What About Straight Pride Month??

Pride month is here and with all the Pride posts we’re seeing online, we’ll inevitably see those that are against it or wonder “Where is Straight Pride Month”? Unfortunately (at least from what I’ve seen), most of those comments come from people who claim to love Jesus and are supposed to be living a life that honors Him. A life with clear evidence of loving God and loving people. Here’s the thing. Straight Pride Month isn’t a thing because its never had to be a thing. It has never been taboo to be straight. We have never had to question whether or not kissing or holding hands with our significant other in public would be seen as “gross” or “inappropriate”. We’ve never had to question whether we’d be harmed by showing affection publicly. We’ve never had to question it. We’ve just been living our lives in the open. The world was essentially designed with us in mind(ahem, that’s called Straight Privilege). We’ve never been illegal. So Pride is the one month where the LGBTQ+ community can be who they want to be without fear of persecution. It’s a time for them to feel safe. It’s a time for them to be what was illegal for so long (and what still is illegal in many countries).

Some might say, “What about what the Bible says about homosexuality?” To that I say, What about it? Have your beliefs. Have your convictions. Your beliefs or my beliefs (whether they’re right or wrong) don’t change the lived experiences of the LGBTQ+ community. They’ve lived a life feeling and being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Let them celebrate themselves. If you don’t agree with it, stay out of it. But never, never, never allow someone’s sexual orientation to dictate how your treat them. Because before anything else, people in the LGBTQ+ community are people. They’re just people. People that want and deserve love and respect, just like anyone else. And if you’re an ally, love and celebrate your LGBTQ+ friends well. And if you’ve never even had a conversation with someone in this community, I’d encourage you to make it a goal this month to hear someone’s story. Everyone has a story. Empathize with them. Connect. Because when you have conversations with people from a group to which you don’t belong (whatever group that may be), you oftentimes find out that underneath all the labels that society puts on us, we’re all a lot more similar than we are different. We all have insecurities. We all have had challenges in our lives. We all have dreams and hopes for your futures.

Let this month, if nothing else, be a reminder to love the people around you. Love them regardless of what they look like, how they dress, who they love, or how they love. Because in the end, “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.”

So what about Straight Pride Month? We don’t need it. Be thankful that we don’t.

Uganda

Back in October, I had the privilege of going through a Leadership Forum through my church, Grace Point, here in San Antonio. During that time, I began to establish what it is that I felt God has wired me to do. My purpose. What I exist to do. Through tons of introspection and evaluation of my life, I determined that I exist to show love and bring hope to boys that need guidance and direction. I realized that that had been the undercurrent, the driving force, behind everything I chose to do and to be involved in throughout my life. That’s what energizes me, and that’s what I know I can do to bring glory to God’s name. So, if that’s what I exist to do, then I realized that I must intentionally seek out opportunities both in my community and abroad to accomplish that.

Fast forward to about a month ago, and an opportunity to do just that falls in my lap. My friend JT Dick contacted me about this trip to Uganda that he would be leading in June. During the trip, he and the rest of the team will be partnering with a missionary friend of his to love and disciple orphaned street boys of Kampala, Uganda. This missionary felt called to build a rescue home for these boys five years ago, and now the ministry is building their third home. These boys have been orphaned due to civil wars, AIDS, neglect, etc. and they are left to fend for themselves and are often left without hope. This ministry seeks to restore that hope and to show these boys that they are loved. The team will actually be staying in the orphanage with the boys. As if this wasn’t enough for God to get my attention, JT also told me that this ministry is seeking teachers to serve their community by working within their school system for a few weeks over the summer. As many of you know, I started teaching this past January. My heart is pounding and my eyes are on the verge of welling up just thinking about it all.

I fought the idea of going for almost a month. I almost let my fear of uncertainty get the best of me. To say that I’m not scared or that I’m sure everything will work out how it should work out would be far from the truth. Truth is, I’m terrified. Not terrified of going to Uganda at all. I’m stoked about that part. But I’m terrified of what I don’t know. I don’t know how I’m going to raise $4,100 in two months. I don’t know how I’m going to pay for grad school since I’m not going to be working summer school to make enough money to do that. I don’t know how I’m going to have the time, energy, mental capacity, etc. to focus on raising funds and tying all the logistical loose ends together before heading out in June, all while I’m already being stretched pretty thin in work, church, and life in general. I don’t know how I’m going to pay for all the shots that I need to get before going to Uganda, since I don’t have health insurance.

