Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of / Q: "Do I have to go to church to be a Christian?"

Another sharing of a popular post this week, as my allergies have totally taken over my life the last several days. Living in the Pacific Northwestern USA means being around lots of things my body doesn't like - but that's where I'm at for now, allergy-head and all, so... :-)

Meanwhile, I've been getting lots of questions this time that can be answered by this older post, as well, so that works out, as well. I plan next week to get back to our Gospel study.

For those who don't know, I am always open to your emails, questions, prayer requests, and just to chat. I've been doing online and local ministry and fellowship for many years, and I try to answer all emails within a day or so (sometimes it takes me a few days, but not usually). My email address is

During the same time frame, I've also been enjoying the ministry and fellowship others bring to me. You are all a real blessing - whether you are someone I've had fellowship with for ten (or more!) years or ten minutes. I appreciate and enjoy you a great deal :-)

This week, I'm re-sharing my answer to the question, "Do I have to go to church to be a Christian?"

Take care until next week!


This article written by Lynne at You can contact Lynne at

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry... "Christ" mass?

We're coming close to December 25th again – Christmas day. Just what does that mean? What should it mean?

Most people know that Jesus wasn't actually born on December 25th. Based on descriptions of what was going on in the Bible around the time of His birth, it's likely He was born around springtime.

It was Christian "Good Religious People", as part of establishing "Church" power over the top of other people's religions and regulating "Church" time, that set December 25th to celebrate Jesus being born into the world (the word "Christmas", of course, is created from "Christ" and "mass", via the Roman "Church"). Unlike many of us today, however, the original Christians just weren't interested enough in the actual day Jesus was born to celebrate it (they also didn't care much about what He was doing when He was a kid). Far more important to their lives and hope was understanding Jesus when He was active as the Messiah – the Christ.

So are we right to celebrate "Christmas"?

As always, it depends on where we're coming from in doing so, and how it defines us. The current bloat-fest of commercialism and materialism that the larger culture (including the "Christian" larger culture) calls "Christmas" couldn't be further from Jesus Christ. It just doesn't matter how often we point to the "Three Wise Men" and their gifts to "justify" what we're doing each Christmas – nothing in the story of Jesus' birth has anything to do with our Christmas gift-giving. In fact, if we were to take any lesson from the gifts brought by the "Wise Men", we'd be using Christmas to – not give to each other, or ourselves, or the "Church" – but to give to Jesus and what's actually important to Him. And that just doesn't happen.

So, is it wrong to celebrate what our culture calls "Christmas" or give each other presents for it?

Depends. Are we pretending that by doing so we're doing something Christian – meaning, that by buying each other TVs and Starbucks gift cards we're following the commands of Jesus Christ? If so, then yep, it's wrong. In fact, it's SUPER wrong, because it simply perpetuates the whole "Jesus died so I could buy cheap crap at Walmart" concept that's so rampant in our "Christian" culture we don't even realize it's there.

That being said, there's nothing wrong with the actual gift-giving and so on (as long as we aren't elevating commercialism and materialism above Jesus, of course). People in all cultures, for all of human history, have found ways to add some fun and joy to the dark, cold time of each year. Putting up pretty lights that dazzle our eyes, "planting" a living tree in our living rooms, and adding a little fun with some gift exchange are what our culture enjoys doing when winter brings extra darkness and shivering cold to our lives.

We just shouldn't be pretending it's all about Jesus, because it's not. Not even when we throw in some extra "church" services, or toss a few extra coins in the bell-ringer's bucket.

What is or would be about Jesus?
  • How about buying and sharing blankets with homeless families this season – not because it's "Christmas time", but because you are a Christian and it's freakin' cold out there for a lot of folks these days?
  • How about giving your time to help feed hungry elder-people in your community, or your money to help rebuild the lives of brothers and sisters who've been fire-bombed in their communities because they're Christian – not "for Christmas", but because you're a Christian and your Bible-based faith commands you to care for these people every day or your life?
  • How about gathering in the home of your local Christian sisters and brothers, and getting on your knees, raising your hands, and singing songs of praise to God for Jesus – not because "it's Christmas", but because your Christian life belongs to Him every day?

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season.

I pray that more and more each day we will all come to reject the false and illogical connections that Good Religious People and their "Church" continue to make between what are simply expressions of our human culture, and what are things, ideas, and practices really about Jesus as He's revealed to us in His Bible.

I pray that as we add some holiday fun and color to our winter season (something I intend to do!), we also just refuse any longer to pretend those things are part of following Jesus Christ and doing what He says. Every Christian in the world comes to God with their human culture attached - and must learn to stop confusing their human culture with what God requires of them.

I pray that we will continue to mature far beyond what "The Church" as defined as fulfilling our duties to God, and thereby actually earn heaven (something "The Church" never has and never will accomplish).

I pray that you remain safe, and warm, and filled – and that the true joy, fun, and happiness that comes from the real Jesus in your heart leads you daily to find ways to help others also be safe, and warm, and filled.

Have some fun and give gifts this year, sure! But mostly BE the gift that God has made of you to the people around you. Anything else? It's just not Christian.

This article written by Lynne at You can contact Lynne at

Thursday, December 15, 2011

5,000 demons: 0. Jesus: 1

I'm posting a little early this week, as I'll be in an all-day training tomorrow. But we're still going through the chronological Gospels, taking a look at who the Bible says Jesus is, outside the ways we're traditionally taught to understand Him by "Good Religious People".

As always, you can find all our previous posts in this series, going through the Gospels chronologically to find the real Jesus, here.

And as always you'll find the scriptures for today are here.
(Note that you can change the human-translation version on this scripture page, as suits you. I have NO theological or other tie to the online-bible site I use for this blog – it just lists many human translations to choose from, including the NASB, KJV, The Message, and the NRSV, which are the ones mentioned by those I chat and email with.)

We're looking at another famous story from the Gospels this week: Jesus healing the man possessed by a "Legion" of demons.

As usual, there's a lot going on in this story! And to get the full understanding, we have to see the story the way the original ancient-hearers would have, or we can miss important points (and that's true of the whole Bible, of course). Why is that so important? Well, imagine someone 2,000 years from now reading an ancient text from the year 2011 that talked about the "Golden Arches". How far off in understanding would they end up if they didn't know what (most of us today) know: the "Golden Arches" mean a popular fast food restaurant chain?
  • Have you understood yet how absolutely necessary it is to understand the Bible as the original writers and hearers would have, or risk getting a wrong meaning from it? How has not understanding the Bible as the original writers and hearers would have steered you wrong in your past?

So, Jesus and His disciples have entered a region where there are a lot of Gentiles (non-Jews). We can tell that because these people were raising pigs – an animal abhorrent to Jewish religious law. They met a man (or two men, if you go by what Matthew remembered) who showed all the classic ancient signs of being controlled by a demon:
  • He lived in a tomb – which the Jews would have thought made him beyond religiously unclean 
  • He couldn't be bound, but seemed to have an unnatural strength, able to break even chains and leg irons used to subdue him 
  • He ran night and day through the cemetery, howling and cutting himself 
  • He accosted anyone and everyone who tried to pass that way 
  • He refused to wear clothes

Scary dude! Today, a guy acting like that would be hauled off to a psych ward and heavily medicated (probably never to emerge), or simply shot if he ran up to the police like that. But Jesus had a different way to handle him. Jesus went right to the source of the problem: He confronted the demons inside him.
  • Do you believe that some or all of people who act like this today are demon-possessed? How does that affect what you might do for them? 
  • Have you been so much in torment and pain that you acted "crazy" in one way or another? If Jesus could heal this guy of this kind of hell-on-earth, do you imagine He could heal yours?

Note that the demons inside this guy knew exactly who Jesus was, but they couldn't figure out why He was there. They apparently expected not to see Jesus until The End, when all demons will be cast into the torment they've chosen to deserve – but not now, in the middle of Gerasenes. Next time someone tries to convince you demons see-all and know-all, remember that!
  • Has your religious background, programs you watch, etc., convinced you that demons are all-knowing and able to do anything they want? How has that wrong-teaching affected your life and sense of God's power in your life?

