Blessed are …

In reading the beatitudes lately something struck me differently than it had before.  I have read the beatitudes my entire life and these two things did not previously occur to me.  They may have occurred to everyone else on the planet, but they are a new revelation to me.

First, at the beginning of Matthew 5 it says “Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down.  His disciplines came to him and he began to teach them.”  What struck me about this, is apparently Jesus did not go up on the mountain side merely to teach, but to sit down.  He did not teach until his disciplines “came to him”.  What if the disciplines had never gone to him?  Would the beatitudes still be?  Would that specific teaching still happened that day?  Would it have happened another day?  Obviously we do not have answers to these questions, but it does set a precedent that if we come to Jesus, if we seek out Jesus, he will teach us what he wants us to know.  Which makes me wonder, if more of us “came to Jesus” as the disciples did on that day, what would He teach us?  Instead of just thinking we know what Jesus would do, what if we got on our knees and asked him?  What if we asked him every single day to replace our heart with his heart … how differently would we see the world?

Secondly, Matthew 5:10 says “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”  Verse 11 says “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Many people skip over this entirely and believe these 2 verses are saying the same thing.  I disagree.  I believe Jesus is not repeating himself, but is talking about 2 sides of a coin.  I believe verse 10 is speaking of individuals who are persecuted for being a follower of Christ.  The people who must meet in private or be arrested.  Living in or being part of the world where being a Christian is against the law and discriminated against.  I believe this is not a huge problem in the United States.  It may occur in isolated incidents, but by and large, this is not an issue most Americans deal with on a daily basis.

However, verse 11 strikes a different chord with me … “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”  This strikes me as something that happens in America all the time.  Could it be that verse 11 is talking about people who hate others in the name of Jesus?  “Blessed are you when people insult you” (say you are not a Christian and not worthy of Christian love), “persecute you” (say you are lesser and should not be allowed the same rights as others) and falsely say all kinds of evil against you (you are an abomination to God and God hates you) because of me (say these things in the name and authority of Jesus Christ.)

Could it also be Jesus was calling out and encouraging the brave people who stood up against the organized institution of church and said you have got this wrong … this is not a reflection of Christ … and they were persecuted for their beliefs?  Could he be referring to individuals who go against the grain and tell individuals the church is wrong, God DOES NOT hate YOU?  Could these people he was referring to as being persecuted … be not only those who are being lied to; but those who are being lied about?

There are people all across this nation who are tired.  Tired of being beaten and battered. Weary of being made to feel lesser and constantly being told they are wrong or unworthy.  The church unfortunately has become a battle ground and the Bible has become a weapon.  There are wounded children of God laying all over our sanctuaries and prayer rooms.  Sadly some have left and refuse to return because the pain is too much.  It is time for this to stop.  It is time for true followers of Christ to express in tangible, measureable ways the love of Christ to these hurting people.  It is time to BE Christ to these people.  We must preserve and protect Christ from the institution of the church.   We can no longer afford to just DO better, we must BE better.

Which brings me to the GOOD NEWS.  The good news is in verse 12.  Verse 12 says “Rejoice and be glad (when this happens), because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets, who were before you.”

Remember the prophets were persecuted because they went against the established church.  They went against the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  The prophets were persecuted when they taught the kingdom of heaven was available to everyone, specifically contradicting the list of people the church leaders of the time said were not fit for heaven.  The prophets went against the same folks whom Jesus went against.  The church leaders got it wrong on two levels.  First they were wrong that an individual had to meet some “requirements” other than be a follower of Jesus Christ to be kingdom eligible.  Secondly, the church leaders tried to say the prophets were telling lies and teaching things that were not true.  Is any of this ringing a bell?

While the entire beatitudes are moving, encouraging and beautiful, I am forevermore thankful for verse 12 … the GOOD NEWS … the good news is a 3 part revelation.  First and foremost, you are NOT an abomination to God … God does NOT hate you … God’s love for you is inexhaustible.   Secondly, no human on earth can tell you, you are not kingdom worthy.  And lastly, not only are you a child of God who is welcome in the kingdom of heaven, GREAT IS YOUR REWARD in heaven.  Which not only means God loves you … it means he loves you relentlessly.

Chalk in the Rain

You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”   Anne Lamott

It is funny to me how many people start off a conversation about Christianity by saying … “well … the bible says” thus and so.  They might not know the proceeding verses or the context in which it was said, but they know certain verses by heart.  So many Christians use the Bible as a weapon rather than a tool.  Which makes me wonder what they would have done before the Bible was published.

