Saturday, October 31, 2009

What's your denomina-sin?

Some people watch television. I listen to podcasts. The other day I tried a new one, the first topic being how to get the various denominations of Christianity talking with and comfortable with one another. As I listened, I grew more and more appalled (an emotion I just don't feel all that often!)

I've found that one of the truths of the human (and demonic) world is that our answers are only as true as our willingness to start with the right questions. Even "genius" is just so much impressive garbage, if made from a mountain of garbage.

But considering if we are truly starting with the right questions is most often the last thing human beings do. We're too busy being:
  • pleased with ourselves (how smart we are, how much study we've done, what kinds of organizations we've built, etc), and
  • protective of our own interests (which most of us disguise as caring about others' interests, especially to ourselves)
I read the other day, for example, that a favorite thing to do in pharmaceutical new drug safety studies for the last 30 years or so is to exclude from the research data anyone whose body reacts badly to the new drug, or who get little benefit compared to the problem side effects. Then – scientific miracle of miracles! – the drug is "proven" safe and effective.

So while the researchers claim to be asking, "Is this new drug safe and effective?" they are actually asking, "How do I use my scientific authority to get this new product released into the marketplace as quickly as possible?"

But neither of those is the right question to start with. What would be the right one? How about:

"Am I trustworthy enough to remain unbiased about this new product, even if it costs me (present or future) prestige, money, position, or power to let the truth of it come through?"

And because that's not the question these researchers are asking (or having asked of them), flawed, pseudo-scientific, and biased "studies" continue to cause huge amounts of damage to the people who take these completely unscientific drugs.

Well, human beings have the same faults, whether those are expressed in the scientific world or the religious world or the sports world or the (you get the picture). So it shouldn't be surprising to us when Christian people fail in the same ways. Just like these folks discussing "fixing" denominations in the podcast.


They claimed to be discussing, "How do we unify the Body of Christ?" But what they were really talking about was, "How do we continue to get the emotional, psychological, and physical goodies we've built and maintained denominations to give us, while joining forces with other denominations we disagree with?"

Neither of those are the right question either. The right question would actually go something like this:

"Am I surrendered enough to the real Jesus Christ that I will release anything that pleases me more than it pleases Him, or that brings me more glory than it brings Him – even if it costs me my friends, my family, my job, my good standing in the community, my material wealth, and more?"

That's the question that would lead them to truth, and it should be the question all Christians ask of themselves at ever available opportunity.

See, denominations are beautiful failures – seeming to point us toward God, but actually tricking and leading us astray – for a number of reasons.

First – Denominations produce, encourage, and protect Good Religious People by the many, many millions – but the same kinds of Good Religious People who either:
  • Self-righteously hunted Jesus down for not being "godly" enough, or
  • Obediently walked away and did nothing when Jesus was slandered, tortured, and murdered.
Nothing changed over the last 2,000 years. "Catholic" or "protestant" or whatever, Good Religious People continue even today to do the same evil things to hundreds of millions of human beings, and their denomination – their "group-mind" – rewards and assures them of the "godliness" of each such action/inaction.

Second – Denominations are self-serving human institutions, whereby we convince ourselves that God's real work is only accomplished via human budgets, building and other programs, seminaries, social and doctrinal conformity, and mission trips to spread our denomination. Then we "lovingly" look down our noses at what we call the "primitive" church of 1,800 to 1,950 years ago, because they "only" had the testimony of their lives healed and saved through Jesus Christ, to spread and protect the Gospel. That's sinful arrogance, at best.

When we become melded within the "group-think" of a denomination, we even come to believe that the Gospel message the early church spread, and the denomination message we spread, is the same – and that's idolatry, at the least.

Third – Denominations grow from one or more human founders and their interpretation of Jesus Christ, usually in reaction to someone else's interpretation of Jesus Christ. There's nothing wrong with coming up with one's own interpretation of the Bible and so on. Being only human beings, we all have to do that (run screaming from the people who insist they don't interpret!).

