Saturday, August 2, 2014

Marriage Equality

How does God feel about marriage equality?

If you speak to the majority of Christians they would say that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that it is a "God idea".

I'm now going to say something controversial, and will continue to throughout this particular blog entry.  Most Christians have the wrong perception of God, based on fundamentalist untruths contained within their dogma and the fallible word of God.

Hmmmm, I've said the unthinkable, and being a Christian how on earth can I say that?  Well, if you can lay aside your prejudices and read the words contained within this post, without adding any hidden meanings, or innuendo's, and ask me questions if you are unsure, then please read-on, but don't "judge the splinter in my eye", when the "plank in yours" is HUGE.

Ha!  More stirring.  But I feel that I need to convey to you how passionate I am about truly conveying the nature of our God, who is, the same "yesterday, today and forever".  Who has been around always, more than the 16 billion years our universe has been around.  God is way bigger than we could "ever hope or imagine", and the Bible was written by fallible "man", who is renown for interpreting God "inspired instruction" to suit their own ends.

Oopsie: there goes more stirring.  But, let's get to the nuts and bolts of this blog;

I would like you to consider this;

1) Biologically speaking with are created to have sexual intercourse between a man and woman, for the purpose of procreation.

2) As human begins we are programmed with the compulsion to love.

3) We live in a world that is completely broken and most of the inhabitants don't enjoy a personal relationship with God, so His hands are tied when it comes to doing something about it.

4) Due to 3), our relationships and how we relate to one another is also broken, so even though as per 1), we are biologically created to procreate with male and female, our brokenness makes this impossible for many people. (consider the number of broken relationships you have had personally, or others in your world have had).

5) As per our compulsion to find love as per 2) our brokenness means that we find love where we find love.

Let me explain further; God never intended (and please bear with me as I am merely generalising) for sickness, He never intended for disabled people, His perfect plan for us and our planet was, well, perfection.  Therefore, and I know that it is weird to equate sickness and being disabled with homosexuals and I am by no means wanting to upset or imply that they are the same, but all these things appear to be broken as per the biological intention of the creator (not that God created in the 7 day sense of the meaning - see other posts on this).

So, what I am saying is that homosexuality is perfectly acceptable in our broken world. 

Jesus said, Love one another as I have loved you.  How did He love us? Unconditionally, and without judgement. 

Jesus stated clearly that He hasn't come to judge but to reconcile us to the Father.  Jesus warned us not to judge others, and stated that if we do we will be judged, at the end of our time, according to the way we have judged. 

Love each other.  Accept each other.  In our broken world God brings wholeness and unconditional love, but this only occurs within a relationship with God, which less will be able to experience and find if we continue to judge as they will continue to be repelled by the concept of God due to our display of Him.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pope Francis

God is the same yesterday, today and forever; He has been around forever. Think about that for a moment. 
I don't think our minds can actually comprehend that concept. God has always been. He is not limited by time. Our universe is more than 16 billion years old, and continuing to expand at an astonishing rate. Even that blows my mind.

The Third Vatican Council concluded recently (the second was in 1962) with Pope Francis making a statement which has literally rocked the Catholic world (click the link on 'His words'). His words have highlighted that God is love, BUT more than that, he encouraged all faiths to look beyond their dogma and doctrine and see God for who He is.

One thing that has always baffled me is that if Christ called us to 'make disciples' and 'preach the good news' then He left the salvation of the planet up to us, and surely that would not be wise. He called us to reach His children, each and everyone of them. And regrettably, thus far, us Christians have done a poor job. This means that billions have never heard of the gospel, and billions living today may not hear it as they were born in cultures that are actively adverse to Christianity, or they have a different religious upbringing.

So I've often wondered, and asked God, whether there is something more to salvation. Whether God, who loves each of us unconditionally, regardless, has another way to bring us into His presence when we die. He IS God. He IS eternal. His thoughts are higher and better than our own.

He knows our upbringing, and the culture or environment that we were born into; He knows the opportunities Christians have had to bring the 'good news' and whether they were able to effectively communicate His truth, or whether they disobeyed or failed to look beyond their judgment of those they were reaching. If the salvation of the world is left entirely up to us Christians to preach and walk in love and light and hope, then few of the percentage of the worlds population will be 'saved'. 

