What’s Love Got To Do With It?

 Recovery  Comments Off on What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Jul 272015
 

Recently, I had the opportunity to stay a couple of nights at a hotel. The hotel was older, needed some repairs, and the WiFi didn’t work very well. But other than these minor issues, we had an enjoyable stay.

The fellow who ran the front desk’s name was Henry for our purposes. At first, while checking in, Henry seemed a little snappy. But after further interactions with him, he proved to be rather friendly.

Toward the end of our stay, I had the chance to sit down with Henry and to chat with him for a little while.

love

The following is Henry’s story:

“Henry was from a large family, having fifteen brothers and sisters, with their dad being a pastor. Needless to say, Henry grew up in the church. At age fifteen, Henry came out of the closet, so to speak, as being gay. He said he had known since age six that he was gay. He was immediately rejected and ostracized by his family. Henry knew that his lifestyle was wrong in the eyes of God. After he would fall to his vice, he would hate himself and to kill the pain, he turned to alcohol.

One day while driving under the influence, he was in an accident that resulted in the death of a young boy. This served to further ostracize him from his family and the church. In fact, he even received a letter from a major church denomination barring him from ever stepping foot in one of their churches again – ever.

Eleven years ago, Henry got a job at the hotel and has lived there on the premises ever since. Four of his brothers live nearby and have not once come to visit him at his new found home. Since Henry knew he couldn’t escape from God, he asked Him to stay on one side of the hotel and he would stay on the other.

Then, about six years ago, the unthinkable happened. The family who lost their son as the result of Henry’s drunk driving came to the hotel. The mother and father insisted that Henry hold their newborn son. At first Henry could not believe it, but they persisted and told Henry that they had forgiven him for killing their other son. Finally, Henry held their newborn son. The family has since brought their new son back to visit Henry from time-to-time.

Henry told me that he would never set foot in a church again for the rest of his life. But he also told me that he had seen more of God’s grace in that hotel than he has seen anywhere else. He said that just being able to face people from behind the front desk was truly a miracle.”

The fact that this is a true story shatters my heart. Where was the love of Henry’s family and the church? Where was the help that he so desperately needed? Why do Christians and the church consider homosexuality as the unforgivable sin when the Bible clearly teaches that it is not? Why do liars, thieves, the heterosexually immoral, and others get a pass but gays do not? Where is the old adage, “We need to love the sinner but hate the sin”?

The Bible teaches us to love not in word, but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18) and we should not just say we love but we should truly love. Perhaps if Henry had received the love and help that he needed from his family and the church, he would not have had to turn to alcohol and thus not been responsible for the boy’s death?

Does Biblical love mean that we as Christians need to learn to accept sin? No, not at all. But it does mean that we should truly love the person and do our very best to get them the help that they need.

What if his family and the church had taken a vastly different approach? Rather than rejecting and ostracizing him, what if they had attempted to understand him and tried to help him? What if they had started a Christ-based recovery group for gays and ex-gays? What if they would have continued to dialogue with him and invited him to their family gatherings? What if Christ’s love, not acceptance of his sin, but real love, had been displayed to Henry?

Thankfully, the grace of God still won out in his story. The hard, real forgiveness that that family chose, displayed Christ’s love to Henry like no one else in his family or church had. Because of that family’s choice, Henry was given hope. Hope that God is love, that He is good, and that He forgives. Hope that there are good people in the world who do care about him. Hope that with God’s help, the help of his counselors, and AA, he can continue to fight the good fight.

Henry told me that he has lived a celibate lifestyle for the last eleven years. Every morning he wakes up and asks God for strength to not fall. Then at night, he thanks God for the day. Sounds a bit like someone I know very well.

#preachinggospeltomyself

 

His son,

Gary Lee Millner

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How We Treat Our Wives or How Should Christian Men Treat Their Wives

 Marriage  Comments Off on How We Treat Our Wives or How Should Christian Men Treat Their Wives
Jan 182014
 

The Bible has a lot to say about how we treat our wives. It says we should love them as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25), that we should live with them in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7), that we should not be harsh with them (Colossians 3:19), and I could go on. and. on.

It also gives a warning for those you fail to treat their wives well, that their prayers may be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

So the question becomes, how are we as Christian men treating our wives?

wives

Unfortunately, in my experiences, the answer to this question is probably “not very well.”

I must admit that I didn’t treat my wife as well as I should have in the first ten years or so of our marriage. And I definitely reaped what I sowed. By the grace of God, our marriage is now improving dramatically after seventeen years, but the first ten were definitely less than ideal.

wives

I’ve seen this pattern in other Christian marriages as well, even among men who hold leadership positions in the church. It. is. sad.

Why do we treat our wives this way?

Well, for me, I didn’t intentionally set out to make my wife’s life a living hell – it just kinda happened that way. I was selfish, didn’t really have any social skills or life skills, and carried addictions and many other hurts and hangups into our marriage. Not to mention the fact that our personalities and ways of “doing life” didn’t sync up. We were total opposites.

