Two Hands

You know what I think is a problem?

How easily Christian people understand that it’s wrong for the members of the Westboro Baptist church to protest homosexuality, military funerals etc… but who will then turn around and behave in a similar way by telling homosexuals that their sexual orientation is a sin and that they’re going to “burn in hell” for it.

They both use a similar rationalization saying that they’re doing it out of love or a sense of responsibility to either the people, God or both. They’ve both taken scripture out of context and fashioned it into a sharp pointy object or in some cases a club that they can then use to injure people with.

With or without the pretense of love, no one seems to actually be feeling it.

(the love that is)

Least of all the folks who’re on the receiving end of it!

In some ways I can understand protesting the death of young American soldiers involved in this curious war we’re in. More so than I can the actions of a group who’s “greatest commandment” is to love not being able to understand how much their actions convey the exact opposite.


Based on very real necessity many homosexual people, especially teens, keep their sexual orientation a secret. Having never been placed in that position myself I can’t fully appreciate what that’s like. And even though I do know what it’s like to love someone I can only presume to how much of a torturous conundrum that must be! You can’t openly be who you really are or love the people you have feelings for. The only way I can imagine this situation being any worse is to perhaps have some hypocritical phony baloney Christian person tell you that somehow you chose this living hell for yourself.

To me this is either insufferably ignorant or just plain cruel…

I’m really not looking to debate with anyone regarding the meanings of specific scriptures. The one thing the Bible most certainly does not do is state anything in a clear way. If you’ve studied it you know that it’s actually a very complex document. One that in order to truly understand requires research into the supporting Greek and Hebrew/Aramaic translations. There’s also the contextual/cultural coloring’s to consider. As you study remember,the greatest obstacle to learning anything is thinking you know it all to begin with.

Each one of us who thinks of him or herself as being Christian needs to decide for themselves what love means to them and then act on how they feel is the best way to express it. Yeah I do have a problem with how some people go about that but it’s primarily because they’re claiming to represent The Lord who I believe IS God and IS love! And as I see it, it doesn’t really matter if you’re right if you’re going about expressing it in a wrong way! That’s what it seems to mainly be about for some people is “being right” and that’s really not our mandate. We’re nobodies judge and neither are we required to interrogate people like an attorney. We’re simply supposed to be witnesses to a life changing love, to be ready to give our testimony when asked!

If Christianity is ever going to truly be what it aspires to be it’s going to have to start doing what it’s supposed to do and not continue to be used as a tool to oppress people like it was during slavery and like it is now towards homosexuals. It’s supposed to be about liberating people from bondage through love not putting them into it by pronouncing our judgement’s on them! The Christian church is still teaching people that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. And while many homosexuals do choose a promiscuous lifestyle so do many more heterosexual people. I believe that human sexuality is a spectrum line we all fall somewhere on.

So yeah I do have a problem with mainstream Christianity…

A big two handed one!

Believe it or not, I’d like to help do whatever I can to create a new more authentic version of Christianity that really does make love it’s highest priority. That see’s inclusion as it’s greatest goal. That doesn’t need a multi-million dollar building to establish it’s credibility with people and convince them that it and their pronouncements must be god ordained.

I think the time is coming soon when Gods people will separate out from those who’re perpetuating an adversarial relationship between the church and a world full of people He loves and wants to see in heaven someday. The great thing about it is that neither you or I have to wait another minute to begin to do something about it.

Jesus said the kingdom of heaven must be within each of us and so based on that we should all be our own walking, talking church!

And then there’s this quote…which seems to contradict my perspective

 If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and un-prayed for.

(C.H. Spurgeon)

Okay far be it from me to disagree with such a brilliant and Godly man!

But what is it he’s really saying?

First of all he says…IF!

Which of course means because we’re all in agreement about this.

And that the supreme act of love is to lay down ones life if need be.

Just as Christ did for each of us.

How did that work out for Him?

