Monday, June 30, 2008

White Christianity

More and more I see that the Christianity I grew up with is sooo tainted with Americanism that it is often very hard to see what The Way -- as Jesus' disciples called the religion Jesus taught-- would have turned into.

So I read Pastor Richard Twiss' "One Church, Many Tribes."

Then I listen to Henry Lao of the Elijah Challenge.

Then I listen to Christian ministers from other countries.

And I can only say I feel a strange excitement in the air. The Christianity we have is so euro-centric and the evangelical charismatic religion we have is so influenced by televangelist and American culture that I stand amazed at what this religion will be like when non-whites, non-Americans, finally get an influence in our church. I'll admit I'll be a little scared too. After all, I'm American and some stuff I hold to will also be challenged. But I'm open.

One of the weird things about this movement toward indigenous Christianity and a Christianity that moves away from American suppositions, interpretations, telvangelism, racism, that I am CONTINUALLY getting into fights with American Christians who simply do not want to grow. They are sooo committed to the American interpretations of certain verses and of certain ways of being that you can see their fear that you have fallen into heresy when you mention something. It's like telling some Christian man who is into authority that the perfect woman of Proverbs 31 -=- the woman who is far above rubies-- is shown in the Bible as buying property without asking her husband's permission. They just look at you like.....

Or when you tell someone that new believers in countries where new believers are persecuted for changing their religion shouldn't have to leave their religions...that God will work with inside believers from within those religions, that Jesus called believers to a relationship with him, not to "change religions" or "become Christians"...they look at you like......

Or when you tell them that evangelism without the miracles of Christ isn't gonna cut in in some countries....they're like.....

I have to admit that my patience with normal American Christians is running pretty short. Perhaps because they are so connected to American ideas such as patriotism, The US is God's country, etc, or their addiction to fame and large churches...and "issues"...and whatever the latest hip thing Christians are studying (christians and being feminine, christians and bad girls in the Bible, christians and yadda-yadda... or whatever...) well, it just makes me very snippy and "short" with people.

And when it's another Christian writer telling me that my story is too Christian, too heavy-handed (although my atheist friends and my Moslem friend and my new ager friends loved it) I feel like saying, "Idiot! Don't you know folks are going to hell? And you are upset with a book because it's too Christian or it doesn't fall into the type of Christian fantasy you want (Elves, knights, etc.) Oh, it really just p*sses a person off!

Am half-curious to see how Inheritance with those sex issues will play among Christians. Will they say I have made my demon too sexy and scary for Christian audiences?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

You May All Prophesy

You May All Prophesy
by Steve Thompson
December 01, 2007
Morningstar Publications (NC)
ISBN: 159933089X
EAN / ISBN-13: 9781599330891

Here it is on Amazon and here it is on New Books Christian

Here's the Blurb:
Paul revealed this startling truth to the first-century church, and God is now releasing the grace and understanding to fulfill it. The days ahead will require that we all be able to hear from God for one another. Now is the time for the body of Christ to begin functioning prophetically in order to build up the church and win the lost. This book offers balanced encouragement and instruction to begin equipping you to minister prophetically with both faith and wisdom. This book will help you (1) recognize God's voice, (2) interpret prophetic symbolism, (3) identify and overcome prophetic character weaknesses and (4) grow in the spirit of prophecy.

This book can totally teach everyone how to hear God's revelation and how to speak it. I totally loved this book.

naaman's question

We Christians often talk about the Naaman healing story and our basic sermons tend to focus on Naaman having to lower himself to wash in the Jordan seven times. But there is something else.

2 KIngs 5:16,17

16 The prophet answered, "As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing." And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.

17 "If you will not," said Naaman, "please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the LORD. 18 But may the LORD forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the LORD forgive your servant for this."

Interesting uh? The Jewish history and commentaries allow people who serve Yahweh to kow-tow to other religions if their lives might be endangered. Think of all the believers in the Lord in countries where they are persecuted. They have to do what they need to do to survive. In addition, Jesus didn't tell his disciples to convert anyone to Christianity; he told them to turn them into followers and disciples of Jesus. Quite a different. So I suspect a person who comes to belief in the Lord but who happens to be in a country where people are persecuted for believing in Christ can stay in his own religion in some places as long as they have a real true trustful faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. -C

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Ellijah Challenge

Wonderful Christian site on healing. Some great essays there. Been listening to a DVD someone sent me. Wonderful stuff.

Interesting insights from this guy so far:
In his evangelical services oftentimes the rich are more blessed and healed by God -- even when some of the rich are Christians. Reminds me of Mary's Magnificat where she says God has sent the rich away empty.

Ministers telling a Bible miracle story will not blame the ministers for problem with healings. They blame God (It's not God's will) or they blame the sick person (It's your lack of faith) but they never interpret the stories to blame the disciples which is what Jesus often did. In the story of the boy with the epileptic demon, most ministers will blame the man and say "Jesus put it back on the man. You must believe." But Jesus in fact was pretty annoyed with his disciples and told his disciples they should fast and pray for such healings.

In addition, what does it matter if a healing is not God's will? IT was not God's will to heal Hezekiah. God had appointed him to death. But God healed Hezekiah when Hezekiah prayed. Nor was it Jesus's "will" to heal the woman with the issue of blood. He was pretty neutral toward her. She wanted to be healed and she caused the healing. Nor was it Jesus' will to heal the daughter of the Syro-Phenician woman and yet he healed her because the woman prayed.

It's over at the elijah Challenge.

Here is the website address:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Woman at the well

One of my major pet peeves in Bible studies and sermons is how people treat certain folks in the Bible. Plain and simply, they are scapegoats. And our racial, sexist, and xenophobic attitudes have influenced how we see them...and how ministers talk about them. I have been known to walk out of services when someone starts dissing Michal (David's wife -- nothing personal but David was a real crappy husband and father), Absalom, Shechem, The Woman at the Well, Zipporah.

I walk out because I start thinking the minister discussing these folks is either listening too much to other ministers and not looking at the text, or that they are just plain hateful and they don't want to see that they have turned certain Bible folks into sacred cows and others into scapegoats. For instance, I see Sarah's wife as a racist. I can't help it. The King James Version says she got upset when she saw her son mocking Hagar's son and so she said "This handmaid's son will not be heir with my son." Well, those KJV translators could have used the other meaning of the word, which meant "playfully teasing." But by choosing the translation they did, they have made Ishmael a bad person and Hagar uppity and excused Sarah who simply hated the kid...and mainly because she saw the love between the two brothers.

