What You Won't Find In A Christian Bookstore

1 Corinthians 6:11 – And such were some of you. But you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

There is certainly a lot of discussion right now in the “Christian community” over the issue of gay marriage, due to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriages in all 50 States. That having been said, as of the time of this writing, not all States have chosen to comply with the ruling and many Christian organizations are speaking out in anger over this decision, which essentially re-defines marriage and which many Christians fear will force them to make difficult decisions based on their conscience vs. the directive of Government, potentially leading to some folks losing their jobs or worse (e.g. being fined or imprisoned for choosing not to comply with the ruling on the basis of faith and/or conscience).

I do have my own perspectives on this issue, though I must say that I believe God’s Word speaks most adequately for itself and that anyone who is genuinely seeking Him, and who invites the Holy Spirit to lead them, will have to confront these decisions for themselves and I pray that they will find the strength to listen and obey the Lord as He directs them.

One thing that has caused me to shake my head in amazement when watching the general Christian community respond to this issue is the reaction of shock and surprise that this has happened in America. It makes me wonder where all these pew-warming people have been for the last 20+ years. While it’s true that gay marriage has not been officially legal on a national scale before today, it has certainly been endorsed by almost every outlet imaginable; from television and movies to department stores and banks. We see approval for it among political leaders, public speakers, college professors, and the general conversation of the public at large seems to indicate that almost everyone is supportive of homosexuality. Even if some don’t personally agree with it, few have been willing to speak out against it… so I am watching this unfold now with some curiosity as it appears that some of these “slumbering saints” are finding their voice all of the sudden… unfortunately, not necessarily with a positive tone.

It also seems that this is what religion tends to produce on a regular basis; people that are quite comfortably outspoken within their four little walls and among their church cliques, but who are so disconnected from the world around them and the people in that world that they have no idea how to talk with them, and many don’t exhibit any compassion for them either. They (i.e. those who are not part of this churched crowd) are simply regarded as the sorry lost, while the happy Saved remain comfy and cozy in their little religious social clubs. Jesus is their superstar, but they don’t even emulate Him. They resist touching the unclean masses, forgetting that Jesus walked among them and ate with them, drank with them, visited their homes, shared His love and life and truth with them (and that these Saved ones were once one of those “unclean masses” as well). He is still doing this, touching the lives of people, through vessels that are willing to hear His voice and act. Vessels who share the same love that God has bestowed upon them and of which they are humbly aware.

I’ve read a lot of articles lately from Christians on all sides of this issue. Some are excited to proclaim that judgment is about to fall hard on America for her sins… all because of this Supreme Court decision. Apparently, according to these folks, this was the last straw for God. Well, I don’t know about that. Seems like a lot of Americans (including political leaders and religious leaders) have been breaking God’s “straws” for a long time. I sincerely doubt that this was the last one… and by saying that, I don’t mean to marginalize what just happened. It does grieve my heart to see this nation that once was not ashamed to bring God into the center of issues, but now He is discarded everywhere. Sadly though, this is not a new thing… It’s been happening for decades… and, as I mentioned before, a lot of Christians seem to be acting like they’ve been asleep the whole time… Maybe a lot of them were. What’s more concerning to me though is how poorly they are handling this revelation. Once again, the grand influence of religiosity has caused them to follow religious patterns in their responses, rather than seeking out and leaning on the direction of the Holy Spirit.

I started out by mentioning the passage of Scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:11, which talks about a whole lot of things that God regards as sin, but the apostle Paul says to the believers, “SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU, BUT YOU ARE WASHED, SANCTIFIED, AND JUSTIFIED IN THE NAME OF CHRIST AND BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD.” That is a powerful statement to behold and one that Believers need to focus on for just a moment. While many are setting up battle zones to fight against this sin or that (in this season it’s homosexuality), they seem to be forgetting that ALL OF US have fallen short of God’s glory.

