Monday, December 07, 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

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

Friday, July 03, 2015

The misuse and abuse of Romans one

I do not know how often people have told me, “Just read Romans 1 and you will see how God hates homosexuality”. Yes, I have read the passage, but if that is what you get out of the passage, you are missing the entire point to which Paul is making.
I will be using the NKJV for reference. We will skip Paul’s intro and go straight to the overall context of Romans 1:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Here many seem to jump straight to the verses  26 and 27 but seem to overlook the reasons the “vile passions” are so vile. However, if we read closely before we get to the “vile passions” we see that the pagans have seen the invisible attributes of God since creation as well as they knew God but instead changed the glory of God and worshiped images of themselves as well as birds and four-footed animals and… creeping things. In fact, if you can visualize this passage a bit it should return you to Egypt. It should bring about images of Anubis and other half-man/ half-beast gods. We see that the passage is about idolatry and what comes with it. Sexual immorality came with the worship of false gods. It came in many forms, but get this; it was a form of worship and not anything like LGBT communities of today. These temple prostitutes had sex as an act of worship and to raise money for the temples.

One temple was to the goddess Cybele who was believed to be a fertility goddess. During her “worship”, prostitutes would be a major part of the worship. In fact, according to Wikipedia, as they rather soften the ritual, “Many of her Greek cults included rites to a divine Phrygian castrate shepherd-consort.” What this really means is that men would be castrated and become male prostitutes for use in temple worship. Paul brings us to Egypt, then to Rome. Castration was neither a pleasant experience nor a kind way to treat others.
While we are using the NKJV, here is Young’s literal translation that may read a bit different than most have read this passage.

26 Because of this did God give them up to dishonourable affections, for even their females did change the natural use into that against nature;27 and in like manner also the males having left the natural use of the female, did burn in their longing toward one another; males with males working shame, and the recompense of their error that was fit, in themselves receiving.

            Often this passage has “against nature” but a closer look states “dishonourable affections" and the females changed the natural use of their bodies to unnatural usage… meaning prostitution. Also, the same with the male prostitutes who no longer would have sex with a woman. Now, many again take these two verses to be the point of Paul. However, these are examples of how horrible pagan idolatry is and what it did to people.
            Paul states that those who do such things deserve death as well as those who approve such things also do. Nevertheless, it is not the homosexual sex Paul is focused on… it is the idolatry and worship of false gods and how that harms people.

            However again, this is where many if not most people stop. They think Paul is done for some reason and then forget all he wrote and turn the page to Romans 2 as if it was a completely new thought Paul was going forth. Instead, Chapter two is the punchline of the setup from chapter one. Paul has every Jewish reader frothing in agreement with Paul about those immoral and unnatural pagans and how they worship false gods. Then, Paul does something that many miss. He sticks the Jewish readers with a knife and then twists it. How?
            Paul now gives the “therefore” of the why he just wrote what he did and it may surprise you. Just read:
2 Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.
            Paul does not stop but goes on to say that because the Jewish people were given the Law they should know better but they do not. In fact Paul states,” For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.” Why? The Jewish people were known to steal, commit adultery, and even rob pagan temples for money earned through the worship of false gods to use as they pleased. According to Paul this was the reason the Gentiles blasphemed God as the Jewish people did not even honor the One True God as well as the pagans honored their pagan gods. The other thing is this. According to Paul in verses 1-3 that by judging the pagans such it was the same as despising “the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Paul just stated that by judging others we despise the kindness and goodness of God as we deny the love God showed on the Cross and Resurrection to all people.  

Yet even today many do not read this in connection to chapter one. They use or rather misuse chapter one to judge others and do the very thing Paul was trying to teach NOT to do. We are guilty of wanting wrath instead of the blessing of our so-called enemies of kindness and repentance. We use judgment as a tool for evangelism when in fact it makes a mockery of Jesus as we do so.
            Be careful as you use the Bible. I have found many times people proof text a passage to make it fit their own beliefs instead of having the Bible change and renew our minds. If you claim to hold the Bible as a holy text then treat it so.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The sign of Jonah, gay marriage, and other fleeting thoughts

The sign of Jonah is more than the three days in the belly of a whale and then being barfed on the beach. It is about the message to the Ninevites that Jonah gave to repent or experience the wrath of God. Jonah delivers this message and then sits on a hill over Nineveh to watch God pour out His wrath. Jonah sits so long a weed grows over him and shades him. Jonah is happy about the weed until it withers and then he became angry. He curses at God, as Jonah knew God would have mercy. Jonah is angry that the weed withered… here is the sign. God asks Jonah why he is so angry over a withered weed instead of seeing God forgive and bring salvation to the Ninevites. Jonah, who was chosen by God by Grace, wanted wrath instead of Grace to his enemies. Instead, God, who is merciful, gives grace.