Another example: Zipporah. In the Jewish tradition, she is considered one of the three circumcisers of Israel. A very honorable position. Moses and the rest of the Israelites had forgotten the ritual but it took his being married to a descendant of Keturah another of Abraham's wife for him to remember the covenant of circumcision. (BTW, the Talmud says that Keturah and Hagar are the same people. Wonder what those Christian who hate Hagar think of that?) In that story, Zipporah gets Moses circumcised and says to Moses, "You are a bloody husband to me." (KJV translation.) Christians who know nothing about this kind of thing have blasted her for picking on Moses' bloody penis. I mean, honestly!!!!! When people judge something with their own limited knowledge it just makes things sound silly. But if one looks at the entire story what she is saying is something like "There is a covenant of blood between us." Yet this poor woman has been maligned in so many sermons I just want to scream.

Well, here is one of my major pet peeves: the Samaritan woman at the well. The Samaritan woman who spoke to Jesus at the well is often used as an example of a "bad" woman. Modern readers don't understand that middle eastern men of that time could easily divorce women for any kind of reason, childlessness, talking back, old age. They also forget that during Bible times, poor women without families had few choices when life dealt them a harsh blow. The much-divorced Samaritan woman may have had a big mouth or been unable to bear children. The fact that she ended up with a man who was "not her husband" is more likely the effect of destroyed self-esteem rather than sin. The plain truth is we cannot easily judge a situation we know so little about. John didn't tell us the backstory. People always forget that back in the day a guy could divorce a woman simply because she was childless or had a big mouth or --god forbid-- was sickly.

Many Christians behave as if the “woman at the well” divorced herself or had been the one who initiated the divorces. From what I can see from her conversation with Jesus, this woman had a mouth on her...and spoke her own mind. A good trait perhaps but back in the day, women weren't supposed to answer back or have their own minds.
When people go on about how bad she was for "having so many men" I say, the woman tried to have good marriages but somehow she was constantly being rejected. She finally fell in with some guy who was either using her, or still married to another woman or who was as much a loser as she was.

The other thing they completely miss --the most important thing-- even though they talk about Jesus being the "seventh man" in her life, is that a man meeting a woman at a well is always used in the Bible as a symbol for marriage. Sure Jesus didn't marry the woman, but that John chose to use the old patriarchal symbol for marriage to show that Jesus was symbolically married to the woman as a symbol of Jesus being married to the church is something they don't even touch.

I think what annoys me most of all is the lack of true thinking that occurs in many sermons about the "bad" people. We Christians have a kneejerk dislike for evil even though we're supposed to be aware of our own sinfulness.

But when I think of the Woman at the Well see a woman literally thrown out, who has to fend for herself. She is offered marriage and a home time and again, but not an accepting patience husband. But Guess what!! She was the first non-Jewish woman missionary to spread the good news!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Getting over a nasty near-cold which although it didn't overpower me has left me feeling a might weak. This has happened in the past whenever I get bronchitis. I hate colds! In the future, however, I hope to so open my mind to the possibilities of the greatness of the gospel that I stop thinking of this kinda thing as "normal for me."

Thoughts on a couple of things -- yeah, I know...been procrastinating and spent the last three days making youtube videos. Or just go to the url:

So...other thoughts:

John said, "There are also other things that Jesus did that if they were written the world would not hold all the books. But these are written to show you that Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten son of God." <-- That's the basic line depending on what translation you have.(yeah, I'm too lazy to open my Bible which is just two feet away)

This means that what the Bible says about Jesus is true and that the Bible has the truth but is not complete, and yet if someone comes up with anything else that Jesus is supposed to have done, we have to challenge it...especially if this particular new gospel has something that says Jesus is not the only begotten son of God.

Anyway, I got to thinking. IF Jesus did alllll that stuff, why do the gospel writers seem to hone in on those particular miracle stories and events? John's gospel aside, Why do they all mention the same specific stories if there were many folks raised from death, healed of blindness, muteness, etc? Okay, John says these particular events were chosen to show that Jesus was -- IS-- the son of God. So the miracles like the healing of Jairus daughter, the woman with the issue of blood, etc...are all "signs" that point to something even more wonderful than the regular healings. And let us not forget that even the raising of Lazarus only told by John and casually mentioned in the other gospels. (Okay, maybe Lazarus was still alive and Matthew, Mark, Luke didn't want to get Lazarus in trouble cause the priests were out to kill him. Maybe by the time John wrote his gospel, Lazarus was safe.) But it does make a person think. When Jesus was asked by John's disciple if he was he that would come or "look we for another?" Jesus' response was to continue healing people then to point John's spiritual gaze to Isaiah's prophecy. He replied "Look at all the people I have healed. The deaf, the dumb, the blind, and the dead are raised to life." So I'll have to say that these particular miracles definitely show that the Isaiah prophecies and Jesus' miracles show Jesus's view of Scripture and Scripture's view of Jesus.

But he healed many blind folks and many deaf folks...why those specific people? Well as we look on the miracles they do seem to teach a lesson, give a sign, in addition to healing. The healing of the "moonstruck" boy shows among other things that one can believe and not believe at the same time, that sometimes God's people (the disciples) have problems healing something in some case that they had no problem healing at another time. I mean, these same disciples had gone out with the seventy and had been casting out demons, so now suddenly they have this problem.

And the story of the woman with the issue of blood certainly shows that a person can be healed by touching Jesus without Jesus even doing anything. Just getting caught in the virtue of healing.

The healing of the Centurion's servant shows that the authoritive word of healing can be spoken at a distance.

And the story of Jairus daughter certainly shows that if one wants a miracle one should not say anything faithless and one should get rid of the unbelieving folks.

The story of the blind man healed outside of Bethsaida shows that sometimes in order to be healed -- cause Chorazin, Nazareth, and Bethsaida were some unbelieving towns-- and when one is in such a to get out.

The healing of the paralyzed man shows the power of intercession.

The story of the man at the pool shows that we can be healed if we look at God and not at the device we think God has given us to healing. And, like the raising from death of the widow's dead son, it shows that Jesus is so compassionate that he initiates healing even if one has not asked for it.

So yeah, some great stuff in those specific stories.

I also got to thinking about Jesus in Nazareth. The gospel writer says, Jesus could not do any mighty works there....except that he healed a few sick folk." Wow, even a healing of a few sick folk would constitute a mighty work for little old me.

I also got to thinking about televangelists and the words -- in Proverbs, in Ecclesiastes, in the epistles-- that in much talking there is a tendency to sin. Okay, I'm rolling my eyes now but honestly, it seems to me that the evangelists seem to believe that they must deliver "product" and they spend a lot of time hawking the greatness of their "product." Always some new revelation, some new CD, etc. Their sins of arrogance and smugness aside -- not all of them are bad, mind you. I love Andrew Wommack and Sid Roth's Messianic Vision It's Supernatural-- but honestly, it all feels sometimes like they've been to Walmart annual salesmanship meetings.

And it just gets me more cynical of all their revelations. Heck they all seem to get the same revelations about the same thing so I think they're listening more to each other than to God. Give me a televangelist who has a taped show and plays it once a week, than one of the daily ones. I can see the scurrying for product, the need to make more money to pay for airtime, the addiction to fame, the greed for money. Am I just being cynical here? No. The Lord tells us to be discerning.

