Craig Gross

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I lead a Non-Profit. I get to travel, speak and write about some of things we do. I have a daughter who loves to dance and a son who acts and wants to win an Oscar. My wife just wants me to turn off my cell phone and computer. I love telemarketers because I used to be one. Check out my new project at www.iParent.TV

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Grey God

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I recently wrote a piece for Relevant talking about how Christians need to follow a Grey God instead of a Black or White God. 

A couple of weeks later, I got an email from a guy named Aaron I met once before who read it and felt like he needed to reach out to me. Here is a piece of that email:

The reason I felt impelled to write you this note was not to discuss the movie,  but more so declare my admiration for how you handled your accusers.  It also made me wish that you were the type of person I had in my life when I was in the process of de-converting from Christianity. 

Yes,  you read that correctly.  De-converting.    A quick backstory on myself.  Born in a christian home.  I was the model of the perfect child of a christian parent.   I went to youth group,  went on every mission trip,  went to a Christian University.   I loved Jesus.  When I was 19 I became aware of my homosexual attractions and I have spent the last 15 years in reparative therapy trying to reverse those attractions.  I have finally now come to the conclusion that reversing my orientation is not possible.   My journey of having my homosexuality “fixed” is long, complicated, heartbreaking, and exhaustive.  Unfortunately through all of this my faith in God suffered.  I started asking too many questions,  I was suffering with too much doubt and all paths led me to where I am today….Agnostic.   I actually prefer to say “Agnostic Deist” because although I don’t know for sure there is a God,  I choose to believe there is a creator God.   The concept of a personal God is completely lost on me and I don’t believe in the reliability, relevance, or inerrancy of the Bible like I once did.   This is not something that came overnight or was an irrational decision based on me not getting my own way.  The last two years of figuring out the ridiculousness of Christianity and detoxing from strong beliefs that I once thought helped me have been extremely intense.  What I thought helped me actually hurt me  

I loved the part in your blog when you were talking about the grey areas and that “grey” represents your belief system.   This is the part where I wish i had someone like you in my life years ago and I could have that same mentality.  Unfortunately I was raised, indoctrinated, and educated in a religion that only endorsed black and white thinking and if I made one step or had one thought in the opposite direction,  I was going straight to hell.  Living a black and white life is destructive and my relationship with Jesus suffered because of it.  I think that the Jesus of the bible lived in a grey belief system. Thats the Jesus i think I could love now if I ever had the faith again to believe his existence was true and worthwhile.  I could fall in love with a Gray Jesus.   The Black and White Jesus failed me.   The Gray Jesus could have restored my hope in a personal God.   Black and White Jesus only presented me with despair.  I could fall in love with a Grey Jesus.   I could.  But i’ve been tainted.  Faith in God represents hopelessness to me.   

I read this email and knew I had to meet this guy in person. If you know me, you know I act pretty quickly on things, so I contacted Aaron and met him for lunch the next day. I sat and listened to Aaron’s story for almost two hours, asking a lot of questions and discovering more reasons why I wish people who “issue statements” or “take a stand” would just listen a bit more.

I found it interesting that Aaron’s church enlisted him to do a video testimony that played on Easter Sunday about his freedom from homosexuality—even though he was still gay. And then he did a “cardboard testimony” stating the same thing, and then some donors in his church (as well as the church itself) spent thousands of dollars to send him to “Straight Camp” so he definitely wouldn’t be gay anymore.  

The problem is, it didn’t work. 

Nor did the nine months he spent at YWAM’s discipleship training school.

Nor did any of the countless therapy sessions, psychologists, counselors, homosexual healing groups, books written by ex-gays, bondage-breaking intercessory prayer, or anything else he has tried for the last 15 years.

So, what has the church left him with? Unbelief. He can no longer believe in God because everything he has been told about God “curing” him and “fixing” him hasn’t worked. All it’s given him is a long list of questions about God and about himself. 

I can sympathize. If I was told for years that what I was doing was wrong and the feelings I felt were wrong and that God would give me a way out, but still felt all that stuff after thousands of dollars and thousands of hours invested… yeah, I’d have trouble believing, too.

