Is the Church Addressing Homosexuality All Wrong?

Bible-study-beach
Let us love homosexuals, not thump them with the Bible. (Getty Images)

Breaking my own rules about addressing this, but it’s what I believe God wanted me to say.

Shawn A. Akers

With the words of this article you, as a believer, may think I am totally cracked. You might even call me a heretic. I really don’t even like writing about these issues anymore because of God’s conviction.

But this is different. Please, hear me out.

There are good reasons why Mike Pompeo has yet to be confirmed by senators as the U.S. Secretary of State. There are good reasons why the state legislature of California is in the process of passing a bill with the aim of banning Christian books and resources which address issues of homosexuality and gender identity.

And, there are good reasons why the LGBT community’s attitude is to, and pardon my expression, “damn the torpedoes” when it comes to educating our children with their agenda.

Did you ever stop to think that the church is totally responsible for the anger of these people? And did you ever stop to think that these lawmakers may be pressing these issues simply out of spite against the pomposity of some and the naivete of perhaps “well-intentioned” but misguided believers? Think about it.

Make no mistake about it. The Bible is very clear in its views on homosexuality, and I am very much in support of what it says, Old Testament and New Testament. It’s all there in black and white, and it is my faith that the Bible is both inerrant and infallible.

God tells us in Ezekiel 3:18-21, “If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me. If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too.”

What that tells me is that we must “warn” people of their sin—we must tell them the truth of God’s Word. But because of what has been preached from our pulpits live and on television, and the dialogue that has been spouted on all types of social media, most are already well aware that homosexuality is a sin. These people have been figuratively beaten over the head with this rhetoric, and many times, in a very hateful manner.

But is this the way God really wants it? Do we actually believe that by continuing to inundate them with Scriptures like Deuteronomy 22:5, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-27, Jude 1:7, 1 Timothy 1:10 and Mark 10:69 that we are actually going to change their minds and their behavior? Not likely.

In fact, it’s only going to continue to make it worse and widen the gap between not only us and them but them and God. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to stand before God one day and have him tell me that I was the reason why a certain person didn’t come to salvation because of my condescending and condemning attitude.

So, what do I propose? Simply this: Since most already know what the Bible says about homosexuality and everything associated with, I would suggest that when you are speaking with any certain person, tell them exactly that. “I know you know what the Bible says about it. I’m not going thump you over the head with my Bible and tell you what I think of your lifestyle. I am not your judge and jury; only God holds that position. And if you don’t know what God’s Word says about it, I’d be happy to share it with you.

“But is this the way God really wants it? Do we actually believe that by continuing to inundate them with Scriptures like Deuteronomy 22:5, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-27, Jude 1:7, 1 Timothy 1:10 and Mark 10:69 that we are actually going to change their minds and their behavior? Not likely.”

“I compel you to contemplate what God’s Word says about this and search your heart about it. Pray about it if you feel prompted to do so. Like the rest of us, the decisions you make for your life are between you and God and between you and God only. I have presented to you what I believe is the truth. I will pray for you and I will here for you if you need to talk about anything. No matter what, I’m here for you.”

To those who are angry about the Supreme Court’s decision in 2016 to legalize same-sex marriage, my advice is to let it go. Same-sex marriage is the law of the land now. Homosexuals are American citizens, too, and they deserve the same rights as every other American. That should NEVER have been a question.

But let me be clear: I am NOT condoning or approving of the homosexual lifestyle or same-sex marriage. I am very much opposed to it. God gave man his own will, and God will not override it.

The hearts of many are simply too far from God to submit to His will. And that includes the hearts of heterosexuals who have fallen so deep into sin—sin that is no less abominable in God’s eyes—that they think they are more righteous than they are.

But God is the God of the impossible and only through the Holy Spirit will men’s hearts and minds be transformed. It is up to as the church to pray fervently EVERY day for that transformation. That is, if members of the church care even the least bit about this instead of simply brushing it aside.

Please let know what you think of this article. My heart has changed radically in recent years, and I believe for the better. Let me know, in a respectful way, if you have different opinions.

Remember to do something today to rise up higher in your kingdom calling.