Anyway...feeling like crap but trusting God to make me stronger. His healing word is within me working mightily.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Yet another day with me fooling around with windows movie maker

I'm waiting to hear from a publisher and an agent so....yeah, I did nada but work on yet another youtube video. So...for your entertainment

Here it is on youtube:

The Thorn in the Flesh

There is a kind of assuming which falls into the category Jesus called “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel.” In this particular kind of misreading, mental and intellectual leaps and suppositions are made because the reader does not know the rest of the Bible, does not use the “precept upon precept” method, or is determined to put a meaning into a text which doesn’t belong there.

Consider the phrase, “thorn in the flesh.” Among Christians, this has come to mean a kind of physical suffering which one must endure because God has given the suffering as a blessing. The thorn in the flesh is closely related to the concept of “a cross to bear.” These phrases are often used in many Christian writings. And the would-be devotionalist should be aware that these phrases have caused great comfort to some, great distress to others, and annoyance to many.

How did this come about? In one of his epistles, (2 Cor 12:17) Paul writes that because he had an abundance of visions, he was burdened by a “thorn in the flesh,” a messenger of Satan sent to buffet him so that he might not be exalted because of the visions. Paul recounts that he asked God to remove the thorn but God said, “My grace is sufficient for you.” This is all Paul said. Assumptions and suppositions have been made. Although Paul uses a phrase that was elsewhere used in the Bible ( Numbers 33:55, Judges 2:3) to describe persecution caused by demonic activity (something like our phrase “a pain in the neck” but much more deadly) many Christians gloss over the phrase, “a messenger of Satan” and create a situation in which God and Satan are working together to keep Paul’s pride down. Paul says that the Satanic messenger was sent to prevent him from being exalted in his visions. But he does not state that exaltation was a bad thing. Many Christians, who have not had a multitude of visions, often refer to their illnesses as their thorns in the flesh. Why? Their situation barely resembles Paul’s, but the nature of suffering is that it seeks an answer and therefore people will define their illnesses as a thorn or as their “cross to bear.”

This is also a case where the obvious is completely ignored. This happens a lot in studying the Bible. It’s as if people are so determined to make a Bible verse mean something totally different than what it actually says that they build up an entire alternate reality in spite of the fact that the reality is al;ready there. This verse is one of those verses that a regular untrained believer would believe what it says. It’s a verse that you pretty much need a seminarian to confuse you and not believer it. Paul describes the “thorn in the flesh” parenthetically as “a messenger of Satan to buffet me.” Parenthetical phrases are usually by definition a clarification placed in a sentence so folks get a clearer idea of what’s going on.

And what a parenthetical this is! First we are told that it’s a messenger. That’s the same word used for angels in the Bible. Then we are told it’s a messenger of Satan. That would mean it’s a Satanic angel. Then we are told it buffets him, which means it beats him up. Now, granted some folks have had no experience with demons hitting them either in the night or in the day but one would think that Christians would believe that demons exist. One would think that Christians wouldn’t go spiritualizing the word “satan.” Moreover, Paul tells us that this is from Satan. Now, if it is a messenger from Satan why does Paul ask God three times to rid him of this messenger from Satan? And why does God tell Paul that God’s grace is sufficient for Paul? True, this presents a problem. And I can see why some people would think that God is “working with this messenger of Satan” to use this thorn in the flesh to help Paul. But would God (and here is my parenthetical), WHO HAS NO DARKNESS IN HIM, work with a Satanic presence?

I think it all comes down to How do we define grace? What exactly is grace? Is it the totality of what God has so given us undeservedly? Is it mere comfort? Is it God's love?

If we see grace as something that is merely about comfort and not a thing of power, then we can say that God is allowing Paul to be beaten up for Paul’s own good. And Paul should be happy because he must remember that God loves him, yadda yadda. Then we can start saying the messenger is really sickness given to Paul to chastise him. Although, in the Bible, God never gives people illnesses as a blessing but as a punishment.

But what exactly is this grace that is given us? Folks who read this verse seem to think that Paul endured this problem all his life. Again, there is no proof anywhere that Paul was always sick with his eyes (he was a tentmaker for heaven’s sake!) or homosexual (Paul said God had delivered folks from this) or sick with any other issue. Folks who want to believe in the thorn in the flesh as a kind of permanent sickness often point to Paul leaving his friend at Miletus sick and to Timothy’s stomach troubles. Folks like to talk about the section where Paul says the Galatians accepted him when he came and he was in sorry shape. "You accepted me, etc." (Gal 4:12-14) But remember, when he met those believers the first time, he had just been stoned (possibly to death) by an angry mob. Of course he was in bad shape! Then other folks say that when Paul said, "you would have given me your own eyes" that that meant he had something wrong with his eyes. Let's not start taking a slang and building a backstory about it. Then there are folks who say that Paul wrote, "Look what big letters I make when I write to you." So they assume Paul couldn't see and had to write his letters largely. But Paul was talking about the largeness of the message, which went on pretty long. Not the largeness of the actual alphabet. Letters have two meanings, remember. That's a case of folks reading something and forgetting that there is another meaning for the English word "letter."

But back to Trophimus whom Paul left sick. First, just because he left his friend sick doesn’t mean his friend stayed sick. Most miraculous Christian healings occur as a process. And we all know what happens when we drink strange water in strange places. So Timothy’s stomach troubles don’t really count. The interesting thing about Timothy’s tummy trouble and Paul’s thorn is that they share the same cure: God has not given them the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Just as Paul told Timothy to fight the good fight, God is probably telling Paul to fight the good fight. Isn’t that what fighting the good fight means? Acknowledging the power of God in us, the authority we have, the grace given to us? In Philemon Paul tells Philemon that our faith grows by the acknowledging of the good things in us. I have no doubt that the reason God told Paul that God’s grace was sufficient for him was that God’s grace WAS sufficient to destroy the messenger from Satan. If grace is only a peaceful feeling and assurance of God’s love, then we are of all people the most weak. But if grace is Christ in us the hope of glory, the treasure in earthen vessels, the authority given to us by Jesus Christ to cast out devils and heal the sick,---if grace is ALL the good spiritual and physical things we have inherited through Christ’s life, death, and atonement, then Paul would have sooner or later destroyed this messenger in the flesh…. Because God’s grace was sufficient for him.