This message is for today. Jonah was under a sad delusion that God is wrathful and desired that kind of God. Instead of delivering the delusion, God reveals His mercy and love for Gentiles… worse Gentiles that were the enemy of Israel.

We read in the Gospels of a man who owes a great debt. He is called before the king and begs for forgiveness. He is forgiven his great debt. The man then goes out and finds a man who owes him money. Instead of forgiveness, the man shakes down the other man to pay back the debt. When the king hears of this, he calls the first man back and tosses him into prison until he could pay his own debt. [1]

Now, I believe that God does not take away salvation from us. However, if you received forgiveness freely by grace you are in no position to demand others receive grace by doing anything but receive it as you did. If you place on another person rules and regulation for salvation, you are NOT preaching the Gospel of Jesus. You are preaching a perverted gospel that is NO gospel at all.

Recently, I have heard people talking of God sending a grand delusion over gay marriage and other issues.[2] Interestingly, when you read the passage in Romans about this delusion, it is in regards to believing in a false god made of sticks and stones out of the vain imagination of humans. I might add that we do not need sticks and stones to have false ideas of God. Those that choose an image of God as a lightning bolt throwing, wrathful, God miss the very end of Paul’s passage in Romans. In fact, if you read Romans one without finishing Paul’s thoughts in Romans 2 you do a great injury to the passage. Paul ends the thoughts by saying that while the pagans do such horrible things, the moralistic Jewish people also do these things so have no room to judge others --- and worst, by judging the pagan as they have dishonor God whose kindness leads to repentance.

I think that maybe there is a grand delusion happening. However, instead of it being given to those who think they serve God by crying out for His wrath to fall on others, it is given to those very people as they follow their sad imagination of such god. This delusion as 2 Thes. 2:9-12 describes:

9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

What if the lie is not about believing in gay marriage, but deeper -- the belief in the lie that God is something or someone He is not? What if it is believing in a god that does great signs and leads people away from the kindness of God? What if when we desire God to pour out His wrath on “others” we are crying out to a god of lawlessness and are forsaking the One True God? What if we have chosen to not believe the truth in that God is a loving, kind, giving, God who is willing to even suffer our sin and even greater, take that sin upon Himself and die for us? What if we instead are crying out for Zeus and not Jesus? That is the delusion I see. I see many forsaking the kindness of God for a lie. I see the US as becoming more and more self-righteous instead of displaying the image of Jesus in the Bible. We forget the truth in what Jesus stated, “If you know me, you know the Father.” [3]

[1] Matthew 18:21-35
[2] Romans 1-2
[3] John 14

Friday, June 26, 2015

Wait, who did Cain marry? And that was the second Biblical "marriage"?

Funny that people who fight the most about the sanctity of marriage go the "incest route" and also hold that the Bible is literal and have no issue with Cain having a sister for a wife... or that Isaac had a half-sister for a wife and Jacob with is half-sister wife. So, what isthe definition of Biblical marriage? No, I am not saying that is good. However, here is the thing. God allowed divorce because of the hardness of man's heart so really I could build a case for it. Nevertheless.
Incest damages a person. The psychology of a child is damaged in ways that will affect that child as they grow. While being Gay is something more of a self-realization, incest is a choice made by an adult against a child. Not to also mention that if a child is conceived it has a 42% chance at being born with some serious birth defect. Some argue that just make sure they are sterile... 
Another reason against incest is that it is gross. But morethis. It is linked to mental illness. 
From this article:
"In their study of 75 area women receiving psychotherapy, Dinwiddie and Pribor found the 52 incest victims in that group each, on average, had suffered seven psychiatric illnesses, more than twice the number suffered by the 23 women who hadn't been sexually abused as children."
Mental illness, birth defects, abuse of power in relationships... all lead me to say incest is not good and is different than being born LGBT even if the second biblical "marriage" was Cain and his sister and our biblical patriarchs married their half-sister and no one seems to worry about that at all.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Some thoughts on Philippians 2: 5-11 and its relation to Multiple Universe Theory

Philippians 2: 5-11

 5 Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

I have been thinking about this passage for years. It is one that holds my interest as it unpacks a little about Jesus’s deity and what He gave up to come to us to save us. There are some tough word choices that I think have messed up many people’s theology. To start it states Jesus “existed in the form of God”. Some take that to mean Jesus was not God but merely a form of God. Jesus was fully Man and fully God. However, this “form”, I believe, is in reference to the pre-incarnational existence of Jesus and not His earthly attributes.

Next, Jesus did not grasp for His equality with God. Why would He? Being God incarnate, Jesus would still be God but only as a human being. However, here is where it gets tricky. Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity to become a human being. This is a bit hard to grasp unless you begin to study about multiple dimensions.