    Romans 3:19-23 (NLT) – Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Now, indeed some have taken this passage to mean that, since God makes us right with Him by the grace of Jesus, that sin doesn’t matter anymore (and so you can just go on doing the things you know are sinful because it doesn’t matter anymore). A simple review of the context of the full passage will quickly reveal that this is not the case. Sin is still sin and God is not pleased with it (nor does He take pleasure in those that shrink back to a place where sin becomes acceptable – Hebrews 10:38; Romans 6)… The point is that ALL OF US are infected by it and there was a time that we were ruled by it… Some still are. But Christ is able to deliver and save all who come to Him. And once a relationship with the Father is engaged, He gives people the power (by His Holy Spirit) to put to death the deeds of the flesh that we would otherwise be powerless to overcome (Romans 8:13).

I love the phrase, “Such were some of you,” because even with this list of sins that are wholly abominable to God (which, yes, includes the sin of homosexuality among others), the good news is that EVERYONE can come to Him and be made a new creation. Right now a lot of people, even people who don’t like Christianity, are focused on the subject of homosexuality and they single out its reference in the Bible and are making it to be the central issue, but it is NOT! Paul mentions other sins that even a lot of Christians who are against homosexuality would rather not focus on (because it hits them where they live too). Let’s back up for a moment and look at some of the other items in this list of wrong-doing that are no less significant that homosexuality and please notice – PAUL IS SAYING THAT MOST OF THESE THINGS HAVE BEEN HAPPENING AMONG THOSE WHO DESCRIBE THEMSELVES AS FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST. This is not a rebuke to worldly people who have not yet come to Christ! It is a reminder to those that have come to Christ!

    1 Corinthians 6:5 – I am saying this to shame you (Christians). Isn’t there anyone in all the church who is wise enough to decide these issues?

I’ve been asking the same questions. While everyone is up in arms about those darn gays, few of the same proud religious folks are allowing God’s light to shine on their own sins (nor are they walking in the wisdom and love of God to have any clue about how to handle these things among themselves). The apostle Paul says these things to literally shame them!

    1 Corinthians 6:6 – But instead, one believer sues another—right in front of unbelievers!

In all my years growing up in church world, I witnessed PLENTY of lawsuits among Christians and I have often heard Christians talk about suing one another over this issue and that, with all kinds of hatred, resentment, bitterness and anger as might be expected from any person who doesn’t know Christ, yet this behavior is far too common AMONG CHRISTIANS and no one seems to care much about it.

    1 Corinthians 6:7 – Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you. Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? Instead, you yourselves are the ones who do wrong and cheat even your fellow believers.

When was the last time we heard a Christian person say something like this? Paul says, “Why not just ACCEPT THE INJUSTICE AND LEAVE IT AT THAT? WHY NOT LET YOURSELVES BE CHEATED?” Then he shows how they actually end up doing wrong by trying to bring suit against their brothers and sisters in the faith and even to cheat them back.

    1 Corinthians 6:9 – Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or sodomy, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—NONE OF THESE will inherit the Kingdom of God.

I’ve known my share of “Christian” adulterers, thieves, greedy folks, drunkards, abusive people and cheaters… The sin of idolatry is RAMPANT in the modern church system. A lot of Christians practically worship their religious leaders (and some of the leaders almost virtually demand it). Christians idolize Gospel musical artists and even so-called “worship leaders” (which is a bit ironic). They idolize various religious authors, TV preachers, etc. If God doesn’t fit into their comfortable religion, they create an updated version of Him (and a modified perspective on Scripture) to suit their desires, thus creating a idol in the name of God Himself! Remarkable! Sexual sin permeates Christian organizations all the way up to those who present themselves as leaders, teachers and guides. Spiritual, emotional, mental and even physical and sexual abuse are too often named among those that are expected to be elders and shepherds of the flock. I’ve listened to plenty of preachers pick on homosexuality, while they regularly exhibit the behavior of gluttons and all the bad behavior Jesus attributed to the Pharisees… Why are these sins not highlighted with the same excitement among the modern Church system? Why are they not judging themselves before they take their judgment to those who don’t even know Christ yet? 1 Peter 4:17 says, “For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?” I feel I can say this as one who spent most of my life inside the walls of organized religion; I know what it is to express offense and disgust at the world’s sin (and I’m not suggesting it’s wrong to be aware of this), but the reality is that the world is acting exactly as expected – for it does not know Christ, it is not submitted to Christ, it has no concern for the things of God, it is not spiritually-minded… That’s why we call it “the world”.