As a result, arguing and fighting came natural for us. I was immature and wanted things my way.

What did I learn from this and how did I start treating my wife better?

I started to learn that the little things didn’t really matter that much… the color we painted the wall, whether we ate Italian or Chinese food, etc, etc, etc. If it wasn’t something that I had convictions about and was really important to me, then I let her have it her way. It just wasn’t worth arguing about. Our unity was the important thing.

I learned that my words were important. I learned that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21) is a true statement. I am not the best with words anyway, and when I tired, it’s even worse. So, if I need to have an important conversation with Joanne, it’s better to wait until I’m well rested so that I will be more careful in choosing my words. With that said, even when I’m exhausted I need to be more careful when choosing my words. Because they have the power to give life, uplift, and encourage, or the power to bring death, destruction, and discouragement.

In addition, I became knowledgeable of the fact that the Bible was true once again… shocker I know: “There is a time for everything… a time to be silent and a time to speak…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7).

wives

Sometimes my wife just wanted to be heard. She didn’t want me to fix her problem or give her advice. She just wanted me to listen and try to be understanding. Especially after a long day at work or when she had just come in the door, she just wanted to vent. Sometimes, that’s all any of us really need, a listening and understanding ear. Someone to share our lives with, who won’t judge us or condemn us, but someone just to affirm that are we are important, that we matter and our lives matter, because we are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of Christ.

What about you? What have you learned that has helped you to treat your spouse better?

 

His son,

Gary Lee Millner

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What I Really Want For My 40th

 Giving  Comments Off on What I Really Want For My 40th
Aug 172013
 

By the grace of God, I can honestly say that I don’t really need anything. God has supplied all of my needs, just like he said he would. He has blessed me with a beautiful wife, two awesome children, a place to live, food, clothing, a job, and much more.

So, what do I really want?

Earlier this year, I wrote about what I really wanted for Christmas. The list my for 40th birthday is essentially the same. As Ann Voskamp so eloquently writes, I want to Be the G.I.F.T.

giving

So, if you want to give something for my 40th birthday, might I suggest reading this first and then doing one of the following?

Purchasing something from freeset or Sari Bari or giving to one of these fine organizations?

Compassion Catalog … World Vision Catalog… Partner’s International Catalog

Gospel for Asia Catalog… Mennonite Central Committee Catalog …

Or Being the Gift as Ann so wonderfully writes about here?

Or Donating $10 via Text Message to the Red Cross?  Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate to Disaster Relief efforts, or PREVENT to 90999 to donate to the Measles Initiative.

Or giving to Samaritan’s Purse or the Salvation Army?

“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” — Matthew 10:42

Please leave a comment below or reach out to me on facebook or twitter if you give something for my birthday because I want to know and personally thank you.

Boston Marathon Bombing from a Christian Perspective

 News  Comments Off on Boston Marathon Bombing from a Christian Perspective
May 012013
 

I want to start by saying that my heart goes out to the families of everyone who was killed, maimed, or otherwise hurt in any way as a result of this horrific act of terrorism. I have been praying and will continue to pray for you.

Disclaimer:  This post is not meant to rationalize, excuse, or otherwise dismiss the awful acts of terrorism that were committed. It is only an attempt to provide a line of thinking from a Christian perspective that may have been largely overlooked.

The one thing that struck me was the following statement by Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bomber who was killed early Friday, “I Don’t Have A Single American Friend.”

Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard, 8, held a call for peace at a school event last year. He ended up dying a victim of violence.

Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard, 8, held a call for peace at a school event last year. He ended up dying a victim of terrorism.

Why was that? Was it because he failed to reach out to other Americans and to offer himself friendly? Or was it because we American’s failed to reach out to him and to offer ourselves friendly, perhaps because of our prejudices against foreigners? I suspect it was probably a combination of the two.

What does the Bible say about how we should treat foreigners? Let’s take a look at some of the scripture.

You must not wrong a foreigner nor oppress him, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 22:21, NETBible

When a foreigner resides with you in your land, you must not oppress him. The foreigner who resides with you must be to you like a native citizen among you; so you must love him as yourself, because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God
Leviticus 19: 33-34, NETBible

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who is unbiased and takes no bribe, who justly treats the orphan and widow, and who loves resident foreigners, giving them food and clothing. So you must love the resident foreigner because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 10:17-19, NETBible

The Lord says, “Do what is just and right. Deliver those who have been robbed from those who oppress them. Do not exploit or mistreat foreigners who live in your land, children who have no fathers, or widows. Do not kill innocent people in this land.”
Jeremiah 22:3, NETBible

The above scripture says that we as Christians are supposed to love foreigners as ourselves, give them food and clothing, and that we should not wrong, oppress, exploit, or mistreat them.

What if Tamerlan would have reached out to an American for friendship? Or, better yet, what if American Christians would have reached out to him in love? I suspect that the outcome would (could) have been quite different. Perhaps, we would have never known the name “Tamerlan Tsarnaev.”

