Saturday, January 10, 2009

Grace demands Radical Change ... !!

This post is not going to be a comfortable one for anyone. It's not going to be comfortable for legalists because I am going to make some statements that will draw them to conclusions - conclusions I have already been receiving from some quarters. It's not going to be comfortable for "nice" Christians who may have formed particular opinions of me and don't want those "nice" opinions shattered. It's not going to be comfortable for those who may be in denial about areas of my life they don't want to know about. And it's going to be a definite step out of my comfort zone because any air of "respectability" that I proudly hung onto will be gone! So with that caveat-warning out the way, I can take no responsibility for what is to follow. Read on at your peril!

Please note that I haven't written this post in solidarity. I am aware that it may cause offence to some (I hope it doesn't because I don't mean it to - I am just telling the truth). So I have emailed it to Pete Day and to Julie and Lydia and have taken their observations and edits on board.

The statement I am about to make is based on my own experience and observation and I am more than willing to be corrected on it. I believe there are certain taboo subjects in the church that bring an element of discomfort and awkwardness. One such subject is that of people suffering with HIV and AIDS. I rejoiced therefore to read in the latest Newfrontiers magazine;

"As Christians we should not ask, ‘How did you become infected with HIV?’ but rather our question should be, ‘How can we help and support you to live with the virus?’".

Attitudes seem to be slowly changing! Thank God for Newfrontiers! But the issue I want to discuss is that of homosexuality. To put in context why I am writing this post, it is necessary that I share a degree of personal testimony. Before I do that however I need to make some definitions. As a New Covenant Christian I don't believe that God sees His creation as "gay" or "straight". But the world has become so familiar with such titles that I must of necessity use them. In this post I will be talking about;

1. Homosexual (Men or Women) - People attracted to members of the same sex exclusively.

2. Heterosexual (Men or Women) - People attracted to members of the opposite sex exclusively.
3. Bisexual (Men or Women) - People attracted to members of the same and opposite sex.

A. The Past

So I grew up (as many who read this blog are aware) in a strict religious background in a Bible-believing church where it was explicitly taught that homosexual practice is wrong. Stanley Jebb - my senior pastor - made much use of the passage in Leviticus and Romans 1 to show that homosexuality was a perversion and I believed it. It was slightly upsetting and disconcerting therefore to find that as I progressed into my teenage years I was developing feelings of attraction towards people of the same sex. This wasn't helped by attending a Christian school ran by the church - while I was at that school I was abused by an adult and went through the usual feelings of guilt that I didn't do anything to stop this pattern that went on until the individual left the church. In a weird sort of way I "enjoyed" the attention of the abuse. I was to spend the next 10 years trying to "cure" myself. If there was a pill on offer that would have made me heterosexual then I would have taken it. If there was surgery - I would have gone through it ... without anaesthesia.

When I say I tried to "cure" myself - this is just some of what I attempted. I legalistically read my Bible for an hour every morning (without fail) - especially the passages in the Bible that dealt with the horrors of homosexuality (such as Leviticus 20:13 and Leviticus 18:22). I attempted castration (seriously). I went to a Christian group that believed that chastity was the only answer for homosexual Christian men (and ended up getting abducted by one of the men and driven deep into the countryside and left there when I wouldn't sleep with him!). And I attempted giving up. Oh and I attempted exorcism (thanks to Derek Prince).

By the way for anyone who wishes to "label" me - I guess according to the world I am bisexual. But thank God according to the New Covenant - I am a son of God, co-heir with Jesus Christ, I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ, I am accepted, I am loved and God is crazy about me!!

B. Pete Day

Because of my background in church I used to struggle with the opinion that I am an "abomination" and am worthy of the death penalty until I met Pete Day. Many know how close we are but not many know how absolutely key this man was in saving my life. Pete and I met through a mutual friend and when that friend moved away, our friendship deepened thanks to common loves and passions like Dr Ern Baxter, the doctrine of Word and Spirit and a general longing for more of God. One January morning about 7 years ago Pete and I went to the famous Metropolitan Tabernacle Christian book sale and we sat in a McDonalds and I felt I trusted this man of God enough to make a full testimony of my past and my background and my struggles with attraction towards people of the same sex.