When I see Christians in churches investing more time in political activity than they do in pursuing Christ I want to slap them in the face and say, “Wake up you fools!” It’s not that political involvement is bad (I am not suggesting any such thing, because I do my part here as well), but when the people of God expect things to change solely by placing all their hopes in political leaders and political action, they are missing the mark. What might happen if those same people spent that much time on their knees and in fellowship with the Lord Jesus, listening for His voice and doing His will? I am in agreement that God uses government to execute justice on evildoers (and the Scripture clearly teaches this – Romans 13:1-14; that government is even the servant of God), but we are expected to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world, are we not?

    Titus 3:1-8 – Put them in mind to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no one, not being quarrelsome, but forbearing, showing all meekness to all men. For we ourselves also were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, slaving for various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Faithful is the Word, and as to these things, I desire that you strongly affirm that those believing God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

So often, I hear so-called Christians speaking some of the most grievous hatred towards people who do evil in this world. I hear them talk about various terrorist groups and how we should kill them all. I hear so-called Christians talk about how they’d like to castrate rapists and torture criminals. Please understand, I am in no way condoning the behavior of wicked people, nor do I think that government should refrain from executing justice, discipline and punishment (for I believe this is God’s will for government), but as Christians the Lord calls us to love our enemies. Somehow Christians manage to push this commandment aside and attempt to justify their hatred by saying, “Well, enemies doesn’t mean groups like Isis or murderers and rapists and thieves…” Oh really? What about the murderers who crucified Christ? They literally tortured Him and nailed His naked body to a splintered cross and laughed and spit on Him. Jesus’ family and friends had to watch this brutal sacrifice before their very eyes. THINK ABOUT THIS! Was it any less brutal than the kind of things we’ve witness some people today suffer at the hands of wrongdoers? They (the family and friends of Jesus) observed the cruelty and wickedness taking place too! They felt the anguish of this injustice! Do you suppose it was any different from those families today that have had loved ones imprisoned, tortured or beheaded by terrorist organizations? Yet what did Jesus say from the Cross? Did He say, “My people, kill the evildoers!” I seem to recall He said, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” While the blood was dripping from His flesh and the skin was being ripped from His bones, He cried out for God’s forgiveness to come to his accusers and brutalizers! This same love and forgiveness of God was extended toward us; God knowing full well the murderous darkness and selfishness and lust for sin in each of our hearts that had separated us from the Father. How can the world be expected to understand the Cross, if we do not preach it… even with our actions!

The modern Church has reduced the Gospel to “a story”. It’s not that they get the story wrong or that it’s wrong for them to tell that story (for even Paul said in Philippians 1:18, “What then? Nevertheless, in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached. And I rejoice in this. Yet, also I will rejoice.”) and God can use the “story” as well, but there is power in the testimony of Christ that flows from a life that has truly been changed by Him. When Believers start living and loving like Christ, bearing their own crosses, even (if necessary) unto the point of suffering injustice while still bearing His character and demonstrating God’s love and grace, then people will begin to see that this Gospel we preach is REAL and not just religious words we have been programmed to repeat. Don’t get me wrong, I do not have a death wish. I’m probably one of the biggest wimps when it comes to pain there is. I don’t like suffering… and I feel grief and anger when I see evil acts being committed against others. I have the same tendencies to want to hate those people and to want to see them burn in hell for their wickedness… but God has been reminding me that, even though I may not have engaged in the same kind of physical evil that some of these people have, my heart was no less wicked and full of sin when He reached out to me and saved me! The call to love is not easy, but it’s not supposed to be. No one enjoys bearing a cross. But God gives us grace and the strength to endure all those things that are not comfortable to our flesh for the joy He sets before us. There is great reward in yielding to His disciplines and allowing His love and truth to pierce through every area of our hearts to change us, day-by-day, into His image. These petty concerns we have against people who sin will fade more and more as we are overcome with God’s holy compassion for them, remembering also where we ourselves came from when God rescues us from the hell we also deserved! It is good to hate sin… It is better to crucify it in our own lives and allow the Spirit of God to transform us for the glory of God.

