Monday, November 29, 2010

3 reasons to be delivered from being Christian Left

I talked last week about the dangers of being part of the "Christian Right". But that's only one side of the wide road that leads to destruction.

There's just as much danger in being part of the "Christian Left" (or a "Jesus Radical" or "Sojourner", or any of the other latest euphemisms for the same thing). Here are three reasons to pray you'll be delivered from being "Christian Left:

1. While the Christian Right ignores and rebels against God's authority, the Christian Left ignores and rebels against God's justice

Now, the Left (religious and otherwise) is known for talking about justice -- but what they nearly always mean is human beings fixing problems of some abusing others. Human justice, in other words. It's very, very rare these days to hear anyone in the Christian Left calling for God's justice. 

For example, just this last weekend I listened to a wonderful Christian Left man who obviously has a great, loving heart, and who stretched that out to say that it's not right to believe God won't save every last human being on the planet. Why? Because, he'd tell you, "God is love".

But that's a very happy but extremely limited way of interpreting God's love, and it completely rewrites God's Old and New Testament promises of justice. Think about it: if God were to save every human being on the planet, that means that going into heaven with all the sinners who chose and yielded to His wiser way would be all those human beings who instead -- all the way to the end of their lives, and no matter how many times offered ways to realize their bad choice -- chose evil. If God saves every person on the planet, then that means heaven is going to be filled with people who:
  • Killed family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, other soldiers, "civilians", or one or more others -- and remained proud or pleased or aloof about it to their dying day.
  • Raped women, children, men, even animals -- and remained proud or pleased or aloof about it to their dying day.
  • Tortured or did "experiments" on other human beings (and animals when it was unnecessary for anything but power and career standing) -- and remained proud or pleased or aloof about it to their dying day.
  • Abused, cheated or otherwise took advantage of the poor, the mentally or emotionally vulnerable, and/or those who are vulnerable because of sexual orientation, race, religion, sex, and so on -- and remained proud or pleased or aloof about it to their dying day.
  • Spent their time and energies on their own sense pleasures, material wealth, and career standing instead of on the suffering going on within their own families, neighborhoods, countries, or the world -- and remained proud or pleased or aloof about it to their dying day.
  • And more...
Which means that if God saves every human being on the planet, then heaven is going to be just as much a filth hole as the planet earth.

If God doesn't exercise justice, then we're all sunk because He lied to Eve and the rest of us about coming to save us from the evil we're trapped in and among. .

If God doesn't get to cull those who never stopped enjoying evil -- the tares -- from among those who did -- the wheat -- then He's a sadist who created us just to suffer as a race for thousands of years only to then be mind-wiped and placed like plastic people in a heavenly model railroad.

And that's just not the God we're told about in the Bible.

Those on the Christian Left (often) have their hearts in the right place, but the philosophies and theologies of the Christian Left want to settle for human justice -- despite the unending result of human justice to collapse into evil no matter how well its intentions started.

Until the Christian Left once again (as it did 100 years ago) starts calling for and relying on God's justice alone, it will never be anything but a smiling, loving, but still hurtful movement that discounts the real needs of those who are oppressed and harmed in this world, trying instead to fill those needs with itself.

As C.S. Lewis said:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
2. While the Christian Right reimagines God as a "good" demonic power, the Christian Left remakes God into someone they don't have to be "embarrassed" by. 

While both Right and Left stake claims on the Holy Spirit, the Christian Right actually takes great apparent delight in having an evil spirit in its churches and organizations, and the Christian Left almost invariably goes out of its way to have no spirit. Here's one example of what I mean:

I attended a Christian Left church years ago and during the pastor/priest/pope's sermon she mentioned that the week before she'd run into an old left-wing friend from before she'd decided to go to seminary and he asked her what she was doing now. She said when she told him she'd become a Christian leader, he became disgusted and angry with her, asking why she would waste her time on such ridiculous stuff as Christianity. Her feelings? Embarrassment and shame. Her response? She tried to explain away and diminish her "guilt" with him by saying things to make it apparent she and he were still on the same page, still the same kind of people, still "serious" and "scientific" and "ok". And it was quite clear in all her "Christian leadership" (that day and others, I mean) that she was quite embarrassed at anything and everything that might even hint she had anything in her heart but good old Material Secular Leftism. I used to wonder again and again: if you are so "above" or ashamed to be the Christian the Bible tells you to be, why are you in church? What are you doing here???

I've run into similar Christian Left churches and organizations over the years, and I've met others who've also gone and also come out wanting to ask the Christian Leftists there: Why are you here??? Because truly it just doesn't make sense to call yourself something that you're actually embarrassed to be called. And -- whether you are so-called "laity" or "clergy" -- if you claim to "love" and respect Jesus while throwing away and disrespecting everything He said and did that the Material World doesn't like, then why make yourself part of something claiming to be part of His church or values? Why not just be a secular Leftist? 

Here's my guess. Either you are:
  • Truly called by God to be one of His people, but you haven't yet learned to let go of the temporal goodies (like being part of the popular team, advancing up the career/money ladder, etc) that come from being part of the world. (In which case, there's still hope for you, as millions of us can attest to from first hand experience!)
Or, you are:
  • Not called by God at all, but by the devil, or by your own ego, or your own wish to boss others, be applauded and get paid for it without having to get a real job or be seen for who you really are. (In which case, there's no hope for you at all unless you allow God to heal and rid you of some very serious psychological issues and from your want to continue enjoying them).
There are no such things as "Christian bystanders". Your politics doesn't matter, and even your heart doesn't matter, if you aren't also proclaiming and being willing to share Jesus with others.

