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