Feeling Stuck: A Spiritual Fast – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceFeeling Stuck: A Spiritual Fast – Introduction

We all go through periods in our lives when we just feel stuck…stuck in our relationships, stuck in our financial situation, stuck in our job. When this happens, maybe what we’ve done, perhaps even unconsciously or subconsciously, is gone on a hunger strike. In essence, we are on a spiritual fast.

Spiritual Quote

“Just as there is food for the body, there is food for the spirit. The consequences of spiritual malnutrition are just as hurtful to our spiritual lives as physical malnutrition is to our physical bodies.”
~Dallin H. Oaks

Potential Scripture

  • Matthew 4:4
  • 1 Corinthians 10:3 & 4
  • 1 Peter 2:2
  • Psalm 37:23-24
  • Psalm 32:8
  • Proverbs 3:5-6

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Stand Up For Love – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceStand Up For Love – Introduction

Last week, in our topic titled “I’m Christian Unless…” we explored how we, as well intentioned as we might be, sometimes fall short of living up to the Christian ideals of loving others. This week we’ll review one poignant response to the blog post that formed the basis of our discussion. That post was titled “I’m Christian…Unless You’re Gay.” The response is titled “One Proud Mom.” It’s a moving letter that demonstrates one mother’s self-realizations, her struggle, and her growth. Her letter shows that we can, even when we might not agree or understand, still find it within ourselves to love. And, to me, it clearly demonstrates just how important it is to Stand Up For Love.

Spiritual Quote

“So if you believe in something that’s good, honest, and right, stand up for it.”
~Dr. David Jeremiah

Thoughts

Single Dad Laughing – Blog: One Proud Mom

[Text in brackets are Dan’s thoughts; outside of brackets are those of One Proud Mom.]

“[I received the following email today in response to my post I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay. I had decided a couple months ago that it was time to let the whole thing rest, but this response was so powerful, I couldn’t not share it with you all. It was from a woman who simply called herself, “One proud mom.”]

Hello Mr. Pearce,

I am the Christian mother of a 15 year old teenage boy and about a month ago he came home from school with a copy of your article “I’m Christian, unless you’re gay”. The teacher gave his class a homework assignment to read it and write a 500 word essay about “what it meant to them”.

He came home and showed me your article and asked me what I thought about it. I read just the title and became furious at his teacher and at you (even though I know you had nothing to do with her handing out the assignment). Anyway, I confiscated it from him and told him he wasn’t to do anything with it till I had a chance to read it first.

And then I got madder and madder as I read it as I felt like it was a direct attack against our beliefs and our Christian religion and that it was promoting homosexuality, a practice that around here is a huge “sin”.

I gave my son an earful about homosexuality and God and told him that he could tell his teacher that he would not be participating and if she had a problem, she could come talk to me and then I threw the article in the trash. My son didn’t say anything just walked into his room and shut the door.

Long story short, a couple hours later it was supper time and I still hadn’t seen him come out of his room. I didn’t expect it to be that big of a deal to him but I went and knocked and told him to come out, he didn’t answer so I opened his door and he wasn’t there, he had left the house and gone somewhere. Of course I got more mad and tried to call him but he sent it to voicemail. I sent him a text and told him he better get home and he was grounded.

This is the text he sent me in return: “I don’t care. I’m at my friends house writing that essay and I’m not coming home till you read it.”

I think you would have seen steam coming out of my ears if you saw me. I started preparing to go talk to the school the next day. I sent a few angry texts to my son that he didn’t answer. I got the article out of the trash so I could take it into the school and get this teacher fired. My anger got a little out of control and while I was sitting there fuming and planning what to do, I got another text from my son that said “Just emailed it. Love, Jacob.”

My son’s name is not Jacob, and it took me a minute to realize that he was talking about your friend Jacob in your article. And when I realized that I suddenly started shaking in fear and anger at what he might be telling me. I started out of control crying because I couldn’t handle having a gay son and what if that’s what he was trying to tell me? After a long time I finally got the courage to go look at my email and see what he had sent. And this is what he wrote.

I am gay and only my one friend knows so far. My mom doesn’t know yet. My dad doesn’t know yet. You didn’t know it when you gave us this homework. I am only 15 years old and I have never felt so alone. My mom and dad always are being angry about gay people and talking about how they are bad and going to hell and they also always talk about how all the gays should be shipped off to their own private island or something so that the rest of us could live God’s commandments in peace.

I have been so scared of them finding out that I’m gay because I know that they would hate me and would want me out of their life and at the same time I can’t keep this secret anymore because it is not something I asked for, never in a million years would I ask to be gay in a town like this where everybody would hate me.

And anyways I can’t keep this secret anymore because I’m about to do something crazy like run away or hurt myself or something. I just want to be dead sometimes. And then you gave us the assignment to write this essay for our homework and I read it like ten times I even skipped lunch and just kept reading it in the bathroom and by the time I went home I decided that maybe I am only 15 years old but maybe this town will change if I can be honest about who I am and maybe my family will change if I can be honest about who I am with them too. I don’t see why I don’t deserve love just like everyone else. I see some crazy stuff that so many people do and people still love them but for some reason everybody around here thinks its ok to hate gays and stuff. And I don’t know really I think I just realize that I don’t want to be Jacob in ten years and still live my life in secret and scared of being hated.

So I go home and I tell my mom to read this handout you gave us and she got so mad at me and started going crazy about how evil gays are and how all of this was just the devil spreading his work and everything else she said. But this time I just got mad myself and I got so mad because I suddenly realize that this is the woman that my whole life made me go to church where they talk about love just like the writer said but she and every other person I pretty much know just hate so many people especially gay people. So I got madder and madder and madder and then I snuck out and came to my friends house to write this essay because its time to stop letting people’s hate stop me from being happy. I mean should I really have to hate my life and want to die because other people are so hating?

And I don’t know what will happen but I am done playing like I’m something I’m not and if my parents don’t love me anymore because of this then I realize that’s not my problem and it will hurt but not as much as the way I hurt right now.

I feel like if my mom and dad would just think about things they’d realize that what they always say and how they always hate gays is not what Jesus would do and maybe there is a chance that they will some day love me like Jesus would. I am their kid afterall.

Tonight I am going to send this to my mom and see what she says I guess. I don’t know what will happen but I know that I deserve to be loved just like everybody else does I just hope she thinks so too.