3. The Christian Right rewrites and picks and chooses out of the Bible -- and so does the Christian Left.

There is a Christian Left church in my town that's filled with good-hearted people, who are very loving to others, and who -- wait for it -- teach people that most of what's in the Bible is simple mythology or human re-writes, that we don't have anything to learn from most of the Bible, and that Jesus wasn't divine at all but simply a really good guy that we should pay attention to and follow in love (but nothing else).

Personally, especially as a Gay Christian, if I had a dollar for every time some well-meaning Christian Leftist tried to save me from the "oppression" of taking the Bible seriously, I'd be sipping on pineapple juice and writing you from my own tropical island right now (you could all come with me -- I promise).

Here's an illustrative picture: the Christian Right drowns Baby Jesus in the bathtub, but the Christian Left, wanting to be more loving and appropriate than the Christian Right, simply throws Him out with the bathwater.

Truly, the answer to all the evil done by the Christian Right is not to throw out or remake the Bible, or to dethrone the Son of God. 

The answer instead is to do the work they will not: 
  • Getting and spreading God's real meaning, in its original contexts and such, in the example of our hearts as lived out in our lives
  • Humbly teaching each other and being taught, understanding that none of us will ever have even most of The Truth right and we need to rely on each other to figure more out,
  • Competing with each other to be the lowest servant to the servants (and not the fake "servant" idolatry of our modern concept of "clergy"),
  • Not cutting each other off over doctrinal disagreements over what we've created or held to that has nothing to do with God but everything to do with our own sinful human egos.
  • and so on.

If you are part of the Christian Left, I know your heart is in the right place.

Are you sure, though, that you still elevate God as THE reason to hate oppression and end torture and feed the poor and so on? 

Because truly, if your motivation comes only from human inspiration, then -- however noble -- it will always fail. It will seem to feed good, while it will inevitably cause more evil than good. And haven't we seen that again and again in the Left, when all intentions and want to accomplish things for the poor and oppressed turned into horror? We have only to look honestly at examples like Maoist China or the Soviet Union which degenerated quickly into oppression and murder for hundreds of millions, or at the Left "free" 1960s (which lead us to hundreds of millions of lives lost to drug abuse and a dead idealism that's led to narcissism and spiritual rot), and so on, to understand that nothing "good" human beings can imagine can ever stay good for very long.

But God's good is eternal.

It's only when our want to do good comes first and only from and through Jesus Christ openly and soundly in our heart -- even when the secular left and world wants to shame us for that -- that we're truly doing any good at all. It's only when we're doing the Lord's work while knowing Jesus as our divine and only God that we have anything real to give to those in need.

If you have put Jesus' anti-oppression values in your heart, but not truly allowed the real Jesus in there to lead and teach and heal you, do so now! Proclaim and wait for God's justice! Be proud of Jesus in the face of all those who want to shame you, instead. And take on the blessings of learning and belonging that come from being part of God's history in the world.

You have it in your heart. Make it real. Make it happen!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday links 11/26/2010

I hope everyone in the USA had a great Thanksgiving holiday! And perhaps yours is still ongoing through the rest of the weekend?

I came across one of Albert Einstein's famous things-said the other day: "The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them." Oh that is so true! Unfortunately for the world, they are also going to take more than any human level of thinking to solve them, as well. Fortunately for the Christian, God has a solution for all the world's problems -- and He's given us our part of evangelism and truth-speaking to play (Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak”) until He comes again to solve things once and for all. I pray the Lord will use this upcoming holiday season to help us to understand, appreciate, and give glory (only) to Him for our role, each day!

The documentary Kimjongilia, about North Korean people (including prison camp survivors) who have escaped (or at least tried) to escape that viciously demonic country didn't get great reviews, which I truly don't understand. It wasn't all glitzy-Hollywood -- but does it really need to be to help us see the huge need and incredible hope of these wonderful and most-oppressed people? For example, it is no exaggeration to pass on that the people of North Korea are literally taught to worship their "Supreme Leader" Kim Jong-il as the only god (and that's shown in a clip from one of their official propaganda films in the documentary  "Kimjongilia"). And human rights literally mean nothing there -- even children and innocent family members are sent to prison work camps to die, while the rest of the non-army population lives in eternal famine. If you want a taste of how had off this country is, type "North Korea" into Google Maps, tell it you want to see the "Satellite" view, and then zoom in over the cities and such. It really breaks my heart!

Ways you can help the North Koren people include ongoing prayer -- that the Lord will continue to reveal Himself to them, that He will protect those who belong to Him there from being caught and will instead use them mightily to spread the Good News of His Son Jesus, and that He will bless them all with an end to the horrors of their hideous oppression. And, although its really difficult to help inside North Korea (the whole place is locked down in deadly secrecy, and any caught spreading the Gospel or otherwise helping there face horrible punishments), Voice of the Martyrs helps the persecuted in North Korea when they are able. (See other things you can help them with here.) I've searched for charities helping the North Koreans, and not found any that I really trust -- many seem or are at least thought by others more knowledgeable than I to be a bit shady. If you know of or find any good ones, please let me know!

Back to the issues of the "First World": I was horrified to find out how easy it is to come up with all sorts of personal data online -- including your name, family members, pictures of your home, and so on. While this article shows how it's done as a way of helping us understand and better protect ourselves, you really don't have to "get" all the technicalities of it. Just the explanation and advice of what to do is just fine.

