Guest Blogger, Ab Kastl: Plan B

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 A couple of weeks ago, I asked my Bible college roommate, Ab, if he would like to write a guest blog.  I don’t usually “assign” topics, but I asked him if he would be willing to write about something that I think about and write about frequently, the relationship between the conservative Christian community and the gay community.  Clearly, there are things we disagree about (I LOVE RUPAUL!!), but I think there are many more areas where we see eye to eye.  Not the least of which, those college years were among the years I laughed the hardest, too, and you should know, Ab Kastl was responsible for many of those laughs.  

Plan B

Hey Everybody! I was Ray’s college roommate for a few years back in the late 80s.  Those are the years I laughed the hardest in my life.  

                       

I am one scatter brained individual.  I am sure you probably struggle with being distracted every now and then.   I am so scatter brained I am thinking about 3 other things right now (food, the news, what I have to do tomorrow) while I should be focused on this blog. I am always thinking “I could be doing something else and maybe that would be better”. What could be my plan B? 

We all decide what we will invest our brain power in.  I am guilty of often focusing on the negative.  I have perfected the art of remembering every nit-picky thing someone has ever done.  If I focus on the negative in others, it justifies in my mind whenever I want to blow them off.

I am a conservative Christian minister….did I lose ya?  Did you just think of three reasons to blow off anything else I say from here on out? Did images of Pat Robertson and Jimmy Swaggart creep into your mind? If not, yea!! If so, you are normal.  

It is easy to highlight the negative in some ministers, Christians or churches so we don’t have to invest much in what they are about.

I read the huffingtonpost.com everyday, so I often hear the negative about what people are saying about ministers and churches.  

I think all of us have trained our minds to jump to certain images of certain groups because we don’t want to invest our time in what they offer. It would be foolish if I compared all gay people to RuPaul or the most flamboyant group from a gay pride day float. That would be like lumping all Christians with what Pat Robertson says or what the Westburo Baptist Church says.  Pat_Robertson

westboro-church

 I have been a minister for 25 years involved with conservative churches in the Midwest and Southern California and I have never heard of anyone from any church ever reading, quoting or teaching from anything Pat Robertson has ever said. Obviously he has some niche out there, but I am sure they are a hospice away from the afterlife. 

And regarding the Westburo Baptist Church, I have not hung out there in years….I kid, I kid.. I was testing to see if I lost ya or not.   They are a twelve member family cult of hate that has nothing to do with real Christianity or the bible.
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2364680621_058246f136All of us are working on things in our life.  We all have things from our past that have thrown us off in life.  My big challenge growing up was coming from a family of a nasty divorce, feeling insecure, and dealing with being molested.  

I was molested as a child by a neighbor and family friend. If I judged all neighbors and family friends by the acts of this one, would that be right? If you judge all Christians by the acts of some, would that be right?

 I have never had food poisoning from a restaurant, but if I did it would be silly for me to say “I AM NEVER EATING AT ANY RESTAURANT EVER AGAIN!”.  I think the same can apply to churches.  If you get burned at one, don’t use that as ammo for the rest of your life to never get involved and get nourishment from another.  We all need food and we all crave to fill that spiritual hole in our heart. I did not have much real peace or joy in my life until I invested my life in the love of God through the church.  

I can honestly say many churches have realized they have failed in bridging a connection to the gay community and they are trying to improve.  They know they got caught up in quickly cutting them off instead of reaching out to all people as God’s children made in His image.  Many churches and leaders are investing time in books like “Unchristian” and “When Christians Get it Wrong” which tackle how Christians need to overcome this gap and be more consistent with loving all people. More and more churches are letting their members know they are a place of love and Jesus was inclusive and they must be also.   

I work with an average bible believing church here in Southern California (not far from Orange County).  A few years back a couple of guys showed up every Sunday. I was guessing they were a gay couple. They brought two young kids to Sunday School and then sat together in church.  They were welcomed with love and joy. They got more and more involved. Everyone loved them.  Come to find out they were father and son but they looked about the same age. I was curious if others thought they were a gay couple. When I asked around, everyone I talked to assumed they were a gay couple but no one said anything negative or demanded a meeting to run them off.  They were loved and accepted as is and stayed until they moved out of the area.  I was proud of our church that no one skipped a beat. 

More recently, a couple of divorced ladies in our church developed a friendship that has evolved into more than a friendship.  No one has shunned them, made them feel unaccepted or demand they “turn or burn”.  They have been deeply involved in church and everyone loves them. Somewhere out there is a church that you can serve, learn, love and grow closer to God. 

I guess the dominate point of this is to pep talk us all to stay focused on what we can do.  I am challenging myself to focus on all people being God’s creation loved by Him and treat them as God would and to speak up when I others do not treat them properly. I challenge you to focus on God and His plan for your life through involvement in a church.  If you are involved in a church, that is great, get in there and serve God and others with all your heart.   If you have not even thought about investing any time in a church, maybe give it a second to look into why God set up such a gathering.  It has taken some time, but things are moving towards lots of love for all God’s children. 

Just like anything, you have to go shopping and searching to find out if it is a good match for you…. for a job, for a car, for a church.  If you visit a church and it is not a good match, go check out another until you come to one that is full of love and celebrates His plan for your life.  

Most of the time dealing with people can be difficult.  Sometimes as a minister, I fantasize about flipping burgers instead of dealing with some people and all their drama. With a big grin, in total bliss, my only worry would be to get that patty over at just the right time….ahh, glorious. Life without the church often sounds appealing, but it was through the church God chose to let the world know His plan and see His love. There is no Plan B.   

 
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