Closet Christians? Come Out with Full Conviction!

Despite their differences – they’re mostly Gentiles rather than Jews – Paul is confident that the Thessalonians are loved and accepted by God, just as I am equally confident that the same can be said of you, my LGBT brothers and sisters in Christ.

Like the church at Thessalonia, our own churches still aren’t really typical of many churches today. Nevertheless, I believe that these churches represent God’s ideal—the type of church God wants every church to become: wonderful places to be!

Koinonia

There’s a church located in one of the largest cities in the country, both in terms of geographic size and population.  A coastal area with beautiful, sandy beaches and a treasure trove of history close-by, there are those who consider it “chic” and “hip,” a rather cosmopolitan city, even with its small-town roots and flavor.  Some say it’s a special place, with its strategic seaport and major highway to other places that runs right through it.

Chicago on the banks of Lake Michigan?  Portland, Maine?  Jacksonville, Miami, or Ft. Lauderdale, Florida?  Long Island, New York?

Thessalonia-MapNo, not quite.  But we can find quite a few parallels between these American cities and Thessalonia, one of the few New Testament cities that still is around today … as well as between the church at Thessalonia and some of our churches here and now.

Each are worthy of praise and thanksgiving to…

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Elizabeth’s Disgrace: An Affirming Mother’s Day Story for All of Us!

At one time or another we, like Elizabeth, can feel barren and unproductive … empty … lacking … bereft. Sometimes, God has reasons for not answering our prayers—or not answering them when or how we want them to be answered. Being human, it’s hard to wait … and wait … and wait … for our prayers to be answered. So, I could tell you to do like Elizabeth: Go about your daily life and business, loving all the people God has placed in your life, while never giving up your faith or hope.

But the more I read about Elizabeth, the more I find myself riveted on her words of redemption, in Luke 1:25: “The Lord has done this for me … he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

https://bhjoffe.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/elizabeths-disgrace-an-affirming-mothers-day-story-for-all-of-us/

Koinonia

Elizabeth‘s story tends to be eclipsed by Mary’s, since it’s hard not to focus on the virgin birth. But the barren Elizabeth has a miraculous birth as well, finding herself pregnant well beyond the time to have children.

ImageRemember Elizabeth?  Mary’s cousin whom she visited while pregnant with Jesus?  Despite living pious and faithful lives, Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah, couldn’t produce a child.  Then, almost too late in life (like Sarah before her), an angel told Elizabeth she would bear a son who would become known as John the Baptist.  Incredulous, Zechariah lost his ability to speak; Elizabeth’s child, yet in her womb, jumped with joy when Mary visited … recognizing the Lord, even before birth.

Barren means more than just infertile; it means unproductive, unfruitful, dull, empty, devoid, lacking, bereft.

At one time or another – maybe even many times! – we…

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