Jesus asked the guy what his name was. Ancient people in those days believed that knowing a demon's name gave you power over it. Apparently the demons thought so too, because they tried to outsmart Jesus by just giving Him like the clever nickname they've come up with for themselves: "Legion". The listeners back then would have known "legion" meant a division of between 3,000 and 6,000 oppressor-soldiers. Something deadly, overpowering, and terrifying, in other words. Jesus isn't impressed, though.Despite their attempt to outmaneuver or intimidate Jesus, He simply tells them to get out. They beg to go into a nearby herd of pigs, and Jesus lets them. We read then that the pigs drowned in the lake. It's quite possible the demons were being like people are sometimes, destroying something to "get back at" an authority figure that's made them do something they don't want to do.
  • Since Jesus didn't need to know the demons' names to have power over them (obviously), do you think it's possible He asked just so people would understand how bad this problem really was (meaning, several thousand demons infesting this guy, and not just one)? How might this have all looked different if those watching the scene didn't know? 
  • People often feel sorry for the pigs, and indeed, they got a raw deal! But knowing Jesus' character, and how He said that God keeps track of even every little bird in the world, was it likely Jesus or the demons who were responsible for the pigs' death?

Now, the Jews following along would have been incredibly impressed at what Jesus had just done, tossing out several thousand demons with a single command and with total control. But the non-Jews of that place and time, who wouldn't have understand what Jesus had done as a "miracle" but as the act of a "sorcerer", told Him to shove off. They were amazed that He'd healed this maniac that had been such a pain to them for so long – but the loss of the pigs and the healing of the demon-possessed guy was just too much for their brains to take in.
  • We see people even today who can look a miracle right in the eye – and still absolutely reject any hand of God in it. I've certainly done that at times in my life. Have you, as well? Why do you think we do that? What's stopping us from dropping that and just taking in God's good work in the world, as we run into it?

The guy who'd been healed "got it", though. He begged to go with Jesus. Jesus instead made him another evangelist to the Gentiles. He told him to go be a witness to his people of God's power and kindness. And the man went far and wide in his area to do just that. Another "reject" made into one of God's greatest ambassadors to the world!
  • If this guy could be so spiritually filthy thousands of demons could live inside him, yet still be cleansed and healed by God, what does that say about what God can do to cleanse and heal us? 
  • What should be our response to God's healing and freeing action in our lives?
See you next week!
This article written by Lynne at You can contact Lynne at

Friday, December 9, 2011

Best of / Q: “But aren’t Gay people immoral – just because they’re Gay?”

I'm under the weather this week, and am resting from just about everything - including getting a blog post out.

I will return next week with a continuation of our Gospel series on who Jesus really is, when we consider Him outside the box Good Religious People have put Him in.

Until then, here's another popular past post, shared here by your suggestions.

Q: “But aren’t Gay people immoral – just because they’re Gay?”

Take care until next week!

This article written by Lynne at You can contact Lynne at

Friday, December 2, 2011

Big storms in life: 0. Jesus: 1

When we begin to understand that the bible itself says that those who most loudly call themselves "The Church" aren't actually Jesus' church, who is Jesus really? That's the question we're still answering in our (chronological) study of what Jesus did and said – and what He didn't do and say.

As always, you can find all our previous posts in this series, going through the Gospels chronologically to find the real Jesus, here.

And as always you'll find the scriptures for today are here. (Note that you can change the human-translation version on this scripture page, as suits you. I have NO theological or other tie to the online-bible site I use for this blog – it just lists many human translations to choose from, including the NASB, KJV, The Message, and the NRSV, which are the ones mentioned by those I chat and email with.)

Today, the scripture talks about when Jesus calmed a storm
. Apparently it was evening or late evening, and they all decided to travel across the huge lake. Jesus was tired and fell asleep in the boat, once they were underway.

A huge storm came up – probably fast and furious, as storms on that lake did and still do – and was about to swamp the boat. Everyone was terrified for their lives – except Jesus, who still slept in the boat. Finally, they decided to wake Him up and point out to Him what they thought He was missing: "Hey, man, don't you care we're all about to die???"

Jesus first act was to tell the storm to knock it off – and it did. Just quieted right down.

His second act was to tell the disciples to knock off being afraid. Their fear, He told them, indicated a lack of faith.

The Bible tells us that disciples were stunned. Who in the world was this guy that even the natural world obeyed Him?

There's a lot going on in this little story. What kinds of things do you note? Here's what I see:
  • That Jesus was both God and a human being is demonstrated in this story. He was able to command the forces of nature, but He also got tired and needed to sleep. God, who is a Spirit, doesn't need to sleep. But when God took on human form to be among us, He took on all the needs and frailties that our human bodies endure, as well. What does that mean for your own needs and frailties? Can you imagine that God doesn't understand them all?
  • When bad or scary things happen, it might just be because that's how the natural world functions (until Jesus comes again, that is). Nothing in the Bible says that there was any purpose or big meaning to this storm. It just came up, as hundreds of storms came up every year on that lake. Those who like to claim that God is behind such things as Hurricane Katrina to "punish" the people they don't like, are, as the lawyers would say, "assuming facts not in evidence" (they also make a mockery of themselves, when such natural calamities strike their own communities, but they don't then say God is punishing them!) Have you assumed that some bad or scary event was God sending you or someone else punishment or a "message"? How could you realistically determine when He really is, and when something is just a natural event or function of this world?  
  • The disciples couldn't sleep through the storm because they had no faith – which meant they didn't really trust that God was taking care of them always, and wouldn't let them die until it was ok in His plan for that to happen. Jesus knew God's plan, and knew it wasn't His time to die, so He slept like a baby, even with a terrible, gut-wrenching storm threatening to send them all to the bottom of the lake. The disciples assumed they were being realistic about what was going on, but in truth, it was Jesus who was actually being realistic. Are you realistic in your own life, regarding the time of your death? Are you putting your faith / trust in God's plan and your part in it? Or are you still unrealistically assuming that you can save yourself by fearful struggling? 
  • Imagine how absolutely stunned the disciples must have been, when Jesus stood up and told the storm to quit and it instantly did. Imagine witnessing that kind of Almighty Power that could alter the physics of the natural world with a word! Can you close your eyes and imagine yourself in that boat, fearing the storm, and then perhaps even more fearing the Man who could make that storm disappear in a heartbeat? Imagine yourself that protected, even when you have little faith, even when you have garbage for true understanding, just because you stick with Jesus. Now, know that you ARE that protected, even right now!

Take care until next week!
This article written by Lynne at You can contact Lynne at

Friday, November 25, 2011

Just how DOES God act in the world?

We're still in our (chronological) study of the real Jesus of the Gospels, which we're finding is far outside how He's always portrayed by the Good Religious People of the world and their "Church".

Today, Jesus talks about how God works in the world, but also how we hit or miss the mark in our search for a relationship with God, and – just like we saw last week – He delivers His message in parables.

As always, you can find all our previous posts in this series, going through the Gospels chronologically to find the real Jesus, here.

And as always you'll find the scriptures for today are here. (Note that you can change the human-translation version on this scripture page, as suits you. I have NO theological or other tie to the online-bible site I use for this blog – it just lists many human translations to choose from, including the NASB, KJV, The Message, and the NRSV, which are the ones mentioned by those I chat and email with.)

First, Jesus tells the parable of the mustard seed. I'll only quickly note that the scholars and other "Big Thinkers" of the world have long debated over this tiny mustard seed Jesus referred to, pointing out that mustard seed was not the smallest seed known to Jesus' listeners, and the mustard plant – even when it reached its biggest height of about ten feet – was never big enough to be called a tree or for (most) birds to perch in it.

Such big-thinker-ism is a good example of why relying only on one's intellectual resources to understand God – and therefore falling into literalism and what we can measure and deduce – means a big, fat failure. It's an example of why we shouldn't be pegging our salvation on what the smart people of the world can figure out, because they too often get so tangled up in "explaining" things that they miss the whole point of the message. They're like people who hear, "It's as hot as the sun in here!", but because they're too busy arguing and preaching and lording over what their thermometers find and under what circumstances anything on earth could truly be as hot as the sun and so on and so forth – they burn up in the fire everyone else fled.

This does NOT mean: "God doesn't mean for you to use your brains." Obviously, He does. But part of using our brains is figuring out when a message or point is being made with what's called hyperbole, or exaggerating for effect. That's certainly a story technique that Jesus uses sometimes, and it's one He uses here.

The second thing to realize as we go through this and other parables, is that we have the benefit of "seeing the answers", because we can read even what the disciples had to have explained to them later. But when Jesus was speaking these parables, no one had a "cheat sheet" called the Bible, and so people then had to rely on how much of God's Spirit they had in their hearts to help them understand what Jesus was showing them. That means many people – Good Religious People who did every Religious thing they knew to go – never understood a word Jesus had said. To them, even though they counted themselves as God's People, Jesus might as well of been speaking on gibberish: they never "got it", because they never "got" Jesus.