[Obviously you can imagine the emotions and thoughts that were going through my head when I read that…]

I started crying and couldn’t stop for the longest time. I don’t know why I was crying exactly, just so many emotions came over me. I didn’t know what to do or how to respond. I finally stopped and went and read your article once more only this time I tried to read it through my son’s eyes and the whole thing was so different than it was a couple hours before. By the time I finished I felt as big as an ant and I realized just how much hatred I have in my heart toward others.

You see, Mr. Pearce, you are right. It’s not about what other people do. It’s about whether or not we are loving them. Nothing else matters at all. And it took all of this for that to finally sink in.

I texted my son back that I loved him and left it at that. He came home that night and didn’t try to talk to me about it, I just told him I loved him at least ten times that night and made sure not to talk about anything else. My love for him was the only thing I wanted him to feel and I knew he’d talk to me about it when he was ready.

That was a month ago and in the last month my son and I (his dad lives three states away and still doesn’t know) have grown much closer than we ever were before. We have both stood up against hate several times when we hear it coming from the people around us. You see, where we live people really do have problems “being Christian unless…” But no longer in this home.

I’ve shared your article now with countless people. I have made my sisters read it. I talked about its message to my parents. I sent it to my friends and neighbors. And I’ve had some people get really upset by it, but a change is starting to happen around here and it’s because one teenage boy finally had the courage to stand against what he felt was wrong. He believed he could make a change. And I’ll tell you right now, it makes me happy to see him so happy. I never knew how unhappy he was until I could finally see how happy he could be.

So thank you. I know this is long, but I thought you’d like to know what your article has done in this little town we live in. And it’s just the beginning.

Sincerely yours, one proud mom.

[Whew. If you think you can’t make a difference, you are wrong. If you think you are too old or too young to make change happen, you are wrong. If you think that somebody else will do it first, you are wrong. I think this letter is proof enough of that.]”

Same Story – Different Ending

I’m very happy for the young man from the letter. I’m glad his mom “got it,” that she didn’t turn her back on her son, that she realized all that’s truly important is that she love him. Let me tell you about another young man who wasn’t quite so fortunate.

Several years ago I was working with a charity organization in a small, rural town in Northern California. During one of our events I met a young man who I’ll call Jordan. We struck up a conversation and he began to tell me his story. He had come out as gay to his parents when he was about 18. His parents, being very fundamentalist Christian, didn’t react well and Jordan moved out. His parents told Jordan they loved him, but could not accept his being gay. He and his parents stayed in contact, but the relationship was strained.

Fast forward a few years. Jordan was in his early twenties, and had found out he was HIV+. Not only positive, but he was had full-blown AIDS. Mustering up the courage to tell his family, Jordan called home and spoke to his mom. Upon hearing the news that he was terminal, and probably not going to live much longer, what was her response? Don’t call here again.

Devastated, Jordan said ‘okay, I’ll come by this weekend to pick up the rest of my stuff.” She said, “don’t bother…we’ve gotten rid of it all, there’s nothing left for you here.”

That was the last conversation Jordan ever had with his mom, or the rest of his family for that matter. It wasn’t long after I received word that Jordan had, indeed, passed away. Thankfully, a few friends were with him, so he didn’t die alone. But, none of his family was there.

Unfortunately, this is too often the case. Children literally cut out of their families lives. Children left to die alone. Families, who call themselves Christian, turning their backs on their own children, brothers, sisters, etc.

Whether you believe homosexuality, or anything else, to be a sin or not – this is NOT, I believe, how scripture calls us to be. God intends for us to be united in love. We may not always agree – we may worship differently, interpret scriptures differently, etc. But, we are meant to be united in love.

What Does Scripture Say?

Let’s take a look at a few scriptures:

  • John 17:22-23 – “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.”
  • Hebrews 10:24 – “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”
  • 1 Corinthians 16:14 –  “Do everything in love.”
  • 1 Peter 2:17 – “Respect everyone…”
  • 1 Peter 3:8 – “Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted (kind, loving, compassionate), and keep a humble attitude.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:12 – “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you.”
  • 1 John 2:9-11 – “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness…”
  • 1 John 4:11 – “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
  • 1 John 4:21 – “And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
  • Romans 13:10 – “…Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.”

Do you notice the common theme? Every passage speaks to love…period. There are no qualifiers. None of the passages say to love only those with whom we agree, who share our interpretation of scripture, or who live their lives as we think they should. None of these scriptures tell us to only love those who don’t “sin.”

The mom from our letter “got it.” She realized that whether she believes homosexuality to be a sin or not, it was more important that she love her son. Period. Jordan’s mom never got it. Just as 1 John 2 pointed out, she was so blinded by her interpretation of scripture she was living in darkness. And it cost her the last few precious years with Jordan.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I think we would all do well to remember John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This is an incredible truth that most people overlook. Notice how the verse says God loved the world. That means everyone! Not just Christians, not just fundamentalists, not just those who are free from “sin,” not just those who go to church, but EVERYONE! No matter who we are, no matter what we’ve done, no matter what “sins” we might commit – God loves us.

And look at 1 John 2:2. “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” Jesus came to save the whole world; He died on the cross to save everyone because God loves the whole world. Yes, this means the murderer, the adulterer, the corrupt politicians, the corrupt CEOs, and yes, homosexuals. God loves everyone, of all faiths, regardless of who or what we’ve done! God doesn’t love us because of who we are – He loves us because it’s who He is. We all, regardless of our religious faith or interpretation of scripture should do no less. If we love God, we must love our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters; because God loves us, we also ought to love each other.

Going back to our quote…

  • Do you believe love is good?
  • Do you believe love is honest?
  • Do you believe love is right?

If you answered “Yes” then, please, by all means, stand up for it.

Whether you’re Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, or none of the above…

Whether you’re gay, lesbian, straight, bi-sexual, transgendered…

Whether you think something is a “sin” or not…

Please, I implore you,  Stand Up For Love.

Scripture

  • John 17:22-23
  • Hebrews 10:24
  • 1 Corinthians 16:14
  • 1 Peter 2:17
  • 1 Peter 3:8
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:12
  • 1 John 2:9-11
  • 1 John 4:11
  • 1 John 4:21
  • Romans 13:10
  • John 3:16
  • 1 John 2:2

To read more of Dan’s blog, please visit Single Dad Laughing.