Pete responded in grace and acceptance and love - and that has never altered to this day. I have shared my failings (of which there are some) and I have shared my struggles and heartaches and remain accountable to him to this day. Pete and I spend a lot of time in prayer and in waiting on God when we meet and it was during one particularly powerful time that I suddenly felt the power of God fall upon me and I heard the audible voice of God say; "My grace is sufficient for you for My strength is made perfect in your weakness" and I felt God ask me to surrender my struggles to become "straight" into His hands. It was during that time while I was lying on the floor in Pete's office in the Spirit that I felt a commission to reach out to the homosexual community in the United Kingdom. I already had and have a number of gay friends - both men and women - and I felt the passion of God for them - the longing of God that they would receive His love.

C. Sovereign Grace Ministries

Some time ago my friend Janelle asked for a bit more information into my views on church discipline and I promised to give it. So here's a bit more context. I joined Grace Church Bristol some years ago and as had become habit to me I kept quiet about my past and my struggles. It was more awkward because Grace Church was a small church and I was the only single male in the church. Eyebrows were raised and the cliche; "Oh I am waiting for the right woman to come along" didn't always cut it. I managed there in membership somehow for 2 years however. It was incredibly difficult and a lonely time because as with most churches, the social life of the church was shaped around couples. And so because I was an "odd number" I didn't get invited out much. I went to see the senior pastor with the other single female in the church and we shared our unhappiness but nothing really came of that although he promised much.

Unfortuately I was to discover that years of "keeping a mask" on was having an effect. I was working as a childrens nurse and was accepted and appreciated for who I was there. My collegues and friends couldn't understand why I was so cut-up about who they thought I should be. The church however was a different matter and I began to struggle with depression and with self-harm. As I began to deteriorate I became increasingly desperate and my parents suggested I go and share my struggles with the church leaders (although my parents were not aware that the depression and self-harm was linked to my struggles with my sexuality).

Rather stupidly I did. There were only three meetings. The first meeting was gracious. The second was not and the third was my disfellowshipping from the church. Here is what happened. I made the leaders aware of my past and my present. I shared with them that I did have homosexual friends but that I was celibate and had been for some years. During the second meeting I was informed that my struggles with depression and self-harm were because they felt I was "lying" and was in fact NOT celibate and more particularly was having a sinful relationship with a dear friend of mine who is like a brother to me. While they admitted they had no evidence - it seems that the "feeling" of a Sovereign Grace leader is enough.

I was asked to do the following. 1. I had to move back in with my parents and make a full statement to them about my past. 2. I had to cut off contact with ALL non-Christian friends especially those who were homosexual. 3. I had to vow to attend every church service and care group without fail. If I fulfilled these ultimatums then they would help me with my depression and other struggles. If I did not ...

So I was given two weeks to consider this and went straight to London and consulted with Pete and we spent time praying and thinking through what to do. I came to the conclusion that I couldn't reconcile how biblically any pastor could make such demands of a church member. Particularly when it came into such conflict with my God-given commission that had come to me to reach the lost and hurting homosexual community. I couldn't imagine how I was to tell my friends that I was no longer able to have any contact them because the church had told them so - and how they would find this glorifying to the God I had been trying to interest them in.

So I went back after the two weeks and met with the pastors and informed them of my decision. I felt that to obey such ultimatums was to go against my conscience. They became angry and informed me that if I refused to obey then I would be "disfellowshipped". They would inform the church that I was banned from church services and care groups. They would also write to every other church in Bristol and would inform them that I was not to be accepted because I was in "unrepentant sin". Despite these threats I actually felt I had made the right decision rather than the wrong one and stuck to my decision and left the meeting. I know that many are afraid to leave their SGM church because of years of history, friendships, a social circle they would miss, awesome worship, or excellent preaching - I didn't have any of those restraints.

As I stated in an earlier blog I have been guilty of holding bitterness against these church leaders and I am truly sorry for that. I don't understand why they did what they did and I can't condone it from Scripture. To be told I was "being put out to Satan" was shocking and upsetting to me - I thought that Scripture only condoned this extreme and last resort decision in the case of gross immoral behaviour and blatent unrepentance. I had not been caught in any sin, or confessed to any such sin. It seemed to me this was all happening because of "a feeling" of the church leader. Thanks to the gracious work of the Holy Spirit over time I can now appreciate the sincerity of the church leaders in doing what I am sure they felt was right. I can appreciate their bravery in being prepared to make a hard decision and being prepared to be extremely unpopular. I still don't agree with it or them. But can appreciate it and know the blessed relief of "It is well with my soul".