The problem is that denominations interpret Jesus through their human founders and the ongoing traditions that followed them – rather than interpreting their human founders and traditions through Jesus and correcting their spiritual understanding as needed.

Fourth – Denominations squelch the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of God's people while encouraging them to continue seeing themselves through a religious spirit – and this is true even among so-called "Spirit-filled" denominations.

By creating and enforcing structure -- however "comforting" it may feel -- on how God's people act and interact with God, rather than letting the wind of the Holy Spirit blow where it may, people living within denominations become spiritually "stuck" within "church boxes". They lose opportunity to grow in the Lord according to how He would lead them, while gaining lots of opportunity to grow in how their denomination decides God wants to lead them. And again, people really into their denomination come to believe those two are the same thing.

Fifth – the Bible itself specifically prohibits denominations or anything like them. For example, Paul scolded the Corinthians:
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)
Today people do even worse, not only wrapping themselves around an individual but also the human institution that sprang up from his or her interpretations. Today, people essentially say, "I am of Baptist", "I of Methodist", "I of Presbyterian", or even "I of Non-Denominational"!

But if we have such a mindset, we should realize we fall under Paul's scolding: Is Christ divided? Was Thomas Helwys crucified for us? How about John Wesley? John Calvin? Martin Luther? Last report I saw said there are now 38,000 Christian denominations in the world. Which of these 38,000 human founders died to bring salvation to a spiritually dead world?

None of them, obviously. And to the extent to which we allow the cliques we call "denominations" today to cloud that issue even to a tiny degree, is the extent to which we have sinned against the God of heaven and disrespected Jesus' true body of Christ.

So, how should we understand ourselves within the Body of Christ? And what do we do about disagreements, and about other people who call themselves Christians but seem to be anything but?

First of all, we must understand the Body of Christ from God's perspective. 

People often split into a new denomination because they disagree with something someone else believes. And indeed, we are told to stay away from people who cause problems for their own benefit in the church. However, that's a far cry from creating a false division between yourselves because you don't like the worship music! Find a group to worship with that fits your own "style", but continue to understand yourselves as still all part of the same church, and act like it! Because that is indeed what you are!

More, we have to remember always that the same God who created us to have hands that are different from eyes which are different from lungs, while all are required and respected parts of the whole, is the same God who created the Body of Christ to have "parts" which serve different functions, while remaining required and respected parts of the whole.

Does that mean "anything goes"? Obviously not. We are told not to judge – but we are told to discern, as when Jesus praised His church for testing those who claim to be apostles and not tolerating those who were found false. To prevent thinking we are going towards God when actually we are moving away from Him, we have to know God's Word, and we have to make decisions about our lives according to it.

That means:
  • Taking responsibility for ourselves. I'm sorry to those who want to lump all that onto other "leaders," but you're selling out the trust given you by Jesus if you do that. Am I saying leaders are bad? No. I am saying that almost all church "leaders" are self-deluded, at best. And deciding to just go along with them because you think you can escape responsibility for the work God wants from you by doing so, just isn't going to cut it. Check out the parable of the ten talents, if you don't agree.
  • Learning to release all the "church" rules, laws, doctrines, beliefs, traditions, and so on that we don't find any requirement for in the Bible, and learning to replace those with the one's we do find in the Bible – including all the ones our Western cultures teach us don't apply to us (like, "you can't serve God and money", and "turn the other cheek")
  • Really coming to understand that being a Christian is about belonging to Jesus, first and only. The only thing that's real is your relationship with Him, and your understanding of yourself and the world, and how the Holy Spirit prompts you to live, learn, and love. No denomination, no matter how "Christ-centered," will ever do anything more than water down and corrupt the pure Spirit God wants in and from your heart.
Abandon "denomina-sins" for the untainted love and life of Jesus Christ!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is your ideology ruining your theology?

The second scariest thing happening in the world today is the overabundance of politics practiced as religion.

The scariest thing is that those doing this kind of practice rarely realize (or care to stop) the foul mix they've created.

