Friday, July 5, 2013

Bible Study

For the first 40+ years of my life I studied for the purpose of proving that I was right. I knew what I believed and when I read my "study" was successful when it made me feel good, righteous, right.

I have since done all that I can to remove that type of study from my life and have tried to repent of that arrogance. I consider those 40 years a total waste. I knew my facts but did not know my God. And as it turns out I did not know my facts either.

It has been amazing what doors have been opened as I read with fresh eyes! God's word is much more beautiful that I had ever imagined. I was taught that there was no grace or forgiveness before Jesus. I was taught that the Old testament was replaced by the new. I was taught that the God of the Old covenant was a god of law and that He changed His attitude after Jesus was born. That God is a nit-picker and to mess up even a little was to bring down His wrath.

I have learned that all of that was so far from the truth that God would not even recognize that as His teaching. God has shown grace and forgiveness from the beginning. I have learned that you can not fully understand the New testament without knowing the old testament. There are riches there that I am still mining and becoming richer every day. I will never again carry a pocket New testament for it is not even a Readers Digest of God's Word.

Those are just a few of the things that I have learned that are new and pray that God continues to add to it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Why was Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed by God? It is likely not what you think. It actually has nothing to do with what you have likely been taught all of your life.

If you are a believer you should allow the Bible to answer the question you. If you are not, you might still be interested. The answer is in Ezekiel 16:49. It says "'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."

Brothers and Sisters, how do we get so mis-focused? I see so much political rhetoric from people that claim Christ that dehumanizes the poor and the aliens that makes me believe we have completely missed the mark.

If we are to live the life with the focus that God wishes us to have we will care for those less fortunate. Jesus would call these people "the least of these" and add that if we do not care for them we will be unrecognisable as His followers on Judgement day and asked to depart.

We should be community focused. Our focus needs to be on helping people. Not judging them. Our focus should be on saving/helping them not labelling them (homeless, illegals, welfare recipients, etc) so that we can hate them as a group. Hate is not a Christian quality. And if you say they do not deserve our concern, consider whether you deserve the grace you have been given.

And just to set the record straight, the actual, Biblical definition of a Sodomite is one who is : "arrogant, overfed and unconcerned...[for] the poor and needy". It has absolutely nothing to do with sexual preference. I know many "straight" sodomites, do you?

Sometimes it is just too clear why those that do not believe call us hypocrites....

Monday, January 28, 2013

What is a "True Christian"

I have a Christian brother that I met on Google+ that I have really come respect. He sees Christianity through fresh eyes and asks questions that provoke me to thought. In one of his posts he posed the following question:

How do you determine if a person can be trusted as a "true Christian"?

How does your church determine who can be trusted as a member of the church and a "true Christian"?

A very important question. This question is at the heart what divides the Christian community and is the point Joel was making when he posed it.

I am not going to claim that I have a complete answer to this but I believe I am getting closer. Here is how I responded to his question:

I have been "going to church" for 56 years. I could describe a good part of that time as circling the wagons to keep differing opinions out of the camp. I was probably guilty of worshiping my beliefs more than God. Still God loved me and called my His child, even though the relationship was heavily one sided. That is the way God is.

I am now one of several leaders in a medium sized congregation in Tucson. It still has the same moniker on the building as the one that I grew up in but it is not the same closed minded community it once was. We accept diversity and have placed Christ back at the center instead of our doctrine.

As for membership, we have taken a new track that we believe is really an old track. It used to be that one must Believe (like I do), Behave (like I think you ought) and then you can Become (a member of my church). We are actively rearranging those priorities. We call it "The Three B's" and we refer to it often in our teaching and admonishing.

First you Belong. Period. It does not matter who you are, what you wear, how many tattoos you have, if you are conservative or liberal  or progressive, young or old or what you believe or even if you have faith of any kind. We are family, not institution. It is our fervent hope and prayer that if you don't believe that by belonging you will come to faith and wish to develop a relationship with Jesus. We plant the seeds by the examples of our lives and study of His Word and let God do His part to bring about Belief. The last "B" is Behave and this is expected to be a process, not an instantaneous revolution. That is what Grace is for and Grace is not something only God can grant.

Are we perfect at doing this yet? Nope. :) But we are working on it and God still loves us and calls us His children. That is the way God is.