D. The Present

This post (both Pete and I felt) had to be written because of a recent unpleasant incident which has acted as a catalyst to get this post written. We both felt that the Holy Spirit was desiring to use this to the best and maybe break down some walls of bigotry and ignorance within His Church. Furthermore I was amazed at how quickly "FEAR" began to attempt to control me again because of what happened in this incident. I was genuinely terrified that I was going to be "exposed" in public. So this post is a way of defeating that fear. I have told the truth here and therefore the fear has got nothing to grab hold of because there is nothing left to be revealed!

The incident was this - I am a reluctant member of Facebook and mainly use it as a method of storing my own photos. For my birthday in December I treated both myself and my friend to a luxurious stay in a hotel in Birmingham called "Malmaison". We enjoyed "deep tissue massages" - an experience in and of itself! - and generally had an amazing time! It was just what I needed after my trouble at work and re-occurance of depression. I put those photos on Facebook. I should add that I slept in the double bed and my friend slept on the sofa in the adjoining lounge.

I had a couple of messages on Facebook from an individual I know expressing concern at the photos. That person had examined the photos in detail and had come to some wrong conclusions about what happened (or might have happened) that weekend. (Ironically I spent the weekend with the same friend that I had been "commanded" to cut out of my life by the SGM leaders - so talk about deja vu!) Like the SGM leadership I can truly appreciate the sincerity of this individual and the bravery in wishing to address it knowing they would be unpopular. But like the SGM leadership the tone was accusatory at best and and the result was condemnation. And as Terry Virgo said; "Condemnation is a work of darkness - it doesn't work".

This person has accepted that their concerns are unfounded and apologised (unlike the SGM leaders who to my knowledge have never backed down and admitted they were wrong) - but there is a principle that concerns me. And it is this;

Just because I may have admitted that I struggle with "bisexual" feelings does NOT mean that every man I spend time with, I am living in sin with. Just as every heterosexual man who spends time with a woman is not necessarily living in sin with. I live in a flat with two other people and both are dear friends to me. But the thought of anything "more" .... ?!?! To use Sheila's now famous phrase; "Ack!!". I regularly go away with girl friends that I work with and are good friends with but the thought of anything "more"??!!? Ack!!

Both Pete and I agreed that everyone is liable to fall - but Galatians is clear - if we walk in the Spirit, we WILL NOT fulfill the lusts of the flesh! Todd Bentley's tragic fall proves that even a man deep in the anointing can be succeptible to fall.

But that FEAR of being tempted surely cannot stop us from taking the Gospel of grace to those who need it!

This friend who I love spending time with came to the Newfrontiers Leadership Conference in Brighton and experienced the prayer meeting as his FIRST experience of Christianity! He heard God speaking to him with words of love and acceptance and welcome and he still remembers that experience even though it was 4 years ago! Something happened and I fervently believe that "He who began a good work WILL complete it!".

E. The CHALLENGE

By and large homosexual people know that the Church don't approve of what they do and they think that the Church doesn't like them. And pretty much I am sad to say they are right. Scott and I happened to be at CCK in Brighton during the Gay Mardis Gras celebration and I was interested to see if it got a mention. It did - but not in a positive "let's go out and show them what REAL life and REAL celebration is like". So imagine my thrill, tears and joy when I was at the Glory and Grace Conference in Hong Kong and I heard Isi de Gersigny say this;

"I encourage people to sit on the front row with me because I am sick and tired of this front-row, second-row, third-row rubbish! I want PROSTITUTES sitting next to me! I want to reach the gays of Sydney! I want the kings and queens of Sydney's streets to be near me! I want to see chains break off! I want to see glory in people's eyes! I want them to see what I am seeing! Because He is more glorious than what people have made Him out to be! His eyes are like consuming fire that wraps around you and you will never be the same!".

There ARE true grace churches out there and it is my prayer that this positive, open love for homosexual people - both men and women - will spread like a brushfire. Because the challenge is this - unless the Church changes it's attitude then the homosexual community simply won't come. And even more definately won't listen to the church's message that what they do and who they love is wrong. I was impressed to consider Jesus Christ's attitude and behaviour when He dealt with the "untouchables" of His day.

The parable in Matthew 22 is interesting to consider - how would it compare to today? In Matthew 22:4 the king sent His servants to His guests saying that the banquet was ready. But they ignored Him and spurned His generosity and grace. Then (v9) is relevant here;

"Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast".