However, the fact that we can claim to "get" what Jesus' point was in these parables because we know what these parables mean doesn't mean we actually "get it" any more than most people 2,000 years ago did. As we've said, WE have the "cheat sheet". So we are actually in more danger of never "getting it" than the Good Religious People Jesus was originally speaking to, because we can know the words intellectually, but not spiritually, as measured in our lives. In that case, we're like people in an algebra class, who, when test day come assume we've learned all there is to know from it – but who have only memorized the answer sheet for the final, and therefore can't actually do algebra at all.

Once again, what matters to Jesus isn't what we can show with our mouths and what we can memorize and even teach others, but what we can live with our hearts and minds and spirits.
  • The people listening to Jesus heard His words – but only a tiny, tiny few ever understood His point. yet these were highly religious people, well-schooled in God's rules and ways. How dangerous is it to just assume that, because we go to church to hear the Bible preached, we are getting Jesus' point? 
  • It doesn't take a Bible scholar to realize that the vast majority of those who call themselves "Christian" don't even come close to living like Jesus (though they're really good at living like what they call "Christian"). Even God-rejecters can see that. In what ways do you call yourself "Christian", but have actually only memorized the Bible answer-sheet and not really learned Jesus' lessons? Are you ready to turn away from your "answer sheet Christianity"?

Ok – so what is Jesus talking about with the parable of the mustard seed? He tells us that the kingdom of heaven – God's way, in other words – is like a tiny, tiny thing that grows unexpectedly, astoundingly, even "abnormally", huge. So huge, in fact, that even those not expected to find shelter in it can and do.

Another parable. Jesus says God's way is like yeast – another tiny, tiny thing – that gets mixed all through everything, so that in time it's everywhere.
  • God starts with a lot of tiny things, and then grows or mixes them everywhere. He started with one little human being, and grew us into billions. He started with one Man from a tiny, backwater part of the world, and mixed that Man's message all through the world. Is God planting something tiny in your life, working to grow that something all through who you are so that you also become a resource for others to shelter in?

Then we come to Jesus' parable of the weeds – a parable that we should find great comfort in, when we wonder why God allows evil and evil people in the world. Through this parable, Jesus tells us that God "planted" good, but that the devil came along later and planted bad among God's good. But if God were to rip out the bad people from among us now, others who are good might be destroyed also – something He won't allow. Instead, He tells us, both good and bad people will inhabit the world – until, that is, Jesus comes again to sort us out for good.
  • There are many people – either because they've been turned off of Jesus because of the crappy example of "Christian" Good Religious People, or simply because their hearts haven't opened to God yet – who would count even right now as "bad" people. Yet because God hasn't chosen to "harvest" yet, they aren't sent off to hell with the people who simply will always reject God because they love evil. Have you in your own life been a "bad" person that God has allowed to stay mixed in with the good people until you could heal into the good person God created you to be? 
  • Does this give you comfort, understanding that God is still in control, His plan hasn't "failed", and He still cares deeply for us, even when our lives are impacted by the "bad" people of the world? Are there others you could share this comfort-message with in your life, today?
  • Jesus speaks more than anyone else in the Bible about the reality of hell as a place where good-rejecters end up. But He also speaks (as do many others in the Old and New Testaments) about God's continued attempts to save people from hell by inviting them to the real good they can only achieve through God. How should knowing this affect our lives? How does it currently affect your own life?

Jesus said God's way is like a buyer of fine goods who's seeking for something really special. When he finds it, he gives up everything he has to buy it.
  • The buyer could be us. Have you discovered in the Gospel THE treasure you've been searching for? Have you given up everything to be part of it? 
  • The buyer could be God. Have you considered that Jesus searches everywhere for you, and that He gave up everything to make you part of His People?

Jesus said God's way catches up everyone – every kind of person there is – and in the end the angels separate the good from the bad, gathering up the good to keep, and tossing the bad into hell.
  • Jesus said God chooses good people over bad – not straight over Gay, or white over Black, or male over female, or rich over poor. What do you imagine a heaven full of God's people will look like? Does it look partly like you?

See you next week, when we'll take a look at how God's supernatural power can act in the world, and what that means for our lives today.

This article written by Lynne at You can contact Lynne at

Friday, November 18, 2011

Who's condemned by the Parable of the Sower?

Ok – back on track with our (chronological) Gospel study. Sorry to have missed everyone last week! Just too much to do, and got way too far behind, and way too exhausted trying to keep up :-) Times like that are always a reminder to me that God worked the need for rest and downtime into Creation, as well – and we only suffer for it when we don't go along with His plan for the world, OR for our bodies.

In any event, we are indeed continuing through the Gospels, specifically to discover who Jesus really was and is, outside how we've been taught for centuries to view and understand Him by what most loudly calls itself "The Church".

As always, you can find all our previous posts in this series, going through the Gospels chronologically to find the real Jesus, here

And as always you'll find the scriptures for today are here. (Note that you can change the human-translation version on this scripture page, as suits you. I have NO theological or other tie to the online-bible site I use for this blog – it just lists many human translations to choose from, including the NASB, KJV, The Message, and the NRSV, which are the ones mentioned by those I chat and email with.)

Today's scripture passage covers a well-known parable: "the parable of the sower":

A farmer goes out sowing seed like all farmers did back then, and like non-industrial farmers do even today: walking along and tossing out handfuls of seed along his/her path. But different things happen to different seeds, depending on the environment they land in. Jesus wants us to understand why different things happen to people's faith (or lack thereof), depending on the spiritual environment we're in. He gives us four groups to consider.

Group 1: All the folks who hear God's Good News – but really, they couldn't care less. Here's a today's-world example. It doesn't matter how often I see advertisements or hear friend recommendations about how great western movies are – I simply don't give a hoot about westerns. So when I hear about them, it just goes in one ear and out the other. I might as well have not heard the western-movie information at all, because I'm just not interested in even knowing that western movies even exist, much less in learning more about them or going to see one. That's how these folks feel about the Gospel: "Don't bother me – I'm busy with more important things!"

Group 2: The people who hear the Good News – and they love it! Love it, that is, until someone makes fun of or hurts them for being a Jesus-follower, or until some other kind of hard time comes. Then, because their faith has no real root, it just dies.

Group 3: Those who also hear the Good News, and also love it – at first. But then their faith gets choked out by what the world has to offer and the crapola it makes us deal with. Note that Jesus doesn't say they become nonbelievers at that point, but that they then wither and fail to mature, or remain unfruitful (meaning, they don't produce what God wants).

Group 4: Those with a noble and good heart who not only hear the Good News, but then grow in and from it, sticking with it no matter what happens, and thereby produce God-plan results God's interested in.
  • Usually the first thing people do when they hear this parable is ask themselves which group they fall in. So – which group do you fall in, today? Have you been in different groups at different times in your life? Is it possible you could shift to a different group in your future, if something does or doesn't happen? 
  • At what point do you believe Christians should stop expending evangelism energies on people in Group 1? How should we decide who falls into a Group 1? DO we get to decide who's in Group 1 and who's not, since God tells us not to judge and that only He knows people's real hearts? 
  • "Christians" often "assign" certain kinds of people they don't like to Group 1, as if simply being Gay, or divorced, or pagan, or registered Democrat/Republican, or whatever means one will never come to know or want Jesus. What would you call an attitude that believes "Not being like me" is the same as "Forever rejecting Jesus"? What do you imagine God thinks of such attitudes? 
  • Many of us could count ourselves in Group 2 at various times in our lives, until we get a firm grip on the real Gospel. When we're convinced that the shallow spirituality of "Church Christianity" is the Gospel, then, of course, when we need the deep roots of (real) Jesus to sustain and ground us through hard spiritual times we just don't have it. Have you had times of shallow spirituality that left you defenseless against religious or world attacks on your faith? What helped you move out of the "rocky soil"? 
  • Though they never see it, almost all those who call themselves "Christians" are actually not in Group 4, but in Group 3. They stay Bible-babies most/all of their lives, because they are part of "church" communities that make worrying and hoarding money and other wealth, enjoying nice houses and cars, wearing their religious clothes and titles, prettying up their "church" buildings, and so on all part of what they believe is "normal" "faith". But a life in Jesus has nothing to do with those things – even when the "pastor", "priest", or "pope" assures us it can and does. Just like Jesus said we can't have God's stuff in our heart AND money's stuff in our heart, we can't have God's stuff in our heart AND world's stuff in our heart. Have you been taught that God's way includes money's or the world's way, in your contacts with the immature "Christians" who dominate "tradition", "seminaries", "churches", and so on? Have you considered how much it blocks you from true maturity in Jesus Christ? 
  • Group 4, of course, is where we want to be. Jesus tells us that people who belong to Group 4 got there – how? By (1) having a noble and good heart (unlike the people in Group 1), and so not being already stuck in evil and refusing to get out, and (2) hearing THE Good News, which means the real Good News of Jesus Christ, and not just the false Sounds-Good News of Church Jesus (unlike Group 3), and (3) keep the real deal even when things get really ugly (unlike the people in Group 2) -- and, because they have all three, therefore are able to produce abundantly what God actually planted them to produce. Has anything moved you around in your life, between groups? What has kept, or keeps you even now, from moving into Group 4 and accomplishing the things God's planned out for you to do? 
  • Did you notice here that Jesus only talked about people who'd actually heard the Gospel? Notice He never says that people who truly haven't heard it aren't condemned. Who today really, truly, could be said to have never heard the Gospel? Many today have heard A gospel - but not the real Gospel. If they have a good heart but angrily reject God because they haven't yet understood that He has nothing to do with the false gospel, do you think God condemns them? Do you think they could count as among those who truly haven't heard the Gospel yet?