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Stand Up For Love – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceStand Up For Love – Introduction

Last week, in our topic titled “I’m Christian Unless…” we explored how we, as well intentioned as we might be, sometimes fall short of living up to the Christian ideals of loving others. This week we’ll review one poignant response to the blog post that formed the basis of our discussion. That post was titled “I’m Christian…Unless You’re Gay.” The response is titled “One Proud Mom.” It’s a moving letter that demonstrates one mother’s self-realizations, her struggle, and her growth. Her letter shows that we can, even when we might not agree or understand, still find it within ourselves to love. And, to me, it clearly demonstrates just how important it is to Stand Up For Love.

Spiritual Quote

“So if you believe in something that’s good, honest, and right, stand up for it.”
~Dr. David Jeremiah

Potential Scripture

  • 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18
  • John 17:22-23
  • Hebrews 10:24
  • 1 Corinthians 16:14
  • 1 Peter 2:17
  • 1 Peter 3:8
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:12
  • 1 John 2:9-11
  • 1 John 4:11
  • 1 John 4:21
  • Romans 13:10
  • John 3:16
  • 1 John 2:2

(Okay, yes, I know it’s a long list. I may not use them all; and I might even add one or two. Remember, this is just a potential list.)

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I’m Christian Unless – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceI’m Christian Unless… – Introduction

We’ve talked about the subject of Christian Love before. Until we “get it” and truly “live it,” it’s a message that bears repeating. A friend posted a link to a wonderful blog posting that really got me thinking. And, it spurred me to reflection on my own behavior, my own thoughts, my own words. Today’s message is titled “I’m Christian Unless…” Reading through the blog I was reminded, to my shame and though I’ve never actually said the words, just how often I’ve demonstrated by my words or actions that “I’m Christian Unless…”

Spiritual Quote

“If this is the moment when you have the world’s attention, what will your crusade be? What will you fight for? Will your words be a beacon of hope to all, or a divider of nations? Will you bring the human race together in peace, or once again segregate us out based on fear, hate and antiquated notions of superiority?”
~Mike Kiser

Thoughts

Blog – I’m Christian…Unless You’re Gay by Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

“Today I want to write about something that has bothered me for the better part of a decade. I’ve carved out no fewer than a dozen drafts of this post, all strangely unalike, all ultimately failing to accomplish the job I’ve set out to do. Truth is, I’ve been trying to write it off and on for more than a year now, and the right words have been seemingly impossible to come by.

In the end, and in order to post it, I guess I had to care more about the message than I do about potential backlash. I’m not being facetious when I say that I hope I can get this message across without offending… well… everybody.

What I really hope is that this post will spark and encourage poignant and worthwhile discussion that will lead to some poignant and worthwhile changes in the lives of at least a few people who are hurting.

That being said, I believe some strong words need to be said today.

“God hates fags.” We’ve all seen the signs being waved high in the air by members of the Westboro Baptist church. On TV. In real life. It’s hard not to take notice.

Over the years, I’ve watched seemingly never-ending disgustingness and hatred spill across the media airwaves from those who belong to the organization. For those who don’t know much about that “church,” they have made a seedy name for themselves by doing drastic things like picketing beneath atrocious signs and hosting flagrant anti-gay protests at military funerals.

Almost every person of nearly every religion has no problem loathing and condemning the Westboro Baptist Church and its members, and perhaps with reason. They take freedom of speech far beyond what our founding fathers intended when they fought to give us that right, and they laugh at the rest of the world while they do.

But today I don’t want to talk about those idiots. I want to talk about you. And me.

And my friend who I’ll call Jacob.

Jacob is 27  years old, and guess what… he’s gay.

Not a lot of people know. He lives in a community where being gay is still very “frowned upon.”

I was talking to him on the phone a few weeks ago, telling him about my failed attempts to write this post. He was trying to hold his emotions in, but he eventually became tearful as we deliberated the very problem that this post attempts to discuss.

Before I go on, I feel I must say something one time. Today’s post is not about homosexuality. It’s not about Christians. It’s not about religion. It’s not about politics. It’s about something else altogether. Something greater. Something simpler.

It’s about love.

It’s about kindness.

It’s about friendship.

And love, kindness, and friendship are three things that Jacob hasn’t felt in a long time.

I’m thankful he gave me permission to share our conversation with you. It went something like this.

“Jacob, I honestly don’t know how to write it,” I said. “I know what I want to get across, but I can never find the right words.”

“Dan, you need to write it. Don’t give up. I’m telling you, it needs to be said.”

I paused. “You don’t understand. It’s too heated a subject. It’s something people are very emotional and touchy about. I’d be lynched.”

My friend hesitated. “Dan, you are the only friend I have that knows I’m gay. The only freaking one,” he said.

“What do you mean? I know you’ve told other friends.”

That’s when his voice cracked. He began crying.

“Every single person I’ve told has ditched me. They just disappear. They stop calling. They remove me on Facebook. They’re just gone,” he said. “They can’t handle knowing and being friends with a gay person.”

I didn’t know what to say. So I didn’t say anything.

“You don’t know what it’s like, man. You don’t know what it’s like to live here and be gay. You don’t know what it’s like to have freaking nobody. You don’t know what it’s like to have your own parents hate you and try and cover up your existence. I didn’t choose this. I didn’t want this. And I’m so tired of people hating me for it. I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t.”

How do you respond to that?

I wanted to tell him it was all in his head. I knew it wasn’t. I wanted to tell him it would get better and easier. The words would have been hollow and without conviction, and I knew it.

You see, I live in this community too. And I’ve heard the hate. I’ve heard the disgust. I’ve heard the disdain. I’ve heard the gossip. I’ve heard the distrust. I’ve heard the anger. I’ve heard it all, and I’ve heard it tucked and disguised neatly beneath a wrapper of self-righteousness and a blanket of “caring” or “religious” words. I’ve heard it more times than I care to number.

About gay people.

About people who dress differently.

About people who act differently.

About fat people.

About people with drug addictions.

About people who smoke.

About people with addictions to alcohol.

About people with eating disorders.

About people who fall away from their faiths.

About people who aren’t members of the dominant local religion.

About people who have non-traditional piercings.

About people who just look at you or me the wrong way.

I’ve heard it, and I’ve heard it over, and over, and over again.

Hell, in the past (and to some degree in the present) I participated in it. I propagated it. I smugly took part in it. I’ll admit that.

And I did so under the blanketing term “Christian.” I did so believing that my actions were somehow justified because of my beliefs at the time. I did so, actually believing that such appointments were done out of… love.

This isn’t just a Utah phenomenon. I’ve lived outside of this place. I’ve worked outside of this place. It was just as bad in Denver. It was just as bad in California. I see it on blogs. I hear it on television shows and radio programs. I hear it around my own family’s dinner table from time to time. Usually said so passively, so sneakily, and so “righteously.”

