RELIGIOUS SAVAGES

Is there a more savage group than the religious? They're so proud of the fact that they get to crucify their own without batting an eyelash.

Instead of following the example and teachings of Jesus himself they hang "sinners" in the public square and invite all to look on as the sinner's hideous nature is on display.

 Shining a light on other's sinful ways feeds the desire they have to be more 'holy' than everyone else.  If they can show the world how wrong others are, it makes them feel like they are the advocates of God's judgment and truth on earth thus making them special in God's eyes and less likely to receive His judgement upon themselves.  

They spew copious amounts of gossip and what they think to be true about someone else without knowing them, the facts surrounding the situation, or any truth about the narrative they've swallowed at all.  

They sentence people to death based on hearsay and call it righteousness.

What they don't know is they have not been granted the right or authority to judge others at all.  As a matter of fact, Jesus, the example every Christian on earth should look to for how to navigate this life, lived in total opposition to the ways of the religious savage.  He actually detested them and publically insulted them to their faces.  
If you can make the embodiment of love not like you, there must be an amazingly powerful reason.  

He was sickened by these religious savages because they took what was supposed to be full of love, grace, and kindness and mutated it into something vile, repulsive, and disgusting!  Just like today, they were using his Father's words as a bludgeoning tool to beat people into a pulp publically and to make themselves feel more powerful and righteous in their own eyes. In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus smacks them around a bit publically, in front of the people they were judging and said this about them:

- "Woe to you, 'experts in the law' and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean."

- "Woe to you! You are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it!” 

and in five other passages Jesus calls these people: 

- Blind Guides, Fools, Serpents, hypocrites, and a Generation of Vipers!

That's pretty strong language coming from the man who later endured the worst suffering imaginable and in the midst of it asked his Father to forgive them because they didn't know what they were doing.

That's because Jesus, God himself, on earth, in human form, loved people, period.  It didn't matter to him what race you were, what religious background you came from, or what you did for a living.  He didn't care who you hung out with, didn't care if you were a prostitute, a cripple or someone with an infectious disease. He loved people no matter where they were in life, and he even loved those that didn't believe he was God.  

Jesus loved sinners!  Not from a distance but in an up close and personal kind of way.  It was recorded in the Gospels multiple times that Jesus would go and befriend sinners, go to their house or their friend's houses and have dinner with them.  This was not because he just loved hanging around people who lived a lifestyle contrary to his Father's plan, no, it was because he LOVED them and knew that the only way for them to change was to be a true friend to them and show them love in a real and life-changing way. Guess what?  It worked!  These people were changed forever, repented of their sins, and followed him.  No amount of judging them from a distance or by publicly shaming them could have gotten those results.

I am truly saddened and heartbroken to the point of tears while writing this. I am overwhelmed and sickened by the unrelenting agenda of the religious savages of our day.  They still hang out in the center of the city square (Facebook and social media) where everyone can hear them as they berate and bash those who aren't like them.  They still try and make themselves feel holier than every other Christian by dragging those who can't defend themselves into the town square and flogging them publicly for sins they're not even sure they committed. They still think it's their job to be a bullhorn to the world of other's sins while safeguarding all the sins pinned up in themselves.  They would never be caught befriending a sinner and would NEVER consider having dinner or hanging out with a group of them in their house, just to show them love and show them that there is a Father who loves them more than anyone ever could or ever will. 

If you are reading this and you're guilty of blindly posting things online that shine a light on other's sins without knowing 100% that the claims about the person are true, take a good hard look at yourself and know that there is forgiveness, repentance, and a way to move forward in love. Stop doing it! Even if you ARE 100% certain of the other person's sins, especially another Christian's sins, why would you publically shame them? Jesus wouldn't do it, didn't do it, and therefore neither should you if you consider yourself a Christian ...  unless of course you want to be known as a blind guide, fool, serpent, hypocrite, viper, or a tomb with dead men's bones on the inside. 