Our salvation and eternal life is possible because of His death

but ultimately it’s still a choice made by each of us to accept it.

Love, which consists of truth beauty empathy compassion and so many other things exists entirely apart from our belief in or our mis-perceptions about it.

YES! As Christians we should be willing to lay down our lives to save another that we love…But what if there was an easier way?

They say that to truly change the world we must first be changed ourselves. And if after first experiencing that change ourselves we could simply become a conduit to others for the same love that met us just as we were and accepted us?

No long term contracts or fine print. No pre-qualifying questionnaire…

No hoops to jump through or expectations to live up to.

 No I’m talking about grace!

Which is the un-merited favor of God



Two hands…on the one is what you believe and on the other what you know to be true. Our actions can be a reflection of either. If we know love we act it out, the same goes for fear.To believe something implies a measure, however small, of doubt. Whereas knowing is a certainty about something. Two hands…they represent the choices available to each of us.

Look At Yourself…

I don’t know any perfect people.

I’d even go so far as to say that I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have at least a few issue’s that they’re working out, myself included of course. The same goes for people I don’t know, be they Christian or Atheist, rich or poor, even if you’re the Pope or the Dali llama it really doesn’t matter! All of us share the same gene pool, and there below our fancy Latin taxonomic name I think it should say in parenthesis…

One common approach used by those who feel compelled to address this greatest of all truths as a spiritual problem or sickness is to engage in various forms of self medication. To, by the use of ritualistic practices, behaviors or good works, overcome or compensate for their bad or evil nature with good or righteous acts. For Christian people this sometimes means regular church attendance or being involved with some personal ministry or outreach effort that their church supports.

One thing I’ve noticed about volunteer work in the church is that there’s usually far more people who’re willing to sign on to do high profile activities such as taking meals to homeless people or visiting the sick than there are who are willing to work at the church.

There are certainly exceptions, but usually they have to pay people to come in and do the cleaning, lawn care, and other more mundane tasks that are essential to the function and care of the church whereas outreach ministries provide their participants with an immediate “this looks AND feels good for me”  pay off.

I do understand that in the body of Christ there’s a place for everyone to serve and I’m a huge fan of doing so but have you ever wondered why people who consider themselves to be servants all seem to be gifted the same way?

Call me cynical or whatever but it’s hard for me not to see it as strange, it’s as though what they’re really wanting is for themselves to be glorified by these works instead of God.

Over the past several years I’ve been on both sides of things. I’ve been the person in need and I’ve been the one who was in a position to give. I’ve been helped, and helped others as well. I’ve also been confused by people who would help you as long as by doing so they looked like a hero but then, when it was a much smaller matter where perhaps just a word from them asking after me and my situation would’ve meant a great deal they suddenly seemed rather indifferent.

I can still recall how struck I was by my own feelings when after volunteering with a local outreach ministry I found myself filling out insurance forms so people could get medicines at no cost from pharmaceutical companies. Within a couple of weeks I began to dislike doing it because of how boring and confusing it was at times. I began to feel uninspired, wishing I could be involved in some other aspect of the ministry that I might find more interesting.

I remember thinking… “this just isn’t my area of spiritual gifting!” I continued to show up and tried to do my best. It sounds bad to say it but when I eventually became financially unable to continue making the hour long drive in twice a week I was actually sort of glad.