The fact that every time we ratchet up our level of industrial-food and drug eating we get sicker and fatter and weaker seems to never matter to those who worship what human beings can create more than what God has already created explicitly for our bodies (we're just told to ingest more and more industrial drugs and foods to "solve" our health issues -- and never to let our systems get back to the ways God created them to be fueled and run). This article, Would you eat a steak that came from a test tube? is interesting and disgusting, at the same time. (And my answer is "No, I will not").

Personally, I only worry about the upcoming chocolate shortage (not really ;-)

Great work by some folks in Colorado Springs who prove "asking the right question can be more important than anything you can tell someone." They asked random people if being Gay is a choice. When people said "Yes", they asked them "When did you choose to be straight?"

1,000 sqft secret chamber discovered in Indian National Library -- and I can't wait to find out what's inside! (I even set up a Google Alert to keep me informed as the story progresses.)

"For the last few weeks, zoo keepers have been training him to get in his transportation crate on his own." I guess so! Have fun, Tucker the Hippo!

From the look of the dog, it was just really hot and he climbed in there (probably with shorts on) to do a really thorough job cleaning out the inside of the trunk? Who says the world isn't also set up to keep us laughing?

These photos from the 2010 National Geographic Photo Contest are absolutely magnificent. My most favorites were #2 (Supercell going across Montana), #17 (Boise sunrise), #28 (Lightning crashes), and #37 (The power of childhood).

I already knew this from a friend who worked a long time for the USA post office, but now it's been documented: Mail carriers will abuse your package more if it's marked as "Fragile". Something to keep in mind when shipping, especially for the holidays.

Don't you just love heroes -- both the moral and the courageous kinds? Although those two things only rightfully go together, don't they!

Finally, here's an audio/MP3 link to a great talk by Frank Viola about just what the Apostles' doctrine really was to the early church, and what it should be to us today (If the link doesn't work, Google "theapostlesdoctrine_viola" and pick where you want to hear it from). Enjoy!

See you next week!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

5 reasons to be delivered from being Christian Right

["Three reasons to be delivered from being Christian Left", here] 

Are you identified with the so-called "Christian Right"?
Here are five reasons you need to pray that God will deliver you into real salvation:

1. The Christian Right ignores and rebels against God's authority and sovereignty. 

That's not what the Christian Right believes about itself, of course. In fact, the Christian Right believes itself to be the only one actually standing up for God's authority and sovereignty. But the Bible tells us again and again -- and in plain language anyone can understand -- that those who love and fear God do what He says

"But we do exactly what God says!" is the answer of the Christian Right. But even non-Christians and atheists can see that's so far from true as to be pathetic, if not maddening. And we can even pick simple examples to prove it, because it's just not hard to see the hypocritical rejection of God's command and authority -- not hard, that is, unless one is caught in the Christian Right web.

The most obvious example is the love, support, and glorification of war -- and the terror, rape, torture, hatred, and destruction that always comes with it. The Christian Right is absolutely perverse in its insistence on and involvement with war. Yet God commands Christians to never return evil for evil, and to instead pray for our enemies. God's Word tells us that those who belong to Him respond in love, not bullets, and care, not sexual assault and baby-killing, and like Jesus, not the devil. The Christian Right tells God to stuff it, regarding His command to not return evil for evil.

Another obvious example is what God says about human authority. God says that Christians are not to keep hierarchies amongst ourselves, or to give or take authoritarian titles for ourselves. But the Christian Right obsesses on human authority and hierarchy, and -- rather than interpreting Paul's words on authority within the commands of Jesus (in other words, not being satisfied until we understand Paul in ways that don't discount Jesus) -- the Christian Right has from the beginning created and worshiped levels of "specialness" in its churches, and made up rules saying people have to submit to sinful human authority or go to hell, and more. The Christian Right tells God to blow off, regarding His command to be simply servant-brothers and servant-sisters to one another.

One final example, related to the last. The Christian Right claims to be taking the Bible literally. That's why, it says, it says women have to dress like (insert dress code here), and Gay people are condemned, and so on. Yet the Christian Right picks and chooses, and explains away those of God's commands it doesn't like. Example? Regarding Jesus command that His followers not be hierarchical or give/take titles, as above? The Christian Right commentary in my Bible says that to actually do what Jesus says there is "unreasonable literalism". Meaning, because that command doesn't match what their sinful natures want to do, they ignore or reinterpret it. The Christian Right tells God to take a hike, regarding obeying and preaching all of what He says, and not just what it wants to obey and preach.

2. The Christian Right is suffering under the strong delusion God sends to those whose hearts reject the real God for the false god of their own creation. 

We wouldn't know it from listening to the pontifications and reinterpretations of the Christian Right, but the Bible actually spends most of its time condemning and warning against those who claim to be God's people but aren't -- and very little time condemning or warning against those who don't. It's part of the delusion the Christian Right suffers under, then: to continue to falsely believe itself not only God's people but the best of God's people, while believing God's warnings are for everyone but themselves. I remember years ago, for example, seeing a Gay-hating "Christian" holding up a sign outside a Gay event. The sign said:
"How will you escape the sentence of hell? Matthew 23:33"

I looked it up. Is that scripture truly a condemnation of Gay people, or even of immoral people? No! It's one sentence out of a long speech Jesus gave condemning legalists and religionists that wreak havok and insult God by claiming to be His people and doing His work while pleasing only their own disgusting sinful natures. 

The man was carrying a sign that condemned himself! Was he understanding that? Was he reading his own sign and falling on his knees to cry repentance before the Lord? No! He was suffering under a strong delusion - one that falls on those who prefer human religious wickedness instead of God's authority, who work on Satan's side, and fall for counterfeit religious power, signs, and wonders. Will this man be saved? Not unless he becomes better than the Pharisee that he is! 