There's another question in all this, though – a question about why Jesus used parables like this in the first place. Why be so cryptic? Didn't Jesus want everyone to hear and be saved?

Here's where we can get confused, if it hurts our hearts to imagine that anyone has to go to hell or not be saved. We know God is love, and we know God wants to save everyone – the Bible itself tells us that. However, the Bible also says (and Jesus along with it) that some people themselves choose not to be saved. They prefer things other than God, want to walk a path that doesn't lead to God, and they won't be turned from it. This isn't just meaning those who understand themselves as God-rejecters. No, this hell-bound group also includes those who imagine themselves God's Finest, but who are in fact ALSO God-rejecters because they simply create and live a version of "God" and "God's" way that pleases them more, and then expect all the same (if not better) rewards from God as those who actually accept Him.

Jesus told His disciples that He was sharing God's real kingdom information with them, and not with the Group 3 / Good Religious People, because the disciples' interest and want of God was real, not faked – and that just wasn't true of the Group 3 / Good Religious People.

In fact, the Group 3 / Good Religious People had never been truly interested in God and His way – ever. Jesus quotes an Old Testament condemnation of Good Religious People when God said they would never get it because they refused to get it, and that therefore God was going to let them hang with the rope they insisted on putting around their own necks. God could heal them, but He wouldn't, because they refused Him and what He could do.
  • "Christians" today – especially "conservative" ones – LOVE LOVE LOVE to consider just how much more "godly" they are than others who aren't like them. They claim to follow, represent, and work for Jesus Christ – and yet they don't do what He said, live like He said, or accomplish the things He said. And if anything points out how far they actually are from the real Jesus Christ? They absolutely refuse to even consider it. In fact, the farther they are from the real Jesus, the harsher they become towards those who might challenge their smiling, blind, hard-heartedness. Since these folks are among those most hell-bound for their Jesus-rejection, does it make more sense why – even though they cause HUGE amounts of suffering in bearing false witness against Gay people, re-writing the Gospel so it "justifies" war, and so on – we should be praying for them earnestly? 
  • When we finally begin to see how much Good Religious People actually reject the true God – and why He therefore has to reject them – we start to stand on a safer spiritual foundation. The Bible tells us that there are anti-Christs and False Prophets all over (and will be big ones, in the end), and though Good Religious People always try to point the finger at others, they themselves uniquely qualify as being both anti-Jesus, and, claiming to speak for God but actually speaking falsely. Do you continue to listen to or follow along with Good Religious People? How can you start moving yourself away from them, wasting less of your spiritual energies on them, as well as keeping your understanding of Jesus safe from them?
See you next week!
This article written by Lynne at You can contact Lynne at

Friday, November 11, 2011

Best of No Junk Just Jesus / Can Gay people really become straight?

I'm unable to make my usual post this week (nothing's wrong - life just came up with so many extra things for me to do this week I haven't had time to write out the post), but I will be back next week when we take a look at what Jesus meant in the Parable of the Sower.

Someone suggested for these times that I send out a link to one of the most popular past posts here, since not everyone has been able to read them all. Good idea! Thanks! :-)

So here it is: THE most popular post to-date (based on number of views), answering the question sent me: "Can Gay people really become straight?"

See you next week, for sure!
 This article written by Lynne at You can contact Lynne at

Friday, November 4, 2011

Who is (really) part of God's family?

Yep! We're still going through the (chronological) Gospels, seeking and therefore finding the real Jesus – the one that not only doesn't require any church or "clergy" or "denomination" to know, but who can't be known if those are the spiritual "tools" we're using to discover and follow him.

As always, you can find all our previous posts in this series, going through the Gospels chronologically to find the real Jesus, here.

And as always you'll find the scriptures for today are here. (Note that you can change the human-translation version on this scripture page as suits you. I default to the NASB to get the more literal translation, but do use the one that works for you. Note also that I have no theological or other tie to the bible site I list above – it's just one that lists the NASB, KJV, and The Message, and most folks I've corresponded with seem to use one of those. However, another brother likes the NRSV human translation, and says you can find that at Send me yours, if it isn't already listed!)

Today we're looking at: Who does God (not "church", not "denomination", not "minister") define as His family, and what are the requirements for being part of it?

In the very short scripture for today, we see Jesus is once again surrounded by a big, pressing crowd of people. So big, so pressing, in fact, that when His biological mother and brothers (and possibly His sisters, as well) show up, they can't push through to get to Him.

In that culture 2,000 years ago, so fiercely obsessed with biological ties and the unending power of the biological family over the lives of those in it, of course people in the crowd passed on the message to Jesus that His mother and brothers were here and trying to get through to Him. And of course the people in this crowd (and His biological family) would have had no doubt whatsoever that Jesus would have immediately dropped everything else to tend to His biological family. In Israel 2,000 years ago, to not obey and fail to put one's family before everything else meant risking one's place in the family – and that could cost someone a huge economic and social downfall (that's why women who were divorced by their husbands were at such risk, and why Jesus spoke against such divorce).

Yet, once again we see Jesus stunning the crowd with His very different response. Jesus, we see, redefined who He belonged to, and who belonged to Him. He changed that relationship from something defined by people, to something defined by God. "MY family," He said, "is made up of those who do what God wants."

In our culture, we can't even imagine how that would have shocked the people who heard it. Their mouths would have dropped open, their faces curled up in offense, their tongues wagged in agitation. Obviously (to them), once again He was being a "bad" guy!

But first of all,was Jesus poo-pooing His biological family? In some way, yes, He was. He stayed connected with the crowd of seekers, and didn't do anything that made those who felt they had the biggest ties to and hold on Him any special treatment whatsoever. Does that mean His biological family had no place with Him whatsoever? Oh, no – they had the same place in God's family everyone else does. His biological family was just also invited to be part of the seeker-crowd, no better, no worse, no more or less special than everyone else who was seeking after Jesus and doing what God says to do.

This shines a big God-spotlight on those "Christian" practices that hold some "Christians" as "higher", "more special", "more holy", "more worthy", etc than others.
The Roman "church" and its centuries of elevating human beings in "saint" worship – especially of Jesus' biological mother – is an absolute rejection of how God's defined our relationship with our fellow believers (both present and past). But just as big a God-rejection is the Protestant and Roman "church" elevation of some human beings as "clergy" (the pastor/priest/pope syndrome). Jesus didn't give even the tiniest hint of special treatment even to the woman who gave birth to Him. Yet Good Religious People just LOVE LOVE LOVE to give special education, special seating, special housing, special deference, special attention, special titles, special clothing, and innumerable other special honors to those who are truly no more than anyone else (and who, in fact, make themselves Jesus-rejecters and LESS than any in God's true family, because of their acceptance and love of being "special").

Once again, Good Religious People – for all their centuries of self-congratulation regarding their "special" place with God, and with all their centuries of "Christian" scholarship, and with all the years and years each of their "clergy" people spend memorizing and regurgitating all that "scholarship" – prove by their lives that they have once again completely missed Jesus' point. Once again, they have absolutely nothing of real-God value to share with anyone!

Of course, there's nothing wrong with looking up to someone who's a (real) elder in the faith, or gaining wisdom and strength from someone who's going through trials we relate to or are spiritually impressed or humbled by. But there is a problem with thinking we find those things within Good Religious Churches or Good Religious Denominations and their centuries of saint and clergy worship, so that they become somehow "more holy" or "closer to God" or someone we should follow with little/no question. Then we're putting human beings in the place only Jesus is supposed to occupy.