These scenario’s are just small examples of what I think it means to look into your own heart and see how self centered and prideful each of us are. Of how desperately each of us are in need a Savior, and how amazing the grace of God which is extended to each of us through His Son Jesus is!
To me, the most remarkable part of this story is how faithful God has been to me. How He’s shown me through untold small miracles how much I mean to Him. How is it then that I can turn away from what could’ve been an opportunity to share Christ’s love with someone else through simple things or grow weary in serving God because I don’t think it’s a good fit for me? Things like spending time with people you may find repugnant but who God has put on your heart, or perhaps doing boring, tedious things you may not actually like to do.
Who knows, maybe if by our doing these things in a selfless manor hoping for some privilege to share Christ through it we might just find our real place of service. We all want to find our purpose in Gods kingdom and play our part in His great plan. For some it’s to be center stage with the white hot spot light and Gods anointment on them, and for others it’s to work in the background in a supporting role of some kind.
What most of us don’t realize is that it’s only through our trusting God and being willing to do whatever He calls us to do in whatever circumstances we find ourselves that we’ll ever truly find our way. There comes a point where we have to stop looking at ourselves and start looking only to Him as the source of everything! We don’t look down, or back, or anywhere else but to Him! That’s when the power of the Lord our God will be seen in a mighty way in our lives and in the lives of those who we’re seeking to serve in His name!

The Problem…

In some ways it’s the height of comical irony that a culture such as ours so steeped in the worship and reverence of love could have it so wrong…

but it does.

It’s often confused with sex, perhaps as a result of the perception that it’s somehow inherently explained by the misleading commonly used expression

“make love”.

Sadly, many settle for the red-headed step-child of love “attention” primarily because we don’t really know the difference. Children, both young and old, act out in bad behaviors that are really just cries for help or for “love”.

It’s sometimes described as a feeling, but that’s kind of like saying Gods creation is God and then worshiping “it” instead of Him. We’re told that love is a choice, which is true, but how does that help us to make loving choices? We’re inundated with a constant flow of dis-functional concepts and examples from every possible source! Through the song lyrics that brainwash us daily all the way back to the fairytale stories that were read to us as children.

I feel very comfortable in saying that all of the most screwed up things that you and I have done in our lives are directly related to our misunderstanding of God and of love, and our search for both.

Almost invariably, mans search for love and his quest for the understanding of it are motivated only by his selfish desires to marshal it’s great power for his own purposes. Man has become a master at peddling illusions and perpetrating lies on his fellow man in order to get what he wants. One is seen as being successful in this life by demonstrating an ability to manipulate others and more importantly to convince themselves that it’s love that they’re offering. None of which would be possible apart from the basic ignorance about the true nature of love that’s so prevalent. We’re like blind people feeling around in the dark who are stung, bitten and burned as a result of working through a process of elimination hoping to find the real thing.

As unfortunate as ignorance is,there’s still cause for hope in that ignorance can be dealt with through simple knowledge. Whats most unfortunate are those of us who have allowed fear to take hold of our spirits. In acting out of fear we acknowledge our own personal insufficiency by believing that we are the source of our limited provision. We’ve been taught to look out for number one which is of course ourselves because if we don’t who will? certainly not a benevolent God, afterall, everyone knows that God helps those who help themselves right?. But in truth, God helps or comes to save those who absolutely cannot help or save themselves!

And that’s exactly the work I believe God is wanting to use His church to accomplish!

God Is Love!

As His representatives and ambassadors, disciples and followers, evangelist’s and ministers, church members and children, shouldn’t we have, based on our personal relationship with Jesus, a much greater familiarity with love than those who don’t or who aren’t any of those things?

Love is the answer!

Perhaps we as the church have forgotten that. We live in the midst of a world full of people who are crying out for answers, are we prepared to give them? Shouldn’t we be the ones teaching the world about love?  This world is a vineyard ripe for harvest, and the only real preparation necessary for us as Christians is to truly receive that love and those answers first ourselves! How can we say that we know the Lord, or that we’ve accepted Christ as our Savior, and then stand idly by in the presence of so much need in our own assigned area’s of mission field earth?

We’ve been given the perfect example of what love is in Christ.

I don’t think there’s any way that I personally could ever be thankful enough for what He did for me. If I really mean that, then what does it mean?

We need more than a “revival” what we need is a revolution! A love revolution…

And since love is an action word, a “verb”, that means we need to shift our focus away from merely talking about it week in and week out to one of making some thoughtful plans to implement it in some way scratch that, every way possible! I’m not talking about some token “feel good” project that doesn’t require much from us. What I’m suggesting here is that we work in earnest the great harvest that’s been prepared before us! Just as Christ held nothing back on our behalf, How can we do any less?