3. The Christian Right is built and sustained entirely on mistranslations and misinterpretations of the Bible.  

We've already covered a bit of this above, in the example of "take God's Word literally when it pleases me, and allegorically/spiritually/whatever when it doesn't". But it bears a full mention of just how foundational the delusions of the Christian Right depend on mistranslations and misinterpretations of the Bible. How many of us have looked into our Christian-Right-translated Bibles and seen the word "homosexual" inserted into the text, when God didn't put anything even close to that there? How many poor people, women, racial minorities, religious minorities, and others have suffered under grossly sinful human oppression and been told falsely that "the Bible" says God likes it that way? Those who identify with the Christian Right memorize these false teachings, and then memorize the Christian Right defenses of these false teachings, and then go out into the world as "servants of righteousness", serving their prettied-up demonic master. 

4. The Christian Right today is the prideful descendant of all the God-rejecting God-pretenders of the last several thousand years. 

There's nothing new about today's Christian Right. It's simply the newest wrapper on the same old hypocritical religiousity that pridefully stands in God's spotlight while directing people away from the real God. Jesus named the sin of the Pharisees: hypocrisy. But the Bible also shows us the same sin in the "Jews" of the Old Testament who pretended to be God's people while mocking and offending Him with their evil hearts and religious pretense,  the Pharisee "Jews" of the New Testament who did the same, and the "Christians" who picked up that idolatrous torch to carry it into the future. History shows us the same gross sin, pretending to be about God while doing the devil's work, creating, defending, and living false teachings in the church even while the apostles still lived, and then continuing into the teachings of the so-called "Church Fathers" (who recreated the Bible so it better fit their pagan philosophies), the Roman and Orthodox churches (which whored the church to the world's political system), and finally into the various Protestant denominations and churches (which simply picks and chooses among the historical God-dethroning, human-elevation practices and beliefs it likes and doesn't like). Stink remains stink, no matter what food coloring one puts in it.

5. The Christian Right is building and supporting the False Prophet of the End Times. 

There's a lot of debate regarding who the "False Prophet" of the End Times will be. What we can know for certain even now is that the False Prophet will be a person or system who:
Seems to be part of God's real people, but is part of what only pretends to be God's (so it can't be something that isn't part of the JudeoChristian religion). 
  • Is filled with unclean spirits (and so isn't filled with the Holy Spirit). 
  • Deceives people about what's really God, and what isn't (and deceives itself, as well).
  • Helps get people connected to and worshiping the Anti-Christ, instead of the real Christ (doing things the world's/devil's way, instead of God's way). 
  • Will be punished forever for his/her/its sins against God (and not rewarded for its "service" in God's Name, as it expects). 
And that's all about the Christian Right. 

If you are part of the Christian Right, I fear for your salvation, and I hope that more and more of your brothers and sisters will, as well.We need to pray, as you need to pray, that you will:
  • Repent of your God-rejection, dethroning the human / religious authority you've made higher than the Lord, and submitting to what God truly requires of you.
  • Feel God unharden your heart and remove the strong delusion that's an early punishment of your preference for wickedness and unlawful religious living over Jesus.
  • Study and then know God's real Word, His real Bible, in the contexts (historical, linguistic, and so on) that He decided they be in, and no longer under the false human veneer of pride, power, and greed that you've previously known it under. 
  • Reject hypocrisy and religiousity like you'd drop hot slime. 
  • Come out of Babylon, the false human system that God wants all His people to remove themselves from, being saved, then, from the punishments those who remain are promised to receive.
Choose Jesus, our Christian Right brothers and sisters! Many of us have been freed from the sin known today as "Christian Right". You can be freed as well -- if you choose to be free!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday links 11/19/2010

I love frogs. This little guy (pictured here) is the newest frog species discovered. I just love God's handiwork!

This article about where most people's politics goes when things get tough certainly explains a lot, in the USA today, as well as here and in other countries in decades past. What interests me isn't the politics (I personally am neither "Right", nor "Left", but an all-over independent), but the fact that as things get harder, our sinful human nature tends most often to become more grabby, more hostile, more hurtful -- and not more sharing, more community-oriented, and so on. Human beings as a whole are nothing if not always predictable.

Problem with the above, of course, is that the actual problem is never fixed by everyone just turning on their neighbors. We're told, for example, that the current economic problems in the USA and world are caused by regular people "demanding too much" from the system, and by "unpredictable" variations in the market. Actually, this whole mess has been caused by a few million people at the top of the economic scale who have played with the combined day-to-day wealth of billions of people as if it was all just a big Vegas casino and Mob shakedown. The fact that these big-time gamblers and con men are building, supporting, defending, and loving Babylon -- which God will destroy and pay them back for -- either doesn't occur to them, or doesn't bother them, in the least. And it doesn't seem to occur or seem important to enough of the rest of the world to insist that the laws be enforced and these rip-off artists be made to pay back and rebuild what they broke, and even to go to jail when needed. The End Times are coming, my friends...

When I was still a Roman Catholic years ago, I knew people all the time who played games like this with "forgiveness" and God's mercy. One used to often tell me with a smirk, "The Big Guy and I have an understanding.. (wink wink)" I have absolutely nothing good to say about the Roman church (and it proves me right over and over again), but none of us can afford to forget how often Protestants do this kind of thing to God, as well -- just in our hearts and in our lives, and not to a priest.

