Tuesday, December 08, 2015

When Jesus returns will He find faith on the earth?

Jesus once asked in lament, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8 ESV) I ask, when he returns, will he find a faith in God .

When Jesus returns will He find faith on the earth? Or, will Jesus find a bunch of jackup gun toting, Muslim hating idiots about to destroy everything.

If there is a Great Judgment soon, I bet many will be surprised which side of the judgment they find themselves.

Hate is not a Christian virtue.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My thoughts on inerrancy and infallibility

Believe me, if you asked me about 10 years ago about this I would be giving a much different answer. Personally, I found that the way I use to read the bible (literally) was harder and lead me to some wrong understandings. Often, I was confronted with the idea that some thoughts could not be "God's word" as they were lies coming out of Satan's mouth as in the case when Satan is tempting Jesus. I realized that to say, "I read it literal", was to limit or add to what the text stated and often gave the wrong focus on the story or text. 

I do not believe inerrant and infallible mean anything as far as the Bible is concerned. In fact, it was not spoken as such until the fundamentalist talked of the bible in the 1920s. Then later in the 1970s, the Chicago Statement, (I believe that was what it was called), made it more mainstream. However, even Francis Schaeffer felt the compromises made over the words diminished their meaning. While he was a advocate for inerrancy and infallibility just noting that his not wanting to sign the Lausanne Covenant for not having “inerrancy” in the Statement shows how important at one time those words were.

Later, I walked amongst the Baptists, the Assemblies of God, Calvary Chapel, Vineyard, and Methodists who all had different definitions for inerrant and infallible, which also by this time became a litmus test to see if someone was truly saved or just a liberal. However my biggest issue is the feeling of intellectual dishonesty in saying the Bible is inerrant and infallible is that we do not have the original texts so do not have a source to prove the claim. There may be enough evidence to claim it but still no proof.

I prefer, as I told my Regent University teacher to use better words. He seemed to be slightly annoyed when i presented this. I wish I had a catchy acrostic. LOL!

1. Credible, as it has been handed down for generations and has remained the same.

2. Reliable, as there are thousands of manuscripts that show consistency in the transference and translations.

3. Relational. Unlike no other book does one read and learn in a relational way about God from God.

4. Authoritative. As it is the holy and sacred scripture gifted to us by those believers who came before us. It is inspired, but not as if dropped from heaven but rather filtered through humans who God inspired to write as the Holy Spirit directed.

I found, at least for me, that these give me more freedom to read, interpret, understand, enjoy, and learn from the Bible. Most of all, these descriptive words keep the book a living book for me. I believe the Holy Spirit moves within the pages and if one approaches the bible humbly he or she will come away with a deeper understanding of Jesus and who they are as a person.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Loving others is a valid choice

I often replay a conversation with a pastor friend of mine that happened a few years back. I explained that I choose not to judge gay people and that I choose to love people as Jesus directs me. His response was, "You still need to take a stand against sin." I was a bit dumbfounded at that moment.
Here it the thing. Love is a valid choice if not also one of the two commandments from Jesus. Jesus did not come to judge us, but came to save us. Love was His mission. I wish I had the answer I have now for such a response...
I would say, "Then what the hell did Jesus die on a Cross for if not for love?"

Friday, September 11, 2015

Reflections on 9/11

I have mixed feelings about today.

I remember waking up to the phone ringing and a voice of my mother-in-law saying, “Something horrible is happening on TV”. Now, my mother-in-law is often calling us about things but this time there was something horrible happening -9/11

I turned the TV on and saw smoke coming from a building. One of the Twin Towers was on fire and that seemed horrible enough. Words from the TV came that a plane had hit the building and that was worse – Then I witnessed the next plane hit the second building.

I was living in California, which seems a million miles away from NYC. The news over the next few days seemed even worse. While there were some acts of heroism, these acts do not bring back those loved ones who died.

On one hand I mourn for those lost and the horror of the 9/11 events. At the time, I was one who needed "justice". I listened to my leaders and backed them, as they knew best as to how to administer this justice. I laughed at the bombs over Iraq and the lights giving that justice. Then one day it happened.

I realized somehow and someway between verses of “Bomb, bomb, Iraq” that those being bombed did not attack us. Most likely, they were civilians hoping to live out their day, as I want to. They wanted to wake up and kiss their children and head out to work. Instead, their homes were destroyed and so much collateral damage was done. By collateral damage, I mean innocent lives. I hung my head in shame over what we had done as a nation.

