Pursued By God

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Posted 5/31/14 at 6:27 PM | Dan Navin

I Shall Not Be Greatly Shaken

If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Luke 14:26

Among some of Jesus’ difficult statements, Luke 14:26 is one that I’ve struggled to come to terms with. Can He really mean that? Well, while Jesus is not here contradicting Himself or the biblical commands to love one another, He is rather, calling us to examine and order the primary affection of our heart, the gaze of our soul, and the focus of our mind. Do we value our relationships with those who are closest to us, our family and friends, above our relationship with God? Is my life lived in a way that demonstrates a strong foundation in Christ, or am I at the mercy of every ‘ebb and flow’ in my human relationships? Am I content with God only when I am content with my relationships, or even my belongings?

Far too often, I allow my close relationships with other Christians to affect my relationship with Christ. When I feel like a loved one has let me down, often it affects how I feel about God and the state of my spiritual life in general. What Jesus calls us to in this passage, however, is just the opposite. He’s telling us that a true disciple of Jesus pours out his life into that which is most dear to him. That in importance, nothing competes with God; nothing rises to the level of importance in our heart and mind near that of God. As compared to one’s relationship with Jesus, our earthly relationships are to be so far removed in importance from the Divine relationship that difficulties shall not greatly shake us in our devotion and obedience to the Lord. FULL POST

Posted 1/4/14 at 11:09 PM | Dan Navin

My Disorder Is Your Disorder

Attending a Roman Catholic grade school for eight years exposed me to a fair amount of Bible reading. I felt that I had a basic knowledge of my faith and an adequate understanding of God. As I progressed through my teen years, I could not reconcile my same-sex attractions with the God and religion that I had learned about during those years in school and in church. Confident that I had not brought these attractions upon myself, and certain I’d never made a “choice” to be gay; the awareness of who I was contrasted with who I believed God to be, resulting in an intensely painful inner dissonance of sorts, leaving an escape from religion as my only path to sanity.

In returning to my faith a few years ago, it’s becoming clear to me that despite reading the Bible as a school age boy and despite loving Jesus and knowing about God, I hadn’t had an adequate understanding of Him. I lacked a solid relationship between myself, the creation, and God, my Creator. I placed a heavy emphasis on the here and now, with little outlook toward an eternal life with God. Religion was about obeying rules, being good, and going to church. God wasn’t alive and available to me in the vast and intimate way I find Him now. He was a man in a judgment seat far away, and He was a book written thousands of years ago. The thought that God, Creator of the heavens and earth, was interested in having a relationship with me was not something I recall even considering in my youth. FULL POST

Posted 12/13/13 at 8:56 AM | Dan Navin

Sex, Love & Celibacy

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 I know, LORD, that a man’s way of life is not his own; no one who walks determines his own steps. (Jeremiah 10:23 HCSB)

When God calls a person to Him, a life once lived by faith in self soon becomes a journey into the unexpected; a trust in His promises and love. To the one who does not know the Lord, passions will guide his choices and behaviors. Fulfillment of desires the ruler of his days. Perhaps appearing a ‘good’ person, yet one led toward making reality of his dreams; dreams built on a foundation of self-indulgence, happiness, satisfaction, and arrogance. A mistaken belief that a man can determine his fate; make his life in this world what he would have it to be; find lasting joy in a dying world.

A New Day

Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading. ~Oswald Chambers

For no reason that is of me, God chose me out to be one of many upon whom He would lavish His loving mercy and kindness. Prior to the work He began in me, I didn’t feel any particular need for Him; I was doing okay on my own. Not a fantastic life, but surely an adequate one. A life in which I was free to pursue my own desires and find happiness, pleasure, and satisfaction by whatever means I felt most suited me. I knew of the Christian God from a distance and I determined there is nothing good about a god who would frown upon homosexuality and yet develop in me an orientation hungry for companionship and love in relationship solely with other men. Prior to encountering God, my life on this earth was just fine. FULL POST

Posted 11/19/13 at 8:37 PM | Dan Navin

Struck Down…But Not Destroyed

Crushed, not destroyed
Photo courtesy of Christian Care Ministry

Our present circumstances can often dictate our feelings and emotions. It is easy to get bogged down in our own sufferings, trials, and afflictions. In the midst of pain, God presents us with an opportunity to move closer to Him by dwelling on things eternal, or instead to focus inwardly; consumed by our troubles through our own shortsightedness.

The Struggle

We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 HCSB)

St. Paul writes in this passage of the many troubles he and the other disciples of Christ experienced. From the point that Jesus returned to His Father, the Apostles suffered greatly. They were hated, pursued, and persecuted. Yet they stayed the course…they did not lose heart. FULL POST

Posted 10/23/13 at 10:40 AM | Dan Navin

A Friend In Need

The divine meaning of a true friendship is that it is often the first unveiling of the secret of love. It is not an end in itself, but has most of its worth in what it leads to, the priceless gift of seeing with the heart rather than with the eyes. To love one soul for its beauty and grace and truth is to open the way to appreciate all beautiful and true and gracious souls, and to recognize spiritual beauty wherever it is seen.

Black, Hugh (2011-03-24). Friendship. Kindle Edition.

Perhaps the area of my greatest dysfunction prior to God's intervention was in my friendships. Often for me, my friendships were formed with sexual motives laying beneath a veil of kindness. In many cases, not all, I befriended others in hopes to one day transform a platonic relationship into one that was sexual. And despite many of my friendships being with heterosexual men, this challenge to achieve sexual intimacy was one I was victorious at, time after time. Whatever the underlying causes for my desire to achieve a measure of closeness and intimacy with other men through sex were, the "closeness" that I did come to have through these means was fleeting and never entirely satisfying. FULL POST

Posted 9/8/13 at 3:50 PM | Dan Navin

My Pastor, My Burdens: Homosexuality & Faith

Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them". Luke 11:46

God Hates ME?

As a Christian, it's easy to fall into a legalistic mindset. In the wrong hands, the Bible can be a tool that when misused, can do much harm to others. Before I came to faith in Christ, the words that some Christians threw at me hurt. These words didn't convey a message of my sinfulness coupled with God's love and Christ's sacrifice for my sins. What came across to me was that the God of the Bible was not interested in me, nor was their any hope that I could obtain this salvation that these folks had. While I knew that within the realm of Christianity there were a variety of attitudes toward homosexuality, the messages that dominated my life were those of condemnation and hate. And when all the words settled in my mind, I was left with the belief that I was beyond the saving and transforming power of Christ. Because in the confusion of soundbites and protest signs the message was clear: God hates gays; homosexuals are an abomination; and unless I changed who I was, I had no opportunity to join these "Christians" in Heaven. So, assured of my spot in Hell, I was skeptical when, a little over 3 1/2 years ago, I was intrigued by my conversations with a Christian man who I had recently met. He approached me as a friend, stayed even after learning I was gay, and his words carried a message of redemption, not of hate and hopelessness. FULL POST

Posted 7/21/13 at 5:20 PM | Dan Navin

There is Safety in the Lord: Proverbs 18:10

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
Proverbs 18:10 ESV

Safety. As we navigate the perils, heartaches, and struggles of this world, we are offered many sources of safety. Our family and friends can offer us safety in our times of distress; our government though its military powers provides us with safety against our nation’s enemies. Our local police departments are sworn to keep us safe by protecting us from those who would harm us. And our fire departments and paramedic programs assure us of protection from fire and of help in medical emergencies. But none of these sources of safety are able to ultimately save us. Despite the best efforts of friends, family, government, and hospitals, we are destined to die. But there is a provider of safety whose ability to save us and keep us secure is rock solid.