I know that exegetically that applies to Israel rejecting the Messiah and the Gospel then being given to the Gentiles but it shows to me the Father heart of God. That the Gentiles were the unacceptable to the Jews and the Pharisees. They were called "dogs"! Does the Christian community really think of the homosexual community as much better? One of my main problems with Mark Driscoll was the offensive comments he has made about homosexuals. How is that demonstrating the love of God to the ends of the earth?

So in conclusion - our attitudes must change. I don't know if God will ever "make me straight". But what I do suspect that if I had grown up "straight" then I have no doubt I would have the same proud bigoted attitudes towards the homosexual community as those that I have experienced and that have hurt me so much. I am so grateful to God that He has chosen to allow me to be in this position - because maybe in a small way I can reach the lost and the hurting one by one and show the homosexual people that God loves them JUST AS MUCH as He does the respectable sinner who lusts in private or who lies and cheats. Sin is sin. And the respectable sins drove Jesus Christ to the Cross just as much as the homosexual. The homosexual person is just as in danger of falling as the proud man.

Let the fires of the grace of God sweep across the world from pole to pole and from sea to sea. Jesus Christ spread out His arms and said; "It is finished! Father forgive THEM!". And that is an inclusive statement to all that come to Him and receive His imputed righteousness!

20 comments:

jul said...

And so knowing how perfectly God loves you is casting out fear! Me too.

I am so proud of you for writing this! You are an amazing man of God, a man after his own heart. What a gift you are to the church, a what a shame some have been foolish enough not to see it.

Love ya (as Lydia would say, and probably will haha)!!!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

I'd got most of your story... I guess reading between the lines...I was just hoping that you weren't currently in any relationships on the sly. One of the giveaways apart from Will and Grace and Mama Mia...was this...I know my own life...and I knew the fact that the grace of God was on you so strongly for some inexpressed reason....there had to be something you weren't saying in the blog, and I just guessed that that was it. In my own life I have been driven up the wall by the things I've allowed to control me. D'you know, in some senses they are worse than homosexuality....not peadophilia or murder or something...but there's no way people will read about the third level if I make them public....yet folks...these are the sort of crisises that cause you to crash into the third level. You have to find an answer, an inner answer...and fast...you cannot hang around in charismatic churches waiting for a Che Ahn who may or may not turn up. Like the crippled man at Bethesda, you leave the side of the pool...the charismatic portico...and you have dealings direct with the Living Christ...who says in effect...do you want to hang around the praise meetings waiting til my Presence comes...or do you want Me, Myself, NOW! I actually feel Maurice Smith had it easy...because he can write about his depression and crisis of confidence. It is still pretty respectable. What do you do where you cannot even mention what you have...because there is no leader anywhere that can handle it. And sadly this is still largely true with homosexuality too.
My authority in Christ comes from what God has written on my insides to more than counteract any problems. I still fall..though not in the same way. I'm out of my nightmare. I've found a Jesus that lives in me outside of meetings. And I don't mean that sentence in the same way that a new believer says it. I said the same thing after I was converted. I mean the Third level works...and my heart's cry is to join with any mature Christians to by the Spirit co-work with God to get as many secretly suffering charismatics out of their pain as quickly as possible....to learning this trick of Christ in them as them...as Norman and his crowd taught me...but never within a Baptised in the Spirit context.Great post, to say the least. Great post doesn't really cut it.

lydia joy said...

Dan, little brother of my heart (I think I can say that because I do believe you are a wee bit younger than me) - I too am proud of you! And ditto to what Jul said. I will publicly say I am sorry for all that you went through at the hands of the church! I am so grateful and hopeful, because he is turning your ashes into beauty. He is burning you beautiful and has indeed made you complete in Him - You have the Shalom of God, nothing missing nothing broken!! He will use you for good and already has through your testimony!!

It is indeed time for the church at large to see that the strength of sin is the law, and to stop putting the law on God's precious children. It is time for the church to stop regarding one another after the flesh. We look to the unseen - not the seen! We have been made perfect forever in HIM!! It is time for the church to SEE JESUS for who He really is - unconditional, pure unadulterated love, kindness, mercy and goodness and full of compassion and grace!!! He is more than enough!!

You indeed are loved! As are those you long to reach, who struggle with their "true" identity!! May you be richly blessed for you boldness and may return to you what the locusts have eaten in great measures!!