I'm not discounting Christ's words that ANYONE who calls upon His name shall be saved, but the message that Pope Francis is conveying is of a greater depth and compassion than I have ever heard from a Catholic Pope. His words may not be entirely accurate (I don't know), BUT his words contain truth. The truth of Gods love; the truth of Gods compassion, and that we, His children, should desire to love God and love one another in the same way.

The early Christian church separated into many factions almost immediately after Christ's ascension, and there are multiple 'flavours' of Christianity.  There are also many religions. These different flavour's of Christianity and religious faiths all appear to have common elements.  If God, in His infinite nature, cannot even vaguely be understood my humanity, then of course multiple cultures will have seen different facets of Him.

Christ has set me free.  He came to preach the good news, restore sight to the blind, set the captives free (Isaiah 61).  I have been healed from Schizophrenia & infertility, to name a few.  Christ came to point us back to the Father, to reveal God's true nature.  Think on that for a moment.  

So, I pray that Pope Francis' words speak life and hope and truth into the greater Church. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

White Wine in the Sun (Son)

Tim Minchin released a song a few years back entitled "White Wine in the Sun".  I really love this song, it epitomises all of Christmas, but it reflects on the concerns about Christianity.  The lyrics of which I have copied in italics throughout, cos I just really like them.

Verse 1: 
I'm looking forward to Christmas
It's sentimental, I know, but I just really like it
I am hardly religious
I'd rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu, to be honest

Christmas to me is firstly celebrating the immeasurable love of God and the freedom He intended when He sent His son, who in turn points us back to the Father.

Secondly, Christmas is a time for loved ones and family.  Christmas is such a tough time for the majority of people.  When I examine the human heart and all that it means to be human, most of us are lonely and longing for connection.  We have become isolated from each other due to past hurts, and spend all of our time protecting ourselves from being hurt again.

But why does Minchin state that he would prefer to break bread with Dawkins than Tutu? I think this predominantly has to do with Christian prejudices toward the majority of each other (including other Christians).  As Christians, we tend to be more fundamental, more judgmental, and more prejudicial than every other human being ['selah' - think on this].  We use our Christian belief to impose rules and regulations on most people we encounter, and particularly ourselves, boxing ourselves within a requirement to behave properly.  

Dawkins appears to have an open dialogue, he appears to be a person who is open to the opinions of others, listens to others perspectives and he professes that if he is wrong on a matter, he will reconsider his position. 

The scientific community is open to peer review, this doesn’t seem to be the case in the Christian community. If you have a different opinion on God, or Christ, or any aspect of your faith or the bible, you tend to, in the first instance, be told in no uncertain terms that you are incorrect, and then if your opinion doesn’t ultimately align with your fellow Christians, you are ostracized.  This is NOT who God is.

Christ came to 'set the captives free', to 'heal the broken hearted', 'to restore sight to the blind' (lacking understanding of God and who He is); Isaiah 61.  Freedom in Christ is professed throughout the scripture, BUT smattered within these same 'new testament' scriptures are more rules to abide by.  These rules, as instructed by Paul or Peter, or whomever it may be, can lead to a great deal of confusion.  

One such example, is the requirement espoused by Paul in 1 Cor 11:5-6 where women are admonished to cover their heads, and if they do not they dishonour their husbands, which in turn dishonours God.  This is a directive from Paul.  So why isn't this scripture followed in most churches today, while the other rule-like teachings within scripture are vehemently professed and proclaimed.  This is a double standard; and, the Bible is contradictory and complex.

A wise friend of mine said that Pauls' letters were written while he worked out his own Christian journey, and learning more about God as he spent time with Him.  He was originally a judge of the Christians, executing those who professed Christ.  While his radical transformation revealed Jesus to him, how to live like Jesus was a progressive revelation for him, and is evidenced in his letters.  So Paul used the doctrine and dogma of the Jewish faith to teach us how to live, as he was still working out his own Holy Spirit inspired faith, and regrettably in some instances his teachings are counter-intuitive. 