  • You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eyes, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt. 5:7)
  • But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5)
  • “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9)

Step Out of the Boat is a ministry created by Charisma Media Content Development Editor Shawn A. Akers and dedicated to help Christ followers to become spiritual champions and come to a more intimate relationship with Jesus. With its articles, podcasts and other forms of media, Step Out of the Boat encourages Christ followers to daily reach to a higher level in their calling. Shawn is a 35-year veteran sportswriter, a published poet and he published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read his blog here. You can also listen to his podcasts, the Javelin Sports Show, on the Charisma Podcast Network

Whatever Your Troubles, They Simply Cannot Compare

Asia-bibi
Asia Bibi still sits on death row in Pakistan for a simple act of kindness. (Facebook)

Think about these people and what they are going through. It will sober you up quick.

By Shawn A. Akers

Recently, my family and I have been beset by financial problems. Major car repairs, house repairs and braces for both of our children. The bills have piled up.

Our retirement nest egg has dwindled by a significant amount, and in these uncertain times,  that has become cause for major concern.

Yet through all of this, God has found a way to make me realize a very sobering fact. No matter what we are going through, our struggles cannot stack up to the plights of so many others around the world right now, including those who stand up for the sake of the gospel.  Our troubles simply cannot compare.

  • Pastor Andrew Brunson has languished in a Turkish prison for more than a year and a half simply because of his faith. He faces a life sentence and has become a political pawn in a chess game between the Turkish government and the United States. I cannot imagine what the anguish he and his family have endured.
  • Asia Bibi, a Christian convert from Islam, has spent seven years in a Pakistani prison and remains on death row for giving a Muslim coworker a cup of water while they worked in the fields. The grief her husband and two daughters face every day must be agonizing.
  • And what about Pakistani Christians who are constantly murdered because of their faith and for turning away from Islam? Pakistani Christians are holding true to their faith despite the persecution. Their dedication to Jesus is much more than what most of us can fathom.
  • Many American families have children that have been diagnosed with fatal diseases. Every day, parents heart-wrenchingly watch their children fight for their lives.
  • What about those who have nothing to eat on a daily basis–in this country and worldwide?

Those are only a few examples. Again, our struggles cannot compare to theirs. It’s not even close.

When are going to wake up and realized how blessed we are? When am I going to REALLY be grateful to God for what he has blessed my family and I with?

I do not minimize what we are experiencing, and certainly our financial woes put a great deal of stress on our family. I certainly do not minimize the tribulations of other American families and the extent of their circumstances.

When are going to wake up and realized how blessed we are? When am I going to REALLY be grateful to God for what he has blessed my family and I with?

Do you often find yourself complaining to God about your hardships? It’s OK because God forgives, but is it really THAT bad?

There is no way of getting around it. In America, we are spoiled and we don’t realize just how good we have it. The sooner we all realize this and the more grateful we are, the more good we can do for the kingdom.

Take your mind off your own troubles today and think about what you can do—if only to pray—for those who really need your help. I would love to pray with you about your trials and tribulations. Please let me know how I can.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb. 13:16)

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4)

Remember to do something today to rise up higher in your kingdom calling.

Step Out of the Boat is a ministry created by Charisma Media Content Development Editor Shawn A. Akers and dedicated to help Christ followers to become spiritual champions and come to a more intimate relationship with Jesus. With its articles, podcasts and other forms of media, Step Out of the Boat encourages Christ followers to daily reach to a higher level in their calling. Shawn is a 35-year veteran sportswriter, a published poet and he published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read his blog here. You can also listen to his podcasts, the Javelin Sports Show, on the Charisma Podcast Network.

 

 

 

 

 

Pray Today For: The Unsaved in Your Circles

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Pray today for the unsaved. (Lightstock)

A prayer for the unsaved will bring you a special blessing.

PLEASE … include these people in your prayers today. If believers bombard heaven, things can change!

We pray for those in the news and for those who need the love of Jesus in their hearts. If there is anyone you feel compelled to pray for in this blog, please email me at akersofracing@aol.com.

Rest assured that God is pleased with you when you pray for those who do not know Him. And although it may seem hopeless and frustrating at times that you have not seen friends and loved ones come to the saving knowledge of Jesus, you can also have confidence that our God is the God of the impossible. He can do anything, including bringing those you love into the kingdom.

But, time is running short. We need to be on our knees for these people.

Therefore, pray this prayer today for those you know who need Jesus in their lives:

“Lord, I know there are people who don’t have a relationship with you. Perhaps they know about you; they have heard your name. They just don’t know you as their personal Savior. I pray that you would give them the courage to open their heart and mind and life to you. Lord, help them with their unbelief. May they learn to trust you and love you. Use me as a bridge to their belief. Keep me faithful in my prayers for them. Show them your miraculous power and bless them spiritually, physically, financially and socially today in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

“To open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:18)

“The lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9)

Quote of the Day: Rick Warren

Mind-heart

What we take into our minds definitely influences what comes out in our lives.

