Dying To Live

18 04 2014

As the Church around the world remembers the death of Jesus, I am reminded that it is not just a physical death that happened thousands of years ago but a symbolic picture, I think, that God gives me (and you) about what it takes to experience “new life”.

Jesus’ death did not end His ministry but rather it started the restoration/reconciliation of all of creation to the Creator. It was the turning point in humanity where the Kingdom of God invaded the kingdoms of this world. It introduced to us in practical terms what grace, and unconditional love looks like. It was and still is revolutionary.

And it all started with a death.

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All of us, without exception, have things that need to die within ourselves. It may be pride, arrogance, self-exaltation. But it can also be (as in my case) fear of self exposure, fear of loss, fear of the unknown. But until these things (and multitudes of other negative human traits that reside within each of us), are crucified, we can never really experience what our lives are meant to be.

God has made clear to me what I need to do, yet because I cannot see the end, I fear in the present. And I am not truly free. And I am not trusting and understanding the love of God because this type of fear cannot co-exist with the perfect love of God.

Do I lack faith?

Yes, I do.

But I pray “Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief”.

On this Easter weekend, let us all look within, to examine what is holding us back from experiencing God more deeply, more intimately.  Until you and I, can put to death the thing(s) that enslave our hearts, we will never see resurrection in our lives.

A resurrection that transforms us, our world.





Created To Be

14 04 2014

This is a season of introversion for me. As such, I am examining, once again, my life, and my faith.

I saw the musical Children of Eden at the college my daughter attends. It is an interesting interpretation of the creation story and the flood (actually it would make a fundamentalists head explode). See here for synopsis:

http://www.musicalschwartz.com/children-of-eden-synopsis.htm

As I thought about the Eden story, I began to think about the progression of humanity, and the loss of innocence and the structures we all build around ourselves to protect ourselves from exposure to who we really are.

I remember back to my days of innocence, and only a couple fuzzy, faded memories still remain. The memories that stick in my mind, are the memories that destroyed innocence and sent me on a decades long mission to keep my heart and soul from more pain. Memories of being a disappointment to my father, inadequate as a son, a focal point of bullying from my peers, a mediocre husband and father fill my mind. Out of those experiences was birthed an internal critic that has always told me that I will never be any good, I am stupid, I am a failure, and if who I was ever come to light I would be rejected as well. So I pretended to be who I was not and pretending drove me further and further from who I was created to be.

My spiritual life and my view of God has also suffered terribly. I have been a Christian for 30+ years now and most of that time I lived in terror of a God of anger and judgement as He waited for me to screw up so that he could teach me a lesson. I drove myself to near spiritual breakdown about seventeen years ago, as I strove to be the best Christian I could be for a god that was the creation of American Evangelicalism. And also to  prove to my fellow believers that I was actually holy, righteous , and good, when in fact I was/am, in general, not any of those things.

I am at a crossroads in life now. About three years ago I came to terms with myself, and accepted myself, as is, because I finally realized through the grace of God in Jesus, I have been accepted by God long ago, and the torment and fear I had felt was not from the Holy Spirit but from my inner critic. Yet at the same time, I am having to tear down high and thick walls that have protected me against rejection. And that is a fearful process. When they are finally disassembled my life will probably change dramatically.

Until that time though I am having to go through a time of great uncertainty. Happiness, focus, and enjoyment of life ebbs and flows, being suppressed by the lack of clarity in the steps forward.

waterfallOnly one thing is certain for me at this point in time. God my Creator,  my Sustenance, my Beloved, my Savior, and loves me with a never-ending fountain of pure refreshing grace. And He is/will be there in my “dark night of the soul”. and he will restore me to who I was created to be in His recreation of Eden, His Kingdom here on earth.

 





Sinner In The Hand Of A Loving God

7 04 2014

hand of GodCan I be honest with you for a moment?

I am not a very good Christian. I mean, yea, I believe in Jesus and have gone to church most Sundays and for a while, most Wednesdays for well over 30 some years. I have been involved in lots of church activities and have gone to many a seminar, men’s retreats, even church vacations.

But I am not a very good Christian.

I fail to read my Bible for days on end, I don’t believe in a literal 6 day creation, although I do believe God created everything seen and unseen, I am not sure I believe the story of Noah, or Jonah as literal or more metaphorical. And I have jettisoned the Tim LaHaye end times fantasy, as just that, fantasy. I don’t pray enough, I hardly give anything, and I have a love/hate relationship with the church.