I'll be the very first to admit that I am a sinner and have so many issues in my life that I'm working out with Jesus in the context of my real and personal relationship with him.  He's loving me through it and I am slowly but surely seeing a change because of his love.  If there's one thing that I'm learning from being outside of the institutional religious church, it is this...  I am day by day trying to come to a place where His love directs me in all I do.  It's very painful and I feel like I am going through a huge pharisaical detox program complete with religious withdraws I've learned several important things on this journey so far and one resounding truth is this:

Choose love. Choose forgiveness. Make friends with sinners and love them. Study the life of Jesus and how He conducted himself and treated people. Once you’ve done that, just try to be like him.






Spigot of Love

God does not have His hand on a spigot of love. He doesn't turn it on and off based on your performance or how much you do for Him. There are no requirements or hoops to jump through to get His full love and attention. He loves you more than anyone ever could or ever will.

Performance and obligatory based Christianity is the number one destroyer of a free and full life in Christ.

If you are at a place where you feel you "have" to serve, volunteer, or give financially to an institution to garner God's pleasure and affection ... run for your life! Our Father is not someone who uses guilt trips and obligation to get his children to do things for Him.  What kind of father does that?  A sick and twisted one. No, our Father just wants to love on us and for us to be by His side so He can walk with us and encourage us to do what's in our hearts.

If you have been feeling a nudge on the inside of you to do something meaningful, something that could change someone's life... talk to Father about it.  He will gently guide you and give you the go ahead or the stop sign.  You don't have to gain the permission of an organization, a religious institution, church, or spiritual leader to be Jesus's representation on this earth.  

If you are a part of a religious institution that wants to control you and make you submit to them before you go out and fulfill those things Father has placed in your heart, run!  

I was a part of one of these institutions for a long time. I actually had the "pastor" tell me I couldn't go help out another brother, a very close friend of mine with his ministry in my free time.  If I did, I would receive a reprimand and could even be fired if caught helping another ministry with a need.  I asked, what about on my days off and in my free time and the "pastor" told me no! I would be considered a traitor in his eyes. This was the same "church" that put on multiple yearly events and conferences that were branded as "motivating, training, and encouraging" local churches.  Really?  More like they just wanted to have all the local churches come so they could show off how amazing they thought they were and how awesome their facility and systems were.  Nowhere was there an actual focus on building the local church through relationships and partnering together to make an impact on a city.  They just wanted to put on a show, see how many people they could pack into the room for 2-3 days and see how many "celebrity pastors" they could get on the stage to show all the "little churches" how important and cool they were. On a side note ... this organization actually made their volunteers PAY to serve at these events! Oh the Hubris!  Most of these awesome volunteers or "servants" as the organization called them, actually took time off of work to volunteer and they made them PAY because they were "privileged" to get to be there.  

These same "pastors" told the entire staff that if we weren't 100% "with them" (meaning we were to fall in line and never question them or their motives), we were against them and we needed to leave. They'd say over and over again, "it's an incredible privilege for you to be here and serve us" (and do whatever we say without question or conversation).  With militaristic ideology in staff meetings, to a disgustingly cocky attitude towards other ministries and "churches", the soul-crushing machine continues to plow through people like heavy machinery cutting down a beautiful rainforest and destroying the endangered inhabitants. Anyone that wasn't 100% loyal in helping to build their kingdom was considered an enemy needed to either get on board with the plan or be ostracized!  I saw this happen several times while I was on staff to great people and most recently it happened to a couple that were true change agents and genuinely cared about people more than the ministry.  They were a threat and needed to be taken out.  And they were.

the soul-crushing machine continues to plow through people like heavy machinery cutting down a beautiful rainforest and destroying the endangered inhabitants

You see, these kinds of institutions haven't a modicum of our Father's true heart.  He's not stingy with His gifts, He doesn't think one group or institution is better than any other, and He most definitely does not have a mind towards us that's likened to a dictator that can never be questioned.  He wants to discuss things with us, He wants us to wonder, and dream.  He loves it when we are passionate and creative and He wants us to come up with better ways to approach things and to shine a light on systems that aren't like Him so that others that are stuck can find their way out.