Yes I will say it (and not just for Julie's sake, haha) - I do love you! Thanks to his lavish love for me first!!

lydia joy said...

make that "may THE LORD return to you what the locusts have eaten"

Love what you shared Chris, you must have been typing while I was - I agree it's all about knowing, truly knowing that it's "Christ in us, the hope of glory" - we carry His very life with us, we are one, this is becoming more and more real to me all the time............we can't live the life, but He can!!

RJW said...

Well, gee, you don't know me and may not welcome my comments but here goes:

God loves you and me and everyone else regardless of our performance, sexual orientation, or whatever. Heaven won't be populated by liars, homosexuals, or adulterers, etc. Heaven will be filled with people who accepted God's Grace and were made NEW CREATIONS! The cross was not about "cleaning up our act"; it was about giving LIFE to us instead of death. You are not your flesh or what you do!!! You are Christ made flesh again. If the ticket to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb is the perfection of our flesh, we're in a mess!! We are righteous because we are in the ONE WHO IS RIGHTEOUS!!

Please show me the person who has so grasped who we are in Christ that they don't miss the mark of their new nature. Please tell me how that affects how God sees them. It is not recognition of our shortcomings that transforms us but recognition of His Life in us.

Do you think God grades sin on a sliding scale?? Ummm, no! Any act of independence, anything less than walking according to the Spirit is sin. And Grace ABOUNDS! And Grace loves us to the living of a life so in union with Christ that our flesh is defined by His Spirit. But God does not, nor should we, regard ourselves AFTER THE FLESH.

You are loved. You are righteous. You are holy. Let who you are in God's sight define how you live. Live loved.

Grace to you in Christ.

Sheila said...

Dan...The Lord has set His love on you. That's final.

By far, no one cares here what "I" have to say. I don't pretend that anyone does...here, I am NOT "the pastor's wife", and I sort of LIKE the anonyminity.

But the Father's heart is towards you.

I will say this: I have known somehow, for over two years. Certainly, I didn't know details, didn't know a THING in the natural. The details are heartbreaking...I'm so sorry for what you have been through. But I've always known. You don't need confirmation...you probably believe me. But you can ask my husband, if you like. (I realize the internet is full of crazies...and since there is no way for you to know whether I am "one of those" or not, I'm not afraid of anyone verifying who I am or what I say...)

I told him what I felt was going on with you, back in 2006. It has not stopped me from reading your blog, receiving from you, or caring about you. (Can it be that long, that I've been "visiting" your blog?)

Only very recently (maybe two weeks ago?) during Christmas break, I, by chance, on a blog-lark, ran across something, somewhere, that you wrote that may have given me some obvious indication of your struggle. I don't even remember the details, to be honest. (I say that in the interests of total honesty and full disclosure - recently I DID read something that vaguely confirmed what I had sensed for a couple of years...)

Please forgive me, if it sounds like I am being superior or hyper-spiritual. The only reason I am letting you know that I knew it already, is so that you will know that each of the few times I've shared with you what I felt to be a prophetic word, or simply an encouraging word...it was with knowlege, by the spirit, of "where you are at".

I "get" grace. I'm a receiver of it. Some people "believe" in grace, others DEPEND on it. I assure you, I am one who depends on grace. If one whit of this Christian life depended on my performance, well...I'd quit tonight. Pure and simple. Because MY OWN NEEDS are too great, my own struggles are so difficult - much less serving and leading God's people to see Him in the midst of their needs and devastating experiences.

I also believe in freedom. I've been set free in all ways a person can be: instantly and supernaturally, and also progressively and painfully. Someday I'll share more of my stories. However it comes, salvation is from the Lord. FREEDOM is a God-thing, and I know it is more than a mind-set, more than a theology, more than a dream. You will walk free of every lie, and be delivered from every scheme of the enemy.

It seems trite and silly to say, on a blog, "You are loved." I'm here, you are across the pond. Who am I anyway? What could I possibly do for you? What skin is it off my....nose...(sorry - in my house, we *actually* say "butt")...to say "you are loved"? I know the words might mean nothing at all to you.

So, if you ever fly across the pond, I'll be here, dear one. You are *still* welcome to visit, as you have always been. You'll be treated with the southern hospitality that we North Carolinians and Tennesseeans are famous for. (Just had to include my dear Jamie in this - since she hails from NC) I'll hug your neck and you'll probably see me cry for you just a little - because I will want so much to just be able to erase your heartbreak.