Let me at the onset say I personally believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  I believe it is an irreplaceable manual for life.  I believe we get to know God more deeply and intimately by studying the Bible.  I further believe we become more Christ like by burying the Word of God in our hearts and allowing it to be the guiding force and directive in our lives.  I believe the scriptures inside the bible are sacred and it is absolutely the most important book ever published or read.

But the thing many people rarely consider is there actually were Christians BEFORE there was a bible.  So let’s think about this a moment.  Before there was a bible, how did people spread the message of Jesus Christ?  Before there was a listing of right and wrong behaviors, when the Apostle Paul was still Saul the killer of Christians, how did one become a Christian?  There was no John 3:16 to reference.  The salvation scriptures found in Acts, Romans, Philippians, Hebrews, 1 Peter, etc. had not been written, much less published.

All they had back then was Jesus Christ himself and the personal knowledge of him or personal accounts of him and what he had done.  This is where Christianity starts.  This is the root, the foundation and the very cornerstone of Christianity.  Who do you believe Jesus Christ to be?  So in light of Jesus Christ being all they had, what are the things Jesus taught?  What are some of the things Jesus DID NOT teach that are being taught in our churches today?  Did Jesus ever teach anyone was beyond redemption?  Did Jesus ever teach his death would not be sufficient for certain individuals?  Did Jesus ever teach to exclude anyone?  Did Jesus ever teach that you must change in order to be worthy of his sacrifice on the cross?  The answer would be No. No. No. and again No.

By stating “the Bible says” many, many people are missing the boat.  They are getting the cart before the horse.  They are promoting religion rather than relationship.  When actually what is biblical is to introduce an individual to the person of Jesus Christ.  Let that relationship begin to grow and watch the individual be transformed.   You do not help someone “get saved” … you introduce an individual to your friend, Jesus Christ, and let them build a relationship.  Through that relationship they are redeemed, changed and saved.

I think some Christians are uncomfortable with this philosophy because they want salvation to be cut, dry and within their control.  Some do not like it when a person of whom they do not approve or agree has a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Somehow salvation and redemption being available to whosoever is threatening to them.  They choose to believe, and wrongly so, that heaven will be filled with people just like them and no one else.   They would rather limit God and choose to believe certain people cannot be saved.  Certain people are beyond redemption.  Some choose to believe this because their definition, understanding and experience of love is so shallow they cannot understand the depth of Christ and His love.

The bottom line is if we quote the Bible at nauseam.  If we know every scripture reference ever identified … if we know the name of all 66-books of the bible … if we know all the feasts, all the 10-commandments in order, all the tribes of Israel or how long Methuselah lived, and we fail to accurately recognize, accept and believe in the genuine person of Jesus Christ, the bible scriptures are nothing more than chalk in the rain.  Inspired by God, yes, but sadly they are eternally worthless outside the person of Jesus Christ.

Christianity is not a religion … it is a relationship.  If we, as Christians, would stop judging those who are different from us long enough to give them an opportunity to establish a relationship with Jesus Christ, God would do amazing things in the lives of ordinary people. Amazing. Things.

Twisted Theology


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What makes you a Christian is whether or not you really are in accord with biblical theology and whether you know Jesus Christ as your Savior.  Walter Martin

Sometimes I wonder what happened to honest, true biblical theology.  In society today there are all types of theology.  Even in the Christian community there are several types of theology.  Basically what happens is someone takes a point of view, searches for scriptures to support that point of view and then they have a “theology”.   A few types of theology are … fundamentalist, mainstream, King James only, gay, feminist, Red Letter, etc.  The troubling part about this is while in the Christian church we need to celebrate diversity with the love of Christ; many times these differing theologies create a wider division rather than creating a harmonious, loving community.  In doing so each subset often implies they have a better understanding or a clearer revelation of the truth of scripture.

This creates a huge problem.  First, we as mere humans are trying to interpret and know the meaning and mind of an omnipotent, all-consuming, all loving God.  Second, each and every interpretation of the bible has to be read with the knowledge that the individual interpreting the Bible, at best, was biased by their own person experience.  There are meanings to certain words in the Bible that not even the most learned theologians agree.

Salvation, the very root of Christianity, is one such theological sticking point.  What exactly must one do to be saved?  It is amazing to me that such a simple question can get so muddied in translation.  The Bible clearly states in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Romans 10:9 is very similar “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Christianity is the only religion I know of where you are saved or redeemed prior to and regardless of performance.

