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