Does your heart crave looking up to and venerating a human being? Then look up to and venerate the Only One worthy of your praise and respect: Jesus!
  • Many Good Religious Christians today are almost as obsessed with their biological families today as were Good Religious Jews of 2,000 years ago. They spout off all the time about being "Family" oriented, don't they? They make it seem as if the biological family is THE most important thing about being a "Good Christian". Does that even make sense, when we look over Jesus' life and His relationships? 
  • While Jesus never put human family above God's (real) family, He also never told us to reject or not take care of those of our biological families, either. What does this say to you about the various priorities you have in your day-to-day life? How can you satisfy the requirements of being a real part of God's family, and also taking care of those who depend on you, as well?
  • What human beings have you elevated above yourself or others in your life? Did you learn to do so from "church" or other Good Religious Sources? What prevents you from putting only Jesus in that high place? 
  • When we try to be part of God's Family by belonging to some church, we misunderstand Jesus' whole point just as badly as the Good Religious People do – and that's the most spiritually dangerous position we can be in! Have there been times in your life (perhaps now?) when you've missed Jesus' point, as well? Who taught you the wrong way? Are you letting Jesus teach you His right way? 
  • We've already seen that Jesus says no one can accomplish good through evil – and putting oneself or someone else in Jesus' place IS evil. Yet Good Religious People continue to believe fiercely that elevating some of their people above others (making them "clergy") is a good, Godly thing – even though it puts them on the level only Jesus is supposed to be at, among His (real) people. Were you infected with "clergy"-worship at some time in your life? Did you at some point decide to step up into being "clergy" yourself? Are you ready to repent of those blasphemies? 
  • It's not surprising that it only took three years for Good Religious People to murder Jesus (it's probably more surprising it took them that long!). Every way He lived, and everything He said, was a constant irritation and rebuttal to the true-God rejecting way Good Religious People lived. He refused to elevate them to the spiritual heights they imagined they inhabited. He never stop illuminating just how empty of God and how full of themselves and demons they actually were. And so they tortured and killed Him. After Jesus went back up into heaven, though, His rejection of them remained – but He was no longer around to murder. Is it hard to figure out why Jesus' TRUE message, then, would be "murdered" by the Good Religious People over the next twenty centuries? Is it hard to imagine why Good Religious People work so hard to re-write (through "translation" and interpretation) the parts of the Bible they want to say something different than what God intended? Is it even surprising that they would ignore, fight against, and bury the hugely simple and Good-Religious-People-Condemning message of Jesus Christ under their centuries of "theology", "scholarship", "tradition", "hierarchy", and "clergyhood", and then train people through their "seminaries" and "Bible studies" to memorize and push forward the complex mass of sewage they call "Christianity"?

A final thought for today.

If you've been following along with our Gospel study, have you noticed how often the message is that human ways of being religious are not only completely opposite how God wants us to be, but are actually dangerous, because they entice us to believe we've got the right answer (after all, it's the same answer the "educated" people believe, and it's the same answer Good Religious People have believed for centuries!), when actually we couldn't be more wrong?

There's a reason we're given the Bible – but just reading it, just absorbing the "official" Good Religious People message of what it means, and just accepting the translations and interpretations "The Church" gives us, means we're following sinful God-rejecters, and conforming our lives to what pleases the sinful nature of human beings, and not what pleases God.
  • Today, come up with three ways you can squeeze the Good Religious Slime from your and others' eyes, so that the real Jesus and His real saving message becomes visible.
  • Repent of your desires for those pretty Good Religious ways of being "Christian" or part of the "Christian Church", and ask Jesus to help you and your heart to find and live in the true beauty of a life in Jesus Christ.
  • Look around and see what you can do to join or create fellowship that doesn't settle for "church" buildings and "clergy" and "tithes", but instead reaches out for the true treasure Jesus came to make sure we can have – if we'll only choose it.

Take care until next week! :-)
This article written by Lynne at You can contact Lynne at

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's safer being a sinner than a Good Religious Person

That sinner, the Queen of Sheba, getting God-wisdom
We're continuing today through the (chronological) Gospels – taking a good look at who Jesus really was and is, outside of the way He's always been portrayed by what most loudly calls itself "Christianity".

Last week, we started a look at (among other things) demons in the New Testament. Today, we'll look at a few more, and talk about the demonic in relation to Good Religious People.

As always, you can find all our previous posts in this series, going through the Gospels chronologically to find the real Jesus, here.

And as always you'll find the scriptures for today are here. (Note that you can change the human-translation version on this scripture page as suits you. I default to the NASB to get the more literal translation, but do use the one that works for you. Note also that I have no theological or other tie to the bible site I list above – it's just one that lists the NASB, KJV, and The Message, and most folks I've corresponded with seem to use one of those. However, another brother says you can also get the NRSV human translation at If you prefer yet another human-translation that isn't on one of these other pages, do send it to me. I will also list it here).

Today we see that "demon-possessed" people were brought to Jesus. What does that mean, "demon-possessed"? Does the Bible or science tell us the real truth about demons? Or is there perhaps truth in both – or neither?

To modern human philosophies, which discount everything that doesn't fit within a certain narrow way of testing and thinking about the biological and psychological world, demons just don't exist. The modern cultures with the most power in the western world today teach us that "demons" are only psychological or mythological mind-creations of "backward", or psychologically disturbed, or "overly-religious" people (who are often presumed by the most insistent believers in modern philosophies to be "backward" and "psychologically disturbed", as well).

Problem is, being made of fallible human beings just like religion is made up of fallible human beings, what most loudly calls itself "Science" has degenerated in the last century into a mess no more logical than "Religion". In fact (and to my great sorrow, since I have a lifelong love of real science), "Good Science People" today are really no different from "Good Religious People". Both:
  • Either don't make a study, or make a poor one, of those parts of their base wisdom-materials (world or Bible) they accept as "reality", and then
  • Either consciously or unconsciously decide what they will find, and then
  • Use their base wisdom materials to "prove" what they decided was the truth, and then
  • Refuse to think outside the tiny box they've invented for their minds.

This is true all over, in physics, biological sciences (including medicine), geology, and more – just as it's true in fundamentalist Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, and the "tweeners" like denominational Protestantism, emerging/emergent "churches", and so on. Why is it true? Because human beings are human beings, and without a lot of self-reflection and being willing to give up our self-focused crap, we naturally gravitate to ways of thinking and understanding that back up and "prove" our crap. There are people, both among those interested in science and in religion, who truly work to find the real thing beyond their own garbage – but they are few and far between, and in science just as in religion, they are ignored and trashed and even punished by the science/religion majority.

So what we’ve ended up with – in both "science" and "religion" realms – is a lot of exceptionally educated people who know crap. They're "educated idiots", heads full of years of documented study the majority conformity-culture says is "reality" – but what they've really done is just memorize a particular human philosophy, and then gone out into the world to help coat and re-coat reality with their philosophy.

So, what does all this have to do with demons? Well, the truth of the matter is, the Bible doesn't tell us a whole lot about demons, and almost all of what passes for religious "knowledge" about demons is simply human philosophy about demons – not demon-reality. Unfortunately, what most loudly calls itself "Science" today has nothing more to offer in helping us understand demons than "Religion" does, because in the slap-fight it started with its sibling "Religion" several centuries back, it decided that anything that Religion even talks about is automatically NOT REAL.

So we have two large, self-focused, domineering human philosophies, neither of them doing any real work to figure demons out based on the evidence that's there or might be there, telling us what to believe about demons. What a mess.

So all we "non-experts" can do is do our own work and decide for ourselves what we believe. And hopefully we do that in a way that isn't as full of our own crap! Several years ago I did discover a book that goes more specifically and only into what the Bible actually says and doesn't say about demons. Check it out if you're interested!
  • Have you made an actual study of what the Bible itself actually says and doesn't say about demons? Where do you get your understanding of who they are (or aren't) and what they can do (or can't do)? Does your understanding need updating or refining? 
  • If you decide demons don't really exist, or decide that they do exist, how does that change or set your understanding of the various forces at work in the world today? 

In our scriptures today we see that when Jesus healed someone who was demon-possessed and also had a physical ailment (like blindness), the physical ailment went away when the demon did. One of the important things to see here is the strong reaction this caused among those who were witnesses to it. The miracle-healing and throwing out of demons made them think, made them debate within and among themselves as individuals and as a collective people:

Is this God or God's power standing right here among us? Or is there something evil going on?

