His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


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Porn Addiction

Apparently it’s a big problem within our society – addiction to porn. And I learned from a good friend who has done some research, that the Christian community is not immune. Addictions lead to pain and suffering, and this porn plague is no different.

So I found myself wondering how people could kick this addiction, or any addiction. Well, I don’t think focusing on the addiction would help. All that does is keep what you want to avoid in the forefront of your mind, which would only draw you deeper into it. You naturally gravitate to what you think about. As some old philosopher type person once said, “We become what we think about” (wish I could remember who said that).

Anyway, I believe the cure for all such things as porn addictions is to rip your mind away from the addiction and focus instead on the Spirit of Jesus within you. The more you think of Jesus and the more you surrender your mind to Him, the more He will draw you closer – you become what you think about.

And with Jesus, there is no painful addiction; instead there’s freedom, and peace, and love.


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Healing the Pain of Sexual Abuse

healing the pain of sexual abuse

My first stepfather sexually abused me when I was 7 years old. A typical situation, I suppose – he threatened harm if I told anyone. Fortunately, there were other problems with the marriage, and my mom divorced him after only a year together. But we all had scars from that experience.

My scars fed my strong desire for revenge. As I grew older and came to understand what he had done to me, I grew angrier. In my late teens, I fantasized about running into him someday. I planned each move, the first being a fully energized kick square in the source of my suffering, sending him to his knees. There were times when I even dreamed of killing him. The hate was strong and painful.

About 20 years later, I met Jesus Christ and He started teaching me about love and forgiveness. It’s taken me a long time to learn the lesson, but I finally let go of the hate. I wholeheartedly forgive my stepfather. I feel sorry for him, for he was a very troubled person. And I’m now free of my own troubles – free from the pain of hate and memories, freed by forgiveness. Thanks to the love and forgiveness of Jesus.


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It doesn’t matter what California says, re: same-sex marriage

As I write this, the outcome may be inevitable, though the polls have yet to close. The votes for California proposition 8 are being cast, and the numbers against it may have already surpassed the threshold. But whatever the final outcome, it doesn’t matter. California may change their definition of marriage (if that’s how the votes tally), but they cannot change Gods definition.

I’ve made my decision and mailed in my ballot. The only other decision remaining to me is this: if the vote goes against Prop 8, which definition of marriage will I choose to honor, Gods or California’s.

As Peter boldly proclaimed when brought before the judges of his day, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.” (Acts 4:19) I choose God.


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One final word about same-sex marriage – Calif. Prop. 8

God defined marriage…

“Haven’t you read,” (Jesus) replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-5)

Who are we to think we can change what God has established? Same-sex couples in California already have the same civil rights as married couples. But apparently that’s not enough. I’m not gay, but I am sympathetic. If I were deeply in love with someone of my own sex, I too would want to marry them. But that doesn’t make it right.

It’s never right to think we can overrule God. But tomorrow we will find out just how arrogant California really is.


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Same-sex marriage – tearing churches apart

Chatting with a couple of friends over coffee the other morning, they both mentioned how their churches are being torn apart by California Proposition 8 (ban on same-sex marriage). Both of their churches are formally taking a stand for Prop. 8 – against same-sex marriage. The outcome is a mini-exodus of members. Some who are advocates of same-sex marriage have apparently decided they cannot remain in a church that disagrees with them. Presumably, and hopefully, they will find another church they can live with.

I wonder; is God using this effect of Proposition 8 to separate the sheep from the goats? The sheep being those who are willing to humbly accept what God teaches us. The goats, by their pride and arrogance, are unwilling to accept God on His terms. They can only accept God on their terms. If God won’t accept their terms, they leave. Yet I hope they come back again.

The general mess that’s illustrated by this example of the effect of Proposition 8 is that we human beings are not always willing to accept God on His terms. Yet how many people are you willing to accept, even when you disagree with them on significant issues? It’s considered a virtue to be accepting of others. Should we be accepting of people, yet not accepting of God? Should I welcome a gay friend into my home even though I consider homosexuality a sin, yet not accept God because I disagree with Him about the fate of sinners (for example)?

Fundamental Christians are often labeled as intolerant; not willing to accept people who are different from themselves. Well, that sounds a lot like the same-sex marriage advocates who leave churches that disagree with them. But look at the difference: a fundamentalist Christian may be unwilling to accept the ways of other people, while the same-sex advocates are unwilling to accept the ways of God.

Now I could also add that some fundamentalist Christians, by their behavior, clearly illustrate that they too are not willing to accept the ways of God. You see this in their bigoted and hateful response to those who don’t stand up to their criteria. This is not the way of God, who showed us a way of love, not of hate.

But the bottom line of all my blabbering is this: we tend to be willing to accept other people on their terms, but many of us are not as willing to accept God on His terms. Our top priority relationship should be with God.

I pray for the goats, that they may find their way back to the truth of God, on His terms.

For some related thoughts on Proposition 8, please see the following post: “Putting Words in God’s Mouth – talking same-sex marriage”


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Putting Words in God’s Mouth – talking same-sex marriage

Many opponents of California’s Proposition 8 (ban on same-sex marriage) try to use the bible to present their case, claiming that God and Jesus actually support same-sex marriage, or at least that they aren’t against it. Note my emphasis of the phrase “use the bible.”