“Be discriminating. Don’t just allow anything and everything to filter into your mind.” — Rick Warren

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:2)

 

 

Declaring and Decreeing Through Prayer

Minister-Kathy-Degraw
(Kathy DeGraw Facebook Page)

Declaring isn’t a “name it, claim it” game. You take a biblical fact, a word of knowledge, or a revelation that the Father has given you, and activate your faith.

Note: This is an excerpt taken, with permission, from my friend Kathy DeGraw’s book, Speak Out, published by Creation House.

By Kathy DeGraw

Declaring and decreeing is putting out and calling forth what you received through prayer. It distributes out through the power of your words what you received in prayer. Declaring is activating your faith and creating movement in the natural based on the revelation you received. I like to say that prayer is where we take in from the Father and declaring is where we put out what we received. It is taking everything you received from the Father in the secret place and releasing it to establish the kingdom and break down strongholds.

Declaring charges the atmosphere around you. When you start to declare things that you know in the natural and keep declaring them, the Holy Spirit will arise within you and start giving you further revelation about what else to declare. When you receive discernment and co-labor with the Holy Spirit your prayer time ignites, and you become excited to pray!

One morning as I was meditating I heard the following in my spirit: “Give me favor, unexpected blessings, and help me reach people far and wide.” I repeatedly kept hearing these words in my spirit and then started speaking them out in prayer. Repeatedly, for fifteen to twenty minutes, I kept speaking out in a normal tone, “God, give me favor, unexpected blessings, and help me reach people far and wide.” I prayed and spoke out the words the Spirit told me to pray. When we spend time with Him, He will lead and guide us in prayer. I prayed those words until I felt the Spirit of the Lord release me to pray in a different direction.  I experienced 15 manifestations of that prayer declaration in just one day!

Declaring isn’t a “name it, claim it” game. You take a biblical fact, a word of knowledge, or a revelation that the Father has given you, and activate your faith. Put authoritative words with it to call the spirit realm into action! We don’t go around loosely naming and claiming. When in alignment with God’s will, anything can manifest in our lives.

Declaring is not for everything we want. If it were, everyone would have everything and would go around declaring all the time.

There is power in the out-spoken word when we ask according to God’s will. He knows what His will is for our lives and what He desires to impart. We need to make sure when we are asking that what we are seeking from Him is to accomplish His will. Therefore, when you ask, make sure you are not asking amiss (James 4:3).

Declaring is not for everything we want. If it were, everyone would have everything and would go around declaring all the time. The Scriptures give us the guideline for declaring by saying, “In accordance to His will.” He will reveal His will to you and guide you in declaring by His Spirit.

Declaring is to speak out and reveal something in the spiritual to cause it to happen in the natural. It is to proclaim out and speak out with words in order to get a response. Declaring can include releasing some positive thoughts out of your mouth at the beginning of the day. It can include:

  • I declare I am going to be happy, joyful, and full of God’s love today, demonstrating God’s love to all I encounter.
  • I declare forth unity, love, and restoration in my marriage.
  • I declare my body is going to be full of strength to accomplish God’s work.
  • I declare I am going to have favor in the sight of the Lord and with man
  • I call forth a good Christian job to come my way where I will have influence and favor in the marketplace.
  • I call forth the full release of my prophetic destiny.
  • I call forth doors to open on my behalf where I can share my talents, giftings, and love of the Lord.

Our Father God declared over Jesus, His Son. When we look at the story of Jesus being baptized in water and prophetically declared over we see that a series of events took place. The Father spoke a prophetic declaration over His Son:

And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  —Mark 1:10-11

God declared out loud! It was a declaration from our Father over His Son. As powerful as it was, immediately the devil came in and activated on the out-spoken word and prophetic proclamation by the Father.

Prophetic declarations will bring forth both results and warfare, but there is a positive aspect in knowing how to declare. When you know how to declare you can decree against the warfare that will attempt to attack your situation.

Kathy DeGraw is a prophetic healing and deliverance minister and the founder of DeGraw Ministries.  She is passionate about releasing the love and power of God to empower and activate people.  She is the author of several books including; Speak Out, Warfare Declarations, Who is Speaking? and Powerful Prophetic Proclamations.  You can connect with Kathy on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/kathydegraw/ or visit http://www.degrawministries.org.