Many things contained within the Bible are truth, SOME are not and are written from the perspective of the author, based on their fallible nature.  I'm sorry to say this, but the Bible is NOT the infallible word of God, whenever 'man' gets involved in the things of God, the true meaning can be lost, or interpreted from the perspective of the person, which taints the original intention or meaning.  So when Paul teaches on wearing head coverings he's doing so because of the era in which he lived.

The fallible word of God is a complex thing, something about which I've wrestled with and chatted to God about over many, many years.  I am not professing that I know the whole truth, and that my understanding is correct, but what I am suggesting is that as I ask God about specific things in the bible which are contrary to His 'love' He will show me, through His Holy Spirit and other scripture, the answers. And, if I don't hear Him correctly, or reason (misinterpret) what He has said, I am confident that He will reveal that to me in time.

Christ gave TWO commandments, and a stack of wisdom throughout His teachings; Love God and one another.  Simple.  

All scripture is to be interpreted with the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the only way to develop a relationship with God is by spending time with Him and thus increasing the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life.  And this relationship is built on love alone.  When you love God, you become more like Him, and His love is unconditional, and non-judgmental.

Verse 2:
And yes, I have all of the usual objections to consumerism
The commercialisation of an ancient religion
And the westernisation of a dead Palestinian
Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer
But I still really like it

The "reason for the season" is quoted constantly by church-goers, but is Christ compassionately reflected in their lives?  Do they love God AND love one another? 

If the truth be known, I don't think many Christians spend a lot of time getting to know their Heavenly Father.  They have "second-hand" faith, which they have learned from others around them, who have learned it from others around them, and so on ad infinitum, which leads to living a Christian life with rules and regulations, rather than love and compassion.

This second-hand faith is not founded on love; not love of God and certainly not of others, and so again judgment is portrayed, or hypocrisy in professing one thing and acting contrary. The presence and power of God, and a relationship with Him changes you, slowly over time.  It is a direct result of a relationship with God.  You don't need to 'try' to be anything, you simply, as His spirit works through you and changes you, become more like Him and less "works" focused and broken. 

This is the truth of Christmas, and so I understand Minchin’s concern that it is focused on consumerism.

I, I really like Christmas
Though I'm not expecting a visit from Jesus

I'll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun
I'll be seeing my dad
My sisters and brother, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

He's not expecting a visit from Jesus.  Why? The next verses for me partly explains why.

Verse 3:
I don't go for ancient wisdom
I don't believe just 'cos ideas are tenacious it means they are worthy
I get freaked out by churches
Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords but the lyrics are dodgy [sic] [Should be "spooky"]

Christianity has some pretty horrific origins, the crusades', the dogma of various flavours of Christianity which bind its followers to behave and act in particular ways, and I'm not going to delve into these areas much further, as all religions, and all peoples, conform in order to feel secure, and receive acceptance and feel that they belong to that group.  Suffice to say, the way Christianity is portrayed is detrimental to the truth of who God is.  He is NOT sitting in judgment, or requiring you to behave perfectly, this is far from the truth.  We can "come as we are" to God. The end. 

His love, when it permeates through your being, and changes you over time as you commune (spend time) with Him, will affect every area of your life and you will become more like the person whom God originally intended you to be.  No longer broken, or carrying the weight or burden of your past, or insecure, or any number of things.  His love, casts our all fear, and helps you realise that you are "fearfully and wonderfully made, and marvelous are the works of your [Gods] hands". The key component of Psalm 139:14 is the last line, which states that "my inner self knows right well".  

So many of us, Christian or not, lack self-confidence, feel insecure, in some cases hate who we are; being in a relationship with God allows you to realise, again over time, to be comfortable with who you are.  God is NOT a magician and does wave His magic wand to change us; our change occurs over time as we fellowship with Him and allow Him to 'heal' and 'refine' one area of our life at a time.  God IS a gentleman, and He gently leads us.  BUT, He does instantly ignite the power of the Holy Spirit within us when we acknowledge Him.  But this is HIS power, and so we can be confident that we are not required to do anything in our own strength.

