t have the money for gas to get to the hospital? These are issues that also need our attention.

As a Christian I think we need to be about the Lord’s business, and that means letting those we love know how much we love them…and we need to love them in more than just words. I’ve often heard the scripture from James quoted: “faith without works is dead.” People used it to emphasize the need to cook meals, witness or whatever to show they were/are working for the Lord. Let me put a new twist on it…

If the foundation for our faith is what Jesus did when he died for our sins. Then our faith is based on unconditional love and grace. “The works” would be showing grace and forgiveness to others. Now is a time to show what Jesus is all about. Here’s what the world is hungry for…

The Amish who embraced the shooter’s family. The church in Colorado who embraced the shooter’s family. The woman in Rwanda who has befriended the man who killed her husband and children. This is what the world is crying out for…the very thing that by passes the mind goes straight to the heart and makes people want to be better to their fellow man.

It is my opinion that my faith is only undermined when I set conditions on love. My children are strong in their faith when I’m acting like the Amish with the shooter’s family. The world wants what I have when my actions are like the Amish with the shooter’s family…

In short, there will begin to be battles now that the California Supreme Court has stepped up to the plate. We conservative Christians can fuss and fight, and maybe win politically, but what will we lose?

NOW is the time for all of us who carry the name of Jesus to step up to the plate. Our acts of grace will go to the heart…think about it…practice it everyday…watch things change.

May 12, 2008
And You Invited Me In
“In the conservative church, our problem is not having enough grace. Grace is the name of our ship and why we are saved. Extending grace when it seems impossible what the book is about.”

By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service


 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS) It’s a tragedy that Cheryl Moss Tyler’s book “And You Invited Me In” would be considered controversial in most conservative evangelical circles.

That’s because it’s a very readable and eminently Biblical exhortation for self-described Bible believing Christians to show the love of Jesus Christ to homosexuals. Once I began reading “And You Invited Me In,” I couldn’t put it down. If you choose to purchase the book, and I strongly suggest you consider doing so, I believe that you’ll experience the same reaction I did.

Click here to link to and read the full review of And You Invited Me In by Jeremy Reynalds: