Joseph

Joseph had two sons born to him before the years of famine came. Asenath, daughter of Potiphera the priest of On, was their mother. Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh (Forget), saying, “God made me forget all my hardships and my parental home.” He named his second son Ephraim (Double Prosperity), saying, “God has prospered me in the land of my sorrow.”

⤷ Genesis 51:50-52 (msg) ⤶

I love the story of Joseph a lot. It speaks to anyone who is a dreamer. But the hard thing about being a dreamer is being faced with that moment when everything goes left. At the age of 17, Joseph saw himself elevated. His dreams said, “You will be a great man someday.” It didn’t happen till he was 30 years old, not obviously anyway.

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In the end…

A Story About Two Sons

28 “Tell me what you think about this: A man had two sons. He went to the first son and said, ‘Son, go and work today in my vineyard.’ 29 The son answered, ‘I will not go.’ But later the son changed his mind and went. 30 Then the father went to the other son and said, ‘Son, go and work today in my vineyard.’ The son answered, ‘Yes, sir, I will go and work,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two sons obeyed his father?”

The priests and leaders answered, “The first son.”

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God before you do. 32 John came to show you the right way to live. You did not believe him, but the tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. Even after seeing this, you still refused to change your ways and believe him.

Matthew 21: 28-32 (NCV)

This is one of my favorite parables. I constantly find myself going back to it and, honestly, I’m surprised I have never heard it preached. This is not a joke. No one has ever preached this parable in my presence. I wonder why? Are we worried about the implications of a God who forgives those who once rebelled? I don’t know. I ran into it while reading scriptures one day and my jaw fell open. It was so amazing.

“Tell me what you think about this,” he said.

I wonder about our tendency to praise potential over product. At least, I’ve had that tendency. I’m drawn to people with potential more than people who are actually producing fruit.

Permit me to think out loud for a moment.

It could be a combination of things.

  1. I like to teach, which means I am naturally predisposed to drawing the potential out of people.
  2. My top 3 love languages have nothing to do with physical things people can do for me or give me. You can wash my car, clean my whole house and buy me shoes but it won’t light me up the same way a conversation, a hug or an “I love you” would. But then it becomes unfair, right? Some people who are genuinely trying to love me find their love overshadowed by others who feed me their grand intentions steeped in zero substance.

What if God was like that?

Thank heavens He is not.

He sees you really trying. If those lofty words mean something, He knows. And if that physical offering means something, He knows. If that grand declaration means nothing, She knows and if that physical offering is void of personal significance, She can tell. We can’t fool God with the aesthetics.

How I pray for wisdom to be like Him.

I have made many mistakes trusting in the person that seemed so amazing because of the promises flowing from his lips like honey. I have chosen the business partner that seemed to know what she was doing and promised me the world. And they have failed me.

But you know who’s a bit better in some cases? The person who doesn’t promise they can do it. Sometimes, they genuinely just want to count the cost. They don’t want to disappoint. So they approach the task at hand with sobriety and because of that, they end up being the most dependable.

I’m learning more and more not to trust the flash in the pan emotional display. I’m learning to trust the slow, steady growing tree that takes the time to dig its roots deep before it emerges to the surface and says, “Yes. Now I am ready.”

Here are some synonyms of “slow” that I quite enjoy: deliberate, unhurried, ponderous, moderate, dreamy…

I used to hate my penchant for questioning everything. I spent so much time deciding on things my peers would breeze through in a second. That is how I am. I get lost in the details. I give in to a little bit of paranoia and allow my mind to run wild with a million scenarios of how things could go given the current variables and their values. It makes me slower at many things – making decisions, getting ready, eating (because that’s also thinking time)… Getting started on anything is a long journey for me. And I didn’t like the way my mind worked but one day, I reflected on how some very technical things came to me naturally: creating a song, building a website, programming, finding the right words to describe that feeling/idea… And my paranoia, questions, and imagination became a gift. I realized my slowness was my strength.

It’s okay to arrive slowly. In some situations, it is genuinely better to question and requestion and go back to the drawing board and pray once more and prepare twice more and buttress thrice more because by the time you arrive? Oh wow. You will be unshakeable. There is nothing like a season of doubt (if you come out of it) to reinforce your faith . Yes, there are no’s that are permanent but sometimes, that no is a maybe. Sometimes, that “no” still finds a son thinking about that thing his father said. Sometimes, that “no” comes from the mouth of a daughter that is sincerely wondering and questioning, not just being a rebel for the fun of it. So let them take their time. Abba allows it.

There is no formula. We just have to walk with our eyes open and watch what people are doing. We can only pray that we will see them as they truly are. We can only ask questions and test the waters. Slowly but surely, what is within will bubble out; what is beneath the ground will break forth; what is hidden will be revealed.

Not all who say “Yes” are dependable and not all that say “No” are horrible. Sometimes, the naysayers are just being brave enough to be honest.

That was a very long tangent. My point is: in the end, you will know who was sincere based on what they did, not just what they said. So let actions speak.

This parable also reminds me of a theme I stumbled upon twice in Ezekiel:

21 Suppose wicked people stop sinning and start obeying my laws and doing right. They won’t be put to death. 22 All their sins will be forgiven, and they will live because they did right. 23 I, the Lord God, don’t like to see wicked people die. I enjoy seeing them turn from their sins and live.

24 But when good people start sinning and doing disgusting things, will they live? No! All their good deeds will be forgotten, and they will be put to death because of their sins.

25 You people of Israel accuse me of being unfair! But listen—I’m not unfair; you are! 26 If good people start doing evil, they must be put to death, because they have sinned. 27 And if wicked people start doing right, they will save themselves from punishment. 28 They will think about what they’ve done and stop sinning, and so they won’t be put to death. 29 But you still say that I am unfair. You are the ones who have done wrong and are unfair!

30 I will judge each of you for what you’ve done. So stop sinning, or else you will certainly be punished.31 Give up your evil ways and start thinking pure thoughts. And be faithful to me! Do you really want to be put to death for your sins? 32 I, the Lord God, don’t want to see that happen to anyone. So stop sinning and live!

Ezekiel 18:21-32 (CEV)

The theme is also found in Ezekiel 3:17-21 and throughout Ezekiel 18.

Value is not determined in the beginning; it is determined at the end.  And thank God for that because it means bad situations can be redeemed.

 

Moon Mountain

Because the bond between my divine Maker and me dies from time to time.  

6:16am – Sunday, 6 Dec 2015

I loved waking up at 4am the first few days of camp for morning devotion. As the people would sing and clap, I would look up at the bright, beautiful, big moon right above the strong, solid, stoic mountain.  

I would think about God’s majesty and brilliance; how He made us all; how He designed and created the universe; how perfect it was; how perfectly everything turned… How beautiful it all was. How could I not believe in Him? He made this.  

Then harmattan decided to be weird. A fog rolled in so thick that it covered a mountain I had come to believe was unconquerable. Never in my days there did I believe I would wake up and not be able to see something so big and immovable. I looked in the same direction I had looked every single morning… Nothing but fog; just a blanket of white, flat against a vertical landscape. To me, that mountain and the moon had become an unshakable testimony of God’s faithfulness, presence and preeminence. It was mine. It was for me. The mountain was from God to me, to all of us, to see and marvel and know, “The Divine Maker was here.”  

And it was gone and it left me feeling hollow. Praying wasn’t as good or fun or majestic or cosmically vibrant as I had grown accustomed to.  

But I looked up and the moon was still there. Slowly traveling somewhere east-like every morning; sliding little by little in the sky. And I held on to it as my one solace in a land that had grown cold with a fierce and unforgiving wind.  

And one morning as we prayed, someone led with a song that said, “they don’t understand.” They don’t understand Our love, Our bond, Our journey, the beauty that is God and me. It just looks like confusion and randomness to the outsider but I can’t convey to them the depths of the dreams I have had, the things I have seen… The things I have seen. And I fell to my knees and cried like Jeremiah. With each saline drop hitting sand and stone, I felt God more for the first time in a long time. I let Him move me again. I let Us be again and He reached my fogged up heart with that song. You see, my heart was always His, moving and turning perfectly with Him, my moon…but some seasons are cold and winds and fogs fuck everything up. What was once clarity becomes confusion. And that thing I never thought I would lose was the first thing to go… My strong, solid, stoic unshakable stance beneath my moon,  my Divine Maker. And He moved further and further away from me, losing His fullness each morning.  Because the bond between my divine Maker and me dies from time to time.

But don’t these orbits and seasons and winds just happen naturally?  

“Even when I’m at my darkest, You know me all the same…and even when I cannot see You, I feel You closer than my skin.”  

Will the pull of the moon not always be felt? Are we not one Universe? Our connection will never die. No matter how She moves, She is mine and I am hers. And she will be near me, bright and full in a new season.  

Lift up your head (You won’t let me go) Lift your head cuz help has come

Lift up your heart (You won’t let me go) Lift your heart His will be done

Lift up your hands (You won’t let me go) Lift your hands and praise the One

Lift up your song (You won’t let me go) Lift your song O ransomed son.

Song lyrics: “Even When I’m At My Darkest” by Ascend the Hill.

On Loving God with your Heart and Soul

Continued from: Loving God with your Intellect


MATTHEW 22:37 AMP

And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). [Deut. 6:5.]

There is too much data in this universe. No matter how much I know I’m always building my perspective with missing information. I know my intellect cannot tell me everything. At some point, heart and soul must step in where she fails me (and even those fail me too sometimes but hey! We try our best, right?)

We are crazy surrounded by things we can’t use our ordinary senses to interact with. This is one of my favorite illustrations of that.

So, the intellect allows us make mental sense of data we gather through our physical senses but there exists this idea that there are unseen forces we interact with all the time using some sort of internal compass. Cultures and religions all over the world have a concept of this: intuition, 6th sense, third eye, sensing “auras” and “energy,” discernment…

When we’re introduced to ideas outside the range of our 5 senses, we tend to shut down. It doesn’t make sense to the intellect and we don’t have a robust vocabulary for it. We call it crazy or pseudo-science. But I mean, I can’t see a radio wave with my eyes, yet it exists; someone had to be the first one to build a radio – a complex process that I imagine was fraught with many failures along the way. For many generations, no one knew wireless communication was a tangible possibility; we had to collectively evolve to be able to create the technology we have today and I don’t think spiritual things are that different. I think the idea of spiritual perception overwhelms us especially when it doesn’t work like we expect. I think we’ve gotten quite worn out with it all, which is understandable[1]. We stop pressing in to find out what’s going on when things move from logical to intangible or (dare I say the dreaded word?) mystical. We expect it to be easy. It’s not. The art of learning how to feel in the right direction is complex.

Coming from the Christian perspective, we talk about prayer, worship, prophecy, discernment, faith… things that are received by the heart and soul. Generations of devout believers have seen miraculous things happen when they reach out for God past the logical and into the intangible. These practices breed a wide array of emotional responses. Sometimes, those feelings are explainable and sometimes not. I am fascinated by the stories of people who move using the eyes of their hearts, even when they can’t explain why they feel something so strongly, and get to see amazing things happen.

I’m talking about the freaky Jesus stuff. I’m talking about my best friend landing in Haiti for a mission trip. She goes to a woman’s house – someone she had never met – and the woman says, “I had a dream about you and your team yesterday.” My best friend then prays for the woman and she receives a miraculous healing in her leg. Like, that kind of stuff. I have ZERO logical explanation for that. This is the kind of stuff you see in the book of Acts, the kind of stuff my cessationist friends firmly believe don’t happen anymore. And you know,  I’m not just talking about a one time fluke. Stuff like this happens to her ALL the time and stuff like that has happened to me too.

I had a very interesting experience with one of my favorite bands. One day, while listening to their CD, I felt an urge to write them a message and pray  a blessing over them. I specifically felt like I should pray for them to love each other like brothers. The theme of brotherhood was huge on my heart as I penned my prayer to them. I didn’t expect a response and I didn’t get one.

Months later, they were playing a show an hour away from my town. I was so exicted that I wrote them a little fan letter saying that I really appreciated the way they expressed  the teachings of Jesus so poetically and prayed a prayer of blessing on their work. The night of the show, I hopped in my 1990 Honda Accord and headed there. My car made hellish noises that night; I pressed on anyway. After the most amazing concert of my life, I gave the letter to one of the roadies and asked him to pass it on because I thought the band wouldn’t be available to sign things after. I headed to the merch table and the front man was standing right there. I won’t lie, I fangirled a little bit. I was so excited that my words didn’t really come out right. I told him I loved his music so much and asked if he’d sign my guitar. I told him I had given a letter to one of the roadies for them.

Here’s the interesting (yet sad) tidbit. During the concert, they opened up about how one of the band members had just lost a member of his family and I later found out it was a brother. That night of the show was said member’s first time back after a few weeks. It was emotional for all of them. The story online was heartbreaking. 2 months after that concert, I got a reply to my first message to them. They thanked me for praying for them and said, “We couldn’t have gotten this message from you at a better time.” I’ve often wondered if they recognized my name from the second letter and if that was what made them respond.

This was a pretty simple story. I reached out into the void because I had a nonsensical feeling in my heart but for them, it was important. That is one of my favorite types of stories. In loving God with my heart, He often loves and helps other people around me.

Another time, I had an experience where the last thought in my head before bed was this random “knowing” that I was going to run into a specific person the next day – someone I knew was coming into town but had never met. I ended up running into that person at the park and we talked a bit. He was in town screening one of his movies. We became friends on Facebook and I messaged him a few months later to encourage him in his craft and in his ministry. It was a long message but I felt strongly, spiritually led to send it. He responded saying that the message came at a time when he felt like what he was doing was monotonous and routine. Sometimes, he thought about giving up but he said, “Your reminder sparked something in me that I believe came from the Holy Spirit.” He’s continued pursuing his craft and ended up working with some really impressive people in the music and movie industry.

I know there are times I encourage people and it’s just a nice addition to their day but there are these other times where, on the other end of my words is a life and death situation for somebody else. Sometimes, I try to pray a little more seriously and listen a bit harder so I can hear something specific for someone. In those moments, I feel God is working.

And I’ve seen people do spirit-led ministry wrong and seen them do it so right… no different than watching someone work a piece of new technology. Sometimes we don’t understand it and we push the wrong buttons and nothing happens and we say it’s broken. Other times, people give it a go and they gradually figure out how praying and worship and prophecy and healing works and they grow to lead amazing ministries that change the world, one person at a time.

Then sometimes, it doesn’t “work” and we don’t know why but that’s okay because in the times we have “done it right” it is so powerful and so worth it that we keep pushing through to understand this thing… this marvel… the Holy Spirit and what it means to worship in Spirit and in truth and that is investing your heart. That is loving God with the part of you that feels it even when you don’t understand.

What I sense physically isn’t always enough for me. Sometimes, I have to listen past what I am actually seeing and hearing and allow the light in my heart to guide me. That looks quite messy at first because it is usually an illogical choice but in the end, intuition and discernment have proved to be blessings not curses. The end always justifies the pain it took to get me there. That is why I am less afraid to trust God when things look a little crazy. I know in my heart, He has put assurance there, that it’ll all work out and He hasn’t failed me yet.


[1] The original statement read, “I think we’ve gotten quite lazy with it.” which I don’t agree with anymore. It implies people aren’t trying hard enough. That’s not necessarily true.

 

Ramblings of a sinner, Probably the worst, Hopefully getting better (Part 3)

This is the final installation in this series. Nathan shares how he prays through his struggles with the spiritual doing/undoing he has been through. He also shares an audio installation he created and some resources he found helpful.


What do I do on those days when I feel like I am going backwards? I first pray in silence offering no words to God but my submission. I read some of Mother Teresa’s writings. This particular excerpt I keep near me:

“Listening is the beginning of prayer, and what we listen to is the voice of God, God that cannot deceive or be deceived. Then if we keep silence, silence cannot be corrected; if we speak, if we answer back, we make mistakes. IN THE SILENCE OF THE HEART GOD SPEAKS; let God fill us, then only we speak. Often we say uncharitable words. They come from us, from our heart, not from God speaking through us, because we are not listening to God. If you want to know how much you love Jesus there is no need to ask anybody to tell you; you are old enough. In the sincerity of your heart you will know it yourself, if you practice silence…. Try to be alone. Try to keep that really deep silence to get rid of bitterness or hatred.”

-Mother Teresa

I go to God in silence on those days. I go to God and remember, “You are within me. You are the life force of the universe. In you, O, God I have my being. You are my breath. You are my heartbeat. You formed me in the womb.” Then silence. I believe that being present in the moment with God is heaven on earth.

Second, I remember stories of people throughout humanity that might have felt like they were going backwards rather than forward while fighting for justice. I remember reading about Ruby Bridges. Her story has stuck with me. She was a young six year old black girl in Louisiana. She was the first person to integrate William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans. She went an entire year as the ONLY person in that school. The other white children (aka their parents) refused to go to school with her. can’t imagine being little Ruby. I am sure on some days she went home and cried to her parents thinking this all had to be some huge mistake. She probably did not want to move forward with her position in making schools in New Orleans a place for everyone. She stayed though, or she was forced by her parents. My point is that she probably did not always feel like this was the right decision, because clearly not many other people supported her. I remember stories like hers when I do not feel like I am making a difference for others. People try to accuse me of only doing this for myself, but I really hope I am sitting in the place for others. I think of Christ staying on the cross for all of us, even though he felt so alone, so burdened, so hurt, and ultimately… completely rejected.

Lastly, I ask for mercy and remember that God is faithful. In the book of Hosea, you see God change his mind against his wrath towards his people. You see his anger turned into overwhelming love. His anger overshadowed by that love. I now see that as foreshadowing of what he did on the cross. He defeated his own wrath and the evil of the world by showing us true sacrificial love that overwhelmed the grave. This Love moves toward others rather than the self. This Love says you are all invited to my table. This Love tears down boundaries. This Love fulfilled the law. This Love is stronger than temple walls. This Love is so strong and unstoppable that nothing in all creation can separate you from it when you surrender to Jesus Christ. This Love is the gateway to life.


I wanted to include some links that have helped me on my journey! Maybe they will help you too!

[part 1] ● [part 2] ● [part 3]


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Jonathan Kent Adams is an artist from Yazoo, Mississippi. He studied painting under Mary Beth Mckenzie in New York, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Mississippi. Other than that he enjoys being a barista at Highpoint Coffee, candles, heaters, red wine, music, and conversations about what make us beautiful. In his words, “I guess most importantly… I’m child of God and so are you.”

Ramblings of a sinner, Probably the worst, Hopefully getting better (Part 2)

This is part 2 of a 3-post series where my friend Nathan shares his journey toward self acceptance as a child of God and as a gay man.


I always love in scripture how God shows up in unexpected ways throughout the Bible. He showed up in a bush. He came to us born of woman who was not married. (Side-note: Have you ever thought about how difficult it would have been for people in Jesus’ time to process that GOD was born to a woman who was not married before she became pregnant?) In Ezekiel God reveals that he will no longer be found only in the temple. He deconstructs the temple and basically reveals that God will be found outside of the temple in the future. AKA King Jesus will be riding a donkey. But in all seriousness this is extremely beautiful that God would be found outside of what was once an exclusive place. Jews believed God would show up as a warrior, but instead he let his enemies kill him. In the old testament, widows and eunuchs were seen as cursed or inferior (could not procreate) but towards the end of Isaiah God reveals that those people will be first in the kingdom, and they should rejoice in the present. Why? Because the kingdom of God is an adoption process not a natural birth right and the Kingdom of God is at hand, here, now, and to come. Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Christ alive after his death. Why would God choose a woman when most people at the time only listened to the men for spiritual revelation and guidance? Yet, God revealed his defeat of death to someone unlikely. Someone unexpected. There are many more examples of God coming to us in the unexpected.

What if God is coming to us in the queer community? What if when God says there will be no male or female in heaven… that the queer community is the undoing of the security and ways we idolize gender? What if the queer community is a peak into heaven?

Since I now live openly as a gay person, I live in the tension of letting God undo all the psychological mess that I created by going to him for years believing I was cursed. Much of my relationship with him depended on my struggle to overcome my thoughts about guys. Now, I am learning all of the areas of my life that I need so much more grace. I gossip a lot with or about people sometimes. It’s extremely easy for me to become jealous of others in the art community. I become selfish sometimes in my relationship. I can be very selfish with my time and how I spend it. I do not do enough for people that cannot help themselves. I am not vocal enough about how incredibly wonderful and indescribable God is. Basically, I used to think being gay was the only reason I needed God. Now, I know I need God. Period. Some friends have told me that I am following the world, but they often do not think about how you really are choosing a road less traveled by remaining a christian and being openly gay.

So many queer people dismiss christianity because of the harm the church has caused.But to stay in that tension… Its hard and humbling. I have never felt like I have more purpose, even though sometimes I feel like I am losing.

As I have transitioned into undoing my old thoughts about how to be gay and christian, I sometimes feel as if I am on top of the world and other days I think I am going backwards. This is the main thing I thought was important to say. I have read a lot of stuff about all of this, but no one ever seems to admit the challenge of going through this. One day I was a bit discouraged, because I had been doubting myself, and my relationship with God. BUT there is an intersection in Oxford where MDOT is completely changing the way traffic flows in order to cause traffic to flow better and have less traffic jams in the area. Most locals I talk to hate the new transition, even though we know eventually this change will help the traffic flow in the future. The problem is that on some days the new construction and changes have made the traffic jams worse than they have ever been. Then some days you see the traffic flowing better than its ever been. (This is the kind of tension I often find myself in my walk with God.)

I was encouraged that day while driving, because I had to remind myself that we all hate change and sometimes it seems like we are going backwards but sometimes that’s a byproduct of our resistance to change.

And my change requires deep psychological rewiring; only a God who knows me can undo the old patterns of thinking. That situation is so similar to me with where the church may be going with the the LGBTQ community… and even though it may seem like we go backwards sometimes,

hopefully we are being made more in the image of God.

[part 1] ● [part 2] ● [part 3]


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Jonathan Kent Adams is an artist from Yazoo, Mississippi. He studied painting under Mary Beth Mckenzie in New York, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Mississippi. Other than that he enjoys being a barista at Highpoint Coffee, candles, heaters, red wine, music, and conversations about what make us beautiful. In his words, “I guess most importantly… I’m child of God and so are you.”

Ramblings of a sinner, Probably the worst, Hopefully getting better (Part 1)

Over the next 3 days, my dear friend Nathan is going to share his story and his journey with us as a gay man and a Christian.


Geez… I don’t really know how to write this without giving you my life story. I don’t know how to write this without telling you I was always attracted to guys growing up. don’t know how to write this without telling you that I have had girlfriends thinking my thoughts would eventually fade… that I have read books… that I have talked to pastors… that I have had to sit and talk with many friends about my future as a gay person in the body of christ… that I have lived in two polar opposite places in America… that I have spent most of my life from around 7 to a few years ago thinking something was tragically wrong with the way I was made.

Age 12 to 21, you would find me in private asking God to change me, to make my attraction to men go away. It’s basically the same story you have probably heard if you are familiar with conversations around this topic. I spent 4 years after I came out believing it was wrong for me to be in a gay relationship if I wanted to keep walking with God. I not only believed this but spoke at bible studies about it. I wrote letters to large groups of my christian friends talking about my struggle with being obedient to Christ while being a gay person. During this time in my life, I found people like Wesley Hill. He wrote a wonderful book called “Washed and Waiting.” He is a celibate gay christian. He helped me for the first time see the gay part of me as a gift that God could use, but I could never enjoy the intimate companionship of marriage. He argued that people of LGBTQ community needed to have deep rooted friendships with in the church to meet their emotional needs. He talked about how this was an area the church struggled with in general with all single people. Jesus was single from what we know. Paul was single. The problem for me was that it was a sweeping curse of celibacy to all people that were in the LGBTQ community. Paul made celibacy seem more like a gift that he celebrated not necessarily something that was forced upon groups of people.

I always thought it was beautiful that I could actually marry Christ one day as a part of the church. He is my bridegroom, and I am the beloved. To me that is a queer thought. A strange thought. A beautiful thought. A life changing thought. I wondered why I could not live this as a reality here on earth. No one in the churches I attended or talked deeply about my life with, told me that other christians existed within the body that believed I could enjoy that companionship with another person. I would find this out on my own when I went to live in New York City to take painting classes. I attended a small church called St. Josephs. I noticed within the congregation a few gay couples. After leaving, I emailed my religion professor from the University, and asked her if gay christians could really exist? That experience and email started the journey of me seeing myself fully embraced by God. Fully welcome. Fully celebrated. Not just part or parts of me, but the whole. My professor encouraged me to read different books by different people rather than the ones only written by celibate gay christians. She introduced me to James Alison. I have spent many a night chewing on his words, weeping as I felt this spirit within me stirred, but confused as ever at the undoing of some things I held so deeply as truth about myself.

I would later read a book by Gene Robinson. He was one of the Bishops for the Episcopal church. He is openly gay. He married and is now unfortunately divorced. (This doesnt really help a case for gay marriage, but his honesty and story did help me process through some aspects of moving forward even if people close to you do not support you.) He was so brave at letting God be his strength and refuge as so many people left that church, sent him hate mail, threatened his life etc. I have read books by Mark Achtemeier and Matthew Vines. I remember watching Matthew Vines’ sermon on youtube before he ever had the book deal. Both of these men talk more about the six passages that theologians talk about when discussing the issue. I will attach some links if you are interested more with that. I was always reading articles on both sides trying to figure out what I thought intellectually on the issue. I was also biased, because I wanted a relationship. I wanted someone to share life with me. Then one day crying on my knees in prayer, “God is for you not against you” kept going through my head. God is for you not against you. So I moved forward in faith that God would keep me and that if I was going down the wrong path that he would lead me back. I found that both sides could justify what they believed God wanted for the LGBTQ community. Another professor showed me articles that were written by pastors during the civil rights movement. Some argued that slavery and segregation were what God wanted and others condemned interracial marriage. These articles opened my eyes to how you could not really argue with these people, because they were certain they were right. I found that the conservative side never really admitted that they could potentially be wrong on the LGBTQ issue. They were definitely wrong with their justification of slavery and segregation. I also found this among real life friends. They were always certain they had the right interpretation of scripture and perception of my life. I will be the first to tell you that I may be wrong. That we all may be wrong. I hope that is not the case though. I hope that I am bringing God glory with my life and not myself. I hope that what I see is a progression in scripture of God using unexpected ways and relationships in order to reveal himself to humanity.

[part 1] ● [part 2] ● [part 3]


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Jonathan Kent Adams is an artist from Yazoo, Mississippi. He studied painting under Mary Beth Mckenzie in New York, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Mississippi. Other than that he enjoys being a barista at Highpoint Coffee, candles, heaters, red wine, music, and conversations about what make us beautiful. In his words, “I guess most importantly… I’m child of God and so are you.”