From Christians.

From Buddhists.

From Hindus.

From Muslims.

From Jews.

“God hates fags.” “God hates addicts.” “God hates people who shop at Salvation Army.” “God hates people that aren’t just like me.”

People may not be holding up picket signs and marching around in front of television cameras but… come on. Why is it that so many incredible people who have certain struggles, problems, or their own beliefs of what is right and wrong feel so hated? Why do they feel so judged? Why do they feel so… loathed? What undeniable truth must we all eventually admit to ourselves when such is the case?

Now, I’m not religious. I’m also not gay. But I’ll tell you right now that I’ve sought out religion. I’ve looked for what I believe truth to be. For years I studied, trying to find “it”. Every major religion had good selling points. Every major religion, if I rewound far enough, had some pretty incredible base teachings from some pretty incredible individuals.

Check this out, and feel free to correct me if I get this wrong…

According to Christians, Jesus taught a couple of interesting things. First, “love one another.” Second, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (“Her” being a woman who cheated on her man.)

According to Buddhists, Buddha taught a couple of thought-provoking things. First, “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” Second, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

According to Hindus, a couple of fascinating teachings come to mind. First, “Do not get angry or harm any living creature, but be compassionate and gentle; show good will to all.” (Krishna) Second, “Love means giving selflessly, excluding none and including all.” (Rama)

According to Muslims, Muhammad taught a couple interesting things as well. First, “A true Muslim is the one who does not defame or abuse others; but the truly righteous becomes a refuge for humankind, their lives and their properties.” Second, “Do you love your creator? Love your fellow-beings first.”

According to Judaism, their scriptures teach a couple remarkable things. First, “Love your neighbor like yourself.” Second, “Examine the contents, not the bottle.”

The greatest spiritual leaders in history have all preached love for others as the basis for all happiness, and never did they accompany such mandates with a list of unlovable actions or deeds. They never said, love everybody except for the gays. Love everybody except for the homeless. Love everybody except for the drug users. Love everybody except for the gang members, or those covered in ink, or the spouse abusers. They didn’t tell us it was okay to love everybody with the exception of the “trailer trash,” those living in poverty, or the illegal immigrants. They didn’t tell us it was okay to love everybody except for our ex-lovers, our lovers’ ex lovers, or our ex-lovers’ lovers. The mandate was pretty damn clear, wasn’t it?

Love others.

Period.

So if this is the founding directive of all the major religions… why is it that sometimes the most “Christlike” people are they who have no religion at all?

Let me repeat that.

Why is it that sometimes the most Christlike people are they who have no religion at all?

I have known a lot of people in my life, and I can tell you this… Some of the ones who understood love better than anyone else were those who the rest of the world had long before measured as lost or gone. Some of the people who were able to look at the dirtiest, the poorest, the gays, the straights, the drug users, those in recovery, the basest of sinners, and those who were just… plain… different…

They were able to look at them all and only see strength. Beauty. Potential. Hope.

And if we boil it down, isn’t that what love actually is?

Don’t get me wrong. I know a lot of incredible Christians, too. I know some incredible Buddhists and Muslims and Hindus and Jews.  I know a lot of amazing people, devout in their various religions, who truly love the people around them.

I also know some atheist, agnostic, or religionless people who are absolutely hateful of believers. They loathe their religious counterparts. They love only those who believe (or don’t believe) the same things they do.

In truth, having a religion doesn’t make a person love or not love others. It doesn’t make a person accept or not accept others. It doesn’t make a person befriend or not befriend others.

Being without a religion doesn’t make somebody do or be any of that either.

No, what makes somebody love, accept, and befriend their fellow man is letting go of a need to be better than others.

Nothing else.

I know there are many here who believe that living a homosexual life is a sin.

Okay.

But, what does that have to do with love?

I repeat… what does that have to do with love?

Come on. Don’t we understand? Don’t we get it? To put our arm around someone who is gay, someone who has an addiction, somebody who lives a different lifestyle, someone who is not what we think they should be… doing that has nothing to do with enabling them or accepting what they do as okay by us. It has nothing to do with encouraging them in their practice of what you or I might feel or believe is wrong vs right.

It has everything to do with being a good human being. A good person. A good friend.

That’s all.

To put our arm around somebody who is different. Why is that so hard?

I’m not here to say homosexuality is a sin or isn’t a sin. To be honest, I don’t give a rip. I don’t care. I’m not here to debate whether or not it’s natural or genetic.

Again, I… don’t… care. Those debates hold no encumbrance for me.

What I care about is the need so many of us have to shun and loathe others. The need so many of us have to feel better or superior to others. The need some of us have to declare ourselves right and “perfect” all the freaking time and any chance we have.

And for some of us, these are very real needs.

But I will tell you this. All it really is… All any of it really is… is bullying.

Sneaky, hurtful, duplicitous, bullying.

Well, guess what.

There are things we all do or believe that other people consider “sinful.” There are things we all do or believe that other people consider “wrong.” There are things we all do or believe that other people would be disgusted or angered by.

“Yes, but I have the truth!” most people will adamantly declare.

Okay.

Whether you do or not…

I promise you it doesn’t matter what you believe, how strongly you live your beliefs, or how true your beliefs are. Somebody else, somewhere, thinks you are in the wrong. Somebody else, somewhere, thinks your beliefs are senseless or illogical. Somebody else, somewhere, thinks you have it all wrong. In fact, there are a lot of people in this world who do.

We each understand that. We already know that. It’s the world we live in and we’re not naïve. We’re not stupid. We get it.

Yet, we expect and want love anyway. We expect and want understanding. We expect and want tolerance. We expect and want humanity. We expect and want respect for our beliefs, even from those who don’t believe the same things we do. Even from those who think we’re wrong, unwise, or incorrect.

We expect all of that from the people who disagree with us and who disagree with our lifestyles and beliefs because, let’s be honest, nothing we do is actually bad enough to be worthy of disgust, anger, hatred, or cold-shouldering. Right? None of the ways in which we live our lives would warrant such behavior. Right? None of our beliefs are worthy of ugly disdain from others.

Right?

No, we’re all… perfect. Freaking, amazingly, impossibly… perfect.

But the gays… well, shoot.

[sigh]

You know what I think?

Let this sink in for a minute…

I think it doesn’t matter if you or I or anybody else thinks homosexuality is a sin. It doesn’t matter if you or I think anything is a sin. It doesn’t matter if homosexuality is a sin or not. In fact, it doesn’t matter if anything anybody else does is a sin or not.