Now, when 9/11 comes I have a mixture of sadness and mourning for all the lives I have seen wasted. I learned more over the years of the policies that lead to 9/11. I read the conspiracies that I knew for sure were wrong and now, after reading all the atrocities the US policies have done over the years, just if, it was all a farce to keep the oil companies and military machine going.

Jesus has also brought me out of the blindness of right wing conservatism that claims God and Jesus but in action does all it can to hurt those who need help the most. I found a political party mixed with religion is a dangerous thing. Power seems to corrupt even the purest of ideals if unregulated. I come to understand more that I serve only one Kingdom. I am called to be a good citizen and in doing so must help create a better nation.

My feelings are mixed, however I resolve never to let it happen again even though I know it will. I resolve to elect those who do not want war or line their pockets with big oil or other company’s money. I want a better America that does not arm terrorists and then wonder why they attack us back. We need to grow away from war-based government and learn a better way that leads to peace.


Tuesday, August 04, 2015

What not to say to LGBT people

James 3 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.Indeed,[a] we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

Things you should not to say to gay people if you want to show them the Gospel.
Here is a list of things that will make a gay person shut down and not listen to you. Worse, if you are “preaching the Gospel” they will not hear it because of your words. In fact, many evangelicals do not understand that the “code words” they use are no different from the plainspoken language of Fred Phelps and his church. Therefore, if you want to be seen in Fred’s camp stop reading now.
Saying, “Homosexuality is a sin.”
The issue is you are dealing with something a person cannot change. This is like telling a black person their skin color is a sin. They cannot change the color of their skin any more than a LGBT person can change their sexual attraction. Most people may say, “I am fat”, but the reality is we have fat and are not just fat. An obese person is not just fat but also all else, that makes them a human being. To say, “I am fat”, is like saying, “I have an arm, so therefore I am arm”. Pretend again that you think black people are sinful because of the color of their skin. Are they sinners because of skin color or for something they did? Can they change to fit your view of what is sinful? You may think homosexuality is a sin, but is being homosexual a sin? On the other hand, are you stating the act of homosexuality is a sin? Say what you mean.
Using the word Homosexual:
Just the fact you used the word “homosexual” can be taken offensively. In many LGBT minds, this is as derogatory as any offensive term towards others. Use what LGBT prefer. If you lack the proper term then simply say “gay” or “transgender”. If you are talking about a transgender person use, his or her preferred gender identity: This is simple human respect to another human. I would be offended to be called a woman, (though I think woman are awesome), why? I identify humanly as a male person.