And that leaves the world in a world of hurt.

One of the easiest mistakes human beings can make is to recreate God in our own image.

To believe we are elevating God when, in fact, we are elevating ourselves in God's Name.
  • To re-create the Gospel and God Himself according to what makes most sense to us.
  • To take God on our own terms, and not His.
Bad enough when we do that within our own spiritual lives – then we only endanger ourselves. But so much worse when we spray this kind of idolatrous anti-Christian thinking and behavior over the world around us.

Today in the United States we see, for example, so-called "conservatives" claiming to be completely "Bible-based" while reinventing the Good News of Jesus Christ to include:
  • "loving" hatred,
  • justified self-righteousness,
  • iinsertion of human hierarchy between God and those who belong to God, 
  • glorification of murder and thievery,
  • the blunting of God's message with pagan and secular philosophies, 
  • and more.
Yet God's Message to the world, expressed in the Bible as God gave it to us in its original languages and cultures, clearly is against all of these things. God is not a "conservative."

But we also see so-called "liberals" claiming to be completely "Jesus-based" while reinventing the Good News of Jesus Christ to include the removal of "troubling" issues like:
  • Jesus' resurrection,
  • God's ability to act in miraculous ways within His own creation,
  • God's promise to return in righteous wrath in the end to punish those (both outside and inside "the church") who've continued to choose and nurture evil in their hearts no matter what,
  • and so on.
Yet God's Message to the world, expressed in the Bible as God gave it to us in its original languages and cultures, clearly is against all of these things, too. God is not a "liberal."

In fact, God and the Gospel message are so different – and so much higher and better – than any and all human political and other philosophies that they can't even be considered in the same category. And that's been true for all of human history – including in regards to the "conservative" Pharisees and the "liberal" Sadducees and the "secular" Herodians of 2,000 years ago.

Yet that's what's missed by those who confuse their politics with their faith.
It's just a very tiny, tiny step between "my politics" and "God's politics expressed through me".

See, once anyone believes that they and God are on the same page, it's nothing to start forcing one's own sinful human nature onto others in God's Name.
  • That's how people who already hate Gay people, for example, come to "know" that "Scripture" says God hates Gay people – and then come to feel justified going into the political process to persecute Gays in God's Name.
  • It's how people who already enjoy living within various levels of human domination of other human beings come to "know" that the "Bible" says Jesus wants that for us in His church and world, too – and then come to feel justified in the murder, theft, and rape of political war, and the oppression of the poor, and the false division between "clergy" and "laity."
  • It's how people who already believe there is no supernatural come to "know" that "Scripture" doesn't really mean that Jesus was more than another (possibly great) human being – and then come to feel justified using state systems to persecute and block those who hold to the deity of Jesus Christ in their hearts and lives.
There is just no human political thought or process that can ever not cause at least as much damage as it repairs. And that's where our humility – our understanding of the difference between ourselves and God – is supposed to kick in.

Corrie ten Boom understood this. A death-camp survivor who lost almost her entire family to the Nazi holocaust, she'd spent the rest of her life spreading the Gospel and telling people about our need to forgive our enemies.

Corrie told the story once about having been with a conference group and recounting her own difficulties in forgiving the Nazis and Nazi-collaborators who tortured and killed even her elderly father and sick sister. She said she'd talked about how she found it impossible to forgive these people under her own power and nature, and that it was only by Jesus that she was able to do it and keep doing it.

She said that after her talk the conference leader had gotten up and told the assembled crowd how wonderful Corrie ten Boom was and that "the world would be a safer place if we would all be like Corrie ten Boom." Corrie said, "I was furious!" at this conference leader.


Because she had expressed God's truth: that she continued to be a sinful human being, unable to do any good of her own power, and that it was only through her humble submission to the power of the real Jesus Christ, and doing (ALL of) what He tells us to do, that she was able to accomplish the things of God.

But the conference leader had re-created God's truth in the same way that Official Christianity has during the last 2,000 years: imagining that human-power can accomplish God-results, if only we'll do it in the ways our very limited human hearts and minds have decided are "God's ways".