As we talked about last week, of course, Jesus reminds them that if evil was using evil to remove evil power, then evil would fall – and evil isn't that stupid. So here again is God visibly and powerfully using supernatural power in the world so that the people He told to look for these kinds of supernatural events to prove it was Him (and not some huckster pretending to be Him) with them would be able to recognize Him. We know, of course, that in the end very few of His Chosen People were even willing to recognize Him, even as He stood right there in front of them doing things no human or demonic power could ever do. Remember what John (the disciple/Gospel writer, not the Baptist) said? 
There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens everyone. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. [John 1:9-13]

Almost all of the Jews of the day believed that simply being Jewish made them one of God's people, as if nothing more was required of them than religious rituals and attendance. And believing so, their hearts and minds weren't willing to see the greatest miracle of all: God standing right in their midst. In the end, nearly all the Jews of that day rejected God, and so they made a mockery of believing they were "God's People". And who ended up really being God's People? John tells us: those Jews and non-Jews whose hearts and minds were willing to see and accept God as He lived among them. Suddenly, being one of God's People didn't require anything from the Old Testament Mosaic Law, and didn't require being of a certain people – it just required being willing.
  • We also have to ask today when we see miraculous or big spiritual things happening, "Is this God's power at work here, or is something evil going on?" Jesus and others in the Bible tell us to always question and test to make sure what we're following or seeing is truly from God, and not some evil fake. So the question itself is good. The Good Religious People back then just made it a reason to reject the real God because their fake-"God" suited them better. When in your life have you questioned whether something's really about God or not, for the right reasons? When in your life have you questioned like a Good Religious Person, and therefore done it for the wrong reasons? 
  • "Churches" and "denominations" today are rank with the insistence that we have to join up with them to be saved or one of God's People. It wasn't too long ago, in fact, when Good Religious People even had the power to torture and murder people who refused to submit to their version of "God" and being "God's People". Yet by filling their hearts and minds with their own version of "God" in the same way the Good Religious People 2,000 years ago did, they can't even recognize and accept the real One. Have you been guilty of this in the past? (I have!) Have you since recognized the error and sought healing and the true Jesus? 
  • The institutions and philosophies that Good Religious People create can be intensely addicting and absorbing, so that it can seem impossible to be free from the fear, guilt, and/or shame that keep us attached to them (physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually) even long after we've otherwise rejected them. One could even say that their complete possession of especially (but not only) those of us who were raised in their "reality" seems demonic, because of the dominating power they can have over us. Does Jesus need to heal you of any Good Religious Demons? Are you fully aware of the physical, psychological, and/or spiritual ailments you will also be free of, when Jesus drives the demon of religion out of you?

When Jesus confronted the Good Religious People in today's scripture, He told them something else very interesting – something He'd warned them about several times before, and would warn them about again, in other ways:

It's safer to be a repentant God-rejecter, than a Good Religious Person.

Why safer? Because the sincere repentance of even the evil pagans of Ninevah, and the sincere search for true-God-wisdom made by the idol-worshipping queen of the South, actually produced people able to recognize the true God and the need to live in His ways. This so much so that those who had been God-rejecters now had enough God-understanding to recognize and condemn the kind of false-God-connection the Good Religious People lived.

Good Religious People accused Jesus of being demon-possessed and demon-powered, yet who really was? Here again we see talk of demons – also called evil or unclean spirits – but this time in relationship to Good Religious People (go back and check today's scripture again, if you missed this context). Jesus says that giving ourselves a good spiritual housecleaning means nothing toward really making and keeping us spiritually clean. When we simply empty ourselves of evil (say, at a revival meeting, or during a church service, etc), but don't turn around and fill ourselves with God, then we stay religious – and Good Religious – but then end up even more evil than when we started.

Those of us not still trapped in this kind of Good Religious Trade-One-Devil-for-Seven Spirituality certainly can see this. We automatically curl our lip or step back defensively (physically, emotionally, financially, whatever) from those we find out are Big Christians or big churchgoers or big Bible-readers. Good Religious People like to pretend that people only reject them because they reject God, but in fact the Bible says that (many) people actually reject God because of Good Religious People.

Whether we are female, Gay, poor, a citizen of a weaker nation, or just an Average Joe on the street or in a workplace or family, we suffer under the huge amount of self-righteousness, self-centeredness, nation-worship, violence-worship, hate, condemnation, sexual and other kinds of abuse (of adults and children), Bible-twisting, clergy-elevation, and even just plain old lying, cheating, and stealing we see on a regular basis from Good Religious People (Christian and otherwise). And all of the evil ugliness we see in Good Religious People – whether 6,000 years ago, 2,000 years ago, 1,000 years ago, or today – is all part of what Jesus is describing here: religiously cleaning out one demon, but then ending up with seven demons. Starting out as a Level 1 Jerko, and ending up a Level 7 Smiling Ass. When we go the Good Religious Route, instead of the real Jesus route, our condition does go from bad to worse. It truly would have been better had we never become Good Religious People in the first place, but just gone from simple sinner to simple repentant sinner.
  • People decide to focus on a lot of different things in the Bible. For example, Good Religious Heterosexuals like to pretend that the Bible is mostly about God blessing and obsessing on what their sex organs can do. Good Religious Power Worshippers like to pretend the Bible is mostly about domination, violence, and acquisition at home, work, at war, etc. And so on. But one of the things that fills a good deal of the Bible, but is rarely talked about (or even seen) by Good Religious People, is the amount of effort God has put in to trying to get Good Religious People to be and do what they claim to be (His real followers, doing His real things) – and how nearly every time Good Religious People have absolutely refused to do anything but their own way. Oh, they turn around now and again, usually after a huge punishment takes away all their material goods and feel-good religious rituals. But then they go back – again, and again, and again – to doing things their own way. How has this happened within your own life? How much effort has God had to put into trying to get you to be His (real) follower, instead of a Good Religious Person? What can you do to stop getting in the way of His efforts?

See you next week, when we'll talk about who Jesus counts as His family, and who Jesus says "gets" His message and doesn't - and why.

This article written by Lynne at You can contact Lynne at

Friday, October 21, 2011

Have you committed the Unforgivable Sin?

Ok – on with our walk through the (chronological) Gospels, learning more and more about the real Jesus – the one painted and covered over by so many centuries of false "Christianity".

Today, we get to see a bit of what the Bible says about demons, and how Jesus handled them, but we'll also cover what's called the "Unforgivable" or "Unpardonable" sin.

As always, you can find all our previous posts in this series, going through the Gospels chronologically to find the real Jesus, here

And as always you'll find the scriptures for today are here. (Note that you can change the human-translation version on this scripture page as suits you. I default to the NASB to get the more literal translation, but do use the one that works for you. Note also that I have no theological or other tie to the bible site I list above – it's just one that lists the NASB, KJV, and The Message, and most folks I've corresponded with seem to use one of those. However, another brother says you can also get the NRSV human translation at If you prefer yet another human-translation that isn't on one of these other pages, do send it to me. I will also list it here).

Despite all our religious and secular culture "knows" about demons – who they are, how they act, the power they have or don't have, how they look, and so on – the Bible really says very little that gives us much detail beyond the kinds of damage they can do. In fact, most of what we or others "know" about demons has been completely manufactured by human beings – and ideas created from combining our imaginations with regional myths. So let's see a bit about demons, today (and there will be more in coming weeks, to be sure). What people of that place and time 2,000 years ago thought of them, and so on.

First in our scripture-read for today we see Jesus getting the same kind of treatment His followers often get even now, when they're living God's (real) way and not the Good Religious Way (or even the Great Scientific Way): Jesus was accused of being "crazy" by those who felt they knew Him and the "right" way best. And truly, we can see where they might be coming from. There were cults back then just as there are today, and they could be just as dangerous back then as the ones we see today. And imagine if your son or brother was suddenly thronged by huge crowds of people who believed he was capable of curing horrible illnesses just by a touch, and who hung on his every word as if it came from God Himself. Wouldn't you be a little worried?