As far as my “sin life”, it seems to be alive and well and always looking for a way to sin more. When I was younger and newer in my faith I thought that I had it all down, that I would conquer sin in my life and that God, through the Bible could be understood almost completely. I don’t believe that anymore and I really have a hard time saying that my understanding of Jesus and God is closer to the truth than anyone else’s understanding of Jesus and God.

I recoil in embarrassment When some Christian “leader” gets on national TV and tells people his or her view of morality is true and everyone else is wrong.  I cringe when Christians condemn and vilify the other by “speaking the truth in love”. I find that to be a most repulsive comment. It oozes with self edification and pride.

I am not a very good Christian.

But my loving and gracious Creator knew that. Long, long before my eyes were opened to the forgiveness and mercy of the cross, my Creator loved me with unconditional love. Before I swam within my mother’s womb, my Creator was joyfully singing over me as one of His precious children. From the moment I took my first breath, to the day I gasp my last, His love and grace flows over me. I belong to my Creator God who drew me to His immeasurable love and keeps me safe in His care. Knowing this allows me to live in freedom to make mistakes, to sin, to fall, and to have Him pick me back up again. This is not only for me, this is for all of us.

For we are all sinners in the Hand of a Loving God.





Unbalanced God

5 04 2014

I admit it, I am unbalanced. unbalanced

My moods fluctuate between dark depression and almost happiness.

My self-image reflects both despising and exalting self.

My actions fluctuate between self-serving egotism and verging on altruistic.

My Christian life is a combination of saint and sinner and by far, more in the sinner category than the saint.

I admit, I am a broken, weak, fallen, bruised, emotional hot mess most days.

If my relationship with the Creator depended upon me, I would have been kicked out of the House a long time ago.

But I am a child of an unbalanced God. A God of great and unending mercy, forgiveness, and grace. A God who loved me, who loved us, before we even considered the idea of loving back. A God who had forgiven  over and over again. A God who forgave before we ever said that we were sorry and who has forgiven even our most egregious sins. Sins that we sometimes unintentionally, but mostly with great forethought , intentionally commit.

Yet He has already forgiven them.

The love of the Great Creator is perfect no matter how far or how badly I fall and then run from the House. This God, the perfect Parent, stands at the Door looking and waiting for me, with incredible compassion to come to my senses and return. And when I return, I am embraced tightly in the strong arms of grace.

The grace of God flows from the cross, the symbol of God’s ultimate sacrifice of love, in Jesus, for people who couldn’t care less about Him. That grace still fills the world, the universe today. That grace is experienced by every believer and every non-believer when we wake up in the morning, with the sun warming our skin and air filling our lungs. It is seen the beauty of all creation and in the magnificent creations of every artist. Grace is everywhere and sustaining everything.

I want to show that grace, that love to everyone. I want, not to dole out love and grace as a reward for good behavior, but freely and with great abandon to everyone…

Just like my Heavenly Dad.

 

 

 

 





“Those” People Are My Neighbor!?!?!

17 02 2014

 On one occasion an expert in American Christianity stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

 But he was very arrogant, self-righteous and proud and seeking to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

 In reply Jesus said: “A gay activist was traveling through Russia, or Uganda, or Nigeria, or Kansas, or Idaho, when he was gay man attackedattacked by a homophobic mob. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him nail studded boards, tied him to a post in a vacant lot, went away, leaving him half dead.  A Baptist minister happened to be going down the same street, and when he saw the man he knew was a gay activist he passed by on the other side, fearing he would be numbered as a reprobate if anyone saw him helping him  So too, a staunch,conservative talk show host from a well known Christian organization, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. He was absolutely certain that if he helped him, he would be telling the world that he agreed with the gay activist “lifestyle choice”  But a Muslim Imam, as he traveled, came to where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him, untying him from the post,  and tearing his own clothing made tourniquets to stop the bleeding. He then called 911 and went with the man in the ambulance to the hospital. He stayed with him that whole night and into the next morning.   ‘Look after him,’ he said to the nurse working in his unit ‘I will return later today to check on him. Here is my cell number, please call me if there is any change.’

 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of those that hate people different from themselves?”