Nevertheless, the Bible Study writer who aims to destroy long-standing traditions such as this is going to have a long and controversial row to hoe. There are many reasons why Christians seem to be unhealed -- including our habit of thinking that if we don't see anything then God hasn't answered how prayers (Remember Daniel hadn't seen anything for 21 days yet the Lord HAD answered his prayers. This "thorn in the flesh" verse, however, is not a good hook to hang a theology of sickness on.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Understanding the Healing Power of God

Understanding the Healing Power of God
Doug Jones

Faith Library Publications / 2001 / Paperback
Retail Price: $8.95

Can be bought at Doug Jones Ministries website
or Christian Book Distributors website

Here's the blurb:
In this book, Rev. Jones presents the truth concerning this little-talked about subject: understanding God's healing power. By applying the principles outlined in this book, you will learn: How to determine if the healing power is present. How the healing power is administered to your body. And how to keep the healing power active within you until you are satisfied with the fruit produced. Many believers have been instructed from the Word that one ingredient necessary to receive healing is faith. However in this comprehensive study, you will learn of another ingredient that you must understand in order to be healed, and that is the healing power of God. When we connect our faith to His power, we are on the path to victory.

Loooved this book!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The story of the rich man and Lazarus

Okay, notice I didn't call it a parable. Because, plain and simple, it is not. I'm only getting myself riled up about this naming issue because my Seventh Day Adventist friends dismiss the entire story -- and hell-- by saying "well, that's just a parable."

Okay, a definition of a parable is a story taken from real life, earthly, and commonplace situations or universal occurrence to symbolize spiritual situations or truths. Often the parable's meaning is hidden and the person telling the parable has to give the key to understanding the parable's meaning.

For those who don't know the story, look below.

Anyway, this is the reason why it is NOT a parable:

1) It actually has a fellow in hell, a spiritual place -- which certainly is not an everyday Earthly occurrence. Certainly not one I'm familiar with. In fact, most of this story takes place in hell. It is a story about a spiritual non-physical place so how can a story about a spiritual place -- the ultimate reality-- be symbolic of a hidden spiritual truth?

2) There is an actual named character in the story. Parables do not use names. None of the characters in Jesus's other parables had names. Moses and Abraham are also mentioned. Even if they supposedly "represent" the law and the patriach, this is not a parable that everyone everywhere in the world would understand. If this is a parable, it is suited only for those who understand Jewish culture.

3) There is a big spiritual discussion in the story...a discussion where everything is spelled out. Things are so spelled out in this story that the only way one can misunderstand what is going on is to set out purposely to find some other spiritual truth the story is referring to. Parables generally do not have big spiritual discussions. No one in Jesus parables ever talk about religious matters.

This refusal to see that Jesus spoke of hell goes so far as to my adventist friends saying that when JEsus told the theif he (the theif) "Verily, I tell you, this day you will be with me in paradise, that either A) Jesus meant soul sleep where he guards and keeps those he love or B) that Jesus said "I am telling you this day, you will be with me in paradise." Honestly! When one looks at the index of verses with "Verily, I say unto you" in certain Seventh Day Adventists books one readily sees that the other commas are not moved around to suit theological situations. Only in this verse is this comma switched around.

I don't know how they explain the transfiguration on the mount. Mainstream Christians understand it to mean A) JEsus spoke with the Elias and Moses (representative of the law and the prophets) about fulfilling all that was written about him B) The presence of the three aspects of the Godhead supporting Jesus's sacrifice (father, son, and holy spirit all present) C) The idea that spirit has substance and that spirit transforms bodies, even clothes D), JEsus was honored above all other humans and was not equal to Elias and Moses and E) The disciples were given a view of the Saviour's glory. But there is also the simple matter that Elias and Moses had died and were now very much alive and talking to JEsus. What? Did God wake them out of soul sleep then put them back to sleep again? Not possible. God creates people once and only once. HE doesn't blink them out of existence and in again at his whims. Yes, yes, I know...some will say that Elias and Moses did not die, just like Enoch. But if that is true -- and the Bible says that Moses DID die-- why didn't God include Enoch in the mix to represent the folks who lived before the law and the prophets?

"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day; and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table; moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores.
"And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried: and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried, and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and thou art tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed; so that they which would pass from hence to you, cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

"Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." --Luke 16:19-31.

Charles Finney does a really great exegesis on it

It is funny how many, many, many times a sect with issues will say that everyone else has misunderstood this parable. What is it about this parable that makes it so (supposedly) easily misunderstood by everyone else by them? Because it challenges one of their main tenets.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wondering Times Two Part I

On Saturday at a fiesta given by our iglesia (church) for the cumpleanos (birthday) of a little boy. (Couldn't go to the Jamaican church that day cause the birthday party started early then church was after that.) I sat outside under a large pine and at one point when everyone was inside I stayed outside to talk to a teenaged girl sitting across from me. After sometime I felt in my spirit that I should be talking to her and that the "real" reason for me sitting there would come up sooner or later, and that God would lead her to bring up the "real" topic on her heart. So later of course she did, suddenly out of the blue telling me that her dad was Catholic and her mom was pentecostal and she was confused.

Okay, a part of me thought: "Oh please, this isn't God at all. This kinda thing always happens to you. Teenagers like you. People are always coming out of the blue to tell you their soul's sorrow. It's your face, woman!" But then I thought..."uhm...maybe God did make me stay out here so she could talk to me and maybe I did sense in my spirit that she needed to talk."

Now this is what I'm wondering about. I kept thinking I didn't want to side with her mother although I totally believe penteocostalism is the way to go. I just think the Catholic church places so much power into the hands of the clergy when Christianity wishes that all God's people will heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, preach the gospel. Plus the treatment of women in that denomination and its history of persecution of the Jews. But I know some very devout Catholics. They never open their Bibles, though. And they pray to the saints more than they pray to God. So yeah, I had issues. So what did I say? I said, "Don't be confused. Find the similarities in what both your parents believe and believe that. And in the long run it's not denominations that get a person saved, it's having a right relationship with God your Father and knowing that Jesus saved you from your sin because no one is perfect enough for God." Since Sunday I have been totally flaking out wondering if I wimped out? Despite all my arguments with folks on the web I am a total wimp in real life and unless someone is a Mormon or someone says something totally weird about Jesus, I tend to try to be peaceful and bring peace. So....did I do right? Or did I lose the opportunity to preach the gospel to this kid?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Stewards of the mysteries of God

Wow! St Paul!!! What a lovely phrase. In other epistles, he talks about the stewardship and the ministry God has given to him. But in this verse..."stewards of the mysteries." Stewards of revelation. Stewards of the glories. Stewards of the news of God's grace. Stewards of the healing. One could go on forever.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Failed miserably...but

Well, I failed miserably after I came out of that courtroom. I think it's all the various issues happening around here. I just got tired and stressed out and my mouth let out all kinds of nasty evil-wishes against creepy neighbor, cops, etc. Plus I totally went into whining mode and blaming and speaking the pathological truth rather than God's Biblical truth. Oh, my friends, you would not have wanted to be around me.