Because sin is a very personal thing! It always has been and it always will be!

And it has nothing to do with love.

Absolutely nothing.

Disparity and difference have nothing to do with love.

We shouldn’t choose who we will love and who we won’t.

“I’m Christian, unless you’re gay.”

That’s the message we’re sending, you know.

“I’m Christian, unless I’m hotter than you.”

“I’m Christian, unless I’m uglier than you.”

“I’m Christian, unless I found out you cheated on your income taxes.”

“I’m Christian, unless you cut me off in traffic.”

“I’m Christian, unless you fall in love with the person I once fell in love with.”

“I’m Christian, unless you’re that guy who smells like crap on the subway.”

“I’m Christian, unless you’re of a different religion.”

“Oh, but you’re not gay? You’re clean, and well dressed, and you have a job? You look the way I think you should look? You act the way I think you should act? You believe the things I think you should believe? Then I’m definitely a Christian. To you, today, I’m a Christian. You’ve earned it.”

I bet you’ve heard that message coming from others. Maybe you’ve given that message to others.

Either way, I hope we all can agree that we mustn’t live that message. We just shouldn’t.

But many of us do.

And we do it all the time.

For some of us, it might as well be tattooed across our necks and foreheads.

Maybe not in those words, but the message is clear to those who hear and are listening. It’s clear to those who are watching and seeing.

The message has been very clear to my friend Jacob.

“Every single person I’ve told has ditched me. They just disappear. They stop calling. They remove me on Facebook. They’re just gone. They can’t handle knowing and being friends with a gay person.”

“You don’t know what it’s like, man. You don’t know what it’s like to live here and be gay. You don’t know what it’s like to have freaking nobody. You don’t know what it’s like to have your own parents hate you and try and cover up your existence. I didn’t choose this. I didn’t want this. And I’m so tired of people hating me for it. I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t.”

Jacob is a dear friend. He’s my brother. He’s a damn good human being. He’s absolutely incredible.

He’s also gay.

But why does that make any difference at all?

It doesn’t. Not to me.

And I wish with everything inside of me that it didn’t make any difference to others. I wish we didn’t all have to find ways that we’re better than others or more holy and saintly than others in order to feel better about our own messy selves. I wish people wouldn’t cluster entire groups of people together and declare the whole lot unworthy of any love and respect.

But that is the point of such thinking and action, isn’t it? I mean, it’s simpler that way. It makes it easier for us to justify our thoughts, words, and prejudices that way.

All these people become clumped together. And in the process, they all somehow become less than human.

They become unworthy of our love.

And what a great thing it is when that happens, right? I mean, it helps us to free ourselves from the very directives that have been passed down for millennia from the greatest teachers and philosophers in history. It makes our rationalization for hatred, bigotry, and abhorrence so easily justifiable; so maskable.

So right.

It gives us the golden chance to look at ourselves and not be disgusted by what the glass reflects back at us.

Then, sadly and ultimately, it pushes us to that point where we no longer have any sort of arm to put around others at all. We no longer have a hand to offer our fellow human beings. We no longer have a need to.

And why would we?

Why the hell should we?

Unless, of course, we actually want to live what we all so often claim that we “believe.”

My dear friends…

This has to stop. We have to put our ugly picket signs down. We have to be the examples that help make it happen in our own lives and in the lives of the people that surround us.

We have to be that voice. We each must be that voice.

We must tell others that we will not accept or listen to such hurtful and hateful sentiments.

We must show love where love right now doesn’t exist.

Will you please join me?

My request today is simple. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. Find somebody, anybody, that’s different than you. Somebody that has made you feel ill-will or even [gulp…] hateful. Somebody whose life decisions have made you uncomfortable. Somebody who practices a different religion than you do. Somebody who has been lost to addiction. Somebody with a criminal past. Somebody who dresses “below” you. Somebody with disabilities. Somebody who lives an alternative lifestyle. Somebody without a home. Somebody that you, until now, would always avoid, always look down on, and always be disgusted by.

Reach your arm out and put it around them.

And then, tell them they’re all right. Tell them they have a friend. Tell them you love them.

If you or I wanna make a change in this world, that’s where we’re gonna be able to do it. That’s where we’ll start.

Every. Single. Time.

Because what you’ll find, and I promise you this, is that the more you put your arm around those that you might naturally look down on, the more you will love yourself. And the more you love yourself, the less need you’ll ever have to find fault or be better than others.  And the less we all find fault or have a need to be better than others, the quicker this world becomes a far better place to live.

And don’t we all want to live in a better world? Don’t we all want our kids to grow up in a better, less hateful, more beautiful world?

I know I do.

So let’s be that voice. Let’s offer that arm to others. Because, the honest truth is… there’s gonna come a day when you or I are going to need that same courtesy. There’s going to come a day that we are desperate for that same arm to be put around us. We’ll be desperate for that same friendship. We’ll be desperate for that same love.

Life will make sure of it. For you. For me. For everyone.

It always does because… as it turns out… there’s not a damn person on earth who’s perfect.

~Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS. I would love your comments and thoughts today. More than anything, I’d really like to hear people’s individual struggles. I’d like to hear your struggles. I believe that everybody will benefit as we all share that which hurts us and haunts us.

When have you seen or experienced this? What effects has it had in your life or the lives of others that are close to you? Have you ever seen positive results as people become more loving toward those who are different? How have you felt along the way?

There are those who have struggled because they have been on the receiving end of it. And there are those who have struggled as they work to overcome it. I’ve grappled on both sides.

This message is so important to me; among the most important that this faulted blogger has ever written and because of that I have no hesitation asking you to share it. If it’s important to you, too, please share it. If you believe its message needs to be spread, please share it. Use your voice for that which it was meant.

Use your voice to embolden the world. Use your voice to say, “enough is enough.” Use your voice to stand up and declare that there is no other way besides love.

With all my heart. Please.”

A Bit of Scripture

Scripture passages that Dan refers to in his blog are John 13:34&35, John 15:12, and John 8:7. Let’s take a brief, closer look at them.

John 13:34-35 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 15:12 – “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”

In these two verses, Jesus doesn’t say to love one another unless…unless they’re gay, unless they look like you, unless they believe like you, unless they act like you, or behave like you. He doesn’t say to love one another unless they commit a crime, are homeless, cut you off in traffic, treat you badly.