Calling gay people “sodomites”:
This just shows your own lack of Biblical understanding of the Biblical meaning of sodomy and what a Sodomite is. A Sodomite is a person who rapes and abuses others for their own pleasure. The act of sodomy is usually done by a heterosexual man against women or men. It is not gender specific. A great example of this would be to have you do a personal study on Domitian and his personal dinner parties. The entertainment was sickening and reveals what a Sodomite truly is.
Modern day LGBT couples are not Sodomites nor identify in any way in that sort of lifestyle. By calling someone, a Sodomite also shows you do not have a proper understanding of the verses in the Bible. Sadly, the word homosexual was used in translations and watered down the horror of sodomy and what being a Sodomite truly is. The sin of Sodom was more inhospitality. In fact, Lot sort of broke a rule in how he treated the angels with hospitality.
The men who came to the house did not care about “gay sex” but wanted to be a sort of perverse hetero-rapist welcoming committee to fix the hospitality Lot gave. Really, the real sick thing about the situation was that Lot was willing to give his two virgin daughters to the men to gang rape them to death. We focus on the men at Lot’s door as “gay” but the reality they were most likely heterosexual men who were abusers of other men, women, and children.
Saying, “It is a choice”:
Regardless of whether it is or not, (though if you are educated you would know people are born gay), saying it is a choice means nothing. It offends but means nothing. Why? Because, we are all born sinners and have made choices against God. In fact, to deny your own sin is to prove the Truth is not living in you! If you were truly honest, you would admit you still sin and nothing but the grace of God saves you. This is a double standard you place on LGBT people and a lie you tell yourself to keep yourself seeing your own sin.
Sexuality is tricky and heterosexuals tend to not realize they never had to tackle their sexual preference. However, LGBT people come to a point where they feel different. This is not by choice but an act of self-realization. There is not a time a LGBT person chose to become gay they just realized they had same sex attraction that was always there. Here is the main point on this “choosing”, straight and gay people are equal as far a being born.
Talking about “the gay agenda”:
Yes, gay people do have an agenda, but it is not what you think. The agenda is recognizing gay people as human beings with the same rights as other human beings. In fact, this is one of the most bigoted things you can say to a gay person. It shows you see them as not humans who deserve the same basic human rights that you already have.
Having the basic assumption, they do not know the Gospel:
This takes true humility. Anyone can be wrong. I have been wrong many times and the Lord has leaded me out of error into truth. The true believer will accept his or her fallibility and be humble in how he or she presents the Gospel as well as approaches others with the Gospel of Grace.
Assuming your interpretation is the true one: 
Not being open to listen to other interpretations hurts the communication between you and any LGBT person. Listen to their different views. Some of course are way out there in interpretation but so are many who agree with your view.
Talk about programs that help LGBT people become straight:
It is well known these programs do not work and in fact are more harmful than helpful. Even many of those who developed these programs and claimed they became straight have now stated they are still gay. LGBT people who have been through these programs can tell how horrible they were and that they did not work. One person I know was simply taught to put on a pretty dress, some makeup, and that would help her feel more feminine and not want to be attracted to other women. It did not work. One person I read about had painful shock waves administered when gay porn was shown as some sort of Clockwork Orange style of deprograming. Well, it did not work. Accept it; even psychology now sees that being gay is not a mental illness or deviant. Even if you think being gay is a sin, you are losing ground by asserting it is a psychological issue.
Saying, “You’re so gay”, as a putdown:
Using “gay” or “faggot" or any other similar word as a putdown is offensive. To state someone is “retarded” or telling a boy “that he throws like a girl”. The sayings that are used as ways to hurt others in general seem like something people should be aware of. However, I have heard my fellow believers say these things. While people may say this in jest, imagine if it was said to you and you were gay. Think of it this way. Would you call a Japanese friend a Jap? Alternatively, would you call a Muslim or Arabic person a “rag head? Misusing “gay” is as offensive as these other terms.

I am blessed to have gay friends show me my straight privilege. I must acknowledge their grace toward me as I attempt to learn and grow. I am not perfect and even though I had thought this post was good, I had a friend who is gay read over it. I was amazed at how much I still missed. The point is, you will get more respect in how you approach the LGBT community by learning how to speak to them as peope. In fact, even as I do the re-write of this post I know there are some major areas I failed. You may not be perfect, but part of growing is being willing to make mistakes. The point is the conversation. Each of us can learn from each other if we begin to listen and not judge.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

About Gay Marriage

About Gay Marriage

This post is part of the July 2015 synchroblog that invited bloggers to write about “Gay Marriage”. After the blog post, you will find other Bloggers links with various opinions. Be sure to check them out.

In many ways, on my blog, I believe I have already addressed this issue. It is obvious that there are those who would say they agree, and many who will never agree. The point is not in the argument but in one’s own conviction and resolve to carry out the message of Grace or continue to create “others” and separate ourselves as believes, from them.

In Acts chapter 10, we find Peter being confronted by God about eating unclean animals. Here is the story:

This was a time when Romans, let alone Roman soldiers were greatly despised by the Jewish people; God had just poured out his Spirit on the Jews however; there is no real mention of the Gentiles. To this point, we would assume as many probably did, that the only way a gentile could be saved was to become a Jew. Therefore, it is interesting that in this story we find out what God states of those horrible Gentiles the Jewish people despised so much

There was a Roman soldier who was kind and generous, who prayed to God every day. His name was Cornelius. One day Cornelius had a vision of an angel who addresses him. His response is, “What is it lord?”

It is then the angel tells Cornelius about Simon Peter. The angel tells Cornelius where Peter is and Cornelius sets out to find him. As Cornelius and his men get closer to Joppa, Peter goes on the roof of the house he is staying in and begins to pray – or rather, he falls into a trance.

It is here where it gets interesting. In this trance, Peter sees a sheet come down from Heaven with all the unclean animals on it and a voice of God saying, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” Of course Peter, of all people would respond as any good Jewish person would, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” (In a way, this story sounds like the time Peter refused to have his feet washed by Jesus and Peter started to argue with Jesus not to do so.)

Then the same voice spoke again as we read in verse 15:

But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” 16 The same vision was repeated three times. Then the sheet was suddenly pulled up to heaven?