But the Bible tells us we will not be greatly shaken. And it tells us we go from glory to glory. So, hopefully, in all my horrible behavior and horrible speaking two days ago, I wasn't as bad as I used to be. And will not be so bad in the future. Hopefully, I am growing in Christ and allowing his mind to take me over more and more. I'd so hate to think that I still hadn't grown a bit and that the devil can always rely on me to behave in the same predictable old Carole ways. -C

Saturday, June 14, 2008

a peculiar people

Peter calls those who believe in Christ a "peculiar people."

The greek word used there means: "acquired" or "purchased possession" which means that we are God's own possession. God's own.

Now that's interesting. God really is our father more than any other. We belong to him because he made us, because he redeemed us with a precious gift. No wonder what Satan cannot snatch us out of God's hands.

Anyways, here is a youtube video I made of one of my absolute favorite Christian songs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Faith works through love

This is a Bible verse that many Christians often forget to ponder.

If we have faith but we do not forgive our enemies, faith won't work.
If we someone comes on our heart --especially if we suddenly feel a great compassion flowing out towards someone (whether the person is near or not)-- then that is the Holy Spirit working through you.

Sometimes we think God isn't speaking to us. But remember God is love. The love we suddenly feel for someone -- especially if that person hasn't been on our minds for a while-- is often God's way of telling us to pray for that person or to call them or to give them a word.

God is love. He works through love. His compassion in our hearts toward others is His love talking to us. ACT on faith. BELIEVE that that deep love is God-in-you telling you to do something. Or at least to pray for people. But you must believe that God is with you.

The Bible says, "The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet." The Bible says, "Stir up the gift that is in you." It's not as if we sit around waiting for God to so overwhelm us and stir the gift up in us. We are to stir up the gift, not God. We can initiate the gift within us by stirring up the gift within us which was given to us by the laying on of hands. If a faithful elder has laid hands on us to give us a gift, then we must believe we have it. Walk in faith. Trust that God has given...and has placed all things in you: the mind of Christ, the gifts of the holy spirit, the healing powers of the word, the answer to prayers. Walk out in faith. We can turn our spiritual gifts on and off.

Torment, worry, and stress

Remember when St Paul -- I think it was Paul but know what? It might have been St John-- said, "Fear has torment"?

Gosh, he is sooo right! Fear and worry torment the soul. And what does fear really imply? Fear is nothing more than Faith that the thing we are afraid of and the thing we don't want to happen will happen.

Okay, aside from the fact that I have had to deal with all the drama caused by both my son and me having encounters with the legal system, the trouble is I have always been a worrier. I suspect part of this has to do with A) the way my mother raised me. She was an alarmist. Every little cut would bring upon some mega-deathly-infection. B) Worry runs in my family. Maybe it's nutritional...we do throw our body out of whack by not drinking enough water and by eating a bit too much sugar. And wheat gluten seems to affect us neurologically. Sometimes when I eat wheat I feel overwhelmed with fear. C) I watch way too much television, especially the news. And you KNOW those people train your mind to think of whatever things are fearful, of bad report, etc. D) Worry becomes a habit after a while. It's as if your mind doesn't know how to imagine good things. E) I haven't been staying in the word as much as I should. F) I had no daddy to take care of me so I struggle with the idea of a Creator God being a father who takes care of me.

So yeah, I have a kind of inclination to worry. But honestly, these legal issues and especially the driving-while-black incidents. And the money issues they have caused...well, it wears a woman down. And isn't being worn down a kind of torment? And isn't that what the devil does? Try to wear you down?

The Bible tells us that those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. It says God will keep us in perfect peace if we keep our mind on him. Well, it's a nice day today. Heatwave over with. No rain. After doing a few revisions on some chapters in Constant Tower, I shall go outside around midday and bask in the sun with Bible in the hand.

In the meantime, here are some tips from the 100 blacks in law enforcement site To prevent injustice great and small against our black men.

Damascus Road Authors interviewed on The Abundant Solution Hour

Last night the Damascus Road Authors were interviewed on The Abundant Solution Hour. So impassioned was the discussion that a second interview is being presented.

Please join authors Maurice Gray, Jr., Dr. Linda Beed, Wanda B. Campbell, Lacricia Peters, Jacquelin Thomas and Kim Brooks for Part 2 of Help You, Help You. The show will air live on the Abundant Solution Hour on Wednesday evening, June 11th (9:00P/EST – 8:00/CT – 6:00P/PST).

They can be reached at:

Link to Monday’s interview:

The talk is about writing that book in your soul.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Christians on the web

I don't know about other folks but my relationship with Christians on the web has been a weird mix. I either become really good friends with them or I become the object of their gossip. Truth to tell, it's only the really odd Christians who like me -- the non-cookie-cutter types. I am always finding out -- often before I have said anything too snippy or outrageous-- that some Christians were gossiping about me.

So, then, what exactly is my problem? Why do so many "normal" Christians -- especially normal white Christians-- consider me their enemies?

Okay, the group that I first had the problems with was a group that immediately set out to dislike me because I said that many of my gay female friends were raped as their brothers or uncles or by people in the church. Well, I got a big slap-down saying I was being pro-gay. Whatever. Then the next thing I said was that I didn't like the Iraqi war and that Bush was being creepy to start the war. Well, that got me another slap-down. Then I was waay frank about my critiques of their stories. Not good because they could not take criticism and were so in a rush to be published that they wanted to believe their badly-written stories were ready for primetime -- they were aiming to be published as quickly as possible. They said I was a harsh critiquer. Then one woman was talking about good hard-working people who don't take welfare. She pretty much assumed that black people were on welfare...and that they were welfare queens who didn't like hard work like the "typical American." I -- because I could not keep my mouth shut-- said that I didn't like the racist euphemism "hard-working" because it implied "white." I also didn't like the assumption that blacks were the only ones on welfare because poor whites are the largest group on welfare and there is also corporate some of the corporations certain politicians were involved with. I further declared that my son was sick and I was sick and we were never on welfare even though we both coule have taken it. And what does the group do? They start sending mean notes about me to each other offlist. How do I know this? One of them accidentally sent her comment about "Carole's bad behavior" to the list.

That's what I especially dislike about Christians on the internet...the herd mind. (Heck, maybe Christians in real life are as bad.) When my book Wind Follower was being toured by one group, the head of that group wrote me an email saying, "Many of our readers have had problems with this book because of the sex and the violence and the difficulty of the writing because they feel you're such a bad writer." First, I told him he should not have told me that folks were gossiping about me. Sh*t, who wants to hear about that? I would've liked to be in total ignorant bliss. I didn't say, "What the heck are you guys talking about? You're either non-published or self-published and you are judging a book edited by a super professional at a traditional publishing house?" But although I didn't say that I couldn't help but to become snippy. It's hard not to have snippy dynamics when one hears people are talking behind one's back.