Confronted by Corrie ten Boom's righteous rebuke, the conference leader repented of his attempt to make an idol of Corrie ten Boom. He came to understand what Corrie understood:

That our actions in the world are measured success only to the degree that we humbly remember the difference between:
  • who we are, and who God is, and
  • what we can hope to accomplish, and what God can't be stopped from accomplishing.
So what does that mean to us, when we see so much wrong in the world? Does that mean we're just supposed to do nothing and wait for God to clean up the mess later? Absolutely not!

Instead, it means that we are to take the example of Jesus and the church He founded (as detailed in the Bible as God gave it to us), and mold ourselves to that and only that.

Nowhere in the Bible, for example, do we see the real church shoving themselves and their values through the political process. And when Jesus and Paul, for example, were pushed into the political process of the day, they didn't break out weapons to fight against it. They didn't try to infiltrate and take it over to make it look like themselves. They didn't lobby the Senate to pass laws for or against things. Instead, they simply spoke God's truth to it, realizing that the political process of the world belong to Satan and his followers (see Luke 4:5-6 for example) until Jesus comes again to clean house.

Many will respond that such a thing wouldn't work in today's world – that things are worse or more complex or more harrowing today. And to that I say – bunkum!

There was hunger and hurt 2,000 years ago – and Jesus' real church fed and cared for the hungry and hurt, even when it cost them all their possessions or landed them in jails or caused them to catch plague diseases.

There was oppression and persecution of Christians and many others 2,000 years ago – and Jesus' real church assisted the oppressed, and even went all the way to their own tortured deaths, completely nonviolently, proclaiming Jesus' power and love both through what they said and through what they did.

There was gross political evil in the world 2,000 years ago – and Jesus' real church remained apart from it, not soiling Jesus' real message of love and salvation with compromise with other human philosophies that encourage and please human arrogance and love of show.

Those who truly wish to follow Jesus – and not simply the human-created version of Jesus put out by Organized Religion – will do things Jesus' way.

  • Even when it doesn't seem to work (because they understand they aren't God and can't see the whole result of something). 
  • Even when it seems weak (because they understand anything they can do is weak, compared to the awesome power of God). 
  • Even when it doesn't please their own or someone else's sinful human nature (because only God's nature can save them).
If we truly wish to follow Jesus, we will act in this world – just as Corrie ten Boom and millions of others throughout the last thousands of years have acted in this world, doing things God's way.

We will learn to not waste our time and energy on human endeavors that will create as many problems as they solve.

We will learn not to be fooled into believing that any human way of understanding or being can ever compare to God's way.

We will strive to be more and more like Jesus, as He's expressed and described Himself in the real Bible.

And the rest we will humbly, lovingly leave to God.

In His love,


Monday, October 19, 2009

What IF churches closed? (Child of the Wind)

I don't remember how (I rarely do), but I came across this great blog the other day, called Child of the Wind.

Written by Les, a straight brother in Australia, it's lately been a heartfelt and personal sharing regarding how (or whether) to maintain his faith and religious life after losing his trust in "the Church", and his ideas regarding theology (and his own changing theologies) in trying to make things make sense in the Christian world. 

And you thought only Gay people went through that.

While I was checking my blog feeds at lunch today, I came across his post called "What if churches closed?" and it really got me thinking:

What if churches closed? 

My first thought (which I commented) was: 

"Closing local churches would also allow a renewal of faith among many who assume that since they don't like the garbage there they can't be christian. What an opportunity to see Jesus from our heart out, rather than from the church in."
I really understand these days -- more than I ever have in my entire life -- the difference between:
  • the human church -- which we can't not see all around us, and,
  • Jesus' church -- which we can only truly know when we give up proclaiming and living for the human church. 
It's hard for all of us to learn the difference. And the more soaked into the human church we are, the more God has to rub away before we can learn.

While He's doing that, it can feel very painful, and disorientating, and even lonely.