The bottom line is God demands 100% faultless, perfect obedience. If you can’t do that, you’d better find Someone who can do it for you.   Consequently, God sent Christ as the perfect and powerful Savior we so desperately needed.  An individual, ANY individual, who accepts Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on the cross as sufficient and total is adopted into God’s family.  End of story.

Many Christian communities insist on adding to the requirements for salvation.  One of the hottest topics and most sensitive issues we face today is that of gay Christians.  How many times have you heard God hates gay people?  Gays are not going to heaven.  Gays are an abomination and beyond redemption.  There is no such thing as a “gay” Christian?  Being “gay” is proof positive God has turned his back on and given up on an individual.

Some are a little more compassionate and say you can be “gay” before your relationship with Christ began, but once you are saved you can no longer be gay.  Their theology will say if you remain gay after salvation you are not really saved and are bound for hell.  There is even disagreement and division within the gay Christian community about whether or not it is required for a gay person to be celibate in order to go to heaven.

The terrifying danger of what is being taught is the adulteration of the message of Christ substitutionary work on the cross.  If ANYTHING is required in addition to Christ’s death on the cross for salvation, then what we are saying and believing is that Christ’s death on the cross is NOT sufficient.  Think about it, if Christ’s work on the cross is not enough, if it is not the sole means by which to obtain salvation, then Christianity is a fraud.

Some will disagree vehemently with what I am about to say, but anything short of you denouncing Christ as your Savior; cannot “void” the salvation contract.   In short, heaven will be chocked full of people no one expected to see there.  A more disconcerting truth is heaven will be filled with people some Christian “theology” aggressively rejects.

Of course there is more to the Christian life than salvation.  There is discipleship, justification, sanctification, faith, grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, being molded and changed into the likeness of Christ … But all of this BEGINS with salvation.  The problem is many people do not move into the Christian life because they are discouraged from becoming “saved” in the first place.  Once a person allows Christ into their lives and heart; God can then go to work and do as He pleases.  He can make any changes He wants to make, transform and revitalize lives and hearts as He sees fit.  Not make the changes we as Christians believe He should.

Ask yourself, has anything of eternal value ever been accomplished by a theology of exclusion?  Has any amount of demeaning, picketing, protesting, yelling or being hurtful ever saved a single soul?  Are we being more like Jesus when we as a Christian community do those things?  And if not, why are we doing them?

As a church community we MUST stop excluding people from heaven by teaching salvation is not equally available to all.  As a church community we owe an apology to the individuals we push out and force to live in the margins of the faith community by trying to steal away or discount the authenticity of their relationship with Christ.  We owe an apology to those individuals who have to fight and are made to feel uncomfortable for simply trying to find a place to worship; trying to find a faith community to which to belong.  We owe an apology to those individuals who in an act of total despair and hopelessness, directly related to what we told them, have turned to addiction, or worse suicide.  We owe an apology to the family members and friends of those who we marginalized for our lack of compassion and understanding toward them.  Most importantly, we need to repent to God for diluting the sacrifice of His only Son on the cross.

It is amazing the Christian community is unwittingly playing directly in to the hands of Satan by destroying itself from the inside out.  By beating, bludgeoning and battering each other with the Word of God, we are doing his job for him.  I think it is time the church started to further the kingdom of Heaven rather than the kingdom of darkness.  How about you?

Open Letter to Jesus

Dear Jesus,

When I open my Bible, I read you LOVE me and have loved me since the beginning of time.  It tells me that you love me so much, you died for me just so I would have the choice of accepting or rejecting you.  This fact alone is mind blowing!  What kind of love is this that would count a human, not yet born, as worthy?

I have known you and loved you since I was a teenager.  As a teenager I promised to give you my whole being, my heart and my soul.  In turn you promised to guide me, lead me, walk with me and prepare a home for me in heaven.  We have a wonderfully, amazing and loving relationship.

There is nothing in my life that is more important to me than you.  My faith is my number one priority.  In my faith it is important to me to be honest, transparent and authentic.

You and I have had long conversations.  You have whispered things in my ear … You have quickened things deep in my soul and you have shared things with me during times of prayer that I could not have known otherwise.  You have given me the words to say to a perfect stranger who needed encouragement and you have helped me love friends on a deeper level and meet needs I did not even know existed.