So now this morning I realized that yet another of these Christian groups to which I belong has removed me from its list. (I think I got removed from this last list because a woman was going on about how she wasn't going to get married. I simply said to her --and the list-- that it was her choice but she should remember that A) Paul said in only one letter that people should not get married. In another letter he said that women under sixty should get married. And in Proverbs and Genesis, we are told to marry. Then I said B) that if she decided not to marry, she should take care of her health. Sickly non-married older relatives end up being a burden to nieces and nephews and grand-nieces who have their own parents to take care of and don't really want to go figuring out medical and financial issues for sick aunts. YEAH, WELL!!! IT'S THE TRUTH. I was in major financial mess last winter with medical bills and my aunt ups and dies and all the nieces had to pool money to bury her. So I was being honest. But Christians on the web do not really appreciate honesty. It's all about sweetness and light.

Upshot: I now have a reputation among some web Christians as being bitchy and short-tempered and rude. They don't seem to realize that I am only bitchy and short-tempered and rude to Christians on the web. And that they do deserve it.

But the funny counterpart to all this is that I keep meeting atheists, especially feminist atheists -- especially WHITE feminist atheists-- with whom I get along quite well. I keep becoming friends with non-Christian gay guys on the web who totally appreciate my honesty. Heck, when I told one internet gay writer buddy that I -- a born-againer wanted to review his book about his rather odd cruising sex life as a male prostitute, he said, "ooh, that'll be a great hook in the review." I told him not to fear and that I wouldn't savage him. He says he's cool; he knows I won't be cruel. Now what is that about? Also, when I get into a heated discussion with one of these folks, we work things through. I have told white feninists that they do NOT suffer as much as black minorities. (Quite the to-do because they always want to excuse white privilege.) and then we get into a deep heated discussion...and then we're closer than before. Try that with a Christian on the internet sometime. It's really strange but Christians are probably the most unforgiving types...and they don't tell you why they have cut you off. Very self-righteous types who think they know all about you.

Not only are many Christians on the internet part of a great gossipy herd-mind, but they are so into this weird idea of "sweetness" that they don't quite know what to do with honesty. So -- in spite of myself, or maybe because of myself-- I am now stuck in a bind of having to forgive these jerks. So annoying. Here I am trying to work on all my spiritual issues and this new one just creeps in on me. It's been said that God forgives people and keeps his relationship with them. But humans forgive and often sever relationships. Well, uh...I'm human. I now am stuck with folks who have "forgiven" me (or maybe not) yet have severed their relationships with me. Because they all gossip together about me without trying to understand where I come from. Basically, they reinforce each other's prejudices about how a good Christian ought to behave and I simply have been weighed in the balance and been found wanting.

I'll forgive these folks who all think I'm wrong and evil because I don't share the same agenda or racist/political notions that they do. But I will not partner with them. Nor will I have a relationship with them. No anger, mind you. But how can two walk together unless they be agreed? -C

Sunday, June 08, 2008

prophetess encounter

Okay, I'll be real upfront about this. I distrust prophetesses. I tend to look askance at them. Maybe Prophetess Bynum turned me off them with her loudness and her tendency to take over every program she's on. But generally, I'm just real iffy.

So when Cecile the pastor of a local Jamaican church said that a certain prophetess -- who clothes herself in white linen from head to toe-- was gonna be guest preaching....well, I wasn't too thrilled. I've seen this prophetess. She's a sweet soul but... well, the outfit kinda turned me off.

Upshot we arrive at 2:30 -- a full three hours after church starts, mind you. Hey, these are sweet Jamaican ladies and they understand our situation with younger son. So I figure I better go up for prayer. The prophetess started receiving a word for me. And of course I'm all set to humor her. And what does she say?

"The Lord knows when you rise up and when you go to bed. The Lord has seen your bed. The Lord knows your bed. The Lord has seen your bed. Are you looking for new living quarters?"

I couldn't help bursting out in laughter. Well, wow!!!! The woman is totally a child of God. Pit bull puppy went to town ripping our bed to shreds. We sleep on a mattress that has holes, eaten out padding and exposed springs. In fact, in order to sleep on it, we have to put on tons of blankets and tablecloths on the bed in order not to feel the springs. Picture the Princess and the Pea. In addition, before the doggy got to the mattress, the spring was broken so we've been sleeping for a while now on a mattress on a bedboard on the floor. (Hey, when you are low on money, you don't spend time on repairing a bed.) Isn't God funny? Plus the fact that she mentioned the living conditions and my wanting to move. She was right on! She said we would get a new bed soon and it would be an anointed bed. I know what God meant by that....that our new bed will be free from the bitterness and hurt and grief that this old bed has seen.

The interesting thing about prophecies is that when one gets them one is sometimes afraid to mention them...especially if they are weird. I could see her struggling with what she saw. Another prophet would've spiritualized what was seen by fudging around and avoiding the silly image: "Carole, I declare the Lord will give you rest." Something like that. Because sometimes these things are just so odd and folks start interpreting the revelation they see instead of simply telling what they see. Just really neat.

Upshot? I feel blessed. Heck, I knew I was. But I've been feeling God's presence all day.

Okay, in a hour and a half am off to my other church. The Ecuadorean evangelical church. From heavy Jamaican accents to total Spanish. Hey, I go where God calls me.

Walking by faith -- recognizing the kingdom

Well, one really has to be alert sometimes to "see" the kingdom of God. But here is something that shouted pretty loud.

My son was rear-ended yesterday on Rte 9. He got out of the car. The driver who rear-ended him got out of her car. He looked at his car. Saw a little scratch. Shrugged. She shrugged. He said "Sorry." (although she was the one who caused the accident.) She said "Sorry." They went on their separate ways.

But their ways weren't separate at all. When he arrives at his workplace, who does he see but this same lady? They smiled and waved to each other. Turns out that she works at the VA too. This is the new job son is supposed to start on Tuesday and which he's been attending orientation to. Is this a god-moment or what? We who can see the kingdom of God recognize this kinda thing. Now, how different would this have been if son had been snippy about being rear-ended? He would've gotten an enemy at his work. Wow, what a blessing. My son sees the power of not getting angry over silly stuff. Praise God. Also, this kid has always been blessed with the power to see the kingdom of God. God is his light and his salvation. Son, himself, said, "wow!" The devil now knows he cannot use that particular weapon -- temper-- against either my son or me. Praise God!

Incidentally, my biggest goal at present is to NOT quench the spirit. I want to hear what the Spirit says to me every day. I want to be able to listen. If a Mormon missionary comes to my door, I want to hear from God how I should answer. If the Lord says "turn to the left" I want to turn to the left. EVEN IF I'M NOT AWARE THAT I HAVE HEARD. I want to honor God by having him direct my hearing him and by simply being led by him. -C

Anger, Prejudice, Demonic

Uhm.... so much anger, so little time. I didn't find an "Angry Hispanic Man" or "Angry Hispanic Woman" blog. But it probably exists.