Here's the thing, though. His family wasn't really seeing Who He was any more than the Good Religious People were. Who else should have already seen the God-spark in Him (even if just to see Him as a great prophet, if nothing more) than those who knew Him in all the daily life-details of family life? And yet they missed it. Assumed He must be crazy. His biological family hadn't really learned anything since they'd "lost" Him when he was a kid at the Temple and couldn't figure out why He would stay talking and debating with the scholars there. In fact, His family would remain among the most painfully ignorant of who He really was, and how pleased God was with Him, until His resurrection.
  • Have there been ways your family thinks you're "crazy", simply because you don't conform to all the ways they believe you should? Are your nonconforming ways part of God's (real) ways? How can you protect your godly nonconformity from those whose eyes aren't yet opened to the real Jesus yet? 
  • Jesus' biological family would also have wanted to protect Him from charges of being a fake teacher, which in that place and time could end in death if it went too far with the wrong crowd. What might have helped them open their eyes to His real existence as the Son of God? What might help you to more open your own eyes to who Jesus really is?

So, those who thought they knew Him best as family accused Jesus of being crazy. But those who weren't family had another charge for him: they accused Him of being demon-powered.
Back in those days, people so interested would often call on the power of a larger demon to overpower or drive out a smaller demon. That's what these people were accusing Jesus of doing. They were saying that He was possessed by Satan, and using the power of Satan to boss around lesser demons.

But is that even how the world of demonry works? And is this how good people can fight against evil?

Jesus says no. Evil is evil, and no one drives out evil by using evil. It would be like using water to dry something – the world just doesn't work like that.
  • Our human world is absolutely overrun by the idea that we can use evil to accomplish good. The big example today is our "good" use of the evils of war, with all the terror, murder, rape, child-killing, food and water destruction, and more that always are part of it to "spread democracy" or "liberate" people and so on. But we also create and participate in all kinds of "good" religious "devotion" that only massages our feel-good brain chemicals and makes us feel all righteous-y and Jesus-y without having to actually live the way Jesus Himself actually told us to live. What are some of the ways you have or continue to use or do evil things to do "good"? Have you considered that in those ways you are just doing the devil's work for him? 
  • What kinds of damage can you see being done by Good Religious People doing "good" in evil ways? Have you considered how false teachings about what the Bible says / doesn't say about Gay people, women, the poor, and so on are all evil being done in the name of "good"? How can you help heal the huge amount of this kind of damage done in "Jesus" Name to yourself and others?

Then Jesus tells the folks who are accusing Him of doing His good through the devil's power that they are on the verge of making themselves unforgivable. Lots of heartache has sprung up over the centuries over Jesus' assertion that it's possible to do something God will not actually forgive. But what is He actually talking about? What isn't forgivable?

First of all, we have to look at the whole context. The Bible tells us over and over again that God forgives all sins that we feel bad about AND turn away from. In this scripture, though, here are people who are so against admitting in their hearts who Jesus really is – so against it that they accuse Him of being demonic, to justify their refusal to see who He really is – that they are falling into the trap Paul talked about in Romans 1.

And what trap was that? It's refusing to let God's way into their hearts, so that finally God simply let them keep their own way in their hearts, and they suffered the penalty of having to live neck-deep in their own evil garbage.

Remember that God had already been at work in Jewish lives for many centuries now. He'd done miracles in their lives, even promised them He'd send them a great Savior – but the Bible tells us that again and again "His people" turned their backs on Him and trashed their relationship with Him, preferring their own crap to His shining glory. And here, finally, was God Himself, standing right in front of the people in this scripture, once again doing huge miracles to prove He was there – and they were STILL preferring to stay neck deep in their own crap rather than come to His truly good side. And they were making it even worse by "justifying" their love of their own crap by accusing God of only having power because the devil gave it to Him.

Jesus here is simply giving the same warning we get elsewhere in the Bible: if you let your heart get so hard that you refuse God's good way all the way to your end, God will punish you by letting you remain in your own evil way to rot to your heart's content.

That's the eternal sin: preferring human evil over God's good. That's what can't be forgiven, because the people committing it refuse the forgiveness. And when that happens, the Bible tells us, God will finally say, "Ok, have it your way – forever."
  • Some argue that God will ultimately save everyone, because God is love. Yet the Bible tells and shows us that while God's love does reach out to everyone, eventually, with those who just absolutely refuse to choose (real) good, He will just let them go their own way. And, unfortunately, our own human way leads to eternal hell. Have you had times in your life where you refused God or His goodness? If you've since felt badly about that, do you realize that means you have NOT committed the unforgivable sin? 
  • There are a lot of people who are angry with God today. Many Gay people, for example, have a lot of bitterness against God because they've not yet understood that He's not only not any happier with fake-"Christians" than they are, but that He not only predicted those fake-"Christians" would show up and cause all this hurt but also told us to prepare and defend ourselves from their "good" evil. What are some ways you can help yourself or others to realize that being angry at God because of a Good Religious Lie is not the same as outright rejection of the real, living God? What are some ways you can help yourself or others to heal this damage?

See you next week, when we'll see Jesus in action against demons!

This article written by Lynne at You can contact Lynne at

Friday, October 14, 2011

Did Jesus keep women "in their place"?

Today we're continuing our journey through the (chronological) Gospels, witnessing again and again how nearly completely opposite (the real) Jesus is from those who, through the last twenty centuries, have claimed to "represent" and "know" Him better than anyone else.

Today, we get a glimpse into what Jesus really thought about women.

As always, you can find all our previous posts in this series, going through the Gospels chronologically to find the real Jesus, here.

And as always you'll find the scriptures for today are here. (Note that you can change the human-translation version on this scripture page as suits you. I default to the NASB to get the more literal translation, but do use the one that works for you. Note also that I have no theological or other tie to the bible site I list above – it's just one that lists the NASB, KJV, and The Message, and most folks I've corresponded with seem to use one of those. However, another brother says you can also get the NRSV human translation at If you prefer yet another human-translation that isn't on one of these other pages, do send it to me. I will also list it here).

We've witnessed already that Jesus lived completely outside the expectations and demands of Good Religious People regarding people of different races, the poor, and people who aren't Good Religious People. Today we get to witness Jesus ALSO acting outside the expectations and demands Good Religious People had and have for women.

In today's scripture, we first see the woman who anointed Jesus' feet at the Good Religious Person's dinner party. Let's really set the scene, though, so we get the whole picture (and not just what Good Religious People since then have either ignored or twisted around to protect their own prejudices).

The party: In the ancient Jewish world, it "proved" or "improved" one's Good Religious Standing to be able to invite and get a popular teacher to come over for a big semi-public dinner. Imagine all the Good Religious People today, for example, who would strut like religious peacocks if they managed to have Billy Graham (or any of the other highly popular "Christian" television preachers or mega-"church" "pastors") over for a big banquet dinner that also included special local guests -- and even the "good" and "decent" neighbors, IF they behaved with appropriate deference to the Good Religious Atmosphere and hung back in the shadows, admiring what was happening without pretending to be so lofty as to actually be good enough to actively participate in it. I'm sure the atmosphere that night was absolutely choked with Good Religious "Virtue"!

The "seating" arrangements: The scripture tells us that they "reclined at table". That tells us that they weren't sitting in chairs, as we would eat, but rather laying on their sides on couches designed for this way of eating one's meal (see the drawing included in this post, to see what they did). These couches were only meant for the important people, of course, and they were always set up so that the recliners' heads would all be toward the center of the room where the table was, so they could talk to each other while they ate. This put the recliners' feet pointed out towards the walls of the room – and towards where all the "less worthy" people hung out.

The three "niceties" of being a good host in ancient Israel: It was expected back in that place and time that a host would either humbly wash his guest's feet or have a servant do it (if he was wealthy enough to avoid humility but still get "credit" for it). Life was dusty back then, and travel usually meant walking over dirt and rocky roads. Getting one's feet clean was a treat! It was also normal back then (just as it is today and through history in many cultures) for men to greet other men with a simple (completely non-sexual) kiss on the cheek – just as men in our modern, western culture greet each other with a handshake. Finally, in those dry, dusty times before modern shampoos and conditioners, it was considered a nice thing to provide oil for guests' scalps / hair.

So – here we have a big banquet dinner thrown by a local and well-off Good Religious Person who either admired Jesus or who simply wanted to partake of some of His popularity. At the dinner, while they laid on their dinner-couches, the host and his special guests would have eaten and discussed religious and other topics with the Guest of Honor, all while everyone else was required to stay back from the "honored" table and just listen quietly.

But then in comes the woman.

The scripture tells us she was a "sinner", meaning she was either a prostitute, or a woman otherwise living way outside what was considered "acceptable" by the majority culture she lived in. Knowing what it means to live in a small town/city and in a tight-knit, traditional community, we can know that ALL the locals would have known her, and known "what kind of woman" she was. Knowing also from the Bible and from our own history and experience that Good Religious People have never changed in over 6,000 years, we can just picture the scene among those in attendance as she dared enter the banquet room: the frowns, the shaking heads, the whispers, the indignant huffs, the murmured threats, the puffing up.