But it's got to be done.

It's got to be done.

Why? Because as long as we continue to imagine that God can only accomplish His plan by our action or participation, then we're batting for the Wrong Team. 

As long as we imagine that God requires us to set up special buildings and have "clergy" and hymnals and so on to do His work and be blessed ourselves, then we're fooling ourselves as much as Adam and Eve did, when they decided to do God's plan one better, by making sure to add their own "little touch".

And we're also making it harder for those around us who continue to reject Jesus simply because they are also confused into thinking that the muck and mire of human-based churches defines who God is and what He wants from and for us.

Personally, I imagine and look for the day when all churches are closed. When the idea that anyone needs anything within human power or participation in order to know the Lord, is laughed at for the silly devil's trick that it is.

When all can see Jesus -- face to face.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sick of church? Good for you! But don't stop there!

I hear a lot from people – Gay and straight – who no longer attend any church. They mention a lot of reasons, but all those reasons boil down to this:

They are tired of the garbage.
  • They're tired of "pastors" and "apostles" and other church "leaders" whose primary "call" is to pursue, demand, and soak up adoration and obedience that only belong to God.
  • They're tired of "Christians" who salute themselves as belonging to Christ, yet who resemble Paul's description of the "deeds of the flesh" far more than the "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:19-23).
  • They're tired of church "services" that are full of material doo-dads (pews, pulpits, pianos, etc) but empty of Spirit.
  • They're just tired of showing up to shine for God, only to find themselves once again sitting in a hyped-up mud hole of human self-congratulation and religious pretense.
So they don't go.

And who could blame them, when all that and more is plainly true to anyone willing to see it?

Well, many of those still in the churches want to blame them, of course. They say things like, "Falling attendance is all part of the Great Falling Away!", and "God requires you to come to church each Sunday!"

But that's all baloney, too.

The "Great Falling Away," for example, refers to people's hearts falling away from Jesus – not to the numbers of people sick of showing up in spiritually evil and/or spiritually empty buildings each week.

And while the Bible requires us to continue in loving relationship with those who love and serve the Lord, it says nothing about forcing ourselves to participate in the local "hobby-God club".

So, despite what we may hear, being sick of church can actually be a good, healthy thing in our lives – like giving up a nicotine addiction, or no longer drinking soda pop.

The problem comes when we stop there, though. When we pull out the big, thorny thistle from our spiritual garden, but don't plant something good there, instead.

See, Jesus wants to grow there. In fact, Jesus is the one who sent you the message, the one who gave you the discernment to see the truth about the "white-washed tombs" so many today call "churches."

And Jesus wants you out of the false church.

But Jesus also wants you in His real one.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.

"Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’"
(Matthew 7:15-23)
If you are sick of "church," be happy that you aren't being fed by a church organization that – in God's eyes – "practices lawlessness." You'd be in far worse shape if you were being fed!

If you are sick of "church," be glad that you are tired of the thorns pretending to be grapes. The first step in anything getting better is to realize that it's not working now!

If you are sick of "church," feel good about yourself and your relationship with Jesus. You're practicing the discernment that Jesus requires of us all, and listening to what He has to say.

And if you are sick of "church", find other ways to maintain your relationship with Jesus – things that speak to your spirit and that keep your faith strong and fit. And that includes if you come across a local Christian assembly that feeds your (real) faith in Jesus Christ – love and keep those wonderful brothers and sisters! But never forget:

You don't need a "temple" or a "church", or a "pope" or a "pastor," or anything else in this world to get and keep Jesus. Rather, you get Jesus by wanting Him to be there, and you keep Jesus by trusting He's getting you where you need to go.

And that's it!

Keep growing in discernment, love, and strength in the Lord!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Free pamphet: "Is someone trying to steer you away from Jesus?"

We have a free pamphlet you can download and give out to your friends, or to use as part of your own local ministry outreach to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender community.

It's a PDF, and formatted to be a double-sided, tri-fold pamphlet.