So the spooky dogma of rituals aren't needed, and are in actual fact counterproductive.  It's all about relationship.

Verse 4:
And yes I have all of the usual objections to the miseducation
Of children forced into a cult institution and taught to externalise blame
And to feel ashamed and to judge things as plain right and wrong
But I quite like the songs

This last verse highlights the main arguments levelled at Christianity.

Externalise blame? This area alone is complex and multilayered.  Simply put, stop pointing the finger, or laying blame, or focusing on the perpetrator of your pain.  Allow God to lead you on past the pain.  Don't permit yourself to remain a victim, trapped in the pain.  Acknowledge the pain, take the time to understand why it happened.  But don't fixate on it.  Allow God to heal you.

When Jesus instructed us how to pray, "The Lords Prayer", He told us to;
1) Acknowledge our Father - tell Him how magnificent He is and love on Him
2) Let your will be done on earth as in Heaven - not pray can I have this or that....
3) Give us this day our daily bread - help me live today the best that I can, and acknowledge that God will provide as long as you follow His lead.
4) Forgive us, as we forgive - I'm human, I'm going to stuff up, and I can obtain forgiveness. I forgive others because it sets me, and them, free from the burden of our failings.  In actual fact, the bible states that if you don't forgive, God can't move in your life, He can't help you, His hands are tied. [Matt 6:14-15].  The other side of forgiveness is choosing not to act poorly in the first place, being mindful of those around you, but this is a whole other discussion.
5) And lead me not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one - this doesn't say, blame the evil one, or rebuke the evil one, or concern yourself wholly with the evil one.  It simply says; help me to navigate life and as I focus on You [God], You will lead me, and guide my path [Psalm 37:23].
It's interesting to consider that as Christians we are called to walk with God, being led by Him, seeking His will in our lives.  The bible teaches that when we pray, ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, He will answer.  The only way we can know His will is to spend time with Him.  If we walk through life with God, I believe, there is no need to blame others for anything, as we will be living the life 'abundant' that God promises while we're walking in step with Him.

Jesus was followed by the multitudes, people hoarded around Him.  The only way He could refresh Himself was by disappearing to spend time with God.  The scriptures make regular reference to Jesus going to pray to the Father in the secret place.  Jesus' empowerment came from the Father. 

I would like to encourage you to live a life focused on God, seeking Him first.  Don't blame others for anything, take captive your thoughts which are contrary to God.  If you've been hurt, etc., I'm not suggesting that what you experienced wasn't painful, or left lasting scars, and I'm certainly not minimising that pain.  Pain has to be acknowledged and worked through by the love of God and with the help of those close to you.  But, what I am encouraging you to do is take the courage to focus on God and allow Him to heal your broken heart. 

"Plain right or wrong" - this implies a judgmental attitude, which as I've stated earlier, many Christians have.  Living your Christian life with rules [insert laws here] is counterproductive.  Firstly, it binds you to continually judge yourself, and live your life by striving to attain some perfection, and secondly, you will judge others.  There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.  Everything in God refines down to love, and walking in His love refines us over time, and changes us forever.  

Love - it's the simple answer and truth.  It is the heart of who God is.  Love is not jealous or boastful, or exerts itself above others to the detriment of others [see 1 Cor 13].  Love is not selfish, but ALWAYS see's the best in others, encourages others to be the best they can be, and is who God is.  I've written about 1 Cor 13 in a previous blog, so if in doubt about who God is, look there, and perhaps start to spend more time with Him.

Be a true Christian, just like Christ, this Christmas.  Or consider what a true Christian is.  Don't base your opinion of God on Christians you've encountered, UNLESS they resemble and reflect Him in love.

I just really like [love] it [Him].

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What is Love? - Part 5

Originally posted: SUNDAY, MARCH 23, 2008

V8-10: Love never ends, unlike everything else which is temporal (life/death). You could also interpret love never failing as never giving up on anyone. Most things come to a natural conclusion, after completing the job that it set out to do (such as: a prophecy - once it has been fulfilled it doesn't come around again), but love goes on forever, and is eternal.