Let us stop and ponder what that means. God is declaring all the unclean animals clean. This rather reminds me of the end of the story of Jonah where Jonah was called to prophecy to Nineveh to repent of their sins. Here is the last bit of the story of Jonah if you do not remember.

7 But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. 8 And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed.

9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”

“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”

10 Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. 11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”
In a way, I have to laugh as Jonah’s response sounds much like many Right-Wing Republicans who threatened to move to another country of do other stupid things over gay marriage. However, let us stay on point here.
Jonah was angry over God’s kindness and compassion. I see this anger even today with those who fight against gay marriage. It is exactly as Paul states why we should not judge others in Romans chapter 2. However, notice that God talks compassionately about the animals. God reveals to Jonah his compassion and kindness because the Ninevites are “living in spiritual darkness”. Jonah ends with a question we must still answer today -- Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

Let us go back to Peter now. Peter understands that this vision of the sheet of unclean animals is not about food. It was about God’s compassion for people – all people regardless to Jew or Gentile. Peter then meets Cornelius and as they meet, Peter gives a short sermon that results in the Holy Spirit being poured out on the first Gentiles. I hope you go and read that for yourself – and realize that most of you, unless you are Jewish, would fall under the label of “Gentile”.

Paul writes about the Gentiles in Romans chapter 1. I assume whether you are for or against gay marriage you use this chapter in some way to prove or disprove homosexuality is a sin. Really, that is not the point of Romans 1 but you can read more of that here. Likewise, as in Romans 1-2 Paul gives the “Therefore” as to why he wrote Romans chapter one in Romans chapter 2, we find that Acts 10 does the same thing in relation to Acts 11.

Peter welcomes in the morally corrupt Gentiles as being cleansed by God and then does an amazing thing. Peter preaches a sermon about the Grace of God. In fact, the sermon is the retelling of the happenings in Acts Chapter 10. Peter ends the story with this amazing defense of Grace.

5 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”
18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

The question is what did the Gentiles or Jewish people do to be cleansed? Nothing. The Jews and Gentiles became equal (as God shows no favoritism) by the Grace of God. We are now all at the same level and come to Life by faith in the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. It was not until Peter met a Gentile who believed in Jesus and giving revelation from God, that Peter’s eyes were finally open to see how great the Grace of God is.

I hear you now, “Wait! What does this have to do with gay marriage?” My response is this – are you being kind or creating an atmosphere of othering? If you can grasp this, God’s grace covers much more than many realize. I can give reasons as to why our sin was truly taken away by Jesus on the Cross. I have written much on my view of sin and maybe in a future blog post will give you more of what I believe. I could explain my theological position now, but this blog post is already too long. However, if you want a better Biblical understanding of how homosexuality is used in the Bible I suggest you also read this post.

Again, my answer to gay marriage is; Does your position demand rights that undermine the kindness of God that leads to repentance? Are you guilty of judging others in a way that denies God’s kindness that leads to repentance? Do you judge homosexuality as different as stealing, being greedy, or being drunkards, or being an abusive person, or cheating people, or lying, breaking promises, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching of God? Are you gluttonous, or lust for power, dishonoring to your parents, quarrelsome, jealous, angry, selfish, slanderous, gossiping, arrogant, murderous, lustful in general, and other disorderly behaviors? If you have not committed any of these ever, then cast the first stone at the rest of us who have and rest on the Grace of God. Answer those questions, pray, and then let God speak to you about gay marriage.

As an afterthought here. Here is my perspective on the "bakers who lost their bakery" because two lesbians sued them. First off, there is much more to this story and the "Christian bakers" were not as innocent and some try to make them out to be Just take some time to look at who make names public and how it affected the lesbian couple and their adopted children. The second thing is this. If a simple teaching of Jesus had been followed instead of some self -righteous stand on "rights" this could have been avoided. Jesus taught in Matthew 5:41 "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles" Or, another way of understanding this verse is: "If anyone forces you to bake a cake, bake them two." However, many believers have lost sight of the simplicity of Jesus' teachings and lose opportunities to be a light to a dark world. The real question that believers need to ask themselves is, How inclusive is Jesus?"

Here is the synchroblog list. Again, be kind and give grace. This is an opportunity for many to see another side of this issue.