Then she did even worse:
  • She actually stood by the Guest of Honor – which meant she violated the dinner rule that said only the host and special guests could interact with the host and special guests ("How rude!"), and
  • She (a female) then touched the (male) Guest of Honor ("What a slut!"), and
  • She poured perfume she no doubt normally used for the benefit of her own sinful "paid guests" on the Guest of Honor ("How dare she lower Him to her level!"), and
  • She touched Him with her hair, which meant it was hanging loose instead of hidden under a cloth cover in the manner her human culture required of "decent" women ("A threat to all that's good and decent!").

I'm sure the moral outrage of the Good Religious People in the house that night was immeasurable, but the Bible only tells us the reaction of the banquet's host. Simon the Good Religious Person fell – as Good Religious People so often do – immediately into mumbled judgment, didn't he? Simon didn't speak out loud and ruin the atmosphere of his great party, but instead said to himself about Jesus, "This guy's obviously not REALLY a speaker for and knower of God, or he would have been able to see immediately what a whore this woman is so she wouldn't have tainted him." We can just imagine how Simon and his Good Religious People guests would have trashed Jesus' reputation after the party was over.

But Jesus confronted Simon with a learning-story, and then used it to (hopefully) open the Good Religious Person's eyes to how God was seeing this situation. Essentially, Jesus said:
Simon, you claim to honor Me with a dinner banquet – and yet you didn't give me any of the things this culture says a truly honored guest should get. Out of all the wealth and "righteousness" you have, you denied Me even a little water and a small towel to wash my hot, road-dirty feet. You denied me even a peck on the cheek to publicly demonstrate your acceptance of Me into your home. You denied me even a bit of common oil to soothe My body's exposure to the elements. So your "honoring" Me is half-done and false. 
Simon, you do live a low-sin religious life, and you do the Jewish religious things God requires for your sin-forgiveness, God forgives your sins. But you obviously only love God a little, and God knows it. 
But this woman – who, unlike you, has not even one bit of honorable status or wealth to 'share' with me – has honored Me above everything she is or has, has given the best of what she has to give. Simon, she washed My feet with the tears of her own sorrow and suffering, and used her own hair to dry them. Since I came in here she's not stopped publicly demonstrating her acceptance of Me into her heart, with her non-stop kissing of My feet. And she's given over her perfumed oil, one of the few valuable possessions she has and one of the 'tools' she must use each day to get the food and shelter she needs, loving 'wasting' it on My feet. 
Her honoring Me is extravagant and true. Simon, she does live a high-sin, non-religious life. Yet she obviously loves God hugely, and God, who knows her heart, forgives her hugely.
  • Have you ever been excluded – or perhaps helped exclude others – from being part of a religious group or religious function for "moral" reasons? The Bible tells us that's required sometimes, but only for people who won't stop making others believe a false Gospel. Knowing that, then, should this woman have had to sneak in to be able to participate in this banquet? 
  • No matter how sinful someone is (or is thought to be), should anyone ever be able to block them from seeing Jesus? 
  • What's your reaction to seeing Good Religious People in the Bible accusing Jesus (God Himself) of not knowing God and God's way (we've already seen it several times in our study so far)? If Good Religious People could be so spiritually blind 2,000 years ago, why should we believe they are any more likely to really see and understand God and His way today? 
  • Simon the Good Religious Person had Jesus over for dinner to "honor" Him – but since he did nothing else (not even the basics of common host courtesy everyone in those days was expected to do) to honor Jesus, who do you think Simon really meant to gain honor through this banquet? Good Religious People today also honor themselves by "honoring" Jesus. Do you imagine God feels "honored" having to "share" like that? 
  • A woman back in that time and place was required to marry (heterosexually) and remain married, in order to be economically safe. Their culture back then didn't have other jobs they could apply for, so only women wealthy enough to run their own business could avoid having to beg on the streets to stay alive (and few who begged would remain alive long). Unmarried women who couldn't return (for whatever reason) to their father's house, and who weren't wealthy enough to do anything else,  often turned to prostitution to keep food on their table – and then were condemned as whores (even by those men who made their living at prostitution possible). Do you imagine that Jesus wasn't aware of the dynamics that forced many women into prostitution in those days? Who do you imagine He had condemnation for: the woman who had no choice but to be a prostitute, or the people whose culture wouldn't allow her to keep food in her mouth and a roof over her head any other way? 
  • Good Religious People who even bother to recognize themselves in Simon will often point out proudly that Simon still only had "few" sins compared to the very sinful non-religious, according to the parable Jesus told Simon. Was that Jesus' point, or are they (too conveniently) missing His point once again? 
  • Who truly had the better life: Simon, with all his wealth and power and religious participation, yet whose heart had only the bare, required minimum to give to God; or the sinner who had nothing but pain in her life, yet whose heart could offer everything she had to God without question? 
  • We often see the sinner's pain and repentance in her tears, but do we also recognize the huge inner strength and faith this woman had? She knew exactly what all the people of her town thought of her, and she knew she was walking into a hornet's nest of Good Religious Hostility by putting herself not just within Simon's house, not just off to the side of the room where everyone else sat and listened, but pushing herself forward, right up to Jesus and the table He rested near. She risked everything they could say and even do to her, just to be near Jesus, just to express her love and gratitude to Him. Should you or I or anyone do any less? How great a model and mentor she should be to us all!

But Jesus didn't just leave it there. He gave God's comfort directly to the woman, as well, didn't He? He essentially told her, "The sins you so grieve over are forgiven!" The Good Religious People around the room were critical, of course, as in "Who does this guy think He is, forgiving people we KNOW aren't worth God's forgiveness?" Once again, those who claimed to be God's Best (or Only) People failed to recognize God literally right in the room with them. But Jesus answered their attack with even more reassurance for the woman. Even though she had not participated in any of the religious rituals God required of the Jews then to be saved, and even though she lived a life outside what was considered acceptable by the Good Religious (and other) People, He told her, "Your trust in God has saved you. Go on your way, knowing you're at peace with God."
  • Many times we get stuck in sin, and we grieve over our sinfulness. Did Jesus tell this woman she was stuck, or did He tell her to drop that burden and move on? 
  • Did the fact that Good Religious People wouldn't have forgiven or loved or appreciated this woman change Jesus' forgiveness, love, or appreciation for her in the slightest? Why would you, then, ever imagine God gives two cents what Good Religious People (or anyone else) things about you? 
  • How should it change your life to know that everyone else in the world – especially in the Good Religious World – can absolutely despise you, yet you can be completely and utterly at peace with God? 

The scripture tells us that after this, Jesus continued what He'd been doing: going from place to place, preaching God's Good News to everyone. "The Twelve" disciples were with Him (remember that the Jewish people, of course, understood themselves as descended from twelve physically-related brothers, but from now on God's people were to be counted as those who were spiritually descended from the new  twelve physically-unrelated brothers). But the Bible tells us that women also followed Jesus and travelled with Him, just like the men did. And Jesus allowed that to happen.

Sometimes women with money in those days were patrons of religious teachers or groups, but it would have been considered appallingly indecent for women to travel with Jesus and His male followers. Men and women in those days were kept separated in nearly everything, including education and attendance at religious functions. Most women, in fact, weren't even allowed religious or other education, at all (sometimes wealthy women were allowed education, but not in any coed setting). Even among the pagans, having women in a religious group caused scandalized gossip and moral outrage.

And in the midst of all that "scandal", we once again find Jesus. The Good Religious People (and the Good Pagans) of the day may have considered women unfit for learning – but Jesus taught women, and He taught them exactly what He taught His male students. Jesus also allowed them to follow Him, to participate in what He was doing as much as His male students did. And they did so, learning, growing, supporting just as the men did. In Jesus' real church, women were always right there with Him, ministering and being ministered to, from the very start.
  • Jesus seems to have been really good at not giving a hoot about the standards, rules, and expectations of Good Religious People, even when they felt they were only following or enforcing "God's law". Do you still give a hoot? 
  • Even though Jesus ignored or actively broke religious rules all the time, He never acted chaotically or in ways that ignored manners, being respectful of others, and living God's way. Think up three modern examples of religious rules that Jesus would have ignored or broken. Now think up three modern examples of other kinds of rules that Jesus would have not ignored or broken. What's the difference? How should those things be different in your own life?

Next week, we'll see more of how Jesus handled demons and evil.

See you then!
This article written by Lynne at You can contact Lynne at