Of course, that's not the end of incredible nonsense and evil that Jesus has to put up with from us. There are just too many folks out there like this man calling himself a follower of Jesus Christ, yet complaining that the USA has "feminized" the (war) Medal of Honor because "..we now award it only for preventing casualties, not for inflicting them... So the question is this: when are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things so our families can sleep safely at night?"  There's also this guy who wants everyone to know how oppressed he is by the people he oppresses (huh?).  It's really not  hard to figure out why so many people either don't take Jesus Christ seriously or hate Him because they think Jesus and His worst "followers" are the same.

Did you know that your chance of being in a terrorist attack are about the same as your chances of winning the Powerball twice in the same year? That's about the same as being hit by lightning at night while swimming and simultaneously being attacked by a shark in a mini-malls fountain. Yet we're being told we are not safe unless we submit to to being seen naked, radiated, and felt up in our most personal body areas -- no matter what our religious or personal standards for modesty, or our personal cancer and other medical risks, or our own basic human dignity and sense of safety. We are, in fact, far more likely to die of heart disease that terror attack -- but no one sends agents into our homes to scan and confiscate pharmaceuticals, foods, and other toxics that are actually quite likely to cause our deaths. Amazing... Good for those who are standing up to all this (like here, and here, and here). I certainly will no longer fly until I can do so and retain basic religious and personal modesty.

Wow. It never ceases to amaze me how much information gets stored about us by internet companies. This article for GMail users recommends checking and changing/deleting your basic info once a year. There must be ways to check other email providers, as well?

I'm so happy I found this "Strong Password Generator" site. It not only allows you to pick how long it has to be, but then gives you a little memory trick to prevent forgetting it.

Awww! What a cute dog. I'm just sure my dog could do that ;-)

New pamphlet available, so we now have two:
These are available on the "Free Stuff" tab I've added to the top of the blog. I also added a tab for "What I believe", and some other tabs to better sort stuff for Gay Christians (and soon) straight Christians

Finally, I can only imagine what it will be like when Your face is before me (and I can't wait to find out!). Until then, Lord, bring the rain!

See you next week!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A soapy man walks into a bar...

Consider these scenarios:
  • #1: A man sitting in a bar downs his fourth shot of whiskey while scolding the margarita-drinking woman in the next booth, tell her that drinking mixed drinks makes her a jerk and an alcoholic. He just can't stand to even look at her.
  • #2: A man sitting in a bar downs his fourth shot of whiskey and scowls at the woman downing margaritas in the next booth. Part of him still thinks about what a jerk and an alcoholic she is, but another part of him... well... well, he's just stopped saying so much. He's been starting to realize he's been just as big a jerk and alcoholic. Probably even bigger. He continues coming in every day, but after awhile he just can't stand himself anymore and he wanders out into the nearest AA meeting.  
  • #3: A man that used to sit in a bar being an alcoholic jerk has been sober for some time now. Lately he's started taking a bunch of little cards that have the local AA meeting times on them, and handing them out to the bar patrons while telling them how wrong this way of living is. He just can't stand anything that even hints of bar or alcoholic living any longer.
Most Gay and liberal/progressive Christians today would correctly say that the guy in scenario #1 was judging and therefore wrong, and that the guy in scenario #2 was discerning and therefore right.

What's really scary though is that most of them would also say the guy in scenario #3 was judging and therefore wrong. Why? Because he was telling other people their choices and lives are wrong, and he was pushing his own choices on them, trying to get them to change.

The truth of the matter is that the man in scenario #3 is actually doing God's work. Even more, it isn't until we get to Step 3 that we are of any real use to Jesus.

  • Some Christians move on to Step 2 - but then stop there. And Step 2 isn't a bad place. In fact, it's the place where we start to sense and then get to really appreciate the real Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives. But this is still only a self-focused place. It's a baby place. Here, we're figuring out right from wrong (including the wrong of being a hypocritical judge), but only in what it all means "to me", and how that "affects me", and what difference that should make "in my life". When we sit here too long, we never grow up spiritually. We become part of the Laodicean church, so grossly lukewarm Jesus says we make Him want to spit us out. We think we're deep in the blessings, while Jesus knows us as pathetically destitute, blind, and worthless.
  • Only a tiny few Christians ever manage to move on to Step 3. But having gone from (Step 1) being a hypocritical judger, and through (Step 2) being a self-focused discerner, Step 3 Christians become other-focused evangelists for God's way. Quite simply, they not only clean up their act but also get off their rear ends and produce for Jesus. And doing that sometimes means saying something is wrong. It sometimes means confronting people (or systems, or countries, and so on) with their sin.  It means being willing to speak up even when it's costly or hard. All because that wrong something isn't God's way -- and that means it's a way to destruction
So what's sinful "judging" and what's not? As it always does, it comes down to our heart
  • Are we speaking up because someone's being hurt? Or are we just yowling because something offends us personally?
  • Are we pushing for change because the status quo is attached to evil? Or are we just naturally pushy?
  • Are we hurting in our hearts because someone is missing Jesus? Or are we just wanting to grow our church? 
  • Are we trying to help someone see the real Gospel? Or are we just selling our own human version of it?
  • Are we passing out tracts and telling our testimony because our love for Jesus makes us want to share the Best Thing That Every Happened to us? Or are we just being religious? 
And more:
  • Are we deciding not to talk about what we know as Jesus' right way to others because we're sinful ourselves? Even the apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, remained sinners. If the right answer was to never speak God's truth to someone else until you yourself were perfect, then Christianity would have died the day after Pentecost!
We Gay Christians have been hurt mightily by other people's judgment. We know all too well the horrors of it, so it can be an especially hard discernment for us to make. But the answer is not to condemn "judgment". Rather, we need to condemn false judgment and proclaim the real, loving, Jesus-based right-way-to-be every chance we get.