According to science, there are at least 10 dimensions, (some state there is even more). They are 10, according to this PBS article. [1]

I know that is a lot to take in, and I may have lost many of you. However, this is important as I begin to unpack this idea of how/why Jesus emptied Himself by becoming a human. First let us look at the idea that there is a two dimensional person. This person can only see things from the perspective of a plain or two points. It would be like drawing a stick-man who can move right or left or up and down on a page. However, this stick-man cannot move in the 3D world. Now say, this 2D stick-man encounters a simple orb from the 3D world. The stick-man would not grasp what an orb is. Instead, from his perspective he would only see a circle with a dot in the middle of it.

Now, imagine being a 3D being, (as you already are) who wants to show a 2D person what an orb is. In a way, this is impossible. There are two possible ways to do this. One is to become a 2D person and use metaphors and other tools to explain within the 2D world what a 3D world is like. This would be much like how Jesus would state, “The Kingdom of God is like…” Jesus taught in parables that revealed higher meaning to the hearer if they had ears to hear. Jesus also performed miracles within our world. The first miracle being, Jesus emptying Himself and became a human otherwise known as the incarnation.

Another way that a 3D being would show a 2D being is to help the 2D being become a 3D being. I think this is much like the Biblical teaching of the idea of being "Born of Heaven" that is now, and the "New Creation" that is to come. In a sense, I see the idea of the multidimensional universe as an intriguing tool to show that science can open a deeper understanding for our faith. While many who have developed this multiple universe theory are atheists, I see that there is at least the possibility of a higher being that does exist in another dimension that we would not even begin to grasp. In some sense, this being might not be God or a god, but would appear to us as if they were. However, there is in my opinion the huge possibility that if there is a Higher Being it is God the Creator of all.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Dr. David Gushee: Ending the Teaching of Contempt against the Church's Sexual Minorities

Watch the whole video before you comment. I know it is long but you may have to rethink a few things afterward.

Dr Gushee is calling out that the Church rethink their position on the LGBT community. We have been wrong before and we could be wrong again. Thanks to Rachel Held Evans for bringing this to my attention.

So many Christians have told me I am weak on sin. Here is my response.

So many Christians have told me I am weak on sin. Here is my response.

A word that is mistranslated and watered down is, "sodomy". If you trace that word, it of course goes back to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (SG). Many claim the story is about “homosexuality” but if one truly studies out the story, they find that it goes deeper than that. In fact, Sodomites were not necessarily “homosexual” but rapists. A Sodomite would go to anyone who visited their town and abuse, rape, (male, or female)… in other words, as God stated, “As I live”, says the Lord GOD, “neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. 49 Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. (Ezek. 16:48).

The issue is in how we treat one another. The issue is not about one “sin”. In fact, the translations watered down the horror that was committed by Sodomites. To water their actions to “homosexuality” diminishes the real “sin” SG committed against God. There is an infection in the Body of Christ that has allowed a citizen classism, which, in turn leads to inequality of believers. We deem some as lesser Christians than ourselves or while they may be “saved”, we put out the claim they “must change”. The unfortunate “must change” is not about God working within LGBT people the same as straight people but by our own standards of "change". The real “sin” is that we created a theology of exclusion – while Jesus preached inclusiveness. This is a weaker gospel that is not The Gospel. By making a class of people change, (do works), to be acceptable to God, we usurp the Gospel and make it no gospel at all.

We create a lie as to how to become “born from above”. We commit the error that Paul warned:

Gal. 3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?

The US suffers from not comprehending the evil of sodomy and has watered it down to someone being gay. This has made the true evil of (SG) reduced to a single “sin”. Sorry to say, meanwhile the US has fallen into the same sin of SG in our blood thirst for war, mistreatment of the poor, and has become the ones that persecute those that Jesus came to save. We have embraced what some call the Republican Jesus, but I call the Political and Corporate Jesus. This false Jesus is all about the bottom line -- making money and not about Salvation. By worshipping this false Jesus, we water the Gospel down and rob it of its power to save. I am calling for a New Reformation and deeper repentance that draws others deeper into Christ Jesus.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

You can biblically believe in evolution and here is how.

You can biblically believe in evolution and here is how. Part 1

The debate over evolution has raged on for years. Atheists as well as well-meaning believers state that a person cannot believe in evolution and the Biblical account, as they are incompatible. It is also stated, that if a believer does believe in evolution they are not true believers. However, what if the Bible speaks clearly on the topic, but we miss it. What if one misinterpretation or teaching that started early in the church is actually just plain wrong. I also understand if someone cannot allow himself or herself to see outside of what he or her have been taught this will be hard to grasp.