John 8:7 – “But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him {be the} first to throw a stone at her.”

This is not about judgment. The woman’s actions were sinful. Jesus wasn’t saying what she did was okay, but He was saying that she was worthy of forgiveness and love. We don’t have to say or believe that the actions of thieves, murderers, drug or alcohol addicts, etc., etc. are okay – but…they are still deserving of Christian Love.

Let’s look further at His message. Matthew 5:44 tells us, “…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and persecute you…”

It’s easy to love those who love us, support us, and treat us well. It’s much more difficult to love those who hate us, those who persecute us, those who would harm us. But, as Matthew 5:46 says, “…if you love those who love you, what reward have you?” and 5:47 says, “…if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?…” Anyone can love those who love them, support those who are supportive, and be kind to those who are kind. If that’s how we “show up,” how are we any different? As Christians, we are to be examples of Christ here on earth. We are to strive to be like He was. When we place qualifiers around who we feel is deserving of our love, we are saying, “I’m Christian Unless…”

How many times have we ignored someone, treated someone as “less” than ourselves, screamed obscenities, made rude hand gestures, or even just made snide comments. It’s time we remember that everyone…EVERYONE…is deserving of our love. It doesn’t matter if we think they should lose weight, drive more safely, treat others differently than they do, change their behavior, break themselves free of addiction, etc. Everyone is deserving of our love. That’s not to say we must condone behavior we feel is wrong,  or take a “that’s okay” attitude. What is does mean is that, regardless of their beliefs, words, or actions, we are to love them.

So, what is love? Maybe we should look at one of my favorite Scriptures – 1 Corinthians 13:

Love is patience…

Love is kindness…

Love is not jealous…

Love is not bragging or building ourselves up by tearing others down…

Love is not arrogant – creating an air of superiority…

Love is not insulting or bringing shame to others…Love is looking for ways to serve others, not pursuing only our own self-interests…

Love is being slow to anger…

Love is being forgiving, not keeping a list of who’s done what…

Love protects, builds trust, creates hope…

Love continues steadfastly, even when it’s difficult…

Love never fails…

And the chapter ends with, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

I believe we would all be well-served to burn this into our memories. Every time we begin to lose patience, when we have an unkind thought, when we are feeling jealous, when we start to build ourselves up by tearing others down, when we begin feel anger, or when we’re unforgiving – it’s time to pause and remember. These feelings, thoughts, words, and gestures are not borne of love. They are the prelude to, “I’m Christian Unless…”

Conclusion

It’s my hope that after today’s message each of us will spend time in prayer and reflection, and realize just how many times we may have, by our words and actions, demonstrated to others “I’m Christian Unless…” And, I hope that as a result of this prayer and reflection, we also take time to think about how we might do better in the future. It’s time we take a good look at ourselves, and confront our own demons. And, as Dan says, it’s time we stand together and say “enough is enough”; it’s time to declare there is no other way besides love. Finally, I invite you to think about my friend Mike’s question – If today, this moment is the moment when you have the world’s attention, what would your message be?

Scripture

  • John 13:34-35
  • John 15:12
  • John 8:7
  • Matthew 5:44
  • Matthew 5:46
  • I Corinthians 13:1-13

Join the Discussion

If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please feel free to share it.

For those who would like to read Dan’s original blog, as well as a few follow-up blog posts, please visit Single Dad Laughing.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

 

I’m Christian Unless… – Quote

 

Innocence, Gentleness, Peace

I’m Christian Unless… – Introduction

We’ve talked about the subject of Christian Love before. Until we “get it,” it’s a message that bears repeating. A friend posted a link to a wonderful blog posting that really got me thinking. And, it spurred me to reflection on my own behavior, my own thoughts, my own words. Today’s message is titled “I’m Christian Unless…” Reading through the blog I was reminded, to my shame and, though I’ve never actually said the words, just how often I’ve demonstrated by my words or actions that “I’m Christian Unless…”

Spiritual Quote

“If this is the moment when you have the world’s attention, what will your crusade be? What will you fight for? Will your words be a beacon of hope to all, or a divider of nations? Will you bring the human race together in peace, or once again segregate us out based on fear, hate and antiquated notions of superiority?”
~Mike Kiser

Potential Scripture

  • John 13:34-35
  • John 15:12
  • John 8:7
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Join Us

Join us Sunday for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

Civil Disobedience – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, Peace

Civil Disobedience – Introduction

This week I was confronted with a situation involving compliance with the laws of our state. That situation prompted me to research Scripture to see what it says about obeying government authorities, and whether there is a time when it’s okay to be disobedient – in other words, to exercise Civil Disobedience. As Christians, we are to respect authority and obey the law. Today, I’d like to discuss Biblical principles regarding complying with the law, even when we don’t agree with the law; and whether we are ever justified in going against the authorities.

Spiritual Quote

“How can a good God appoint cruel people to positions of authority? The answer is simple: God is the originator of the authority, but He is not the author of the cruelty. Man is responsible for his cruel actions, not God. All authority is of God, but not all authority is godly.”
~John Bevere

Thoughts

Background Story

  • Changes in the state law
  • Some advise compliance
  • Some advise simply breaking the law

What does Scripture say?

  • Romans 13:1-5 – “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
  • 1 Pet 2:13-14 – “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.”
  • Acts 4:19 – “But Peter and John answered them, “You yourselves judge which is right in God’s sight, to obey you or to obey God.””
  • Acts 5:28 – “”We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name…” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!””

Scripture clearly establishes that governing authority is established by God, and that we, as Christians, are to be subject to those authorities. The governing authorities are meant to protect those who “do right” and to punish those who do “wrong.”

Generally, it’s pretty simple. If you don’t want to go to jail, don’t become a thief, don’t commit murder, etc. Don’t want a ticket? Quit treating the speed limit sign like a suggested minimum. But, what about when it’s not so simple? What if the government, or its laws, are evil?

The institution of government, and its authority, is of God. But, the people may not always act in Godly ways. And that’s when we, as Christians, should act. When the authorities command or compel evil, we are called to work toward change. We have to be willing to accept the consequences of our actions, but that doesn’t mean we are to simply sit idly by and let the evil continue.

When this subject comes up, many people stand on the above Scripture. But, there’s actually more to the story. I found a wonderful writing on this very topic at www.gotquestions.org that I’d like to share with you.