Father doesn't want you to feel obligated to serve Him.  He wants you to experience the freedom that only comes from letting you spread your wings. Could you fly away from Him?  Yes, but that's why He is so loving.  Like the prodigal dad, He's always waiting with open arms and a smiling face to greet us, no matter where we are or if we've gone away, where we are returning from.  He knows that if He has a real relationship with you, the good deeds, ministry, and sin eradication in your life will happen naturally as a byproduct of that relationship, not through guilt or obligation.

If you are caught in a system that doesn't look anything like the Jesus you've read about, doesn't act like Him, treat people the way He did and doesn't show love without obligation and guilt, run!  Jesus never ran things in a militaristic manner nor did He act like a cut-throat CEO of a company when he was around his followers. He spent time with them, caring deeply about their personal lives, and wanted His relationship with them and their relationship with each other to be paramount.

If you are caught in a system that doesn’t look anything like the Jesus you’ve read about, doesn’t act like Him, treat people the way He did and doesn’t show love without obligation and guilt, run!

Walk under His spigot of love, the one that never turns off, and get drenched!





RELIGIOUS TACTICS THAT DESTROY A VIBRANT LIFE IN CHRIST

I read a list of 16 things this morning that a man by the name of Jim Palmer wrote. I picked out the ones that resonated with me, the one's I have experienced in my own life.  I know for a fact that by following these prescribed ideals, I was destroying a truly open and free relationship with Jesus and real relationships with others in the world. Points are from Jim, thoughts in italics are from me.


- Begin with the premise that there is something hopelessly and incurably wrong with you.

Not only begin, but live your whole life under this premise.  That you are somehow screwed up beyond repair and that God made a mistake when He created you.  This inward view will dictate every action and decision in your life.  It's not until you truly realize that Father loves you and loves how he made you that you will truly be free.

- Believe that your humanity is an affront to God, an obstacle to overcome, and an evil to repress or eradicate.

Yep, God is not surprised nor ready to beat us to death every time we mess up.  He knows exactly who we are and how we are wired.  

- Pin your hopes on the afterlife, and don’t get too interested in the herelife.

Oh man! This is a big one!  Do I believe all the Bible says about the life after this one and about Jesus returning and reigning? Yes.  Am I hopeful and full of joy when I think about what that day will be like? Yes.  Do I let it those thoughts overtake me and be preeminent in my life so that I am utterly useless in this world and no good to anyone because my eyes are constantly fixed upward?  NO!  People that are hurting don't care much about the future.  They are concerned about what's happening now.  Jesus knew that, and he interacted with people according to where they were at that particular junction in life.  Stop and look around, Jesus hasn't come back yet. Get busy helping and loving people until he does and quit trying to figure out when it's going to happen.  

- Give others the power and authority to determine what your beliefs, values, opinions, goals, desires, and views are.

Jesus didn't try to control people he came in contact with.  He loved them, helped them, provided miracles for them when they needed it, and THEN he gave correction as needed.  It was all out of relationship and love.  This life with God is a journey and a relationship, have conversations with HIM about it ... he's more than able to direct your path without the controlling input of others.  There's only one mediator between God and yourself... and that's Jesus. You can hear directly from Him and let the Holy Spirit guide you.

- Focus on behavior modification, checklists, do’s and don'ts, obedience, and keeping the rules when it comes to living your life.

These things are a hindrance to a real relationship. It's ALL about relationship! God isn't about behavior modification... that's religion's M.O.. God is all about getting to know you on a personal level and helping change your heart.  Heart change is what he's after; all that other stuff will fall in line when we know God on a personal level.


- Make sure everything and everyone in life is assigned a label or put into a box.

Just take an inventory of your life.  This is something we all struggle with.  Make a conscience effort NOT to do this and you'll start finding more freedom in your life and you'll be able to love more.  Jesus HATED labels and didn't let them affect the way he treated people.


- Draw a line between “Christian” and “secular” and divide up the world accordingly.

- Divide humankind up into “us” and “them,” and stay away from “them” and judge “them” from a distance.

God loves, cares for, and will redeem anyone. This way of thinking is SO prevalent in the structured, four-walls, church system.  Why do you think there are thousands of factions and denominations?  It's because the one you are a part of thinks their way is the better way and they know how to live this Christian life  better than the other structured, four-walls, church system down the road. Think I'm wrong?  Approach your pastor about partnering together with all the other denominational churches in your region to change your city for the better and see how quickly you get shut down!    