Safety for the righteous man is found in the Lord’s grace and mercy. Unlike the self-righteous man who seeks safety in his own abilities, the one who places his trust and faith in the Lord receives the cover of His righteousness and the promise of eternal security. When we are seeking God and trust in His Word to us, we are in His Strong Tower. When our decisions, actions, and words are guided by Him, we’re assured that we are safe. And this is not a safety that is merely concerned with the temporary; safety from being disappointed, betrayed, tempted, or lonely; it is safety from condemnation. When we run to the Lord for our protection, we are safe in the only way that matters. He keeps us safe and secure from the condemnation we deserve by our sin, we are safe from Satan and the demons which seek to destroy us, from His coming wrath, and from hell. FULL POST

Posted 7/13/13 at 7:16 PM | Dan Navin

A Friend Loves At All Times

A topic that has interested me since coming to faith a few years ago is that of friendship. I’d never spent much time thinking on the subject prior to following Christ. Once I began reading and studying the Bible, it became glaringly obvious that I had not, up to that point, carried out my friendships with others in a biblical way. Additionally, were I to live out my life in celibacy – something I have chosen for myself – the relationships that I develop with close friends are likely to be the closest and most meaningful relationships I will experience in my time on Earth. That primary bond which others experience with a spouse is not something I am likely to experience, and so I put a lot of value on close friends as they are to be my closest companions until God calls me home.

I’ve had many friendships in the past, several of which I would describe as close. Some based on common interests, some based on similar lifestyles, some on drinking and drugs, and one in particular just seemed to transcend any category. This last friendship I refer to started about 18 years ago and he remains to this day one of my best friends, if not my best friend. For the sake of his anonymity, I’ll call him “Jay” here. ”Jay” is heterosexual but not a Christian (in the born again sense) and the issue of my homosexuality never arose for the first couple years, and in fact I never really had to go through the process of coming out to him – although I was “closeted” at the time, he kind of picked up on it on his own and one day out of the blue just said “you’re gay, aren’t you?”. He was the first person to know. I must admit it took some weight off my shoulders after that, as somewhere in my mind my homosexuality had been a barrier between us and probably prevented me from feeling like we were close friends. After all, how could we really be close friends when he wasn’t even aware of such a major fact about me? FULL POST

Posted 6/23/13 at 6:49 PM | Dan Navin

So Long Exodus

A couple of days ago, Exodus International president Alan Chambers announced that the organization would be shutting its doors after nearly 40 years of service to the Christian community. I experienced mixed emotions over this announcement. I am aware of the position that Exodus took for most of its existence regarding reparative therapy. I think much harm and damage was done to people through these tactics. On the other hand, I attended the 2012 Exodus freedom conference in June of that year with my friend and pastor Kerry, and his wife Laurie. That trip remains one of the most valued experiences I've had over these past few years and remains such a positive memory; both because of the special people who accompanied me to the event, as well as the event itself. It stands out, really, as a turning point for me in that I had never before been exposed to so many others who were pursuing a similar path as I was. I know that I am not the only person at my church who is dealing with these issues of same sex attraction, but at that time I did not know of anyone else who was. And so it was good for me to see others with whom I shared a similar struggle, and to worship the Lord together with them. FULL POST

Posted 2/18/13 at 9:21 PM | Dan Navin

Do What You Think is Good

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
(James 4:17 ESV)

This verse in the book of James raises the bar to a high level in respect to how we are to make decisions for ourselves and on behalf of others. Oftentimes, when faced with a decision, I do my best to look for guidance in the Bible and through prayer. I believe this is a wise course of action, however I am still sometimes left wondering what God would have me do in the given situation. And sometimes this lack of direction can leave me unable or unwilling to take any action at all, sometimes out of fear for doing the wrong thing.

Do What You Think Is Good
One of the principles we should take from this verse in James is that my inability to gain clear instruction from the Bible is not necessarily a justifiable excuse to take no action, especially when for the good of another. Sometimes we withhold doing good for another because we believe others are more qualified to help; or perhaps we don't know the best way to help someone in a given situation. But even so, we can do something for a friend in need, and the Bible clearly tells us we should just do what we think is good and helpful. Let's be honest; in most situations, we know the right thing to do. It is often our own laziness, unwillingness to make the effort, or choice to take the easy road rather than put ourselves out there for another person that is the excuse for our inaction. We are all very good at coming up with excuses of why we shouldn't help someone And James is telling us that this failure to do good for another is sinful. Because while we may not be the "expert" in every case, we are still Christians who know the command of God to love others. God doesn't command us to solve all problems for all people, He simply commands us to be kind and do good for our brothers and sisters. And when we do this, we fulfill His command to love one another. When we have done what we were able to do, that we have met God's expectation of us in aiding, doing good, for another. FULL POST

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