We'll also laugh our heads off, enjoy the Lord's presence, and have some soul-nourishing conversation...honest and safe dialogue. A blog comment could never convey who I really am, nor could it convince you of the fact that I am not at all "off put" by your story.

Grace and Peace - truly. You are loved.

Dan Bowen said...

Wow!! I wasn't expecting all that!! You guys made me cry! Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each and every one of you for your love and your unconditional acceptance ... I can't tell you what it means!! Particularly as each and every one of you, I haven't met in person! So you haven't seen how well I "act" the religious mask!

I guess when we all meet, and I know we will - I will just have to be "me"!!

Chris - I loved what you wrote, and your point is an amazingly valid one. I always felt some kind of "call" to the ministry but I knew with these "skeletons in my closet" that there is no way on earth I ever would - because as you say, it's just not on. Even the awesome Newfrontiers pretty much expect you to be married with a couple of cute kids!

But you know what - I am starting to realise that God's forging out a plan whether it's "official" ministry or not. And I don't particularly care anymore. I just want to be used!! With flaws and all!

R.J.W - hi and welcome and be assured your comments are VERY welcome!! I'm not sure if we have talked much but I love reading your comments on Julie and Lydia's blogs and appreciate your passion for grace IMMENSELY! Thank you - especially this point;

"We are righteous because we are in the ONE WHO IS RIGHTEOUS!!".

Wow!! Yes!!

Aww and Sheila, you are like my adopted mum/older sister (as per Julie and Lydia!!). I am soo blessed! I've got an extended family!! Thanks for your love, and for your acceptance - even if you did "suspect"! Again, I know that we will meet soon - money permitting!! And I can't wait!!

I texted Pete on the way back from work, and I said I think today is the first day that I have been truly free from a fear of "exposure" - that someone who knows a bit too much information will decide to tell all, "for prayer". That fear has gone, and I really do feel so loved and blessed! Thank you to all who commented and to all who have read.

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Message for Don:
Some time back you were talking about the funniest thing you ever saw were Rockhopper penguins walking. Well we saw them...but you kind of disappeared.
And you're right . They are hilarious. Second only to a camel eating

janelle said...

The title alone of this post is amazing, let alone the actual thing! Dan, "perfect love casts out fear." I stand and applaud your courage.

Sadly, I agree that the church, in my own words, tends to "freak out" when it comes to reaching homosexuals. I think gender related issues is the main way that Satan is deceiving this generation, particularly the acceptance that homosexual activity and even marriage is now acceptable. Does that mean that we ignore them? I think Jesus would be the first to invite them into his home. I completely agree with you.

I respect you in so many ways. This post deepens that. We have our differences:-D, but we both believe that the Gospel transforms lives. Live in the good of that, my friend!

Jon Sidnell said...

Dan, friend and brother, though we've never met.

That a leader would seek to disfellowship you on the basis of a "feeling" is nothing short of scandalous. That other leaders in the church would condone and even support it such that you were booted out is saddening. That the name of the church has "Grace" in it, angers me!!

Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing what is likely to offend some. Thank you for modelling such dependence on the grace of God in your life. Quite apart from the main challenge to overcome the bigotry so often applied in the name of the gospel, Heterosexuals can learn from you about this dependence on God's grace. It is this dependence and walking in grace and the Spirit that will allow them to stand when tempted to the many other sexual sins described in the Bible that are relevant to people inclined to heterosexuality!! I know I'll be learning that from you!

I love that you are seeking your identity in the truth of who you are in Christ, and not in the world's terms!

Finally, it's fantastic that you are not hiding in safe places for fear of temptation, but you are forging ahead in God's call. I believe that God is going to use you as a provocation to the church that retreats into ghettos because the world is a scary place. Keep on letting Him do that!!

Keep on bro!!

Maddy said...

Thanks for this. Thanks. Thanks. You don't know me but I found your blog some time ago as I was looking for stuff about Rob Rufus. I love your blog because it is human and real(Hope this makes sense) unlike alot of christian blogs that may be sound but are dull and lifeless. Your blog communicates your passion and relationship with God. I am looking forward to a day when the church is able to show grace to all people.