- Put forth a valiant effort to project and maintain an image that lines up with the expectations of your religious community, and hide the ways you don’t.

This sure does sound a lot like something religion calls "accountability." 
The ONLY person we should be accountable to is God.  If you have real, authentic relationships with people who love you, and in return are free to share your deepest struggles with them, that's called a relationship, not accountability!  "Accountability" as used in the religious institution is ALL about control!  They want to know what you struggle with so that, if it's too ugly, they have the power to kick you out, modify your actions, or ostracize you. "Accountability" is the opposite of love.

- Don’t ask questions, rock the boat, challenge authority, think for yourself, or listen to that voice inside… just keep doing or believing even if it violates something deep inside of you.

If you find yourself doing the above then trust me, it may be time to move on to a better journey with God. If you don't, you can become stressed out beyond belief and even become physically ill.  Hierarchies hate when people question them or the systems they have built their identity around.  If you do, you will find yourself in a very uncomfortable meeting in the "pastor's" office, not having a conversation, but facing a firing squad of other "pastors", "elders" "council members" etc.  They'll put any ideas you have about how things can be done better to death in short order like shooting a beloved family pet and then command you to fall back in line.  And remember, anytime you question the system or hierarchy, it's always an act of treason in their mind, and you are rebellious and have heart issues.  They'll tell you that you need to get "right" with God and then you need to ask forgiveness from them.  Only then can you go back to being a servant in their kingdom.

IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO BE IMPORTANT (or the most ignored words Jesus ever spoke)

I often have great conversations about "church" or rather, religious institutions, that use the title of "church".  After being on staff at several of these hierarchical systems over the years and basically being born into it, I feel like I have a pretty good perspective.  Being on the inside and seeing how things work and then stepping outside of it, I can now see a clearer picture.

One of the things I've realized over the last several months is that, once I truly read the stories of Jesus in the Bible and saw what He actually said about certain things and how he treated people and handled situations, it looked nothing like our modern, religious institutions.  

The first thing I noticed was the hierarchical system found ingrained in our Sunday morning gathering places. Every "church" I had been a part of since I was a kid and every place I had been on staff at had fought tooth and nail to uphold this system of titles and importance.  Those on top of the leadership totem pole in the "church" fed on and needed titles.  Pastor, Teacher, Father, Evangelist, Apostle, Prophet, Minister, Reverand, etc... these are just some of the titles that are commonly used and the sad thing is that most if not all of these people who adorn these titles all but demand that people call them by their title before their name. Especially if you were on staff and one of their employees. 

Now, every time I hear "Pastor" used as someone's first name, I want to puke because using titles for each other is one of the things Jesus specifically asked us NOT to do.  A title = entitlement. A title = importance. The problem with “important” people is that importance leads to prideful, selfish behavior, and the oppression of those who blindly submit to them.

It is important not to be “important.”

Titles are for secular positions – doctor, judge, officer, president, senator, etc. not for spiritual callings. Our callings to serve God is not to make US important to others, but to make GOD important to others.

To desire a title in the "Church" or in ministry communicates several things:

1. You are more important than others, 2. you know more than they do, 3. that you stand up front, and others just sit there, and listen to you and do what you say is best for them. 4. And most of all, if you have a title, you are entitled to financial support!

Do I have scripture to back all this up?  Well, actually yes. If you want to to see what Jesus said about all of this read Matthew chapter 23, I beg of you. Read the whole chapter in context and as if you were in the crowd listening to him say these words in front of the "church" leadership of His day.  Let's just say that what He said to the religious leaders and onlookers on that day is not something you will EVER hear from a pulpit at a weekend service. Why?  Well, Jesus kind of goes against everything the modern "church" stands for and is built upon.  I would go as far as to say that these are the most IGNORED words of Jesus.

But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant.

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
— Matthew 23:8-12

A man that has really helped me on this new journey with Jesus that I'm on is Wayne Jacobsen.  When asked about this subject he perfectly summed it up when asked these questions:

How does this apply to today?  And does using titles so as to not offend make sense in Scripture?