“Civil Disobedience—Examples in Scripture

In Exodus 1, the Egyptian Pharaoh gave the clear command to two Hebrew midwives that they were to kill all male Jewish babies. An extreme patriot would have carried out the government’s order, yet the Bible says the midwives disobeyed Pharaoh and “feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live” (Exodus 1:17). The Bible goes on to say the midwives lied to Pharaoh about why they were letting the children live; yet even though they lied and disobeyed their government, “God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them” (Exodus 1:20–21).

In Joshua 2, Rahab directly disobeyed a command from the king of Jericho to produce the Israelite spies who had entered the city to gain intelligence for battle.

Instead, she let them down via a rope so they could escape. Even though Rahab had received a clear order from the top government official, she resisted the command and was redeemed from the city’s destruction when Joshua and the Israeli army destroyed it.

The book of 1 Samuel records a command given by King Saul during a military campaign that no one could eat until Saul had won his battle with the Philistines.

However, Saul’s son Jonathan defied his father’s order and ate honey to refresh himself from the hard battle the army had waged. When Saul found out about it, he ordered his son to die. However, the people resisted Saul and his command and saved Jonathan from being put to death (1 Samuel 14:45).

Another example of civil disobedience in keeping with biblical submission is found in 1 Kings 18. That chapter briefly introduces a man named Obadiah who “feared the Lord greatly.” When the queen Jezebel was killing God’s prophets, Obadiah took a hundred of them and hid them from her so they could live. Such an act was in clear defiance of the ruling authority’s wishes.

In 2 Kings, the only apparently approved revolt against a reigning government official is recorded. Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah, began to destroy the royal offspring of the house of Judah. However, Joash the son of Ahaziah was taken by the king’s daughter and hidden from Athaliah so that the bloodline would be preserved. Six years later, Jehoiada gathered men around him, declared Joash to be king, and put Athaliah to death.

Daniel records a number of civil disobedience examples. The first is found in chapter 3 where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to the golden idol in disobedience to King Nebuchadnezzar’s command. The second is in chapter 6 where Daniel defies King Darius’ decree to not pray to anyone other than the king. In both cases, God rescued His people from the death penalty that was imposed, signaling His approval of their actions.

In the New Testament, the book of Acts records the civil disobedience of Peter and John towards the authorities that were in power at the time. After Peter healed a man born lame, Peter and John were arrested for preaching about Jesus and put in jail. The religious authorities were determined to stop them from teaching about Jesus; however, Peter said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19–20).

Later, the rulers confronted the apostles again and reminded them of their command to not teach about Jesus, but Peter responded, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

One last example of civil disobedience is found in the book of Revelation where the Antichrist commands all those who are alive during the end times to worship an image of himself. But the apostle John, who wrote Revelation, states that those who become Christians at the time will disobey the Antichrist and his government and refuse to worship the image (Revelation 13:15) just as Daniel’s companions violated Nebuchadnezzar’s decree to worship his idol.

Civil Disobedience—Conclusion

What conclusions can be drawn from the above biblical examples? The guidelines for a Christian’s civil disobedience can be summed as follows:

• Christians should resist a government that commands or compels evil and should work nonviolently within the laws of the land to change a government that permits evil.

• Civil disobedience is permitted when the government’s laws or commands are in direct violation of God’s laws and commands.

• If a Christian disobeys an evil government, unless he can flee from the government, he should accept that government’s punishment for his actions.

• Christians are certainly permitted to work to install new government leaders within the laws that have been established.

Lastly, Christians are commanded to pray for their leaders and for God to intervene in His time to change any ungodly path that they are pursuing: “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1–2).”

(Read The Original Article)

Conclusion

It’s true that all authority is given by God. It’s also true that not all authority is used in Godly ways. We, as Christians, are called to live in obedience to the governing authorities. But, we are also called to peacefully resist when necessary. Think about it. Without Scripture validating a time for Civil Disobedience, the American Civil War would have been deemed “wrong”; Rosa Parks would have been “wrong” to sit in the front of the bus; Martin Luther King, Jr. would never have been able to achieve what he did in the arena of civil rights, etc.

All of this said, the situation that arose this week does not fall in the category of evil – it’s merely inconvenient. Should the laws be changed? Yes, I believe they should. And, I’ll work within the legal process to effect change. But, until the laws are changed, I will work in compliance with them. That is how it should be. I can’t, in good conscience, simply ignore the law because I think the law is wrong or inconvenient. Civil Disobedience has it’s place, and we as Christians are supported by Scripture to use it when necessary. But, we must also be prudent in its application. And, as we read in 1 Timothy, we must remember our greatest tool in effecting change – giving it over to God in prayer.

Scripture

  • Romans 13:1-5
  • 1 Pet 2:13-14
  • Acts 4:19
  • Acts 5:28
  • 1 Timothy 2:1 & 2

Join the Discussion

If you’d like to share you thoughts, please feel free to comment. And, if this message resonates with you, please feel free to share it.

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

 

Civil Disobedience – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceCivil Disobedience – Introduction

This week, a situation arose involving compliance with the laws of our state. That situation prompted me to research Scripture to see what it says about obeying government authorities, and whether there is a time when it’s okay to be “disobedient.” As Christians, we are to respect authority and obey the law. This week, I’d like to discuss Biblical principles regarding complying with the law, even when we don’t agree with the law; and whether we are ever justified in going against the authorities. In short, is there a time and place for Civil Disobedience to be found in Scripture?

Spiritual Quote

“How can a good God appoint cruel people to positions of authority? The answer is simple: God is the originator of the authority, but He is not the author of the cruelty. Man is responsible for his cruel actions, not God. All authority is of God, but not all authority is godly.”
~John Bevere

Potential Scripture

  • Romans 13:1-5
  • 1 Pet 2:13-14
  • Acts 4:19
  • Acts 5:28
  • 1 Timothy 2:1 & 2

Join Us!

Join us Sunday for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where Everyone Is Welcome!

 

Between You and God – Teaching

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceBetween You and God – Introduction

We, as Christians, talk a lot about doing the right thing, being kind, loving others – even our enemies, being content in all circumstances, etc., etc. But why? Why are these attributes of “Christian behavior” important? The answer is as complex as it is simple – it’s Between You and God.

Today we’ll explore just why it is we strive to be living examples of Jesus.

Spiritual Quote

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”

~Mother Teresa

Thoughts

The Old Testament speaks of God in very human terms. We know that God is the Spirit of all Being; He does not have human form. However, for our human minds to make sense of Him, we think of God with human attributes. In essence, though we’re created in His image, in our minds we’ve created God in ours. The writers of the Old Testament were no different. They had to try to understand God. So, God is described as talking, hearing, seeing, smelling, and breathing – even whistling. God has a heart, a face, eyes, ears, nostrils, arms, hands, legs, and feet. And, God is loving, caring, and very personal. As such, God ‘desires’ a personal relationship with each and every one of us, His creations. He lives in our hearts and in our minds, He abides in us; and through us magnificent works are created.