Make no mistake, God will judge the world in His own timing (and, as followers of Christ, we should not fear speaking truth and standing up for morality and justice), but we as followers of Christ ought to be very concerned about how we live before Him and the example we set before the world around us. There is no place for spiritual pride because it does nothing to convict or draw the sinner – or to draw us closer to the heart of God.

When I look at the modern church, they don’t even see how the devil is deceiving them in so many of these areas, even in this issue concerning homosexuality. Again, I speak as one that gave many long years of my life to the mindset of churchianity.

No, I don’t have a problem calling homosexuality a sin, but I know this… Just as Paul said, “SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU…” And that means that no sin is off the hook and no person is less guilty than another. Christians, if they were truly walking in relationship with the Master rather than just religion with the church system, perhaps they would be experiencing the love of God transforming their lives, making them a light shining on a hill for all the world to see. Maybe instead of having to toot their own horn, they would find the world making the observation on their own that, “Wow, these guys are really like Jesus… They act like Him, they live like Him, they talk like Him, they LOVE like Him… we have not see this before among them!” A lot of so-called “Christians” forget or are ignorant of the fact that IT WAS THE WORLD who gave the early followers of Jesus the title of Christian.

Can a person be born gay? I don’t know… Maybe… but so what and who cares? Can a person be born a thief, a liar, an adulterer, a drunkard, a sexual deviant, an abusive sort, an idolater, etc.? Certainly all of us are born with impulses and even natural tendencies to sin. If someone makes an exception for one kind of sin, because they think they may have been born that way, or because they believe they can’t help how they feel, or because they think that’s just their disposition, then where is the line for ANYTHING the Bible calls sin? Sin is sin… People who sin are sinners… but that’s why the Gospel is GOOD NEWS – because Jesus saves sinners and WE ALL HAVE SINNED! God does not desire to give sinners what they deserve for breaking His laws. Instead, He chooses to give them mercy. He chooses to show them love. He chooses to create beauty from ashes. The fact that people sin is not a statement that God hates sinners, but rather that He loves them and made a way for them to be restored to relationship with God and to become free of every kind of bondage that weighs us down.

Yes, there is the issue concerning morality – but the real issue is that ALL OF US are sinners who need the Savior. A lot of churches employ programs to “fix sin conditions”, when they ought to be introducing sinners to Jesus and making disciples of HIM! The morality stuff just tends to work itself out when the Lordship role is left to Jesus. Usually when churches and religious leaders and organizations get their fingers in things, it creates a much bigger mess and causes a lot more pain and complication. I have seen lives destroyed at the hands of well-meaning church leaders, and well-intentioned church programs. The answer is NOT more religion or religious involvement. The answer really is CHRIST. Like the old Andre Crouch song used to sing, “Jesus is the ANSWER for the world today… Above Him there’s NO OTHER, cause Jesus is THE WAY!” But the modern Christian doesn’t think like this anymore. Is it any wonder that Jesus Himself said that MANY would be rejected by God on judgment day even while they were talking about all the things they did in His name?

