Thinking About Heaven

Yesterday I officiated a Memorial Service for Lezlie Brown.  I’ve known Lezlie for many years.  My dear friend had been in a long battle with Multiple Myeloma Leukemia, Lezlie’s obituary can be read here.  As a part of the service in “Remembering Our Dear Friend Lezlie” and spoke on Heaven.  Several people made comments after the service and wanted to know more.  I made the following video and I also have a dedicated page on Heaven here.  The verses can be found in Revelation 21 and 22.

Forgiveness

Forgive
I attended a funeral today.  Very difficult funeral, as it was an untimely death of a young man only 25 years old.  Joseph William Clarkson, July 7, 1990 — April 24, 2016.  This young man is the son of Kevin and Cherie Clarkson, Pastors of First Baptist Church of Moore, OK.   Cherie’s brother, Pastor Tim Salter’s gave a closing message today.  He talked about grief using the story from John’s Gospel about Lazarus, from chapter 11.   He shared how people navigate grief.  How Mary and Martha navigated their grief with Jesus.  He talked about the amazing promise we have of resurrection in that Jesus Christ is truly the resurrection and the life.  He shared a hope-filled message. He reminded the family to be very close and encouraging in navigating grief.  He reminded all of us that life is short (James 4:14) and then he quoted from a plaque in the family home. “FORGIVE – Everyone, Everywhere, of Everything – ALWAYS!  I was immediately reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, chapters 6 and 18.  The Lord reminded me I needed to continue to let all my betrayers and offenders to go into His hands, and to pray for those who despitefully use us.  We are actually doing ourselves a big favor to forgive everyone, everywhere of everything, every day – Always.  So, I created this image above as a reminder of the real rainbow, for we shall all see the real rainbow around the judgment seat of Jesus.  We need to be ready always.  We never know when death will arrive to take someone we love.  We never know when it will be our time.  Please pray for the Clarkson family as they begin the journey of mourning their great loss.  My wife and I know this loss, we lost our Charity Hope four years ago on the same day the Clarkson’s lost their son.  April 24th will always be a very challenging day for both of our families.  May we become more like Jesus in our love and forgiveness.

Blog Update

update2011 and last year, 2012 were very difficult years in my life.  Filled with great pain! My wife and I endured the most painful thing one can endure, the death of an adult child.  Our Charity Hope went to be with Jesus Christ our Lord on April 24, 2012. I feel like I am just now coming out of a fog of grief.  Understandably I have not put energy into this blog site, blogging or writing.  As a parent, you never fully recover; you learn a new ‘normal’ much like an amputee, or someone suffering with PTSD.

Before April 20, 2012 when our daughter was suddenly admitted to the hospital, I was also dealing with the heartbreaking decisions of many in the Church at large to embrace an emergent theology.  I was in personal discussions (Matt. 18:15-20) with many leaders in the United States concerning the ‘new directions’  that are embracing of a non-culture effectiveness “staying out of policy and politics” and a shift in an emergent antinomianism theological belief systems; turning the grace of God into a license for sin.  These discussions were with believers I once walked with in ministry across the USA.  There was a lot of grief in the division in ministry, much like the grief in a church split. Therefore I did not give much time to writing, perhaps this will change in the near future, I hope so.

If you can sympathize, prayer covering is sincerely appreciated, thank you, Sincerely, Stephen Black

RECONCILIATION

A Must See Heart-Rending Life Story

During the Exodus International Freedom Conference, I and the other delegates received an unexpected blessing.  We were invited by Movie Director Chad Ahrendt to screen his new film, RECONCILIATION. I’d seen the trailer and knew a bit about the story line, so I admit to some pre-conceptions.  “It will most-likely be a nice story, but I doubt it will be a real tear-jerker or pack an emotional punch as others reported,” I thought, and . . .  “it probably won’t convey a real Christian message; it will most-likely compromise in some way.”

WOW, was I ever so blessedly wrong! RECONCILIATION is not only very tastefully done; it is believable, realistic and definitely packs that emotional punch, and not at all contrived.  Based upon a very real and gut-wrenching life story, this movie confronts complicated life issues in an honest way without any sugar-coating.

Just the opening scenes dismissed any doubts on quality. I was concerned that it wouldn’t be well-done.  Many low-budget films sacrifice story-telling and film artistry. Again . . .  I was so wrong.  RECONCILIATION is excellent. The actors are professional, believable; the editing and artistry of the film top-notch.  Writer-Director Chad Ahrendt crafted an amazing heart-rending movie.  In meeting with Chad, I could see that his personal passion is reflected in his artistic expression.  This movie affirms his depth, conviction and vision. I’ve seen a lot of movies in my time; this one is definitely on the top of my movie list, EVER!

RECONCILIATION provoked a lot of questions for me.  Why does this movie so bless me?  Will it bless others as deeply?   Why do I feel so strongly about this movie in particular? Are my strong feelings only because I can SO relate to this movie in SO many ways? Is it because I lived as a gay identified man for eight years? Is it the acknowledgment in the film of the struggles I have lived over the past 28 years within the Church and in ministry? Is it because I know what it is like to hate my father and then to be reconciled to him? Is it the raw emotional impact of the movie’s closing scenes, so similar to scenes I lived out with my own father?