V11: A child is immature and doesn't have much life experience. They tend to be rather naive in their outlook. However, when you become an adult a certain amount of wisdom and life experience gives you a better understanding and you tend to be more in control of your actions and thoughts. As an adult, we "know better" and live life accordingly. So as we mature in our faith and understand Gods love, we no longer live a life that is contrary to the meaning of love.

V12: Whilst living a human existence, prior to being united in Heaven with God, we can partly understand Gods nature and love for us, but when we do pass on into eternity we will have complete understanding (this can refer to all things relating to God. Whilst still living on planet earth we can only gain a meager understanding of God - but will fully comprehend Him once in Heaven).

V13: So three things are important to our Christian life; Faith, Hope and Love, and the greatest of these three things is Love. So "Love" IS the most important aspect of our Christian life, it will allow us to live life to the full and be fruitful in everything that we do.  This will be regardless of whether the outcome is as expected, as when we live out of the right motivation (love), His Will will be done (on earth as it is in Heaven), as we won't be focusing on our own motivations and concerns.

So with Love as the foundation of our Christian life, Faith and Hope then appear to be secondary. The word says that faith gives substance to hope (Heb 11:1-3), so what does this mean? In simple terms; faith provides us tangible evidence that what we are hoping for will be achieved. Please don't think, though, that faith allows you to get whatever you want, as living by faith means living according to Gods word (Matt 6:32-34; {paraphrased} seeking Him first and His righteousness and then all things being added).  

When we seek God first our motivations and desires align with God's will for our lives (they become our hopes and dreams).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gay Marriage

I read a blog this morning posted by Max Lucado via Twitter from Russell Moore discussing "The Churches" position on gay marriage and a recent Supreme Court judgement in the US.

I felt compelled to post a comment on that page and I've copied it here:

Love: the fundamental need of all human beings. The drive to find love is embedded within us all. Our world is broken; no need to develop that thought any further.

Hurting people find love where they can. And if someone truly believes that they are gay, then what is wrong with them finding love and unifying. God looks beyond our sin and loves us regardless.  His love casts out all fear, and a relationship with Him brings fullness of joy. BUT, the world can't access this revelation if we (Christians) are continually condemning and judging. Jesus said "love God" and "love one another". 

Jesus wept with those that were hurting before he rebuked them, in love. Jesus had compassion FIRST. He felt their pain FIRST. Then after showing this compassion, and building a form of trust, He rebuked, but only out of love.

Please stop pointing the finger. Christ walked in love. He rebuked out of a position of trust, not from a pulpit preaching to the masses (or in a blog). Each encounter described in the New Testament where healing of any kind took place was on a one to one basis. Out of physical closeness, and relationship with Him. NOT from a pulpit.

Christ came for ALL. And it's our job as Christians to represent Him well. Walking in love, not in judgement. Love first. Compassion first. Weep first.

God heals. Out of a relationship with Him; through the power of His spirit edifying ours, change comes individually to all who seek Him. Judging and pointing the finger and proclaiming that people are going against the Bible, will only divide further.

Allow God to move. Allow God to rebuke and correct. But this only happens in relationship with Him, and you will alienate the majority of the world if you proclaim judgment of any kind, in lieu of Gods love.

Final Thought: Recounting scripture in the bible as judgment is effectively perpetuating the law; a set of rules and regulations, which when followed means you're a godly person.  Christ came to set us free.  We can now walk "boldly and confidently into the throne room of GRACE" and talk to God directly.  Seek first His Kingdom and His righteous.  Seek Him and become more like Him as you seek Him. Our only "job" as Christians is to walk in His truth and love.  And only on the prompting of the Holy Spirit are we to rebuke, which brings conviction not condemnation.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who is God Anyway? Part 4 - What is Love?