I’m no better than any of the folks I am talking about, save that I rest in the grace of God whom I know has saved me. I have no hatred in my heart to anyone based on whatever sin holds them in bondage or that causes them to struggle. In this life, even as many of us endeavor to sincerely follow Jesus and engage a genuine relationship with God, we will often struggle with sin. We will stumble at times and fall. We will fail! We will do wrong! But the spiritually-minded person, doesn’t wallow there in that moment of failure, nor does he seek for ways to condone his failure or his sinful desires and tendencies, which are truly part of his old nature before Christ. Rather he humbles himself before God and stands again, realizing that He is forgiven by God, and that God is able to grow him into a strong warrior against the sin that so easily besets him. He is NOT identified by that sin, but God calls him His own child and son. God is also able to grant him the power to overcome sin and put it to death as he yields to the leadership of Christ day by day. I love what Paul said as he spoke of his own battle against sin… We’ve probably all read this a hundred times, but I encourage you to read this again and really consider the words. This is wonderful news for ALL of us sinners who have been saved by God’s amazing grace.

    Romans 8:1-15 – So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent His own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, “Abba, Father.”

It should be pretty obvious that most parents put up with a lot of failure as they train up their kids. Kids seem to have a natural propensity to rebel and do wrong. Dad says, “do this,” and the son does something else. Dad disciplines the child, which is no fun for the child, but the reason is out of love that the child will learn to do right and walk rightly when he is older. But often times, children do not do right. They lie, they disobey, they do what they think is right, despite what their parents tell them is right (for the sake of keeping them safe). But even when human children fail and fall down, they often run to mom and dad… and most good parents open their arms and receive them with love and compassion. If humans do as much for their own children, how much more will God act this way toward His own children when they fail, stumble, and even rebel but come back to His arms?

    Matthew 7:11 – So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.

    Luke 15:20-24 – “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

THIS is our Father. He is always there with arms open, waiting for us to return to Him… In fact, more than just waiting, He runs to us and lavishes us with love and rejoicing at the very inkling that we begin to turn our heads and hearts toward home. And yet even more than that, when I read this story that Jesus told to convey the Father’s heart toward His prodigal children, I see a Father who didn’t just get excited when His son headed home, but that Father was waiting and watching all along. He always had His eye on the horizon, and I know our Father is that way with us. Sadly, some of us have to sit with the pigs for a while before we come to our senses. I don’t see much use in Christians jumping on the judgment train when they see people acting out in sin. The more difficult thing is to be willing to hear the Master and get into the dirt with those the Master wishes to help. How can we be His hands and feet if we just cover them up all the time with the religious stomping boots and sterile gloves of our church houses (where we hope not to be infected by touching people who do not yet know our Father or whom at least have not yet come to the realization of where their sin is taking them)?

There but for the grace of God go us! So let’s start living like people who are walking in the revelation of God’s grace! If you don’t have that revelation yet and have only been walking in the religious knowledge of it, then repent and ask the Father to open your eyes and touch your heart.

The Government is gonna do a lot worse I think as time rolls on. Each one is going to have to confront their conscience and act in obedience or disobedience to the Father as those circumstances present themselves. But each one is also going to have to decide whether they will love those the Father loves and have the courage to look beyond just the sin on the surface to what God is desiring to do in their lives. He may stretch you beyond a lot of comfort zones in your life… I know He has been doing that with me.

Right now, I won’t likely be one of those folks that gets overly animated or vocal about the issue of gay marriage. You’re not likely to see tons of articles about it from me posted on this site. That’s not to say that I don’t think the issue is important… nor does it mean that I endorse it (certainly no less than any of the other sins that Scripture spells out for us). Yes, my belief is that Scripture plainly teaches that homosexuality is a sin. But I don’t looking for fights with folks based on their sins… otherwise, I’d be fighting myself just as much. I’m not afraid to speak the truth and that’s why I’m sharing this openly with you all (and I hope that God’s love is apparent in how this is conveyed). My ultimate desire is to share the TRUTH who is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world (with all of its sins and hangups). Such were some of us… If I had written that verse, I’d probably have said “such were MOST (if not ALL) of us.” In fact, if you could explore my thought-life (and I dare say if I could explore some of yours) we’d both probably spend a good deal of time throwing up. The sin that exists even merely in our thought life (the place where no one else is able to see), if we were judged by God for just that, hell would most certainly be our destination. The thing is, God does see into those places and it is as clear and prevalent to Him as if we were physically and repeatedly committing those acts!