We can make the most of the opportunity before us by bringing everything we have to bear on this Kingdom battle for the souls of those around us who our Heavenly Father dearly loves!

Or we can listen to fear…

It’s a choice each of us has to make,there is no way to “abstain”

We can either choose to live in love or be imprisoned by fear.

We can choose to serve the One True God and His Kingdom…

Or be a slave to the one who opposed Him and who is also our enemy.

Is that a problem?

The “Real” Jesus

When asked about his taste in music, Ray Charles was once quoted as saying,

“There’s only two kinds of music, those kinds being good and bad”

and that’s a statement to which I wholeheartedly agree!

I’m not a big fan of most Christian music, sadly, like so many endeavors which are labeled as “Christian” it seems as though the quality of the products produced are lower than those of their secular counterparts. When people talk about books, music, movies or whatever which are produced by Christians inevitably you’ll hear their work patronized with statement’s such as

“It was pretty good, for a Christian writer,musician,comedian,etc…”

As if there’s an unspoken but well understood lower standard involved.

And that’s messed up…

I consider myself to be a fairly typical person, but then again perhaps I’m just caught up in my own “delusions of adequacy.”  I think perhaps a case could be made either way regarding me, but I digress. When I meet people I hope they notice something different about me, I would hope that they would perhaps feel loved in some way! I don’t wear a crucifix outside of my shirt for people to see or have a WWJD wrist bracelet on. If I’ve never met you before, I probably won’t ask you where you attend church within the first ten minutes of a conversation. Some people stress about sharing the gospel or “witnessing” as it’s called, but sometimes the most “Christ-like” thing we can do is just to listen to people.

When people meet me I don’t want them to see a stereotype, I want them to meet the real me.

I am a Christian, but I’m not “Ned Flanders”…(nothing against Ned)

I think that Jesus was a very real person!

Not only in a physical sense but also in terms of how He related to people out of a genuine love for them.

Throughout the bible Jesus’ personality is displayed in many ways. Some of my favorite examples are from His various confrontation’s with the scribes and pharisee’s. This one in particular speaks to me of His sense of humor in dealing with them.

Matthew 9:5

For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

Jesus perceives their thoughts accusing Him of blasphemy after His forgiveness of sins. I can imagine Him being somewhat confounded by their attitudes, but His reaction is to love and teach them.  He begins by turning the question back on them by asking “whether is easier” which is actually rhetorical in that He knows they can’t truthfully say or do either. Jesus seems to be seeking counsel from these great scholars of the law while simultaneously proving Himself to be God and them to be fools!

Jesus, you crack me up!

Another of the more prevalent stereotypes of Christian people has to do with the idea that all of them are pacifists. The perception is of them being people who would never raise their voice in anger or resort to violence under any circumstances.  It doesn’t say in John’s gospel what if anything might of happened to Jesus that day as He traveled to Jerusalem to observe the passover but apparently,

“He was in no mood”

to discover what was going on in the temple that day…

John 2:14-15

14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

During his lifetime here on earth Jesus was a real man with real feelings just like each of us! He had a sense of humor, He could feel pain and sorrow, He could even become angry! It’s a comfort to me to know that being a Christian doesn’t mean we should be always happy or always be serious and sad like the stereotypes portray. I just want to be the person God intended me to be, no more and certainly no less! Helping people do just that is something Jesus was very good at, He brought comfort to the afflicted, and affliction to the comforted!

I think that it’s so important for Christian people to be “real”, and to not be perceived as being out of touch with the very real struggles that people they might meet are going through. Jesus had great compassion for people who were stuck in the “miry clay” of sin. He understood the temptation’s of this world and the depravity of mans soul that drives him to do something, even if it’s wrong, to fill that void in his heart. He didn’t judge people for having the need which I feel is a critical first step that’s necessary for people to be comfortable enough with us and to trust us enough to actually confide in us about the sin and spiritual needs in their lives so that we might have a “real” opportunity to share the real Jesus with them!