Love Maddy

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Dan,
I'd consider it an honour if you'd accept me as a friend on Facebook....also that you'd be less reticent about replying...speaking as one terribly flawed individual being fixed up to a very honest one.

Dan Bowen said...

Woww .... the lovely, supportive comments keep coming. I am so so grateful and don't deserve you guys as friends - even though we haven't met as Jon said!

Janelle, thanks so much - as you say, we may disagree on some stuff, but there's so so much more we DO agree on that far outweighs that! And what's fab is that we all share on heart to reach the lost, broken and hurting.

Thanks Jon - so blessed to read all your encouragements!! :) and I am honoured that we could by God's providence "meet" and hopefully go on much more to talk about things that will advance the Kingdom!!

Hey Maddy - great to hear from you and welcome, I am so grateful for you leaving a comment and glad it's of some use!!

And Chris, of course I would be delighted to accept you as a friend on Facebook! Have you got my email address to find me? Send it to CharismaticDan@yahoo.com. Although I say I am a "reluctant" user, I am on it every now and then!!

James B said...

Interesting post - I've just read in the latest copy of "Evangelicals Now" about a young man who wrote an article called "Addicted to porn?" - although encouraging that the evangelical world is welcoming articles about these so-called "taboo" subjects as you rightly identified - on the other hand, a reading of the article is somewhat frustrating.

You can applaud the writer's sincerity. But he looks to "tools" like something called "www.covenanteyes.com" which is essentially a programme to send the list of sights you have visited to your accountability partners.

I'm sure many desperate to be free could access that and find it useful but is it the best thing to use something that works essentially by fear? Fear that if you do visit that "naughty" site then you will have your accountability partners on the phone? Fear of an uncomfortable discussion?

I am sure that any computer literate person could find a way to skirt round these "filters" if they really wanted to.

I am interested that you don't mention any legalistic "accountability groups" but talk more about the grace of God setting you free.

Ursula Kuba said...

Dan. Brave one. Thats my prophetic name for you...has been for a while. Brave one. That was an incredibly brave and beautiful post. I'm crying. I'm not other side of the pond...I'm on the same land mass, and I want you to know...I'll have lunch or dinner or whatever with you anytime. You are a blessing, and are washed white as snow. And you know, I'm with you on this. Isi and I have the same heart, I long and love sitting with the prostitutes, the homosexuals, the unlovely, the mentally disturbed, the druggies and the alcoholics...because I know my Jesus sets free. Not me and my rules and legalism, my Jesus. Only Him. And the fire in His eyes will consume them and burn them up for Him and Him alone. New creations will be born. I've prompted to write about Fear today on my blog, mostly because, well you reminded me of what God had showed me about fear...I'd be honoured if you would come by for a visit...and maybe you can relate. Blessings on you Brave One. The Brave and the Free!!!

Dan Bowen said...

Awww wow Ursula! Your visits and your comments always unlock such a prophetic burden whenever you come by!! I am so honoured and so amazed by your grace and your kindness and your warmth and your welcome!! We'll meet soon I know it, and I can't wait to learn about our Father from your example - I love reading your blog and come by regularly and will look forward to that post. I think fear is a key thing and something that must be broken. Brave and free!! Now THAT is a label that I WILL accept over my life!! Yayy!!

James - yere I saw that article too, like you say, while we can appreciate the guy's sincerity, I have been down that road of accountability. And it just doesn't work. I was accountable to a flatmate while I was at university - so we lived together and saw each other EVERY day!! And yet I still managed to find ways to sin and fall if I wanted. And convince my accountability partner that there was a valid reason. Only grace and a changed heart will do it!

Ursula Kuba said...

Ahhh Dan! We will meet soon I'm sure. I'm not much of an example...but I am loved!!!! lol

Ian McNaught said...

Not much to add to what others have said, except to congratulate you on your honesty and courage. I believe this will be a pivotal moment for you in your life.

Dan Bowen said...

Thank you Ian!! So great of you to leave a message - I must agree with you, I haven't seen the full fruit yet but get this distinct "sense" that God's got something in the air and something going on. Just a daily thrill!!

Jennie-Joy said...

Thanks for the read and the comment, Dan.

As for your post- Ian is right! After the first time I publicly shared my struggle, I began experiencing more victory (granted, to experience victory, you have to face a temptation...)

But, Jesus used that same verse to encourage me- "My strength is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness."

:) Yay God- and may He bring you deeper into the beauty of freedom.

Blessings.