Originally posted: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2008
What is Love? - Part 4

Continuing with the breakdown of 1 Corinthians 13 ;

V2: 2nd verse same as the first.

v3: Regardless of the things I do; whether giving to the poor, serving the needy, even surrendering my life unto death, if I do any of these things without understanding and knowing Gods' love in me (which requires loving Him as He loves us) these things will achieve nothing and in the end be pointless. Loving Him as He loves us requires us to live according to the God-kind of love.

v4: This verse starts describing the God-kind of love. It states that love is long-suffering, in other words it puts up with a lot and doesn't get upset easily. Love is patient and kind (these are self-explanatory). Love doesn't envy or get jealous, which means that we don't live wanting what we don't have and are content in every situation (also see Philippians 4:11-13).

Finally love doesn't show-off! Love doesn't make everything about itself, it does not need to be the centre of attention and be boastful about things that have been accomplished. All these attributes should be displayed by someone who is living with Gods' love. Living with an outward focused nature.

V5: Describes the grace associated with love. It shows again that love is considerate of others and not wanting to promote itself, particularly over others. This verse describes love as not being selfish and seeking its own desires and wants, and that someone displaying this kind of love would not get upset easily but extend grace where needed (one characteristic of God is that He is slow to anger - Psalm 86:15).

One of the most important things in this verse, I believe, is the last definition of love, which basically says that it keeps no account of any wrong done to it. Someone exhibiting the God-kind of love immediately forgives and moves on from any wrong done to them so that God can do like-wise (Mark 11:25).

So the next time someone does something that upsets you or deliberately harms you, don't hold a grudge, let it go, forgive them and move on. This will ensure that you do not become bitter and resentful and may even shock the other person, who might end up asking why you are being so gracious, which will result in a testimony of your faith.

V6: Love seeks justice and is glad when justice can be found. Love also doesn't seek pay-back or retribution.

V7: Love is prepared to believe the best in everyone, to seek out the gold within someone and look past any imperfections or attitudes. Love is willing to go to the ends of the earth for a person, to believe in them regardless of where they have come from or what they have done in the past.

Love puts up with ANYTHING. It puts up with any mistreatment, wrong-doing and any abuse (etc.) and continues to love. However, the discernment of the Holy Spirit in such circumstances will advise you if the relationship is doing more harm than good (this is a completely different topic and may be covered somewhere down the track).

Gosh! These few verses give an insight into the true nature of God by expounding on the definition of love. This type of attitude towards others and living with this type of love, can at times seem like an overwhelming thing to live up to.

BUT as you continue to love God His likeness rubs off on you and the more you CHOOSE to live this way and ignore your own 'feelings' or 'flesh' (Matt 16:24) the better life you will lead, but more importantly the more people you will point to God as you will truly resemble Him.

Next time I will finish off the rest of this Chapter and the description of love. I'm hoping that this is challenging you to live BIGGER and more in tune with Gods nature, to be true "living epistles".

Friday, January 29, 2010

Deviation from Love - Barack Obama Speech

Originally posted: FRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 2008

I've decided to deviate from my usual Blog this week as I came across an interesting speech made by Barack Obama at Martin Luther Kings' Church on January 20th 2008. I have included a link to this speech as he articulates rather well many of the points that I will be discussing within this Blog. The issues Obama discusses and how to deal with them accurately reflect Gods heart and His true nature.

I don't impress easily, but when I was first introduced to Mr Obama on The Oprah Winfrey Show some time last year (2007), I noticed that there was something different about him. Whatever he said, he appeared to say with true conviction and spoke with intention. He has written a book entitled The Audacity of Hope (hope to bring about change and not just wishful thinking).

He is currently battling Hilary Clinton for the Democratic Vote for the up-coming Presidential election in November of this year (2008) in the US. I believe that God is stirring something in the political arena's of the world, to truly place the Government upon His shoulders.

The linked video goes for approximately 34 mins, but if you are interested the video will give you an insight into Obama's heart and perhaps prompt you to pray over the election for Gods will to be done. Not necessarily that Obama will win, as this may not be Gods will, but that the issues discussed during this speech are continued to be, not only discussed, but policies put in place that will bring about change, permanent change and that Gods' will be done ("on earth as it is in Heaven").

I will continue with "What is Love?" shortly but hope that Obama's speech stirs something in you.

PS: Obama is now the President and my opinion of him has changed (proof in the pudding etc.) however regardless of this the issues discussed are still relevant [30/01/2010].