Incidentally, I like to think of my blog as the Angry Christian Blog. But generally, my anger is pretty low-key. And usually, I'm p*ssed at the devil. He's the one we should be angry at. We do not fight against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in high places. Yeah, yeah, I know... it sounds very pious to say that racism, sexism, media prejudices, elitism and the folks who use them against other folks aare all really spiritual problems...but let me tell you a story. A TRUE STORY as usual.

I was once walking on the communion line in St Mark's Episcopal Church in a town a little down county. I walked by my friend Cecily -- a deacon in the church and a very sweet Welsh lady-- who was holding her visiting grandson in her arms. I had never met the kid. But the kid was beautiful. Simply goregous. He was about three or four and now I suspect he's probably about 27 years old. Anyway, there I was walking past the kid and I see Cecily. I smile at her and suddenly the kid shouts at me with the most hateful sneer and angry voice: "What are you doing here?" I wish I could totally explain the depth of this kid's hatred toward me. And note, the kid and his parents were just visiting. The weird thing was that the kid seemed to recognize me. If I believed in reincarnation I would think we must have known and hated each other in a past life! Another thing: the kid was not only angry to see me, but surprised to see me. He looked as if he thought he had destroyed me years ago. I totally felt that he wanted to get something in his little toddler hands and destroy me. Remember this was a little three year old I had never met before. But he recognized me, or maybe he recognized something in me. Or maybe he was overpowered with hatred of me. (Who knows? Maybe his parents had filled him up with a hatred of black people. But honestly, the kid's anger seemed to be directed against me. He didn't act that way with other black folks in the church...okay, there were only about four of us in the entire church.)

Okay, I've heard stories and there are stories in the Bible where a demon recognizes God's holy spirit in someone else. Christians have had witches or demonized folks walk over to them and curse them out or spit at them -- even if the Christian hasn't said anything or done anything particularly holy. The demon inside the person simply recognizes God's spirit in the Christian. But honestly, we were in a church, folks! The kid was sweet and calm until I came along. And Cecily was pretty holy so it wasn't as if I was the only Christian in the church. (::giggle:: Okay, I had to smile at that.) So why the heck did this kid do that?

I often wonder what I would do if the same thing happened again to me. Would I create a scene in the church and rebuke the spirit and command the spirit to leave? Or would I do what I did that time? Stand there looking ridiculous and stumped and shocked and hurt?

So are there demons who are racists? I mean: I don't know if this was a demonic racist spirit in the kid or if the kid was simply fueled with hatred by his parents or if the demon in the kid hated me for some other reason but let's consider this. We tend to believe that Demons put their passions into human minds. For instance, we figure that either a demon of lust is really lustful and needs sex therefore he uses the body of humans to feed that lust he has. OR he himself has no capacity of lust but he just is an expert at causing lust to be born in people. So if someone has an uncontrollable need to have sex with a dead body, to have sex with a little girl and kill her, to go on a rape-killing spree, we Christians tend to think that somewhere along the line the human perpetrator of these crimes was wounded in the soul and because of that wound in the soul -- depression, grief at family divorce, rejection issues, whatever-- an opportunistic demon entered into him and used the person's anger against a specific group or sex to create mayhem.

But what if the demon himself is overwhelmed with some of these sins? What if, for instance, there are demons which simply hate certain races? In Revelations, St John tells us that the dragon was so angry with the woman who had given birth to the boy destined to rule with a rod of iron that he made war against the woman. Upshot: John was prophesying that the devil would pursue Israel. And hasn't the Christian church --specifically the Catholic Church-- persecuted Jews for thousands of years? And if one thinks about it, Israel was persecuted thousands of years before Christianity. Hence the festival of Purim and celebrating Esther.

Well, we Christians accept that it is truly demonic to hate Israel because we believe the devil hates Israel. But do we really consider that all human prejudice is demonic in origin? Many Christians think they can go to heaven and still be prejudiced. I don't know about that. I've met so many prejudiced white Christians who really love God but who protect their prejudices from God. They hold on to it preventing him from changing it. What if they were to realize that it is possible that a demon who hates is living inside of them?

Anyways, the abovementioned bloggers aren't Christians so they see prejudice as a human or cultural situation. Which it is. They do their part in enlightening the world against racism. But as Christians, we have to see that there is also a demonic component to all this. We must learn how to --and where to-- direct our anger.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The poor have the gospel preached to them

Now there is a verse we Christians stumble over.

Some will say that through hearing the gospel the poor understand how much God loves them.

Others will say that the poor hear the gospel and understand how really blessed they are in remaining poor.

Others will say it means the poor are to become rich.

Others will say the poor will learn how to have a better life.

Honestly, it sounds mercenary as heck for me to say this...but it comes from the depth of my heart: POVERTY IS A BITCH. It can lead to ill health, broken marriages, sick children, bad diseases of poverty, lack of medical attention which makes simple illnesses become worse, self-loathing, inferiority among one's neighbors, hopelessness and despair, starvation, the crumbling away of one's house, homelessness, friendlessness.

So I'm going to say that I think God may bless the poor and he may love the poor but he doesn't want the poor to remain poor. He doesn't want us so rich that we get destroyed by our wealth, of course. And he doesn't want us to be so rich we forget what it is like to lack...but I truly believe the gospel was preached to the poor so that they could have abundant life on earth as well as in heaven. They will be done on earth as it is in heaven. There! I've said it. -C

Watched lips, interpretation of tongues, emancipation proclamation

The verse in the Bible: Set a watch o Lord over my lips.
So I'm trying to watch my mouth and to only speak God's words, the theological truth of every situation instead of the pathological truth. Honestly, if God were to ask me if I had done EVERYTHING in the past 18 years to get my son and myself healed, I would have to say no.

It's taken 18 years to forgive and keep on forgiving.

It's taken 20 years to stop sinning with negative thoughts. (I've always been pretty good and done good deeds but internally!!!)

It's taken 20 years to praise God in all things instead of murmuring and telling folks about the situation.

It's taken me 20 years to learn to speak to the mountain in faith and command it go go.

It's taken 20 years for me to learn how to cast down the vain imaginations that fear and the world creates.

It's taken me 20 years to believe that we are healed when we first prayed and believed and that we were healed 2000 years ago by the blood of Jesus.

And It's taken 18 years for me to actually learn how to confess God's promises instead of the doctor's report. So I feel that at last I am on the road to healing. At last. Not a negative word said yesterday. YAY!!!!!

I was praying in tongues this morning and got an interpretation. I know some people think that an interpretation is a word-by-word translation of a tongue message but interpretations are often different from translations. An interpretation is often an impression. So there I was praying in tongues and the image that came to my mind was that I should proclaim the good news of my son's redemption and healing to the parts of his body that was sick. Of course I have been doing that, telling them the good news. But then the image/interpretation I got was of Masters after the Emancipation being told by a messenger that they should free their slaves and Let My People Go! But the masters refusing to give up their masters, and the slaves not knowing that they were not only freed but that they had been given their masters dominion to rule. So I really began praying like that. I preached the gospel to the illnesses and the powers of this world. And I trusted that the seed of healing in my son, and the word of truth are working mightily in my son. Soon I will see the blade of healing.