But if there’s one thing that I do know, and one thing that the Lord has taught me, both through personal experience and through Scripture, it’s that He is faithful. That’s one thing of which I can be sure. I’ve also learned that the most important things are often the scariest things to do. And I also know that if I knew all the ins and outs of every detail of my life and of this trip, then I would have no need to trust God. So here’s to trusting God and embarking on this adventure with Him leading the way. I would love for all of you to have a part in this journey with me to help restore hope for these street boys of Kampala, Uganda. I ask that you pray over this trip and over the team as we make the necessary preparations. And as you may have already assumed, considering the distance and length of the trip, there is a definite financial need. Below are the details:

Trip Details
Cost: $4100
Money Due: End of May
Dates of Trip: June 10-July 16

I ask that you prayerfully consider donating to this trip. No amount is too small. If you wish to donate $5, great! If you wish to donate $500, great! Everything is greatly appreciated!

You can donate either by following this link or by mailing a check to:
Luis Semidey
1129 E Loren St
Springfield, MO 65807

IMPORTANT: Make the check out to Ichthus Ministries, but address the envelope you mail it in to the address listed. My name shouldn’t appear on the check at all. As long as you address the envelope to me, it will go toward my fundraising goal.

Thank you all in advance!

Treasures in Heaven

“I give because I know my reward is in heaven.”

“Sell all your earthly possessions because your rewards in Heaven will be so much greater.”

I give because I know my reward is in heaven. This is a phrase (among a plethora of others) I hear all the time, and have even used myself, in and out of Christian circles. It hasn’t been until the last year or so that I started to question the implications of this statement. Something just didn’t sit well with me whenever I heard it. I would wonder, “Should that be the reason we give? To receive our treasures in heaven? Or, should selflessness, humility, and love be the catalysts of our giving? Love for God and love for people.” After all, those are the two greatest commandments. Right?

36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”37Jesus replied:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt 22: 36-40, NIV).

Right. If we sell all we have to the poor and “give of ourselves” in the form of money, gifts, time, etc., because we know we’ll have more treasures in heaven, isn’t the focus still on ourselves? I mean, when we truly dig down to the basic idea of this overused Christianese phrase—no polite tones and gestures, no Churchy jargon, no BS—we are essentially saying, “I give because I get.”

We as Christ followers, as people, need to come to a place in our lives where we can take the focus completely off of ourselves and truly learn to love others for the sake of loving them. No other reason. No ulterior motives. We should love because we love. It should be that simple. It should come as the overflow of the love we have for God. We should be moved with compassion and want them to have the things we offer, even if it means giving up that brown coat that goes so well with those brown shoes.

I feel like we mask our selfishness by saying it’s for our “eternal wealth” as if that changes the fact that we’re being selfish. As if it’s just dandy to make that our motivation. Maybe I’m wrong. Is it ok? Is it ok for our “treasures in heaven” to be our motivation for giving and loving people? I don’t see why it should be. To me, giving with this motivation takes away a lot, if not all, of the authenticity of the sacrifice. It’s as if we’re saying, “Here, you can have my stuff. I really don’t want to give it to you, but I know I’ll be rewarded for this in heaven. I know God is watching me and is proud. But man, I really don’t want to give this stuff away.” Yuck.

Why do we always need a reward for sacrifice? What if there was no reward? Would we still sacrifice? Now, this doesn’t apply solely to giving to the poor; it also applies to tithing. We should tithe out of our generous hearts. Scripture states in 2 Corinthians 9:6: “Remember this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” Here again, Paul (whose writings, we must remember, are theopneustos, or God-breathed, as is all of Scripture) promises that we will “reap generously”, but that should not be our motivation. Tithe to honor the Lord as we’re commanded in Proverbs 3: 9: “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.”

I mean, look at Jesus. He died on the cross for sins he didn’t commit simply because he loved God and loved us. He didn’t receive anything other than the joy of knowing that he was obedient to the Father and that he saved those who choose to live for Him from eternity in hell. That’s it. There was absolutely no selfish ambition or ulterior motives.

Now please, do not here what I am not saying. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t look forward to our treasures in heaven or that we should disregard the idea of treasures in heaven all together. It’s going to be awesome when we finally do experience that.  But what I am saying is that our treasures should not be our motivation for giving, befriending, loving, and caring. Love and only love, love for God and love for others, should be our sole motivation.