A few of the things I have done as a direct result of our wonderful, loving relationship are feed the hungry, give to the poor, and provide for the orphans.  I have introduced people to you.  Some have welcomed you and some have not.  I have held the hand of dying friends and prayed with them as they took their final breath.  I have taken in a child that had no safe place to rest and loved him as my own.  I have paid the rent of strangers and the doctor bills of friends.  I have gotten up in the middle of the night to be with a friend when a pet was dying.  I have prayed with individuals whose spouses were abusing them and help them find the courage, through you, to leave a life of fear.  I have sung in the church choir.  I have taught Sunday school.  I have participated in church plays, as well as church ministries, etc.  As you already know, I am not making this list for my own praise, I am merely listing examples of things done, actions taken, not in my human flesh, but because your love and grace towards me is so amazing that I cannot contain it or keep it to myself.

I try very hard to live by your example and be a reflection of you to my own little world, as well as the world at large.  I fail on a regular basis, but each time you lovingly pick me up, tell me you love me and encourage me to keep moving forward.  But to be honest some of my brothers and sisters in Christ are making it very hard for me to carry on, have hope and share your name and love with others.

You see, all of this comes crashing down around me and is uttered as worthless garbage rather than heartfelt ministry by the vast majority of my Christian brothers and sisters when we discuss the fact I am gay.  Upon learning this one fact about me, I become a misfit, an outsider, and a deceiver.  Nothing more than a preying wolf among sheep.

Some automatically exclude me from places I was once welcome.  No longer am I allowed to lead. Minister.  Pray openly for others.  The option of church membership is taken off the table entirely.

Others say I can attend church and tithe, but not be intimately involved in any ministry or outreach until I am “saved”.  Which I sincerely thought was a relationship you and I entered into when I was a teenager.

But the really confusing part for me is some of these very people who say with conviction I am going to hell, still want to partake of my kindness and love.  They call me to pray for their needs.  Still request my money for their causes.  Still eat food I have prepared at my table.  Some will even go so far as to say I am very much like you, but yet they have no doubt, and make no bones about the fact I am going directly to hell.

Jesus, I have never claimed to be a theologian.  I have spent hours in your word, in prayer, getting to know you better and more intimately.  But as far as Greek or Hebrew goes, as far as what words originally meant I do not know.  I am weary of “fundamentalist” theology, “mainstream” theology, “gay” theology, “feminist” theology, “left” theology, “right” theology or any other theology that does not bear your name and your name only.

The deepest desire of my heart is to know you better and more intimately.  I want to be a richer, more accurate reflection of you.  I want to share your goodness, love and grace with a hurting and deeply wounded world.  Can you help me do that?

I would like to end this letter by asking you for your help.  Please give me the strength, courage and wisdom to listen for your voice.  The voice I have learned intimately over the years.  Please give me the grace to love those who would attempt to rip you from my life and cast doubt on the validity of our relationship.  Give me compassion for those who tell me you hate me and lie to me about my very soul.  In essence, help me be more like you with every breath I take.  I don’t need the road to be easy, I just need the strength to walk it.

Thank you for being my best friend.

Above all else, love,


Are you sure you are right?

If there is equality it is in His love, not in us.  CS Lewis

You know people are funny.  Not so much in the ha-ha, belly laugh way … but from my experience, more so in a quirky, ironic way.   People, humans in general, love to be right about something.  Some are even driven to be right at all costs.  Which seems odd to me, because most people focus only on one side of the coin … the side that promotes their cause, their reason, their belief, their logic.

As we sit here in the 21st century people often wonder, how in the world Adolf Hitler successfully killed millions of people, and millions more sat by and did nothing.  The truth is frighteningly simple.  Knowing the Bible is the most revered book in most cultures, he became familiar with the Bible.  He held his Bible close to his chest and spouted verses that promoted his cause and ideology.  It mattered not to him if the verses where in context or not.  It matter not to him if he got to know the author of the Bible.  It mattered not to him if he was wrongly interpreting the Bible.  He was not seeking a relationship; his primary goal was to be right at all costs.  In essence, he wrapped a lie in the dressing of the Bible and people believed it. After all who can argue with God?

… people often wonder how men ever justified owning another human being.  The truth is frighteningly simple.  They found support for their belief between the covers of their Bibles.  They held their Bible close to their chests and spouted verses that promoted their position.  It mattered not to them if the verses where in context or not. In essence they wrapped a lie in the dressing of the Bible and people believed it.  After all who can argue with God?

… people often wonder how males ever believed and treated females as second class citizens.  How females were no more than property for many years.  Of course they were more “valuable” property than slaves, but property nonetheless. The truth is frighteningly simple.  They found support for their belief between the covers of their Bibles.  They held their Bible close to their chests and spouted verses that promoted their position.  It mattered not to them if the verses where in context or not. In essence they wrapped a lie in the dressing of the Bible and people believed it.  After all who can argue with God?