It’s clear to me that Paul was gently reminding them where God had brought them from and how God’s grace has more than covered all their sins, but washes them away and makes them clean. For the person who is saved by grace, God identifies that person as a NEW CREATURE. Therefore, we do not need complain about or justify things based on how we think we were born, or the circumstances we were raised under, or the impulses and desires that tempt us. Those things have gone away now – for those who belong to Christ – and God has forgiven us and made us into something NEW in Him! So maybe we (Christians) need to focus more on proclaiming the true Gospel of Jesus (and demonstrating it with our lives) rather than just picking on people’s pet sins. Remember that GOD is the one that draws people to Himself.

None of the religious man’s clever evangelism techniques have the power to do it, no matter how much they may pride themselves to think so. I look at all these churches employing all these programs and strategies to win souls and most avoid the leadership of the Holy Spirit and the genuine compulsion of God’s love and compassion. They are tactics devised by man in the power and strength of religion and are rooted in manipulation and the scheming ways of men. True evangelism is a gift of God!

    Ephesians 4:8 – Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high He led a host of captives, and HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”

    Ephesians 4:11 – “And truly He gave some to be… evangelists…”

An evangelist is someone who brings good news to people (especially the Gospel of Jesus Christ). And so not only does God give this ability to joyously open up the message of the Gospel to people, but He takes that proclaimed Gospel and HE opens up the hearts to receive it. It is wholly a work of HIS doing. Ours is simply to walk in love and respond in obedience, trusting HIM to do the work.

    John 6:44-45 – For NO ONE can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them to Me, and at the last day I will raise them up. As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will ALL be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to Me.

That right there pretty much takes all of religion’s boasting out of the mix. I am reminded of this passage every time I hear of all the evangelistic endeavors that go on in the modern church system. Most are designed primarily to entice people to become members of that organization. Some present the Gospel in sincerity, but many do so from a position of religious duty rather than because God instructed them or compelled them by a revelation of love. Many also add to the Gospel many other things that have nothing to do with it and which are non-essential, such as the emphasis on attending church, paying tithes, getting involved in religious programs, going to Bible college, etc. Often times the religious directives of men can corrupt good soil and choke out budding new life. Though many churches call these supplemental things “follow up” or “discipleship” they are generally nothing short of legalism. The Lord’s directive to “go and make disciples” did not mean to make disciples of men or of churches, but OF HIM ONLY! This is why the Scripture (in John 6:44-45) says that ALL will be taught by God and everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him will come to Christ.

It’s easy for me to talk about Christ because I have been a recipient of His goodness and grace. This I can share with people as the Lord directs and as the joy in my heart compels me. I desire to do nothing for religion sake. I do not look at “gay people” as though they were some strange alien race… They are people, just like every person on this earth. The Bible tells me that EVERYONE has sinned, that includes me and you. No one is in a special group there. So why would I try to look at certain people through a unique lens? I long to see people through the eyes of Christ and I too often fail at this. The fact is though, when the Light of Christ is revealed to a person and they respond, the things of this world begin to grow strangely dim. When Salvation comes, God places a new desire in the heart and like a seed it will grow until that person’s desires align with God’s desires. But it is a journey and very often the old junk doesn’t change overnight. God gives much grace and also the power to heal our hearts and restore us and overcome the past and sin. But that whole timetable and method is up to God in the life of each person who yields to Him. And the yielding is not hard… While the flesh does not easily submit to the Spirit, God is merciful and patient and despite our weaknesses, He gives us power to overcome those things that would otherwise seem impossible in our own strength.