I’m as guilty of this as the next person. Perhaps I don’t reach out to foreigners as much as I should because of the natural barriers: linguistic, religious, cultural, and etc. Or perhaps I wasn’t aware of the scripture that speaks to this (I can’t have this excuse now!).

Whatever the reason, let us push past these barriers and reach out to the foreigners in our country in love, because, who knows, perhaps we can help prevent the next terrorist attack by doing this.

Dear Father,

Please forgive us for our prejudices and other wrong thoughts and feelings toward foreigners.  Please help us to see them as You do, as human beings that You love just as much as You love us. Help us to remember that our ancestors were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. Most of all, help us to remember that is it Your will for us to love foreigners as we love ourselves.

In Jesus’ mighty name we pray,

Amen.

I would love to hear from you. Please post a comment below and I will respond to as many as I can.

The Truth About Noah’s Ark

 Relationship with God  Comments Off on The Truth About Noah’s Ark
Feb 112013
 

Sure, it would be cool to find the real Noah’s ark.  It would be neat to see it’s remains, to touch the wood, ancient. But then, would we need faith if we had the physical proof? noahs_ark If “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” then why do we need the physical proof?

If having a piece of aged ark wood in our hands is not an important part of the true ark story, then what is?

Faith is certainly an important part of the ark story, however, I submit to you that another important part is this:

“This is the history of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless man living on earth at the time. He consistently followed God’s will and enjoyed a close relationship with him.” — Genesis 6:9

Noah enjoyed a close relationship with God. Is there anything better than that! I submit to you that there is not. 

However, a close relationship with God comes at a price, a high one, one that most of us hate and are unwilling to pay — obedience.

“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” — Genesis 6:22

Noah consistently, patiently, and obediently followed God’s will. He did exactly what the Lord told him to do. He built an ark to God’s exact specifications. He loaded it with two of each kind of animal, male and female. He then took his family into the ark and waited for God to close the door and start the H2O inundation.

So, the question becomes, if we as Christians earnestly desire a close relationship with our Lord, then why are we so unwilling to be obedient? Since we know His yoke is easy and the burden that He gives is light and He wants to give us rest for our souls, why do we refuse to come to Him and enter into His rest? Why do we refuse to obey Him?

Perhaps its because even though the Bible says His sheep know his voice, we still struggle to hear and know His voice? We still struggle to know who’s voice is speaking to us, Satan’s, our own, or God’s.

Perhaps His yoke seems hard and His burden heavy, too heavy for us to bear, crushing. Perhaps we have mistaken His yoke for the yoke of the law?

Perhaps we don’t feel that we love God properly, as we should, with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength?

The Lord is teaching me that the reason I, the second worst sinner – right behind the apostle Paul, have such a hard time being obedient is because I don’t truly understand how much God loves me.

I don’t truly know in the depths of my being the depths of His love for me. I need a greater revelation of His love.

Joyce Meyer, in her wonderful book Battlefield of the Mind, says that the Lord spoke to her on one occasion and said, “Very few of my people really know how much I love them. If they did, they would act differently.”

She continues:

“I studied in this area for a long time, and I became conscious and aware of God’s love for me through thinking about his love and confessing it out loud. I learned scriptures about the love of God, and I meditated on them and confessed them out of my mouth. I did this over and over for months, and all the time the revelation of his unconditional love for me
was becoming more and more of a reality to me.

Now, his love is so real to me that even in hard times, I am comforted by the ‘conscious knowing’ that he loves me and that I no longer have to live in fear.”

This “conscious knowing” only comes by revelation from the Holy Spirit. With that said, I will conclude with what Jeannie Fulbright says about God’s love in her blog:

“God loves you so tenderly. He loves you exactly like you are, with all the unsanctified thoughts and deeds you do. He has a plan to change you that is slow and steady and full of peace and joy. His plan will prevail. You are predestined for it. And it’s not you that will do it… it’s all him. You don’t have to work. God does the work. The Christian life is not too hard. It’s not hard at all. It’s about cuddling up in the arms of the father who loves you. The father who accepts you just as you are today. He isn’t disappointed in you. That’s the lie of the accuser. The Lord wants you to quit listening to those lies and take back your inheritance–the peace he purchased for you. It’s yours. You are acceptable to God.”

Do you really know in the depths of your soul how much God loves you? If not, are you willing to try what Joyce recommends above? Which of them could you put into practice right-away?

If you like, I invite you to pray the following prayer with me:

Dear Holy Spirit,

I pray that you would fill me and give me a “conscious knowing” of God’s great love for me as demonstrated through His son Jesus. Make His love so real and tangible that my love for Him would bubble up and overflow. Then, may my willingness to obey flow out of this close relationship with my Lord, the only true lover of my soul.

In Jesus name I pray,

Amen.

I would love to hear from you. Please leave your questions or comments below and I will do my best to respond to as many as I can.

[Some of the above text was taken word-for-word from our new book, Slaying Life’s Dragons and Beasts: A Practical, Biblical Guide to Overcoming Life’s Pains, Obstacles, and Addictions.]