This coming Thursday (June 26, 2014), I will be in Colorado Springs to speak at Focus on the Family's weekly staff chapel gathering. Anyone and everybody is welcome to attend. Chapel is from 1:30-2:30. I will speak for about 20 minutes in the middle of that worship experience.
One of the real highlights of my ministry in Colorado Springs was connecting with and learning about the depth and the breadth of the impact of Focus on the Family. I have always been struck by is the varying opinions that people have of Focus on the Family, throughout the country. When I ask random people about their impressions of Focus they often will say something like, "Oh that's the group that did family development videos in the 1990's". Or, "Oh, aren't they the religious group that gets involved in political issues?" Or, "They are the conservative Christian organization that are against anyone having any fun." Or, "Oh they are the group that advocate spanking children." As I said, the opinions are varied and diverse.
While in Colorado Springs, I had the privilege of meeting Focus on the Family's founder James Dobson. While James (or "Jim" as he likes to be called by his friends) is no longer officially connected to Focus on the Family, his name will always have some association with the organization he founded. In my experiences, Jim can best be described as a gentleman. Contrary to the image that many have of Jim outside of CS, as being "hard-nosed" and "aggressive" - he really is quite, "gentle". When I asked Jim his best advice about ministry, and how he does interviews for talk shows (like Hannity or Huckabee), he said; "I always prepare every word that I am going to say, and I prepare much more information than I need. If I am interviewed for 5 minutes, I prepare one hour of interview material. And I always have a 'zinger' for them. Interviewers are always looking for a 'zinger' in every interview."
I also had the privilege of becoming a personal friend to Focus on the Family's new president Jim Daly. One of my favorite qualities of Jim Daly is that he is deeply rooted in his own convictions about life and God and the role of the church, and at the same time he is entirely engaging with the world around him. Unlike many Christian conservatives, Jim bends over backward to engage people that he has fundamental disagreements with. Jim frequently tells me that he called this "progressive leader" or that "liberal leaning politician" on the phone and then just listens. Jim told me, "I am just amazed at how many people there are in the world that totally reject God or totally reject the church, but that is only because the church had rejected them a long, long time before."
Jim told me about one man who is in a life-long same sex relationship with his partner. Jim asked this man, "When did you feel the most hurt or injured by the church?" The man thought for a moment and then said; "that's an easy one." "When I was just 12, I decided that I was gay. I told my father, knowing that my father would not be happy about it. My father told me that I needed to come before the church elder board and confess. I agreed to do so. My father was on the church elder board at the time. After hearing about my own personal sexual identity story, my father said, 'On behalf of the church elder board, we are kicking you out of the church. You are no longer welcome here. Please never come back. You are banned from this church.' After that traumatizing experience I realized that I would never again have anything to do with any Christian church." Jim told me how he just listened to the man and said, "I am so sorry that that happened to you. That is not ok. That is not what Christ would do. I ask your forgiveness." The man said to Jim, "You are the only person who has ever said that to me before. Thank you." Jim Daly acts as a kind of soft-hearted, loving, ombudsman and bridge-builder between people of the faith and people who have been hurt by the church.
This Thursday, I will be speaking on the two year anniversary of the Waldo Canyon Fire disaster in Colorado Springs. Two years ago, to the day this Thursday, fires swept through Colorado Springs and consumed and destroyed over 300 homes. The title of my message will be, "How God Provides After The Storms Have Passed."
Please pray for me as I give this important talk. And pray for Focus on the Family
All For Now,