When we are attuned to God, when we work to develop and maintain that relationship with Him, when we spend time in prayer and meditation listening to His Spirit, we experience the fullness of God every day. And, with God working in and through us, we are able to work to bring Him praise and glory. It is God who is at work in us. Philippians 2:13 tells us, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

Without God, we would accomplish nothing. But, working through us, we, as individuals, live in service to God and collectively we mobilize His power and strength. Becoming living examples of the attributes of Christ, we move closer, individually and collectively, to becoming the likeness of Christ. When we choose to live our lives as examples of Christ, we make the choice to put away those things that do not exemplify Him – hate, anger, vengeance, envy, etc. We are made new through Him – we are born again. Paul tells us in Galatians 2:20, “…It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. …”

Looking back at Philippians 2:13, God works in us. Think about that for a moment. God works IN us – not on us or for us – but IN us. In John 15:5, Jesus refers to Himself as the vine and to us as the fruit. Just as the fruit could not exist without the vine. He goes on to say, “For without Me you can do nothing.” Whatever we try to do or produce or accomplish, without God, our labors would be in vain. Whatever we accomplish, it is God accomplishing it through us. We each have different talents, different ‘callings,’ different spiritual gifts – but they all work together for God. 1 Corinthians 12:6 says, “There are varieties of effects but the same God who works all things in all persons.” And 2 Corinthians 3:5 says, “We are not adequate in ourselves but our adequacy is from God. He is at work in us.”

Like I said at the beginning – simple, yet complex. Complex because God is bigger, greater, and, quite simply, more than our human words can express. Simple because it all comes down to one little concept – God working through us. The same God that created the universes, planets, stars, suns, moons, and all life continues to create – through us. In that sense, He is personal and intimate – and we can have a deep relationship with Him. That’s where our spiritual growth comes from. As we focus on God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and we deepen and strengthen our relationship with them, they strengthen us, guide us, shape us. It is the power of God that energizes us and drives us toward a likeness of Christ. His power, working in us, compels us to be better, to be more than we were, and it sustains us. Remember, when we are fueled by the power of Christ, there is no limit to what we can accomplish. In Matthew 28:18 Jesus says, “…All authority (power) has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” With Jesus in our hearts, guiding our way, His power fuels, strengthens, and sustains us.

And it is with this power that we can proclaim, as Paul proclaimed in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit are all the same – and it is that Spirit, dwelling within each and every one of us, that is always strengthening, supporting, uplifing, and loving us. In Matthew 28:20 Jesus reminds us, “…I am with you always…” That’s why we do everything in praise and to glorify God – He’s the one doing all the work, through us.

So what does it mean that He is working in us both to will and to work? It means He is creating in us the will – the desire – to do what is right. He creates in us the desire to live out the Christ-like attributes in our daily lives. And, through that desire, He is the power that enables us to do the work. It’s not the desire of our lusts or passions or emotions – it’s the desire to be better. He creates in us the desire to be loving, the desire to be kind, the desire to be forgiving, the desire to be generous, etc. And, through that desire, He empowers us to do the work – to perform the deeds – because the works that we do are the result of our desires. We desire to be like Christ, and we set about the work to let Jesus manifest through us.

Are we there yet? Are we perfect? No. It’s a process – a spiritual growth and a spiritual journey. Just as Paul says in Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” We are just like Paul. We’re not there yet. But, we forget the past – the person we were – and we press on toward the goal.

There was a quote I saw once, “Please be patient, God is not finished with me yet.” This is the underlying truth – God is working in and through us, and He’s not finished yet. And why is He doing this? Look again at the end of Philippians 2:13, “…for His good pleasure.” It brings pleasure, a balance of spiritual energy, to God to work through us. This is precisely how He builds a relationship with us.

And, when we focus our attention on Him, we do our part to build and maintain that relationship. But, just because He is continuing to work in us, and He’s not finished with us yet, we must be careful not to let that be an excuse for poor behavior and bad decisions. We still have to do our part. But, when we mess up, we don’t have to beat ourselves up over it, either. We can spend time with God and let Him guide us to doing what we need to do to make things right.

Conclusion

We are truly blessed because God works in and through us. There’s a balance and a relationship – it takes us and it takes Him. When we are filled with and renewed by the Spirit of God, we are actively engaged in serving Him, putting away those old parts of ourselves that only serve to diminish us and others, and working toward becoming new – in Him. What is God working in you to will and to do? What does He want you to desire? What deeds does He want you to do? Are there habits you need to change? Are there relationships that need to be mended? Are there relationships that do not serve your higher good and need to be ended, or new relationships He wants you to form? What is your “calling” – what work does He want you to do? Only through prayer and meditation will the answers come to you. And I invite you to spend time with God, each and every day, and listen to the guidance His Spirit provides. He is the source of your desire and your strength.

Let’s look back at the beginning. Why is it important to live out the attributes of Christ-likeness? Because it’s Between You and God. It’s not between you and the person who you forgive. It’s not between you and the person who is dishonest, jealous, or unkind. It never was between you and them. It has always been, and will always be, Between You and God.

Scripture

  • Philippians 2:13
  • Galatians 2:20
  • John 15:5
  • 1 Corinthians 12:6
  • 2 Corinthians 3:5
  • Matthew 28:18
  • Philippians 4:13
  • Philippians 3:12-14

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Between You and God – Quote

Innocence, Gentleness, PeaceBetween You and God – Introduction

We, as Christians, talk a lot about doing the right thing, being kind, loving others – even our enemies, being content in all circumstances, etc., etc. But why? Why are these attributes of “Christian behavior” important? The answer is as complex as it is simple – it’s Between You and God.

This week we’ll explore just why it is we strive to be living examples of Jesus.

Spiritual Quote

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”
~Mother Teresa

Potential Scripture

  • Philippians 2:13
  • Galatians 2:20
  • John 15:5
  • 1 Corinthians 12:6
  • 2 Corinthians 3:5
  • Matthew 28:18
  • Philippians 4:13
  • Philippians 3:12-14

Join Us!

Join us Sunday for worship and fellowship!

We Are A Community Of Spiritual Growth And Healing Where All Are Welcome!