How Do You Speak Truth with Love and Compassion?

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How do you speak God’s truth with love and compassion? (Getty Images)

How this concept manifests can be puzzling.

Shawn A. Akers

I love to read Dr. Michael Brown’s columns and to listen to his radio show. He is a man of great moral conviction and, I believe, like David, he is a man after God’s own heart.

Dr. Brown addresses today’s cultural issues from a biblical standpoint. Today’s edition of In the Line of Fire titled “Free Speech: Use it or Lose It,” is a great example of his wonderful insight into the problems we face every day in this country. Whether many want to face it or not, we, as conservatives, are indeed losing our ability to speak our minds and our hearts as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.

Dr. Brown tells us that, “For many years I’ve said that, when it comes to America, I’m more concerned with the absence of light than with the presence of darkness. In the same way, I’m more concerned with our failure to speak freely than with those who are trying to silence us.”

Dr. Brown goes on to say, “Why must we dance around these issues with the constant fear of stepping on people’s toes? How can we possibly take gospel-worthy stands if we are such people pleasers? … And what about those who are not preaching behind pulpits or speaking over the airwaves? Who’s stopping us from speaking the truth in love on our social media outlets? … Why don’t we share our faith and our convictions more clearly and boldly and publicly?”

My concern with Dr. Brown and others like him is that he is telling us to speak the truth—the truth of God’s Word—with love and compassion, but he is not telling us how to do it.

Yes, believers must speak with authority and with the direction of the Holy Spirit when we are addressing such issues. But, don’t you think non-believers and carnal Christians have heard just about everything we have to say already? Most likely, they already feel like we’ve beaten them over the head with a club a hundred times.

Dr. Brown says, “I’m all for being sensitive and compassionate. I’m all for using wisdom. But true compassion speaks the truth. Love warns. Wisdom doesn’t waver.”

All true. But how is that manifested in the natural realm, sensitively and compassionately?

Instead of telling them for the 101st time that homosexuality is sin or abortion is murder, shouldn’t we take another approach? Shouldn’t we simply say, “You know how I feel about it and what God’s Word says. The way you feel about it is between you and God?”

Yes, we can repent and God in His mercy will eagerly forgive us. But what do you say to a person who doesn’t believe he or she needs forgiveness for their actions? How can we bridge this gap and truly penetrate souls for the kingdom?

One day, we all will be judged. ALL of us. I won’t be held accountable for what you say and do, only for what I say and do. That thought is daunting enough.

We cannot change other people or their hearts; only God can. Your own efforts to do so will be futile.

When we repent, God, in His mercy, will eagerly forgive us. But what do you say to a person who doesn’t believe he or she needs forgiveness for their words and actions? How can we bridge this gap and truly penetrate souls for God’s kingdom?

This thought may be old school, but the biggest impact on others’ lives is the example you set. Are you completely sold out to Jesus and living your life by His Word, or do you constantly compromise to the world’s standards? Do you have the mind of Christ?

“Be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).

I am interested to know what you think. Am I missing something? Is there some simple answer about how to speak the truth with compassion? I have sought the answer in genuine and ardent prayer, and opened my mind to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. I would also love to hear your thoughts and what He has told you.

And remember to do something today to rise up higher in your kingdom calling.

Step Out of the Boat is a ministry created by Charisma Media Content Development Editor Shawn A. Akers and dedicated to help Christ followers to become spiritual champions and come to a more intimate relationship with Jesus. With its articles, podcasts and other forms of media, Step Out of the Boat encourages Christ followers to daily reach to a higher level in their calling. Shawn is a 35-year veteran sportswriter, a published poet and he published a story about Dale Earnhardt in NASCAR Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read his blog here. You can also listen to his podcasts, the Javelin Sports Show, on the Charisma Podcast Network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pray Today For: Yourself

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God will bless a sincere and repentant heart. (Lightstock)

Take time today to pray these crucial prayers for yourself. God will bless a sincere heart.

Today, take time to pray for yourself. In my relentless pursuit of God’s knowledge and kingdom revelation, I came across a book by Creflo Dollar titled, Lord, Teach Me How to Love. At the end of the book, he wrote a chapter of prayers and confessions.