Still need more study on "judging" in the Bible? Check out these scriptures, as well. Many seem contradictory, until we move our hearts outside of "black or white" thinking and into the real context of God's Word. 

Where does God lead you regarding judging?

"Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time? Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right?" [Luke 12:56]

"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” [John 7:24]

"For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged." [1 Corinthians 11:31]

"Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" [1 Corinthians 6:2]

"I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people.  Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.  But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -- not even to eat with such a person.  For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?  But those who are outside God judges. Therefore 'put away from yourselves the evil person.'" [1 Corinthians 5:9-13]

"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For 'who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?' But we have the mind of Christ." [1 Corinthians 2:14-16]

"Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed."  [Galatians 2:11]

"Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing [apart from Christ], he deceives himself."  [Galatians 6:1-3]

"Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins." [James 5:19-20]

"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God." [1 Corinthians  4:5]

"But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: 'As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore...." [Romans 14:10-13]

"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors....  For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." [Matthew 6:12, 14-15]

"And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will."  [2 Timothy 2:24-26]

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."  [Matthew 7:1-7]

"Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" [Romans 2:1-4]

"Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. "  [Romans 14:1-3]

"Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!" [1 Corinthians 6:1-6]

" ...then the congregation shall judge between the manslayer and the avenger of blood according to these judgments." [Numbers 35:22-24]

"You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you."  [Deuteronomy 16:18-20]

"You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.  ‘You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord." [Leviticus 19:15-16]

Your kingdom come - YOUR will be done, Lord, on earth, as it is in heaven!

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Friday Links 11/12/2010

    The "..least of these" Jesus stuff: 

    Don't forget! The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is this Sunday, November 14th. While you're at it, how about helping to get Bibles into places where the Gospel is forbidden (starts at US $30 a month for five Bibles)? Or writing a letter of encouragement this week to a brother or sister who's been imprisoned somewhere in the world for telling other people about Jesus? That will only cost you an international stamp (which you can get for 98 cents at the post office). 

    What can you do this week in your local community to help out with the growing hunger problem? Maybe put in a few hours at the food bank or at a soup kitchen, or send them a few bucks? As one of the local homeless people here pointed out to me recently: winter's coming, and it's already cold. How about buying a heavy-duty blanket or a pack of warm socks and taking them down to one of your local distribution centers?

    Lord, make me grossed out at things that insult and blaspheme You:

    Ugh. Truly, is it really God that gave this person the "miracle" of increased physically attractiveness? What if instead the miracle given was being healed from continuing to obsess over where one fits within the World's ungodly hierarchy of physical looks?

    And what about this idolatrous doo-dad anyone can get for the low-low price of being unbiblical? What if instead so many Christians used the discernment God demands of them that wolves like this had to get off their rear ends and get real jobs, instead? 

    And how much "exaltation" of God gets done when our "worship" is really someone's "Look at ME! Look at what *I* can do that even the World thinks is wonderful!"  It's not the non-traditional music that makes this whole thing embarrassing (I'm not attached to any particular music, myself). The problem is where this performance pointed the audience's attention: right at these two young men and what they could do, instead of at Jesus and what He can do. Despite how we've been taught to see it, that's not the same thing!

    Ok, that made me laugh:

    "Hey! Will you get that?" 
    "Who was it?" 
    (Maybe she could use little robot house guards to chase them off.)

    God made cat tongues elegant to impress us with His foresight and skill. He made dog tongues big and sloppy to make sure we always know we're loved. 

    Caught my eye:

    I saw this "placebo" effect happen in a place I worked once. Some people in an office were complaining that the color of the lighting there was giving them headaches, and demanded another. The lighting guy didn't want to bother, so he did nothing but then stopped by a few days later and asked how they liked their "new" lights. They told him they weren't getting headaches any more. Bad. Really bad.

    Isn't this recently revealed subway station beautiful? I wish we still put that much care and artistry into our public spaces, today.

    I'm not sure it's really "zero" (since we're human, too, of course), but Child Abuse Rate at Zero Percent in Lesbian Households according to a new study. So much for those who say adopted (and other) children aren't safe around us.

    It's part of the deception of this age that those who cause suffering and pain whine and complain so loudly how their victim "hurt" them! It's like having someone punch you in the face and then complain that your hard face hurt their hand! But, they want to have it both ways.

    This last week I saw the documentary "Born into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids". This amazing photographer taught a bunch of these little guys how to use 35mm cameras, and then they went out and documented their world, not only demonstrating their own intelligence and creativity, but also the resilience of the poor. Definitely rent or check out the Documentary Channel for the movie. You can also help out the kids here.


    Do we praise Him in the storm? Every tear we cry, He does indeed hold in His hand!

    See you next week!

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Stop the world - I want to get off

    It gets nuts sometimes. Even trying to imagine sanity sometimes in a world that seems hellbent on proving itself completely wacko can just overwhelm those of us who have any heart at all.

    We live within that part of human history (meaning, after Eden and before the Second Coming) where the "truth" is most often a lie. Where the most heinous deeds are dressed up as not only "honorable" but "godly". Where the people we desperately need to trust most propagandize us with snaky smiles, crocodile tears, and twisted information. Where animals suffer for no reason beyond human arrogance, where children go hungry for no reason beyond human greed, where woman and children (and sometimes men) are assaulted in ways they never truly heal from for no reason beyond human depravity, and where people die for no reason beyond human convenience. And all of that in a culture that packages it all up and sells it to us as "entertainment" on cable TV.

    It's no wonder we so often just tune it all out, as best we can. And it's no wonder it breaks so many of us -- shatters us into bitterness, rage, and even revolution, when we can't.