… people often wonder how in the world we could have ever believed that one race was superior to another.  How could white people believe and promote they are superior to other races? The truth is frighteningly simple.  They found support for their belief between the covers of their Bibles.  They held their Bible close to their chests and spouted verses that promoted their position.  It mattered not to them if the verses where in context or not. In essence they wrapped a lie in the dressing of the Bible and people believed it.  After all who can argue with God?

This list is endless.  Which poses a critical question.  What is it now, this very day, in your individual life, or our churches collective lives that we are promoting, protesting or betting our lives and the lives of others that we are right about?  What is it we are pointing a finger to in the scripture as an absolute truth, which we could be interpreting incorrectly, thus creating a lie in the dressing of the Bible?  What topic, issue, belief is it that we could, through interpretation which is not clear, be putting words in God’s mouth?

Christians and the church need to remember that following Christ is not about being RIGHT … The Word of God is not something which to brow beat an individual or group of individuals.  The Word of God is a love story of how God loves us so much Christ died for us.  The church, as well as individual Christians, need to learn to error on the side of mercy and love.  Christ has called us to be the BIGGER people … the more LOVING people.  We cannot go after groups of people aggressively and be surprised when they are not cordial and loving back.  It is the GOODNESS of God that leads mankind to repentance, not the hostile, sign holding, protesting, yelling group of self-righteous so called Christians.

Am I saying when there is injustice or wrongs being committed we need to become a door mat.  ABSOLUTELY. NOT.  What I am saying is we need to temper our moves and behaviors with love, mercy and grace; which is exactly what Christ did for every single person ever born or ever to be born.  By doing so He led by example and set the standard of how we should interact with His children.

As we sit here in the 21st century, it is time we began following His example … and by doing so lives will be revolutionized forever.

Grace is Amazing

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.  Romans 8:31-34

I often wonder why so many Christians struggle in their Christian walk.  Why they feel guilty, ashamed and inadequate when they read the Bible?  I believe part of the answer can be found in the fact that many Christians, although well intentioned, have formed a type of belief system that integrates the Old Testament law and the New Testament Covenant via Jesus death and resurrection.  By doing so they maintain there are requirements to remain in God’s favor.

Part of me gets this train of thought.  In fact I lived this way for more years than I would like to admit.  It is a desperate, empty way to live.  Why, because no one can be “on” all the time.  It is impossible to do, say and behave in a right manner all the time.  In essence it is impossible to live a mistake free life.  Do we strive for perfection, yes; do we strive for excellence, yes; do we always succeed, unfortunately no.

In the United States, we live in a performance based society.  In the US the more successfully a person is; the more “value points” that person is given.  I do not in any way want to disrespect people who have experienced great accomplishments.  People who have sacrifice for their sport, art form, etc.  But I want to be clear, in the spiritual realm there is no better than, there is no favorite.  There is only unconditional love.

We, as humans often look at God through human eyes; assigning Him human feelings and emotions.  Since we are human and this is all we know, it is only normal we would do this.  However, God is not human, and more importantly we are not God.

Many perceive God measures mankind in the same manner we do.  You attend church regularly you earn 5 points.  You chose not to go to Sunday school you lose a point.  You get a speeding ticket you lose 4 more points, but you participated in the church outreach so you earned 5 points.  But you lost your temper so you subtract 2 points.  I still have 3 points.  Whew, as long as I am in the black I am okay.

God has one measuring stick with only one line on it.  God’s standard is Jesus Christ.  The standard for God is have we as humans accepted His Son Jesus Christ and his substitutionary work on the cross for us.  To prove this point let me ask you a question.  Were you saved by a) observing the law and keeping a certain set of rules or b) by believing what you heard about Jesus Christ?  Secondly, do expect you will become more like Christ throughout your life a) by human effort or b) by the leading of the Holy Spirit?

The answers to both questions are B.  Why is the answer B, primarily because if the answer was A there would have been no need for Jesus Christ to die on the cross.  If salvation could be achieved without His death, then His death was pointless.

I believe so many of us have difficulty accepting this because unconditional love is very foreign to us.  The majority of humans are used to love being attached, to a greater or lesser degree, to performance.  But God says here is my Grace and no performance is needed.  The beauty of this is unconditional love and grace allows us to leave human effort behind.  It allows us be ourselves.  In being ourselves, with no hidden agenda, no secrets, no shame, we are more open to the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

As hard as it is to accept and believe, the bottom line is God loves each and every one of us relentlessly, compassionately and inexhaustibly.  There is absolutely nothing we can do that will cause God to love us more and conversely there is nothing we can do to cause God to love us less. Nothing.