I would like to share some of these prayers with you and invite you to pray them for yourself today and every day. Therefore:

To Walk in Love

“Father, please forgive me for not loving as I should. Your Word says that I am made in your image; therefore, it is my desire to love as You do. Right now I tap into the anointing to change, which is made available to me through Your love. I pray that the atmosphere of my life, my home, my church and my place of work will change as a result of Your love demonstrated through me. In the name of Jesus, I decide right now to accept my responsibility in this walk of love. Lord, I receive your power, Your anointing and all that comes as a result of my obedience to walk in love. I will even demonstrate love to my enemies. Change me, rearrange me and make me new again. I thank You, God, that I will not miss the very best that you have for me. I believe that I receive right now the faith to walk in love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

To Walk in the Prosperity Ignited by Love

“Lord, I pray for an increase of anointing, love and compassion. I know that promotion comes from you (Psa. 75:6-7), and I know that You are a rewarder of those who diligently seek You. Because of Your favor, Lord, I expect miraculous increase in every area of my life. I am 1,000 times better from this moment on. In the name of Jesus I am rooted and grounded in the love of God. I decide today that I live and walk in love. My faith will increase. My anointing will increase. My power will increase. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”

Commitment to Spend Time with God

“Father, in the name of Jesus, I make a quality decision to develop and diligently cultivate an individual love relationship with You. I will not allow my good works alone to communicate my love to You. I will seek the needful thing, which is the word of God. I will not only be a hearer of the Word, but also a doer because I love You. I commit to spending more time with You, so that I may know Your voice and do what You instruct me to do.”

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man viewing his natural face in a mirror. He views himself, and goes his way, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in his deeds.” (James 1:23-25)

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He exists and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6)

 

 

Pray Today For: Pastor Robert Morris

Robert-Morris
Gateway Pastor Robert Morris (YouTube)

Lift Gateway Church Pastor Robert Morris in prayer today for radical physical healing.

PLEASE … include these people in your prayers today. If believers bombard heaven, things can change!

We pray for those in the news and for those who need the love of Jesus in their hearts. If there is anyone you feel compelled to pray for in this blog, please email me at akersofracing@aol.com.

Robert Morris, pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas, has undergone three surgeries in the past 12 hours for internal bleeding. Gateway Facebook posts revealed that Morris had a blood vessel bleeding in his abdomen and a blood clot the size of a cantaloupe.

Doctors have successfully stopped the internal bleeding, but Pastor Morris’ wife, Debbie, is asking for prayer to keep his blood pressure stable. Therefore we pray for this incredible man of God:

“Father God in the name of Jesus we lift Pastor Morris up to you and ask that you lay your hands on him and give him complete and radical healing in the name of Jesus. Thank you that you have allowed doctors to stop the bleeding, and we pray that his blood pressure does stabilize. Lord, you have used this man well for your kingdom purpose, and he is not done yet. Help him to get back on his feet again so that he can continue the work for which you have ordained him. We praise You and thank You for your mighty healing power. In Jesus’ precious and holy name. Amen.”

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” (Isa. 53:5)

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord.” (Jer. 30:17)

UPDATE FROM GATEWAY FB PAGE (5 p.m. ET): “Pastor Morris is doing much better and his blood pressure is normal. He still has a fairly lengthy road to full recovery, so we’re asking you to please continue to pray for his complete healing.”

Praise God!

 

 

Lord, Why Am I Here?

 

Kyle-Winkler

God doesn’t want you stuck and miserable.

Note: This post is a video from my friend, Kyle Winkler. If you’ve ever felt like you’re going nowhere, or simply stuck in a rut, Kyle tells you how God can deliver you.

Being stuck where you’d rather not be is a real attitude and faith tester. But here’s a lesson that just might help you see a silver lining in any waiting season.

KYLE WINKLER is impassioned to see people radically transformed by the presence and power of God to live in the victory of Jesus—every day. Kyle Winkler Ministries is a Christian ministry that provides teaching and resources that equip people to live in victory. Explore our website to learn more about the ministry and find helpful tools to strengthen your faith journey and share it with others. For more of his teachings, visit kylewinkler.org.

The Day That I Failed to Pray

Im-sorry
There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. (Getty Images)

God is bigger than my reaction.

NOTE: This is a guest post from my friend, John Garay. What a story, and what transparency. It’s something God wants from us.

By John Eli Garay

It all happened rather quickly. In a matter of a few months, we went from receiving the news of cancer, to gathering as a family to say goodbye.