    But Jesus talked to us about that. From His warning that we will certainly have trouble in this world, to his teaching regarding the thorns of worry and wealth choking out our faith, Jesus never left us with any impression that life would be easy now, or that since He'd defeated Satan's power over us that the world would now be a sweet little lullaby of a place to live.

    Especially for those of us with strong empathy muscles.

    "Activists" (mostly on the "left", but sometimes on the "right") are generally people with strong empathy muscles. They are also people who don't inevitably flinch away from a full look at what suffering and oppression looks and feels and sounds like for other people. Even more, they tend to be people who are willing to put a lot (even their lives) on the line to make suffering and oppression stop.

    The problem is, activism doesn't really work.

    Oh, it can sometimes work in superficial ways. A new law makes not paying your workers right a punishable offense, for example, or a revolution tosses out the right-wing puppet that was torturing or murdering people.

    But no human action, law, or revolution -- no human reasoning, feeling, or persistence -- can make people stop preferring evil.

    In fact, even those who put everything on the line to make evil stop, themselves inevitably fall into evil. Think, for just one example among (literally) thousands, of the Russian Revolution, which began to end the rule of a small elite that lived in luxury while most people went hungry and exploited, and which ended in the rule of another small elite that lived in luxury while most people continued hungry and exploited.  But think also of the Christians in the early history of the church who sought to end the persecutions and executions of tens of thousands of Christians by making Christianity a legitimate part of the ruling secular power/emperor, only to thereby set up a religious power/emperor (called the pope) who over the following centuries persecuted and executed millions of Christians it called "heretics", "witches", and more.

    Only a tiny bit of study proves that no human action, law, or revolution -- no human reasoning, feeling, or persistence -- can make even good people stop preferring evil, in the end. 

    As C.S. Lewis once said:
    Let's pray that the human race never escapes from Earth to spread its iniquity elsewhere.

    But we will, in the end, "escape" the earth of human evil. When Jesus comes again, and takes us into the air to be with Him, that is the beginning of our escape. Because that will be the time when there is no more waiting for God's justice. At that time, God will:
    In other words: all those prayers ever offered up to God, begging Him to stop the evil of lies, of greed, of exploitation, of war, murder, rape, and torture, of forced hunger, and more?  On that day God will answer every single one of those prayers, and His answer will stand forevermore. 

    The solution then, is patience. One of those fruits of the Spirit we are supposed to pray for and find blooming larger and larger in our hearts and lives each day. And part of the way to that patience is studying God's Word, to learn and hold in our heart the stories of others who had to wait through things that were really hard, and that made no reasonable sense, and that were just plain wrong, until it was finally time for God to fix it.

    It's still going to be nuts, this human world where even goodness comes with the taint of sin.

    But we can wait. We can get there.

    With Jesus' help, we can't fail.

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Friday links 11/15/2010

    Something new - sharing some things for fun, prayer, and thought each Friday. Let me know what you think, or if you have something to add, as well.

    They won $11.2 million from a lottery ticket in July. And now every penny is gone. But Allen and Violet Large didn’t spend any of it on themselves. And that’s just the way they like it. I'm sure many people will say they only gave it away because their age or health meant they couldn't enjoy it anyway. But truly, who wouldn't be tempted to have a huge last materialistic fling before leaving this world?

    My Son is Gay. Or he’s not. I don’t care. Amazing. We should all have mothers like this. But we all do have a Father even more in love with and protective of us than even this amazing woman.

    Wow. Lost at sea, rescued, and their camera found four years later show the divers' miracle survival.  

    Former president Bush says "Damn right" he personally ordered the torture of waterboarding. Yet he also personally claims to be a disciple of Jesus Christ -- the Jesus Christ who said "Do unto others" and "Turn the other cheek", and "If you really belong to Me you'll do what I say", and so on. (And before anyone thinks I'm simply being anti-Bush, Obama is the same). The Bible tells us to pray for our leaders, and to the extent they don't require us to do things anti-Christian, to go along with them. But too many of us take that to mean "Go along with and encourage these leaders even when they are doing evil we normally have to look to a serial killer for." Seriously, in our culture, intentionally causing people terrifying and debilitating pain and damage to body and mind is understood to be twisted and freaky -- unless it's being done by the government (police, soldiers, spies, et al). Then, we too often believe, it's "ok" or even "Christian". If we believe that, we are just as guilty of breaking Jesus' commandments  as those who are doing or ordering the act. But what if instead of the tens of millions of Christians glorifying Bush and his sins, what if those same tens of millions instead spoke up with the true loving, nonviolent concern of Christ in their hearts and told Bush (or Obama) "You are sinning against God, against our neighbors, and against our enemies. Repent!" That would be the proper and biblical Christian response.

    This was interesting, though I can't find the full study version online any more (I only have a PDF - email me if you'd like a copy). But who thinks today about Pentecostals who are interested in peace and social justice? Spirit Empowered Peacemaking: Toward A Pentecostal Peace Fellowship

    A question we should be asking ourselves constantly: Is Jesus Enough?

    Truth Can Be Toxic and that's the truth. 

    Dominion Theology is one of the most satanic heresies alive in what calls itself the Christian church today. Why? Because (among other things) it elevates human beings and lowers the importance and dominion of God. (insert shudder here). Here's an article refuting Dominion Theology and for those who also or instead want to just listen to a discussion about it, there's a 26-minute MP3 here from the same folks.