    Matthew 26:41 – “Keep watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

    Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in Him.

    2 Corinthians 12:8-10 – Three times I begged the Lord to make this suffering go away. But he replied, “My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So if Christ keeps giving me his power, I will gladly brag about how weak I am. Yes, I am glad to be weak or insulted or mistreated or to have troubles and sufferings, if it is for Christ. Because when I am weak, I am strong.

    Matthew 11:28-30 – If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.

And for those of us who may not be struggling with the same things that some others struggle with, we should NEVER be spiritually arrogant and condescending toward them as though they are worse sinners and not like us. I am amazed at how many so-called Christian people completely fail to live up to the directive of Scripture in this important area. Our churches are full of spiritual pride and condescending and hypocritical behavior. Where is the attitude Paul speaks of in Scripture?

    Galatians 6:1-5 – My friends, you are spiritual. So if someone is trapped in sin, you should gently lead that person back to the right path. But watch out, and don’t be tempted yourself. You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand. If you think you are better than others, when you really aren’t, you are wrong. Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others. We each must carry our own load.

Granted, with the Government creating regulations that pose to potentially limit free speech, it may become more and more difficult to address these issues among ourselves – without getting into trouble with the powers that be. Well, until that time comes, I will still encourage Believers to yield to their one Master, Christ, and let Him do the work of transformation. If we are walking in His truth and love, His Spirit knows exactly how to guide us through issues where sin must be confronted among brothers and sisters in community. I honestly don’t know how that is supposed to play all out in our present-day context of Christian community because I no longer see “church” in the same way as I used to when I was consumed by religious thought. I only know that I trust that God, by His Spirit, is able to accomplish it… even if the Government tries to regulate it alternatively. Many Christians who are worried about the recent ruling are still thinking in the context of being “church goers” (and how this might affect their organization). It’s obvious that these environments will experience challenges on a much different level than those of us who do not identify with that environment any longer. It seems obvious (to me) that if an organization has made an agreement to abide by Government regulation in exchange for tax exemptions, they are going to have to deal with the result of their choice to submit to man as the primary rule of Law instead of God. Those who live quiet and peaceful lives, walking in relationship with Christ, following His lead, serving others the way Christ serves us, they are not likely to so often run into these kinds of issues… but if they do, God is able to reveal His truth and character through the lives of those who are truly yielded to Him. I want to ever be one of those!

    1 Timothy 2:1 – I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior.

For those interested more specifically in the issue of homosexuality, there is a good video out on the subject that I watched several months back. It’s called “Such Were Some Of You” and it is available at this link. No, I do not get royalties if you buy it and I’m sure many of you are aware of how rarely I recommend anything that is not freely available to download… In this case, since I have not yet discovered anything of much quality available on the subject for Christians to review, this was a good find… even though it is not yet freely available to my knowledge (but, certainly, check YouTube to see if you can find it). I’m not even crazy about all of the so-called religious teachers that have backed the movie, but the movie itself is decent enough. If you have struggled with homosexuality yourself or if you have friends or family that have, this is a great video. It is not your typical Bible-bash production that simply rants on about the subject and tries to convert homosexuals. The movie takes more of a testimonial approach, as well as engage the discussion. The love of God is manifested through this presentation, which involves interviews with Christians who have struggled with this issue in their own lives and found God’s grace and truth to sustain them. The movie really does have appeal to a variety of people on different sides of this issue. It may appeal to Christians who feel they presently cannot relate but long to understand and really want to see with the eyes of Christ. It also has appeal to those who have struggled with homosexuality in connection with their faith. It also presents a loving opportunity for those who presently do not identify with Christianity to gain a better understanding of what the Bible teaches and what real Christianity looks like in response to this matter… which, sadly, is not something they’ve seen a lot of. If you’ve seen it, feel free to share your thoughts here. I’d love to hear some other responses to it… and of course to anything I’ve shared here as well. God bless you my friends!!!

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