I’m not going to try and convince you that God and Jesus are against same-sex marriage. God did a perfectly good job of that already, as is recorded in His book. If you are a Christian and you also believe same-sex marriage is a good thing; well, your personal beliefs are just that, personal. I’m not going to argue with you.

After all, none of us are “perfect” Christians in that we usually have a hard time accepting everything that God and Jesus tell us in the bible. For example, I have a hard time accepting that people I dearly love, who do not know God and Jesus, will likely not make it to heaven. But I still love God and Jesus with all my heart (my mind just gets in the way sometimes). I believe that someone else can love God and Jesus just as much or more, and yet still believe that same-sex marriage is a good thing.

But if you are such a same-sex believer, and if in your efforts to convince others that you are “right” in your belief, you choose to “use the bible,” my post today is for you.

If you are so sure that same-sex marriage is good and “right,” I wonder why you feel you need to rely on God’s word to make your case. After all, marriage as defined in this context is not a religious union, but a civil union. Everything I read from advocates of same-sex marriage centers on civil rights. So why bring religion into it? Could it be that in your heart you know that God does not approve, and therefore, by your ego you feel it’s necessary to make it look as if God does approve? Does your ego require that God agree with you? (Now there’s an absurd thought: is it more important that God agree with you, than you agreeing with God?)

If God doesn’t agree with you, the solution is not to distort His word. Just accept it as is, and accept the fact that you believe in something that is not accepted by God. This is not a message for advocates of same-sex marriages only; this is a message for all of us who may succumb to the temptation to tweak God’s word a bit.

My request to those who distort the bible in order to make a case for their personal beliefs is this: humbly accept that you are on your own in your beliefs. Accept that God does not agree with you. I’m not asking you to let go of your beliefs (though I suspect God is). But please, do not be so arrogant as to put your own words and beliefs into God’s mouth. Do not misquote God or spin what He has said. And ask for forgiveness for any times where you may have misrepresented His word; He’ll forgive you.


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Misrepresenting Jesus

The outcome of the vote on California Proposition 8 will determine if same-sex marriages will still be considered legal. Today’s newspaper contained a brief article which concluded with the following quote:

“Everybody understands that Jesus, in his own culture, was notorious and persecuted for consorting with outcasts,” said the Rev. Peter Laarman, a United Church of Christ minister who opposes the gay marriage ban. “When Jesus said all are welcome at the table, I think he really meant all.”

First of all, I’m not totally sure which part of scripture Mr. Laarman is referring to. My guess is that he may have been alluding to communion, or maybe it was the following: “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 8:11)

I do agree with the statement, “When Jesus said all are welcome at the table, I think he really meant all.” What I disagree with is the implied meaning. Mr. Laarman is apparently implying that Jesus meant that same-sex couples are invited to get married. I really don’t know how he could connect the two. There is no evidence of this anywhere in the bible.

The truth in what Jesus said is this: All are welcome to the salvation He has offered us. None are excluded. The only requirement is that we have faith in God and what He has told us, and that we repent of our sins. Therefore, all sinners are welcome. That means I’m welcome, and it means homosexuals are welcome. We just need to believe and have the desire to change our sinful ways.

And this brings me to my second concern for the day: this tendency of so many “Christians” to reshape the meaning of what is recorded in the bible to support their own personal agenda. In effect, they are putting their own words in Gods mouth, or twisting what God has said and changing the true meaning! Think about that for a moment. It’s called spin. Do we really want to play that game with God?

What motivates people to substitute their “truth” for God’s truth? I believe the answer is ego. Pride gives people the audacity to think that they know better than God. After all, isn’t that what’s going on when someone changes the meaning of God’s truth? We all need the humility to accept God’s word as it stands, without any modifications. And it takes humility, especially when our personal feelings are in conflict with what God has stated. Instead of fighting the conflict and trying to eliminate it by changing God’s truth, we just need to humbly accept the conflict, and pray for help in dealing with it.

I fear for Mr. Laarman. He may find himself in front of Jesus some day, with Jesus saying, “I never knew you. Away from me you evildoer.” (Matthew 7:23)


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Voting against God

“The Episcopal bishops of Los Angeles and the Bay Area are opposing a November ballot initiative to overturn the California Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the state.” In fewer words, these Episcopal bishops are for same-sex marriage, (according to the article in yesterday’s newspaper, where I found this quote).

The same old story, but it got me thinking about this issue in a different way. Yet I’m not talking about the same-sex marriage issue; I’m talking about the issue of being for something that God is against. Because my purpose in today’s post is not to discuss God’s opinion of same-sex marriage, I would just like to say that I believe God is against such marriages, because Jesus said …

“Haven’t you read, that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6) Marriage is defined as being between a man and woman.

Yet if you wish to discuss your beliefs about same-sex marriage, please comment.