The trajectory of events was a bizarre one for me. To start, I was in complete denial of the gravity of the matter from the get-go. I reasoned that he was a strong man that would beat this monster in no time.

I knew many people who had fought the same battle, and with the help of chemotherapy, they fought and killed off the alien-life-form in no time. If they could do it, so could he. This was a no brainer for me. Nevertheless, the announcement of this was still like a slap across my face, and “boy did it hurt.”….. So, I did what I knew to do best when faced with pain. I kept my distance. Yes, I know that it was a selfish of me, but at the time, I had the coping skills of a pet rock. Basically, they did not yet exist.

I remember getting the call from my mother telling me that I should probably go see him and pray for him. I had been ordained into the ministry just a few years earlier. For that point on, I was my father’s pride and joy. Perhaps I failed to live up to his expectations of taking over the family farm, but this was equally worthy of his praise. He was so proud that one of his kids was serving the Lord in ministry, and he told everyone about it. Hearing my mother’s request, I reluctantly took in deep breath of air, mustered up some energy, and drove to the hospital.

As I walked up to the room, I heard the sound of someone moaning from pain. Stepping into the room, I saw his sister-in-law walking around the room, and praying. “Be with him Jesus. There’s power in the blood. Hold him Lord,” she prayed with fervency. Despite being an ordained minister, I was scared to look at him. However, not even my deepest fears prepared me for what I would see. The strong man, that I grew up admiring as one of my personal heroes, lay confined to his bed and shriveled up in pain. My nephew lay there too, holding him, and trying to comfort him. But there’s no consoling anyone who is in that amount of pain and discomfort.

I don’t think he was ever aware of my presence. His condition was so far advanced that I’m not sure he even knew what was taking place. It was too much for me to take in all at once. I wanted to run far away, but I was frozen in horror and heartache. I wanted to rescue him from his suffering, but I knew better. I knew that I was powerless against this battle. As I stood there assessing what my eyes were seeing, his sister-in-law asked me if I would like to pray for him.

I don’t remember much after that. All I knew is that I placed my hand on his and nervously said a two-sentence prayer that didn’t have much significance. That very moment my sadness skyrocketed above any ounce of faith that I had in me. As soon as I was done praying, I excused myself, I ran home, packed my car, and drove 2 hours to the nearest campground that I knew of. I spent the night alone in my tent crying. I had failed my brother, I had failed my family, I had failed God. At a time that they needed me, I ran.

That night my brother’s suffering ended. However, my shame remained for years after.

My story from shame towards grace is one that I share quite often on this blog, and I encourage you to take some time to browse through this website to read about it. However, I’d like to use the next few moments to share with you 3 things that I have learned since that moment.

  1. It’s OK to freak out. The tradition that I was brought up in taught me that it was improper for a man to show any sign of weakness. When I saw my brother’s condition, I was unable to emotionally handle what I saw. I initially interpreted this as complete failure. Since then I’ve learned that my inability to handle a situation is the perfect place for God to demonstrate his grace and power. The moment that I feel like running away is an opportune time to run to the arms of God.
  2. God is bigger than my reaction. I’ve learned that God is not fazed by my over-dramatic response to pain, heartache, and stress. In fact, he meets me where I am and ushers in hope, healing, and encouragement. When I feel like I can’t go on, He carries me. When I feel small and powerless, he always manages to lift me up to safety.
  3. No prayer is ever wasted. I am amazed at how Jesus never instructed his followers to pray perfect prayers. Instead he encouraged them to have mustard-seed-faith. As time has passed, I’ve discovered that some of my most powerful prayers have been prayed when I had no idea how to start praying. I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit helps me weak moments when I don’t even know how to start praying.  In fact, the Holy Spirit prays for mein groanings that can’t be expressed through words. In other words, regardless of how inarticulate my prayer may sound … it is always heard … and God always answers.

Surprisingly enough, since losing my brother, I have had the privilege of being with many people while they are transitioning to eternal life. God, in His grace, has redeemed the fear I have and has blessed me with the ability to be present with others during a very significant part of their lives. I’m happy to report that I no longer feel the need to run. Instead, I feel the desire to be present. Present for God and present for others.

JOHN GARAY has spent over 15 years mentoring and coaching individuals in life skills, career transitions, and through organizational change. He has worked in behavioral health, pastoral care, and higher-education. He has found that he is most satisfied in life when he is helping people recognize their potential and assisting them to reach their goals. You can read his blog at john-eli.com.