I shared Aaron’s story with a friend today and she told me, ”Come on, Craig. I get the idea of a ‘grey God’ but he has to be black and white on some things…” I wanted to mute her. She’s got it all wrong. 

Last month World Vision got it all wrong, first issuing a statement saying they would employ homosexuals who were either celibate or were in legal, church-sanctioned marriages. Countless vehemently angry phone calls and 10,000 cancelled child sponsorships later, they retracted the employment policy and reassured donors everyone working there would be straight.

Let me say this clearly, Christians: we don’t need more statements and stances.

You know what we need? More people who are willing to see that this is not about morality or culture wars or doctrinal differences. 

It’s about people

Think about the people who were welcomed to work at World Vision one day and unwelcome the next? How do they feel about Jesus now?

What about the 10,000 kids whose sponsorships were cancelled? What should we tell them about Jesus?

What about Aaron and a 15-year struggle that has left him on fragile terms with his family, as well as without a church family or God? How should he feel about Jesus? 

I’ve said this before, but it needs to be said over and over: be quick to listen and slow to speak. Most people and companies issuing statements and talking about a definitive black and white God have never sat and listened to the people and lives on the other end of their statements. That takes a little work; you have to get out from behind your stance and sit down for a two-hour lunch with a confused kid who’s been told he doesn’t belong. You have to blow past the black-and-white rhetoric of the establishment and get down in the grey dirt with the outcasts. 

You know. What Jesus did. 

#####

I just bought greygod.com and have no clue what to do with it or what else I will write about this but I think there is something here. Maybe it is a book or maybe it could be a blog. Not sure but thought it was worth 7 bucks. And for all you people reading this thinking I spelled grey wrong. That to is just your opinion because there are two ways to spell grey and both are right. Grey or Gray. Imagine that two different ways to spell the same word…kind of like two different ways to see the same God. Just saying.

How Do I Get My Book Published?

I got on the phone today with my buddy David Dean and he said, how did you get out book Touchy Subjects out there. I explained to him a few things and then thought I would just share them with you if you are interested. I think when I told David I was just going to publish it ourselves he was bummed and didn’t understand how cool this could be.

I get asked all the time how do you get a book published?

Typical Publisher: 

  • Come up with great idea.
  • Spend 20 bucks and buy this - http://michaelhyatt.com/writing-a-winning-book-proposal
  • Submit your book proposal to a literary agent you can find online or through a friend.
  • Your agent pitches to a publisher.
  • Publisher says yes or no.
  • If yes, you start writing and about 15 months later a book comes out.
  • You sometimes get an advance 
  • You make on average about 10% of the net of book sales
  • Most books don’t sell 5k copies and a few books do
  • The end.

You As The Publisher:

  • Come up with great idea
  • Start writing
  • Finish writing
  • Hire an editor - Here’s one -  Adam Palmer
  • Design a cover and back cover.
  • Upload your book as a word document to Kindle store.
  • Upload your book as a word document to Smashwords 
  • If you want a printed book upload your book to createspace
  • Register some url for a website here 
  • Pay Godaddy $1 a month for a customized template website
  • Start selling your book the following day. YES I said the following day.
  • Total out of pocket expense - not much
  • Send your finished book to a publisher and see if they are interested now and then go from there or keep selling on your own.

So, David Dean and I started writing Touchy Subjects years ago. We got interest from different publishers but in the end they said it was a small market. The thing that drove me to make this book happen was when I searched on Amazon the #1 book on talking to your kids about sex was from 1998. We needed something current.

We bought the name www.touchysubjects.net

I took the picture of my daughter for the cover.

We wanted to sell on paperback and digital and createspace is owned by Amazon so that is easy. We can purchase books from them directly for $3.25 whether we buy one or buy one thousand. 

We wanted this book out now, I didn’t know how fast this would be but once I submitted the files yesterday, the links were all active by last night.

I have amazon prime and ordered a book which is on demand printing and it somehow is set to arrive to my doorstep tomorrow.  If you have something to say and you are passionate about getting it out there, put it out yourself and see if others share in that same passion.

In the meantime, go buy our book.

***A bit more of an explanation. Createspace gets your book in the amazon store for you. Smashwords gets your book in all other digital markets except Kindle and other places online like the iBooks store. These will make more sense as you start the process. 

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