 The expert in American Christianity replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Did you know right now in the states of Kansas, and Idaho laws are being passed that exempt “religious” people in health care and law enforcement from helping someone in the LGBT community if they object to that persons sexual orientation? In Uganda and in Nigeria laws are being passed that make being gay a crime punishable by physical beatings, and/or imprisonment for life, In Russia anti-gay legislation has lead to kidnapping, torturing, raping and sometimes murder of LGBT people. Sometimes the perpetrators film their abuse and always the Russian police ignore it.

Where should the church stand when it comes to these issues? Why is the church, the organization that honors God with her teachings, sermons and books on grace,mercy,forgiveness, and love SILENT on this?

Why?

Where is the outrage, the indignation, the “holy anger” we display in other arenas such as against Home Depot supporting LGBT equality, or “Gay Days” at Disney World?

These are questions that need to be answered. We need to do some serious soul searching,

And then we need to repent.

Finally, we need to show mercy.





They Know!

30 12 2013

hateMany believers have told me that we need to “balance” grace with truth and make sure that the world knows what sin is. Here is a shocking “truth” for my brothers and sisters in Christ concerning “those people”…They already know!!!

They know that Evangelicals hate abortion, abortionists, women’s reproductive rights, sex education, birth control, pre-marital sex, LGBT rights, marriage equality, gay people in general, and those that practice such things.
They know that Evangelicals hate Democrats, Liberals, Progressives, atheists, feminists, social welfare programs, the Affordable Care Act, food stamps and those that support them, and the “shiftless” people that use them.
They know that Evangelicals hate evolution, and the sciences and scientists that support it.
They know that Evangelicals hate the legalization of drugs, the use of alcohol, and smoking and those that do.
They know that Evangelicals hate theology that challenges one narrow interpretation of Scripture and the “apostate” mainline churches that follow other interpretations.
They know that Evangelicals hate Harry Potter, Avatar, zombies, vampires and any other work of fiction that is not specifically “Christian”.

They know.

But do they know that…
God
loves
people
without condition?

Do they know?

And do we Evangelicals know that we are to…
love
people
without condition?

Do we know?

Let us ponder that as we step through the door of a New Year.





It’s About More Than An Anus

23 12 2013

robertsonI have tried…really I have… to stay away from the whole Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty) controversy, but I feel that there is an important point being missed in the shrill rebukes of the Conservative and Fundamentalist right. But  I will not belabor what hundreds if not thousands of bloggers, journalists, and cable news commentators have been talking about the last week.

Instead I want to us to consider what most Christians are missing in their rabid support of a man (claiming to be a believer), who feels justified in his crass verbal degradation of particular a segment of  our society. If his comments are representative of the love of God, and I was a non-believer, I would want to have nothing to do with his god.

For a long time LGBT people have had to hear they THEY are an abomination, that THEY are vile, that THEY are disgusting, perverts, and that THEY are hated by God and bound for hell. LGBT people have been rejected by family, fired from jobs, bullied and beat-up and in some places in the world jailed for life. tortured, raped, murdered.

The consequences Mr. Robertson has incurred due to his vile comments, was not about taking away his right to free speech (the government had nothing to do with it), and moreover it is not about “Christian persecution” ( a laughable thought). He was suspended because his words did not treat people with respect and care, as worthy and equal.

Do you understand that Christian?

“Well, what about love the sinner and hate the sin?” Some may respond.

What if the “sin” you hate, is actually who the person IS, and not what they DO? Individuals in the LGBT community are not mentally ill, perverted, straight people, They are normal, healthy people who are attracted to, and fall in love with, other people of the same-sex.  When you say “hate the sin”, a gay person hears “I hate you.”

Do you understand that Christian?

Many, if not most gay individuals have spent years living in shame, cowering in the shadows, driven by fear, and  trying desperately to be free of the desires they had. Yet for most of them it seemed as if God didn’t hear them. Add to that the sermons and youth group meetings, and crude faggot jokes and comments they have had to endure. How would you feel about yourself and about God and the church?

We need to stop condemning, and stop supporting those that do, and bring the Gospel to life through the unconditional love we are all called to give to others, as modeled by Jesus. When we do, we will stop blocking people in the LGBT community from coming to the Kingdom and to the ONE who loves them, and then they will be able to  hear Him say, ” I have created and loved you always, just the way you are. You are my son/daughter and you have a place in My Kingdom and at My banquet because of My Son. Welcome home.”

Do you understand that Christian?








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