You Believe What???

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

This is where I would like to begin.  What we believe and why.  Do we believe what we believe because it is true, or do we believe because we have been taught to believe?  There are numerous examples of this throughout life.  For instance, if you were raised in the State of Alabama and are a football fan, you are probably either a die-hard University of Alabama fan or a die-hard Auburn fan.  Depending on which household you grew up in, will depend which team you root for with reckless abandon.  This loyalty is passed down generation to generation.

If you were raised in an Episcopal household, there is a high probability you will be Episcopalian.  If you were raised in a Methodist household, there is high probability you will be Methodist. If you were raised in a Baptist household there is a high probability you will be Baptist.  If you were raised in a Catholic household there is a high probability you will be Catholic; and so on and so forth.

Each of these faiths uses the Bible as their guidebook.  Yet each faith has a different set of doctrines and beliefs.  I am not implying one faith is more accurate or true than the other; that is not the purpose here.  However, what I am saying is those faiths are very different.  Yet each believer fervently believes they are right and in most cases perhaps even closer to God.  I am challenging us to briefly set aside what we have been taught.  To temporarily leave what is our spiritual comfort zone and look at things from a different perspective and determine what we believe the truth to be for ourselves.

There was a time when a ship sailing on a body of water and reached the horizon, it was not only assumed but sincerely believed it fell off the face of the earth because the earth was flat.  We now look back and think the people who held that belief were not very smart.  But in fact, that vast majority of individuals living at that time believed it to be true.

I remember growing up in the South in the 60’s.  It was a turbulent time.  Civil rights was a heated issue.  Many churches were involved on both sides of the debate.  Many churches would not let those of different races enter into their worship services.  People were beaten and/or killed simply because of the color of their skin.  Now in the 21st century we look back and say that behavior was WRONG.  When we read of something like that happening now we are appalled and righteously enraged.  The question I want to pose here is when did the rules change?  Was it RIGHT back then and WRONG now?  Or was it always WRONG?  Did people continue holding on to the belief that Black Americans were inferior simply because the beliefs were passed down from generation to generation or did they seek out what God said?

God is never changing.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  So who was it that missed the truth?  Of course, it was the humans. Why? Because a choice was made to believe the status quo and stay in the comfort zone of the time.  Humans took a few scriptures and interpreted them in such a way to make them mean what they wanted them to say, rather than investigate and believe what the Bible really said about the issue.

Isn’t it time we examined what we believe and why?  In this day and age of such hot button topics and great divides in the country not only politically, but spiritually, is it not of paramount importance that we sincerely search our hearts and ask God for direction, guidance and wisdom.  With hate spewing from every side, Christian and non-Christian alike, is it not time we searched and investigated what really is consistent with the character of God?  What is consistent with the character of Jesus?  Did Jesus Christ come to this earth, die for us and rise from the dead, to give us the freedom to beat and bloody each other in His name? I believe not.

I realize it takes courage to break your belief system down and examine it part by part. It takes even greater courage to admit perhaps you had a thing or two wrong.  But in the final analysis it matters not what man says, not what the preacher or priest says, not what the Pope says, not what momma and daddy always told me, but what does God say.  It is far better to recognize an honestly, non-malicious, skewed belief, than to keep beating Children of God over the head with our misconceptions and false truths because we do not have the courage to re-evaluate our beliefs and ask God for direction and wisdom.

If you find in your self-evaluation you were wrong, and most of us are wrong about something, then let’s pray we have the courage to adopt the truth and let that truth, in fact, set us free.  (Malachi 3:6; John 8:32)

Does God Love Me?



“But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.  It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless.”  C.S. Lewis

Does God Love Me?

The answer to that question is absolutely, without reservation or doubt.

There is nothing any human can do to entice God to love him or her more than He already does.  Likewise, there is nothing any human can or cannot do to make God love him or her less than He already does.  Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrated His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.  At a point before you were born, before you heard of God, before you loved anyone, Jesus Christ died for you on the cross.  This scripture not only implies but clearly states that God loved you before you loved Him.  He loved you before you existed or did anything good or bad, positive or negative.  So even if this is difficult or awkward for you, just for a moment choose to accept the fact that God loves YOU; right now, right here, in your current state.

Since you now know God loves YOU, not just everyone but YOU specifically, the next question is do you have a relationship with Him?  This part is YOUR choice.  God will pursue you, ruthlessly trying to love you, but a relationship with Him is impossible until you say you accept His love.