    The National Organization of Marriage folks have taken doing evil in God's Name to new heights in the last few years. But are we also aware of how dangerous they and those who listen to them are to the US Constitution. The Prop 8 Trial Tracker people would like you to know: NOM: The people your (Founding) Fathers warned you about

    Spectacular pictures of Earth as seen from the International Space Station. Wow.

    A friend sent me this, and I laughed out loud. I'm also betting these two dogs were actually adopted shortly after their "ruinous" behavior: Hyperactive Dogs Ruin Adoption

    Needing a musical lift today? Check out How He Loves Us (YouTube) from Kim Walker.

    See you next week!

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Why you have to dump a lot to make room for Jesus

    We Christians today have an extra stumbling block that Christians 2,000 years ago didn't:
    • Most of what they knew came from Jesus and scripture. 
    • But most of what we know comes from 2,000 years of human ideas about Jesus and scripture.
    Think about it:

    Christians 2,000 years ago either knew Jesus, or knew someone who knew Jesus, or knew someone who knew someone who knew Jesus. 

    So they had that, and they had the Old Testament scriptures (which most of them, if they were Jewish males at least, would have been exposed to in depth for all their lives), and they had what we now know as the New Testament (the written accounts of Jesus and people who knew Jesus).

    We today think we have that, as well. But unless we've done some extra work on our own, it's far, far  more likely that what we have are human ideas about Jesus and the Old and New Testament scriptures as they have been interpreted, reinterpreted, and misinterpreted by 2,000 years of human opinion. 

    That's not the same thing at all, though we're taught to believe that it is. And the more we believe that devil's lie, the more we push it onto our fellows and our kids, the more garbage we pack in between us and the real, saving Jesus. 

    Now, there's nothing wrong with commentary or opinion -- if it never tempts you to believe its on the same truth-level as Jesus or scripture. This blog, in fact, is one among millions around the world  dispensing the author's commentary or opinion about Jesus or scripture (or people or issues related to Jesus and the scripture), and we certainly don't see anything wrong with that. In fact, it's one part of our prophetic ministry ("prophetic" as in John the Baptist, and not as in Benny Hinn) -- something God puts in our hearts to do.

    And we are certainly blessed, in turn, by other Christians' blogs, teachings, and so on -- by those who also dispense commentary and opinion.

    But what about all that worship practices and tradition and doctrine and dogma that's put forward as if it came from the mouth of God Himself? Hhhmmm.... Now that's dangerous!

    Why dangerous? Because there has never been nor will there ever be (outside of Jesus Christ Himself) any human being or group of human beings on the planet that is guaranteed to even mostly understand and explain God and God's ways correctly.

    Yet there are millions upon millions of Christians and other religious people who think their pastor, priest, pope, church, denomination, whatever has it right enough that all they need do is shut their brains off and just do and believe what they're told.
    • ...even though the Bible itself tells us that even the apostles got things wrong, over and over again, so that they had to confront and correct each other (one example is here) and be confronted by Jesus.
    • ...even though the Bible itself tells us that those who question even the apostles are counted as better than those who do not (one example is here).
    We are taught and use all sorts of scripture-twisting to justify all that heretical, unbiblical "just trust the pastor/priest/pope" behavior, of course. We quote scriptures about obeying those in authority, for example, but conveniently pass over those scriptures that tell us not only that we're required to discern God's way from human/demonic ways, but also that whether we make it into heaven or not will depend not on how good a Churchian or Traditionian or Obeyer we were, but instead on whether or not we stayed attached to non-God garbage.

    So, what all needs to be dumped?

    First of all, everything outside us that claims it stands in or speaks for Jesus.

    Jesus does just fine on His own! So we need to remove ourselves from the spiritual vacuum of that pastor / priest / pope / church / tradition / denomination / worship practice / whatever that claims to be being or doing Jesus for Him and/or us. Those who think to stand in for Jesus (rather than kneel before Him) are going to answer to God in the end for all that, if they don't repent (and we certainly don't need to get caught in their trap, as well!)

    And second of all, everything that's inside us that claims it can stand in for or speak for Jesus.

    Despite all that we're taught or like to think, the best and only thing we can do for Jesus is to speak and demonstrate His Gospel to others, one person at a time. We need always beware the temptation to imagine that we are "special" in some way, because that's a contract with the devil.

    And you've seen people (perhaps yourself) do just that, even if you didn't recognize it at the time. Anyone doing the whole "I'm a pastor", "I'm an apostle", "I'm a prophet", "I'm a priest", "I'm a reverend" nonsense should be desperately embarrassed (and repentant) to be doing a crappy fake of the old Mosaic priesthood that Jesus canceled with the Blood of His New Covenant. Jesus proclaimed us all on the same level with only Him above us (in computer terms, that means there are no Christian "super-users"). If we really have a gift that's actually from God, then we don't need to advertise or name it. We're just supposed to use it. God -- who alone has rights to it anyway -- will use it publicly or not as He sees fit, and if we are really putting Him first in our hearts and mind then people will come to see less and less of our titles and displays and directing, anyway, while from within us they will just happen to see more and more of Jesus.

    Dumping garbage to make more room for Jesus can actually seem like a scary thing. That tradition and submission and so on actually start to feel comfortable very quickly. But they feel comfortable like booze in a bar: making us feel all warm and fuzzy and surrounded by friends, when actually we're toxic and tipsy and surrounded by the worst and most superficial of ourselves and our neighbors.

    Making more room for Jesus, though, actually means making more room for joy and peace and health in our emotional, physical, and spiritual lives.

    Making more room for Jesus is like cleaning house with laughter and tears of joy, getting ready for the best Someone who's ever happened to our life, coming to stay forever. 

    Making room for Jesus, is making room for Love.