In the mean time, I will get to my point: I try not to be “against” anyone, including same-sex couples. I rather try to be against things, such as same-sex marriage. But in the end, I endeavor to be “for” obedience to God, and adherence to His word, the Bible. I find being “for” something feels more positive that being “against” anything, (call me silly if you will, but it’s how I like to look at things, though I’m not always successful).

Anyway, we are faced with decisions all day long; to be either for or against the issues that come our way. Some of these decisions are formalized, like in the California ballot initiative mentioned at the beginning of this post. In all cases, we have the responsibility to choose how we will vote; are we for, or against. And it is naturally implied that to be “for” an issue, means that you’re “against” the opposing side of the issue.

I submit to you now that those who are “for” legalization of same-sex marriage, are therefore “against” God. Yes, I consider the Episcopal bishops as being “against” God. As Jesus said…

“Whoever is not with me is against me.” (Matthew 12:30)

It’s rather severe of me, wouldn’t you say, to proclaim supposed representatives of God as being against God. But they’re not alone. After all, they’re only human, and we all do it. We all take sides, every day, and for most issues that confront us, one side will be against the decisions of God.

Fortunately we are offered forgiveness. I can only hope that in being for things that put us against God, that we all will realize the true meaning of our actions and beliefs. If you believe in God, who created the universe and all things in it; do you really want to be against Him, in any way?


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Does God Hate You?

…If you’re the “wrong” sexual orientation, He does – according to some very outspoken individuals. Unfortunately for my parents, they recently encountered a group of people who believe that “God hates fags,” as their picket signs proclaimed.

While heading to our house for dinner last weekend, my parents came across a scattered group of bicyclists, strung out over about a half mile of roadway. When rounding a corner, those on the bicycles as well as my parents in their car, were confronted by a gang of protestors, with picket signs that read, “God Hates You!” and “God Hates Fags!”, and other such slogans of hate.

Needless to say, my parents were rather upset by the whole thing. When they arrived for dinner, the first thing my step-father asked was, “Where’s the vodka?” (not really – I just felt like injecting some humor).

So what is the truth behind the claim that God hates homosexuals? If you know anything about God, you probably already know the answer. And by that it’s clear that the protestors, who pretend to know the mind of God, really know nothing about Him.

The truth is found in Jesus’ own words…

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36)

Love your enemies; be kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Jesus is only calling us to live as He lived, to behave as He behaved, to love as He loved. Does it look like God hates anyone? I don’t think God considered homosexuals His enemy, though He may consider them wicked since I believe the bible tells me that all who sin are considered wicked. So at the very least, Jesus is asking me to be kind to homosexuals.

It’s too bad that those who profess to know the mind of God apparently don’t take the time to read His word. If you’re one of those who are a victim of hate, by either giving or receiving hate, then find freedom from your hate by embracing the truth of Jesus Christ.


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Your Choice – Sexuality or the Bible

“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), bitterly divided over sexuality and the Bible, set up another confrontation Friday over its ban on ordaining non-celibate gays and lesbians.” So reads the opening statement of a recent AP article about the outcome of last weeks Presbyterian General Assembly meeting.

“… bitterly divided over sexuality and the Bible…” I believe that about sums up the issue that plagues not only the Presbyterian Church, but many others. I realize this quote is from the author of the article and not a church leader, yet perhaps it accurately reflects reality within the church. And what a harsh reality it is; our church leaders are divided over following the Bible or opinions about sexuality.

I must say, I’m feeling rather frustrated about his whole issue. Maybe it’s just my mood today. The more I look at examples of how various churches are not following the truth of Jesus Christ, the more depressed I feel about humanity. Our arrogance is overwhelming; constantly putting our own personal opinions above the commands of God. Sorry, just feeling the need to vent a bit.

Normally at this point, I would ask what Jesus might have to say. Yet I believe I’ve already captured His opinion in other posts, about another sexually charged issue within the Presbyterian Church (see “Getting Back to Jesus“). However, please forgive me; I’m going to continue to vent as I draw from more pieces of the AP article…

“My biggest concern is, ‘How does the church move forward?'” said the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, moderator of the General Assembly. “There’s great disappointment in some folks and great joy in others, but it really does go back to how do we as a church model for the world a way to live together amid great diversity of opinion?”

Jesus gave the answer to Mr. Reyes-Chow’s question, “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 13:34-35) This is how you model the way to live together. Minimize personal opinions and maximize love.

“‘This week the General Assembly voted from faith rather than fear,’ Lisa Larges, minister coordinator of the advocacy group That All May Freely Serve, said in a statement. ‘They voted for a vibrant future of our church …'”

How about casting a vote for obedience to God? True faith expresses itself in obedience, not in letting go of God’s word and following personal opinion.

“Paul Detterman, executive director of Louisville, Ky.-based Presbyterians for Renewal, which opposes changing the ordination standards, said the debate is not about homosexuality but following the Bible.”

AMEN!!!! Thank you Paul.

One final vote for God’s side, from a letter on the pcusa website:

“The assembly left unchanged the definition of marriage found in the Directory for Worship (W-4.9000) – ‘a civil contract between a woman and a man.'” Wow, a small victory for God. The Presbyterian Church has decided to not (yet) change His definition of marriage.