More blogs coming soon!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What it means to love instead of shame

I received an interesting but very veiled email from an author I highly respect. It was veiled as one could read it and think he was either for gay marriage or against it. It was a well-crafted email, however I suspect it was against gay marriage. Everything he stated I agreed with and I see I am doing. I am not bowing to culture in my stand for gay rights as I view gay people as fellow humans-- and see this issue as a human rights issue.

Now, I can back up my view from scripture though I know many will not get it at all, as they can only see passages as they have been taught -- and they have not been taught well how to read and understand the overall context of these passages. I will be posting more in a synchroblog coming soon as to my view on gay marriage. Suffice it to say; at this point, I am at peace in my view as I have followed Jesus's lead in this. I see that Jesus is more inclusive than many want Him to be. In fact, it appears many believers desire Jesus to believe and see things how they want instead of asking Jesus to see the world how He does and follow Him as He does His work in and through us.

I will say this though. I noticed that many of us who understand grace seem to be on the side of gay marriage. I find that interesting as it reveals that just maybe God's grace goes beyond mere human understanding and must come from humble revelation of truth from He Who is The Truth. Grace is not just defined as, “unmerited favor from God” or “not getting what we deserve”, but also God’s emotions towards us. [1]Yes, God has emotions – where to you think we get them from?

Love is what drives this emotion of Grace. Often we confuse justice and love. We want justice in the form of revenge instead of having things set right. What justice truly is, as God originally created us to be is – good. In fact, true justice is the realization that we are not just good but very good as God called us when He created humans. Now, we either believe God loves us as He still sees the goodness in us or we believe the lie and rush to find new fig leaves to cover ourselves in shame.

Shame is a noun and a verb. First, it is the “painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” [2] However, shame as a verb connotes the idea of one shaming another. [3] We most often impose this definition on God. Jesus instead reveals that this is a lie. Instead of shaming humanity, Jesus takes our shame to the Cross. Jesus shows us that God’s love is greater than our shame.

When we shame others, we are walking in the lie that God sees us the way we are seeing others. We are not walking in the light of truth of love. Yes, at times people do shameful things, but it is not our job to further shame them. Rather our job is to do all we can to restore them to the God-given dignity they have lost. This is The Way of Jesus – to love and not judge or shame. It is not, as some think, some gooey lovey-dovey, caramel centered version of grace ala “cheap grace.” In fact, those of us who discover this way find it a much harder path. Loving others as inclusive as Jesus is radical. It is having the realization of the truth when Paul writes in Romans 5:10, “10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Do we truly believe this? Do you understand that while you were still God’s adversary God reconciled you unto Himself through Jesus?

Take that thought with this verse, Matthew 5:43 – 45a “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…”

One cannot separate the ideas presented in these two verses. First, you were once an enemy of God and yet, God still reconciled you to Himself. Secondly, Jesus clearly states to love all, even those you consider your enemy. By the way, one cannot judge another and love them; likewise, one cannot love another and judge them. Love is full acceptance of the person. This does not mean we accept say one who murders another in a way the murder was acceptable as it harmed another. However, we forgive the murderer, as hard as that is, and allow God to work that forgiveness into the heart of the murderer.

The definition of sin is tricky. My definition of sin is simply "anything that is adversarial in your life between you and God". This could be good things as well as bad things. In addition, as Paul states, "everything that does not come from faith is sin”. [4] Meaning this; that often we are sinning and do not even realize it for our actions toward others, as well as our own self is not coming from faith.

The Bible states, that sin in sinful humanity, is clearly judged, and condemned, with Christ Jesus on the Cross. Our sins were taken away as Jesus who had no sin, became sin and the sin offering for us.[5] However, for some reason, instead of returning this love and grace to those we see still lost in spiritual darkness we desire to judge and condemn others. Love is a valid choice to extend to others. Grace is a valid choice to extend to others. It may be hard to do this but here is the secret. Look for what God is already doing and not for what you think God should do. It is not our place to decide what God is to do or is already doing. Judging and condemning perpetuates the lie of shame. People are trapped in this lie of shame and as believers; our job is to help them see Christ in them, their only hope of Glory. [6]

[1] Zimmerli. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament Vol. IV. 7th. Edited by Gerhard Kittel, & Gerhard Friedrich. Grand Rapids: Eerdman, 1981. I do go into this more in my book Regarding Logos http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00P0KIK0M

[4] Romans 14:23
[5] Romans 8:2-4  1; John 2:1-2
[6] Romans 5:1-2