How do you accept His love?  John 3:36 says “Whosoever believes in the Son of God (God’s sacrifice of love) has eternal life, but whosoever rejects the Son of God will not see eternal life.  The often quoted John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  So to accept God’s love, you accept His Son Jesus Christ and his sacrifice of love on the cross.

Now you know God loves you and how to enter into a relationship with Him.  But still you are cautious or doubtful because maybe relationships are not your strong suit.  Perhaps some relationships have ended badly for you.  Perhaps someone has told you because of something in your life or lifestyle you cannot have a relationship with God.

Because of things you have read, been told or taught you have this recording playing in your head that says “God will never accept me because of this or that.”  The bible repeatedly says WHOSOEVER.  But your heart screams, you do not understand I had an abortion … God says you are whosoever; I had a baby out of wedlock … you are whosoever; I was abused as a child and no one wants used goods … you are whosoever; I am a prostitute … you are  whosoever; I am gay … you are whosoever; I am an alcoholic … you are whosoever; I am an addict … you are whosoever; I am a self-injurer … you are whosoever; I attempted suicide … you are whosoever; I killed someone … you are whosoever; I have been an unfaithful spouse … you are whosoever; I committed a crime … you are whosoever.

When you say “but you do not understand, I _______________ (you fill in the blank)” or better yet, fill in the blank with what you find the most disgusting, vile, repulsive of all human behavior … and YES even that person is a WHOSOEVER.  There is NOTHING you can put in that blank that has the power to keep God from lovingly looking at you and saying you are WHOSOEVER … you are MY CHILD … I want YOU to be part of MY family.

Some will say those are strong words; how do you know that.  You cannot possibly know what God thinks.  What I do know, and the Bible (Romans 8:38) supports is that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.  The only thing that can prevent a relationship with God from materializing is not accepting His love, not accepting His Son’s death on the cross as complete and total payment for your sins. Short of that, you qualify as whosoever. So replace what you have been defined as in the past with the truth … say and begin to believe I AM WHOSOEVER.

Many people are frustrated because they try to find favor with God based solely on what they do or don’t do.  They attempt to follow a list of spiritual laws or rituals.  The truth is these things will produce one of two things; at best, if you are honest, you will suffer defeat … at worst, if you are deceitful, you will be a hypocrite.

I suppose the reality, especially for a ragamuffin like me, is that it can be hard to comprehend and believe that through grace we are already accepted.

So the answer to the original question is without a doubt or reservation, God relentlessly, compassionately, inexhaustibly loves YOU!

They will know we are Christians by …


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I had a conversation this week that would have made me angry if it were not so tragic and heartbreaking. I have heard this or very similar conversations many times … Paraphrased it goes something like this … an individual finds a faith based, mainstream church … Begins attending … Begins to make close, heartfelt relationships … Time passes … Friendships are made … Tithes are paid … Prayers are prayed … Attendance is regular … Bible studies are attended … Individual is faithful and serious about God and wants to become more involved in the church and ministry out reaches of said church … Wants to be allowed to do things like sing in the choir, help feed the homeless, volunteer time in the food pantry.  So this person goes to church leadership to determine how one becomes more involved … Only to be told they CANNOT until they are SAVED. The leader of the church bases this lack of Salvation on one thing and one thing only … This individual asking to become a servant is part of the gay community.

Now if this were a non-gay individual living with a girlfriend or boyfriend outside of marriage would their lack of Salvation be assumed and a disqualifying factor … In fact it would not and is not … This is evident in the congregation population … If this individual was a divorced person or an unfaithful spouse would their lack of Salvation be assumed and a disqualifying factor … In fact it would not and is not … This is also evident in the congregation population.  But because a person is gay they are not saved and cannot be a servant to others.  PS you cannot become a member either, but we will gladly continue to accept your 10% tithe and offering.

So now this individual is made to feel unworthy … Is made to feel less than … Is made to feel unwanted … Like Grace is for everyone, EXCEPT those who are gay. Consequently this individual no longer has a church home … A faith based safety net … and somehow we are supposed to drink the Kool-Aid and believe Jesus Christ is ok with this? That Jesus died on the cross for this? That Jesus looks down from heaven and looks at His Father and says I am so proud of my people who are called by my name … they are EXCLUDING all those for whom my death was not sufficient … NOT!!!

How can people who identify as Christians get this SO wrong? How can other Christians be so SILENT?  How can people be so comfortable showing such a distorted reflection of Christ?