The answer to all of these questions is “yes.”

Some who know me might just say, “well that’s Stephen, he’s so emotional.”  And, it’s true. I am.  However, it would take a hard-hearted soul indeed to not be moved by this movie.  People in audiences vary greatly in everyday emotional expression, but all were clearly moved to tears at this screening. Was it because these viewers were delegates to the Exodus International Freedom Conference?   Perhaps that plays a part because they can so relate. But I think it goes well beyond that.  People love it when reconciliation takes place and the truth is presented in a real life story.  It gives us all hope as we view whatever brokenness lies around us, and that reconciliation is possible.

My tears began to flow in the middle of the movie and were present through the final credits.  My heart leaped for joy when the truth was presented to the Dad-Jeff McDowell, (played by Jack Maxwell).  The presentation of truth is so freeing . . . and I was finally able to let my guard down and embrace this beautiful movie. This movie affected me so deeply because it is obviously truthful to real life. It confronted my own need to love more deeply and in truthful compassion. It demonstrates deep LOVE and FORGIVENESS.  The power of grace is presented and treasured. My tears flowed as I relived my relationship with my own dad though this message of hope and great kindness. The Son-Grant Taylor, (played by Eric Nenninger) demonstrates accurately the battle that many Christians have in dealing with a loved one in homosexuality; yet the Son-Grant prevails with dignity, love and forgiveness.

RECONCILIATION reveals how very kind and long-suffering God IS with every last one of us. So many gay men and women have been deeply wounded by the Church; God desires reconciliation.  Here we see it and it gives us hope.

The movie is honest and realistic, revealing varying views on the issue of homosexuality. Thank God it rises above the temptation to be politically correct and commits itself to just be about real life and the struggle we all face to overcome grief and hatred.  It respects the real “issues” of hurt from both perspectives, gay and Christian.

I highly recommend this movie to everyone I know, gay, straight, Christian or uncertain. This is a must-watch movie for everyone that has been touched by the issue of a gay lifestyle.  Whether you have a loved one involved in  homosexuality, or you are someone trying to reconcile your own homosexuality/same-sex attractions and Christianity, this movie will speak to you in your journey.   Every Christian should see it to help us deal with the issues with which our fellow brothers and sisters struggle in the Church and those who struggle outside the Church.

A film about the issue of homosexuality and the impact it has on families must, to be real, express the raw emotions of misunderstanding and pain.  That realistic expression makes this movie a bit intense for children.  The film does not avoid the impact of living in a fallen world. However, this movie is not just for those who struggle with same-sex attractions or those with surrounding relationships.  It is for anyone who desires forgiveness and to love more deeply.  It is for those who hope for better relating in any broken relationship.

Chad Ahrendt created an excellent and impacting movie; one he will never regret.  As a courageous telling of the truth and a willingness to look beyond what many deny, this movie has the potential to be a sneaker-blockbuster. Some may mock it, as they did Mel Gibson’s the Passion of The Christ movie.  Remember, many mocked the Billy Graham Association, saying The Hiding Place was lame. However, both movies are timeless and continue to express powerful truths.  Both movies are watched over and over and are becoming multi-generational.  RECONCILIATION will join these two as one of my favorite Christian movies. Why?  Because RECONCILIATION is truly redemptive.  Yes, it is the story of reconciling a father to his son, but it speaks to the inner need of all us, the desire to be reconciled.  I loved this movie and I will definitely see it again on the big screen, with friends and tissues.

Please join with me in supporting the message of RECONCILIATION and help bring it to the Big Screen in your community.

Watch the Trailer:

RECONCILIATION trailer from Chad Ahrendt on Vimeo.

A Promise from God to the False Prophets

The morning of March 28, 2009 at WWW.IHOP.ORG

I feel deep grief and brokenness over several people I have known in ministry and served who are now living under a Gospel of Self Indulgence ~ The Gay Gospel.  I truly mourn over the coming judgment of those who perpetuate this false gospel, and say, “peace, peace when there is no peace” for then there will be sudden destruction with no remedy.

Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

False Prophets of Hope Denounced: reading from Jeremiah 23:9-15

My heart is crushed within me,  all my bones shake; I have become like a drunkard, like one overcome by wine, because of the LORD and because of his holy words.

For the land is full of adulterers;
because of the curse the land mourns,
and the pastures of the wilderness are dried up.
Their course has been evil,
and their might is not right.
Both prophet and priest are ungodly;
even in my house I have found their wickedness, says the LORD.

Therefore their way shall be to them
like slippery paths in the darkness,
into which they shall be driven and fall;
for I will bring disaster upon them
in the year of their punishment, says the LORD.
In the prophets of Samaria I saw a disgusting thing:
they prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray.

But in the prophets of Jerusalem
I have seen a more shocking thing:
they commit adultery and walk in lies;
they strengthen the hands of evildoers,
so that no one turns from wickedness;
all of them have become like Sodom to me,
and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.

Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets:
“I am going to make them eat wormwood,
and give them poisoned water to drink;
for from the prophets of Jerusalem
ungodliness has spread throughout the land.”

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