When I was about ten or eleven, I remember family travels where fossil museums were places we would visit. I was infatuated with T-Rex as well as Triceratops and even ate a brontosaurs burger in a restaurant that was in a town that had a dig. The dig was where it seemed many dinosaurs had been swept away by a sudden flood. The burger was really a huge hamburger that I took on as a personal challenge and as I recall, won. I was a bit saddened when it was the announced Brontosaurs may have not existed and were possibly two other fossils spliced together. Now, recently Brontosaurus has made a comeback like Classic Coke.

I remember in one museum looking at a picture of a hairy ape-like man labeled, the Neanderthal, and I turned to the woman next me and stated, “He was one of our ancestors.” She huffed at me and stated, “Maybe yours, but not mine.” This baffled me. I had no idea what she meant until later when I became a believer and was taught evolution was a lie. As a young believer, I took that at face value and read all the creation stuff I could. However, there were things bothering me even back then as I read Genesis…

“In the beginning…Ex nihilo?”

It struck me one time that this was “the beginning” but seemed that it was not stating it was the “only beginning”. It is the beginning of this creation – the age of God’s image. Many state that there was only God and nothing, and out of nothing God spoke, (Ex nihilo), thus creation happened. I see how people get this but there was something with God “in the beginning” – an element called water.

Evolution claims life came out of water. Interestingly, it appears that this matter – water—is with God in the beginning and is used in creating. God speaks and creates the heavens and the earth yet it was out of water God created. Do you think I am crazy here? [1]

2 Peter 3:5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, (ESV).

The earth was formed out of water… as Peter clearly states... Water was with God in the beginning and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of the Lord which would be more accurately creatio ex materia (creation out of some pre-existent, eternal matter). While we can go on some majorly fun red herrings here about baptism,  being born of water and Heaven, and many other great things, I will force myself to just say, when I noticed this element was present with God, that maybe God used eternal elements to create. Just maybe God, being The Creator God He is, has created many times before, and as stated, will create a new heaven and earth in the age to come. (Rev. 21:1)

The age to come.

"The age to come" is an interesting phrase that many seem to gloss over. We have the "now" this present age and "the age to come", that being the new heaven and new earth. These seem to, as the bible shows us, come out of this creation. The bible has many interesting phrases like “ancient of days”, which has an overly otherworldly quality to it. It is used in the book of Daniel a few times but it seems to be in a different realm or dimension. [2] Daniel seems to have trouble describing what he sees and uses words like “like” a few times, for example, “like a son of man”. We take this as the pre-incarnate Jesus sitting in his heavenly realm. It appears to Daniel as an eternal realm beyond this creation.

What would an eternal God who loves creating do? I bet He would create… not just once but eternally. Who is to say that God did not create many different ages before “In the beginning...”? For instance, look at evolution. There are gaps between the “ages” where the animals seem to change, die, or go missing. Then other animals appear and there is a new age. I am saying, just between the Paleozoic Era and Mesozoic Era, there are millions of years. However, we move from finned fish to T-Rex with no real connection between the two ages. While maybe fish or other animals seem to pass between ages, there is a huge gap going from a fish to a T-Rex. Unless--- one is one age and then there is a new creation, a new heaven, a new earth, new animals, and other things including humans but changed according to that age or period. 

What I am getting at is that we have the Bible teaching that God is a creating God and that there is this age and the age to come and like the Bible states, the New Creation will be something entirely different from this one and yet somehow, we all will be a part of it.[3] With that thought, it would appear that since all life came from water and through water, then we are all somehow connected together. Remember how God made man out of the dust of the earth? With a little creative license here, the Potter made us out of the creation's clay. Now, I am not talking about pantheism and acknowledge I am treading into panentheism territory. However, I am not stating we are all divine or that the eternal matter is God or equal to God. While this appears to be closest to Panentheism, I feel that there is a difference in that while the eternal element is eternal it is not equal or in God but still separate. However, saying this, there is still the idea that we are now “in Christ” and a “new creation”, which may be a hint at the change in relationship between God and the eternal element or as N.T. Wright states often, “inaugurated, but not yet consummated. It is now and not yet.”[4]

 I see it as an extension of God more like a potter with clay. Who is to say that God did not already create human-like creatures before Adam and Eve and that Adam who, as the bible states, was “created in God’s image”? Perhaps, Neanderthal man was just a prototype homosapien with DNA close enough to mix with homosapiens, and fossils are just remains of past creations.

[1] Oord, Thomas Jay. The Nature of Love: a theology. Chalice Press, 2010.

[2] Daniel 7:9
[3] Matthew 19:28-29
[4] N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
(HarperOne, 2008), 79.

Works Cited 

N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church HarperOne, 2008, 79.
Oord, Thomas Jay. The Nature of Love: a theology. Chalice Press, 2010.