Many of these very same Christians want to know why individuals are leaving the church or showing no interest in getting to know Christ … Honestly I want nothing to do with their Christ either … In fact rather than stating I am a Christian … I now say I believe Jesus Christ was and is EXACTLY who He claimed to be and is exactly who He continues to claim He is … I am not a Christian … I am a Christ follower … I strive daily to be more Christ like and introduce more people to my best friend and Savior … But I want NO part of being a Christian by their definition … On that point let me be crystal clear.

Heaven’s Prerequisite


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“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” C.S. Lewis

Heaven has been defined as a place where God lives. It is often described as paradise, a place to spend the afterlife. It is defined as the polar opposite of Hell.

A prerequisite is something that is required or necessary as a prior condition. So Heaven’s prerequisite by definition would be something that is required or necessary as a prior condition for entering Heaven.

You want to get a group of fundamentalist up in arms begin a Q & A on this topic. Pose this question, “What is required to enter heaven”? “What is required to secure a reservation in Heaven?” Those dragnet type folks who just want the bare facts sometimes ask “What must I do to avoid going to Hell?” All very good questions … all eternally important questions.

If you ask these questions you will receive a variety of answers with a plethora of biblical scripture to back up each point of view. This can be confusing at best and damning at worst. For instance, have you ever heard you must be baptized to go to Heaven? Many believe baptism is the right of admission or adoption into the family of God. Some believe you should be submerged in water to be baptized, some believe you need only be sprinkled with water, others believe you must be sprinkled with water as an infant and then at the “age of accountability” you must determine for yourself when is the appropriate time to be submerged in water baptism. As you can see the debate can be confusing.

Others believe you must not die with unconfessed sin in your life. I would agree confession is good for the soul. I would further agree that admitting to God we have fallen short of the mark is invaluable as a possible change agent. In order for change to take place, we must have knowledge that something needs changing right?
Others believe you must have a member of the clergy issue you last rites. Last rites are generally given to people who have knowledge of an impending death, i.e., those awaiting execution, mortally wounded or terminally ill. This has its origin in scriptures that talk about praying for the sick and anointing them with oil.

Some believe you must belong to and be an active member of a local church fellowship. Hebrews 10:24 says “do not forsake the assembling of yourself together”. I think most would agree church attendance can have a positive, life changing effect on a person.

Each one of these “prerequisites” is valid and good in their place. Baptism is a good thing. It is a choice, an outward behavior that signifies an inward change. It is a public acknowledgment that we are a new creature in Christ.

It is good to confess to God sins or shortcomings when they occur. This keeps honest people honest as they say. Admitting fault is a sign of maturity that signals a readiness to grow or change.

Laying on of hands and anointing with oil is good also; whether it is the sick or the dying. It is a display of faith. It is a signal of our acceptance that God is in control and our belief that He will do what is His best for the situation.

Belonging to a church fellowship is good. It surrounds you with a built in support group and allows you to be supportive of others. It provides an environment to grow and mature.

Each of these is important in the proper place, however; none are a prerequisite for Heaven. The ONLY prerequisite for Heaven is to accept and acknowledge the need for a Savior, recognized the one and only Savior is Jesus the son of God, believe he died on the cross for every sin ever committed or that will ever be committed in the future, He resurrected three days later and now sits at the right hand of God the Father. Nothing more … nothing less.

The Bible is full of scriptures about behaviors that can be added to make the Christian life more rewarding, more intimate, more productive, more fulfilling, more effective, more joyful. But there is nothing that can be added as a prerequisite for heaven. Nothing.

Some people are troubled by what happens to individuals who have never heard the name of Jesus. Which is difficult to understand in our Western world, but the very person we so often take for granted, the salvation we take so lightly was given freely by someone of whom some have never heard. In this case I believe the Old Testament holds the answer. For those whom have never heard the name of Jesus it is as if Jesus never lived and most importantly never died or rose from the dead. It is difficult to believe on the topic of salvation a loving God would hold a person accountable for knowledge he/she do not possess.

Having said that, we are each born with an innate sense of right and wrong. Some call it a conscience. Abraham in the Old Testament was called righteous and faithful without the blood of Jesus. So was King David, Moses, Noah, Ruth, Elijah, Elisha, Queen Esther, etc. None of these people could be cleansed by the blood of Jesus, as it had not been shed and many of them committed egregious sins. However, God called them righteous because of their faith and their desire to do good. Their willingness to follow and be guided by their God given conscience. I have even heard some say it is better to have never heard the name of Jesus than to have heard it and rejected it. But that is a topic for another day.

The good news is, thankfully for those of us who have heard the name Jesus we can choose to have absolute assurance. Once you have heard the name, once who He is has been explained to you, then the decision is yours. Jesus + Nothing = Salvation. #whosoever