Note that it has a large area on the back where you can put your own local info on it, if you like (like a phone number or address your group can be reached at).

But you can also pass it around anonymously if that's better for you, as it has a link (in smaller letters) to this blog, so if people who read it have questions or need to contact someone they have that opportunity.

This is an easy, quick read, and uses the Bible to provide "5 Points to Peace" to being sure that God does not condemn Queer people.

And, as I said, it's completely free.

The only limitations to using it are that you cannot charge anyone anything related to using it, printing it, and so on. You cannot violate the copyright and pretend it's your own. And so on. See the copyright notice on the back-bottom for more info. And note that all these limitations are simply intended to make sure the info here stays protected and isn't used by wolves to fleece a wounded flock.

The pamphlet is currently stored at our new files storage site, at:

Let me know if you have feedback.

In His love,


Thursday, October 1, 2009

You've got God-mail

Ok – put on your imagination-caps.


Imagine that you have a great friend, but they live in another part of the world right now. I don't know – working in the Peace Corp, or in missions, or they moved to some sun-drenched holiday place and aren't planning on visiting here again for some time. Something like that.

Now, imagine that this great friend sent you some really, long letters, and another friend at the local post office has been holding them for you. You go to pick them up, but right away there's a problem. Your great friend's letters are all written in the language of the country s/he's currently living in, and you can't read them! "Not a problem!" says your postal friend. "I will read them for you." Great!

Except that what your postal friend reads doesn't sound like your great friend at all. Your great friend is very loving, humble, and gentle, for example, and a lot of these letters have a lot of angry, domineering violence in them. You're stunned.

But then it gets worse. Your postal friend reads you parts of these letters that say your great friend (or, at least you thought they were a great friend!) doesn't think much of you. In fact, in several places, your great friend seems to say you're a freak, someone who's horrible and ugly. Your knees start to feel a little saggy and the world seems to spin a bit. You really thought your great friend was your friend, and you value his/her opinion greatly! This can only mean, then, that either your great friend is two-faced and not to be trusted, or, that s/he is actually right about you. 

The first possibility makes you angry. You storm off and tell everyone what a rotten scumbag your previous-great-friend really is!

The second possibility makes you hate yourself.
You start hating who you are, just like your great-friend seems to, and your life becomes all about trying to be "better", even though there's no way you can.

But how many of us consider another possibility? That our postal friend is either
  • (a) interpreting the letters incorrectly by accident, or 
  • (b) interpreting the letters incorrectly on purpose.
Maybe what we've just heard is mixed up, only partially right, and not the message our great friend meant for us to hear at all!

We do this same kind of thing with God and the Bible, all the time.

God gave us the Bible – His letters to us – in the original languages, cultures, and contexts He meant them to be in. They – and only they – are what He truly means for us to hear.

But in Old Testament times, New Testament times, and even all the way to today, there have been other "friends" who have mistakenly or on purpose read us God's letters incorrectly.
  • They've told us God condemns Gay people.
  • They've told us that God made women "weaker" and to be "subject" to men. 
  • They've told us that power and hierarchy that looks no different from what you'd find in any business is what God wants in His churches, as well.
  • They've even told us that God wants African-descent people to be inferior slaves, that God wants the (their version of the) religion of Christianity shoved down people's throats (with violence, if need be), and so on.
And it's just not been the real message God wrote to us.

So, why are we continuing to listen to these on-purpose or accidental lies?

Why are we giving sinful human beings the trust that we should only give to God Almighty?

Why are we letting human translations and interpretations of God's Word define who we are and how we should see and understand ourselves, instead of relying only on the character and message of Jesus Christ for that?

There is no translation of the Bible that's perfect. But there is a God who's perfect, and He is on your side, whether others read you His real message or not.

Be the person God created you to be – and not the person other sinful human beings have decided for God that He should want you to be.

Use your brain – use your heart – use your hope in Jesus Christ.

Investigate and hang on to God's real message (if you aren't sure what that is, start with Jesus Christ!)

God expects nothing less!