Have a blessed weekend.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Gospel Basics

Gospel is a word often used by Christians when they speak. It is a word that has two meanings and these two meanings are closely related.

The meaning of the word gospel :

• The word “Gospel” is an old English word which means good news. It is related to another old currently used old English word: gossip. But “gossip” means rumors and bad news about other people, the word gospel is used of news that is true and so wonderful it sounds unbelievable but which is nevertheless very, very true. This leads to the second meaning: something which tells the wonderful unbelievable truth about Jesus Christ.
• The second meaning of the word gospel refers to four books in the Bible which tells about the life of Jesus Christ. There are four gospels
• The gospel according to Matthew
• The gospel according to Mark
• The gospel according to Luke
• The gospel according to John
These gospel writers are called “evangelists” which is a Greek word which means “Messengers who tell the good news.” Three of the four writers (Matthew, Mark, and John) were friends, followers (sometimes called an “apostle”) and eyewitnesses of Jesus when he lived on earth. The fourth (Luke) was a friend who met them later. He was also a researcher and a doctor and he wrote another book in the Bible called “The Acts of the Apostles” which tells about how Jesus’ followers taught the gospel and what they did as they preached the good news.

All the gospels were written to tell about the good news of Jesus Christ.

Who is Jesus Christ?

Jesus Christ lived more than 2000 years ago in Israel. At that time the country was called Palestine and the Romans had invaded the country. The gospels show Jesus healing the sick, raising the dead, and telling people about God’s love. But for Christians, Jesus is more than a mere historical figure. Christians believe Jesus is:
• The Pure and Ultimate sacrifice for a person’s sins
• The Love of God made visible
• The One and only mediator between God and humans, someone who is equal to both God and humans and so he can speak to both.
• The uncreated Son of God who co-created the world with God the Father
• The Prophet who spoke the ultimate truth and mysteries about God, God’s love, Faith, Evil and the Devil, Truth, Life, Death, Spiritual Laws, and the spiritual world.
• The True Example of what a real human being should be.
• The Living Word of God in human flesh.
• The Way to God and to heaven
• The revealer of certain mysteries such as how the world really works.

What is the good news of Jesus Christ?
The good news of Jesus Christ is based on the following beliefs:
• God loved humanity and saw that humanity had forgotten how loved they were.
• God wanted humans to know him yet he knew they could not understand his goodness or his essence because the way humans thought was different from the way God thought because God is good and God is spirit
• God saw that no matter how hard people tried, they could never be as good as God wished them to be. Nor did they wish to be.
• God’s holiness required justice and required that all sins – bad things we do, think, or say such as murder, lying, pride, or sexual immorality—be punished. But God’s mercy wanted to provide a way to help people come to Him.
• God understood that people couldn’t be good without His help, yet people did not understand that they needed to understand what goodness, justice, and love were.
• God sent Jesus Christ, who is the representation of everything God is, to be born on earth as a Savior, Teacher, and Sacrifice on earth
• God put the punishment for all the sins humans would ever commit onto Jesus.
• Jesus perfectly did everything God sent Him to do.
• Jesus lived a perfect life, and died for all the sins that sinners had ever and would ever commit in order to pay for their sins
• Jesus gave his life to free humans from death, hell, and the power of sin.
• Jesus sends God’s Holy Spirit to live within those who believe what the gospel writers say about Jesus.
• That anyone who puts his or her trust in Jesus and asks Jesus to died for his sin have power over sin and sickness and conquers the world through their faith in all that Jesus did.

What the gospel is not
The gospel is not
• A system of laws -- although those who believe in the gospel should be good.
• The gospel is not aesthetics – although those who believe in Jesus often worship God in many kinds of beautiful settings and church services
• The gospel is not political correctness – although those who believe in Jesus are commanded to be kind and good to all people
• The gospel is not etiquette – although good behavior is always a good thing.

1 – Jesus gave those who would believe in Him God’s life, the power to use God’s words, and God’s authority over sin, sickness, death. Those who believe in Jesus are no longer regular human beings; they are a kind of new creation – perfectly human…and yet like God …just as Jesus was so are His people in the world.

2 – The words of the Bible are living and active. They have power and God’s life within them.

3 – Christianity is a religion which states that one cannot reach God by one’s own righteousness, wisdom, mystical experience etc. In short, one cannot reach God at all because human righteousness leads to boasting and self-righteousness (if goodness is achieved). Or it leads to self-delusion and boasting, judgemental behavior towards others. God sees human righteousness as pitiful and like a person dressed in filthy rags. Christianity is about accepting the love of God as one’s father and living a life of daily trust in the saving work of Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus was a substitute death for us and his triumph over death, sin and self resurrection saves us if we believe and trust in His work. In Christianity, there is a “great exchange” where God’s goodness is imparted to those who believe in Christ. The work of a Christian, therefore, is not primarily to be good enough to get into heaven. Because no one can be good enough to do that. But the Christian’s work is to believe, to live a life of daily trusting and relying on God’s love, care, and power working in us who believe.

4 – God showed the world that Jesus was the bringer of Truth and the Savior of all men by raising Jesus from the dead. God could have raised any other prophet from the dead. But He did not, because the only Truth God wanted to set His seal on – to endorse as we would say—is the Truth, Way, and Life ad Jesus taught it.

5 – Jesus is the only prophet of any religion who is still alive. God gave Him the power to conquer death because Jesus is God. Jesus is all the words God ever spoke made into human flesh. Jesus knew God before the beginning of human existence. Jesus always was and is not merely a good man, but God Himself.

How do you become friends with God?
If you want to be reconciled to God and feel that something is separating you from him, say this prayer:
God, some people are so sure that you exist. Some people are so sure that you love them. They say that if we ask you for anything and mention Jesus to you, you will answer our prayer. Please God please let me know you in the way your son Jesus Christ does. Please let me understand everything about the Bible and about you and about Jesus. Please help me see that you have destroyed even the most powerful sin and that if you live in me that I will be able to conquer sin and all that sin does to my body, mind, and soul. Please let me understand your love, your care, and your power. Help me to trust in you and for the sake of Jesus and all Jesus did for humans, please forgive me of all my sins, free my soul and spirit from the damage sin has caused in my life and make me your true and obedient child. Amen. It's done.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

If it Wasn't for the Women

If it Wasn't for the Women: Black Women's Experience and Womanist Culture in Church and Community
By: Cheryl Townsend Gilkes
Orbis Books / 2000 / Paperback

These collected essays examine the roles of women in their churches and communities, the implication of those roles for African American culture, and the tensions and stereotypes that shape societal responses to these roles. Gilkes examines the ways black women and their experience shape the culture and consciousness of the black religious experience, and reflects on some of the crises and conflicts that attend this experience.

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