The True Vine

It’s quite amazing to me how much insight the seemingly insignificant objects and circumstances of our lives have to offer us if we’ll just stop for a moment to look and listen. Like word pictures on a life size screen they patiently wait for us to focus on them to impart to us their message.

Last week I gathered together the remnants of the partitions that I had moved from the ministry center and used them to construct a playhouse for my daughter. It worked out nicely because I also had several bundles of shingles that had been left sitting in the yard by my brother in-law to use for the roof and this was the proper motivator for me to deal with them.

As I was sitting outside admiring my handiwork one evening in the relative coolness that so blessedly replaces the intense midday heat of August,  my attention was drawn to the artificial vines that I had draped across the structure. I was impressed by their realistic appearance as they moved with the occasional light summer breeze.  So beautiful! Unlike the real vegetation in my yard that was starting to wither from the heat, they were unchanged…

I saw these real grapevines growing and so I snapped this shot to use for comparison.

They look as if they’ve been through a hot summer. Most of the leaves have wilted and fallen off allowing a better view of the delicious fruit they’ve given their all to produce.

All of this vine viewing caused me to take a serious look at my own spiritual life.

Is my Christian life just about appearances?

Do I really have a connection to the true vine?

Given the choice,would I rather not “get real” if it meant that I couldn’t remain unchanged and indifferent to my environment?

Am I really so superficial that I’d prefer to be something with practically no value primarily because it required nothing of me other than to go through the motions?

Am I “okay” with never bearing any real fruit because deep down I know what a drag it is being a fake…

John 15:1/5

1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

My recent evangelistic/ministerial efforts fell pretty far short of what my hopes were for them but I feel as though I learned many valuable lessons in the process. I’m still very interested in seeing my vision of a ministry center happen, I think it’s a great idea that could produce a lot of fruit!

Basically the idea is for the church to connect with people by providing assistance with many of the common issues that are causing both the churched and unchurched so many problems today. It’s more than just mentoring, it’s free help with things like exercise classes and health maintainence information, diet and food issues, money stewardship, family skills and counseling, substance abuse and addiction support meetings. All centered around the practical application of biblical principles as the solution to every need!

Why not put it all under one roof and make it convenient and organized so that people could be more easily helped? There would be paid teaching/training positions as well as a lot of volunteer work done by members of  local congregations which would provide their members with great opportunities to  stir up the gifts within them as they serve God and their communities!

According to the statistics I’ve read put out by The Barna Group we’re losing the battle for souls in this nation. If I were to speculate as to why that is I’d have to say that it seems as though the church has gotten a reputation for being about all of the wrong things. We’re hypocrites, child molesters, thieves and con men in peoples eye’s who it seems really only care about one thing and that’s money!

And according to author Anne Rice who recently “quit” Christianity,

we’re primarily known for what we’re against, not what we’re for…

What better way can you think of to let people know what we’re actually “for” ?

This can be accomplished by promoting what it means to live victoriously in a tangible way they can easily relate to.  As the true vine we’re called to love above all things, which can perhaps be defined as being willing to ask,

“How can I help?”

We as the church must attempt to reach everyone that’s “wrestling” with all of the weapons that have been formed against them by the powers and principalities of our enemy. The only way that we can lose is If we continue to do nothing but sit back and wait for the lost to come to us instead of going to them.  Instead we should be open compelled to do whatever it takes to share the good news of salvation and deliverance with everyone who’s life is plagued by the effects of sin!

The Father gave us the resources to build multi-million dollar churches, He left us with His Holy Spirit to help us, and He sent us Jesus who defeated the Devil for us so that none of these weapons can prosper against us unless we allow them!

What will we as the church do with all of that?

I guess that depends on who and what we really are…

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.