How do I apply this today? I don’t use such titles for myself and I don’t use them for others either. If someone is going to be offended if I don’t call them “Pastor” or “Reverend,” I don’t spend a lot of time with such people. Their love of titles is a demonstration that they don’t have the heart of Jesus. I’m not saying they are not saved, simply that they are not living very deeply in his reality.

People say they do it only to show honor, but isn’t that exactly what Jesus is talking about? Titles separate us from each other, putting some in a special class. Jesus wanted us to understand and appreciate that God alone stands above, and all his people stand alongside each other. Pastor, elder, apostle, may describe a function God has given us in the body; it is not and never can be our identity. Once it is, everything gets twisted.
— Wayne Jacobsen

Final thoughts:

A title presumes entitlement. However, we are all EQUAL in God's kingdom. We have gifts and jobs to do, but not to make ourselves more important over others, so they have to give us special consideration. Each believer is just as anointed as a person who works at a "church". 

Yes, we are all anointed by God, not just certain chosen ones.
We are all chosen. People with titles want special honor, and rewards for who they are. Hierarchical systems ALWAYS demand submission to their leadership even though Jesus CLEARLY says we are to be submitted to Him alone.

It is important not to be “important.”

JESUS DIDN'T STAND ON BOXES ( or a Christ-follower's guide to conduct on social media )

Jesus, our one perfect example of how to live and carry ourselves on this earth, NEVER felt the need to FORCE His truth and thoughts on current events on others... He NEVER made people who didn't believe in Him, or believe differently than Him feel terrible, and He certainly didn't go around spewing out the woes of the current events of the world around Him all over everyone that would listen ... or in our society ... read or scroll through. EVERYTHING HE DID was out of LOVE and RELATIONSHIP.

As a matter of fact, the only time I can find Him getting on a "Soap Box" if you will,  is when He had to confront the RELIGIOUS leaders of His day. Even when He was in the most vulnerable situation of His life, when he was brought before those who "mattered" and was asked to prove his case about who He was before being sentenced to death... He chose not to land blast everyone and tell them they were all going to hell because of what they stood for and how they were living their lives. He stood there in silence, in Love. Even upon the excruciating pain of DEATH while hanging on the cross, he had compassion and love for his enemies and asked Father to forgive them.  

Let me just share an instance with you so you can get a picture of what it was like to be Jesus in an upside down and hostile environment and culture.

3-6 The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

6-8 Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

9-10 Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

11 “No one, Master.”

“NEITHER DO I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”
— John Chapter 8


You see? The religious leaders and Pharisees placed the women in sin in public sight for all to see her sin and shame. Jesus instead of feeding into the religious leader's public shaming, knelt down and stared at the dirt. Like children who tattle on one another to their parents, the religious leaders kept bothering him until Jesus paid attention. He in turn said that the sinless could throw the first stone. Everyone left except Jesus. Jesus was the only sinless being that could "cast the first stone" But he didn't. He gave grace.  As a matter of fact in Romans 2 the scripture says this about sinners and repentance: 

4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his KINDNESS is intended to turn you from your sin?
— Romans Chapter 2

KINDNESS and LOVE turn people away from sin (the act of living in a way God never created you to live) NOT Condemnation! 

Everything Jesus was trying to show and teach us was done out of 2 things: Love and Relationship. Don't expect to lead someone into a relationship with God if you have neither of these.

So,  if you are sharing this and that on your Facebook page or Twitter to show that you agree or disagree with what's going on in your world, just know that this is neither endearing people to Jesus nor is it drawing people to you so you can have a relationship with them. Just STOP!!!!! Stop screaming out in the town square at the top of your lungs 24 hours a day so that everyone will know what YOU believe and stand for! Jesus didn't and wouldn't do it and neither should you. 

Want an example of what not to do on Facebook and other social media? I'll leave this with you, by the way, these are words straight out of Jesus' mouth:

“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.

2-4 “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting (Church) and street corner(Facebook) alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—QUIETLY and UNOBTRUSIVELY. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Pray with Simplicity
5 “And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers (and Facebook postings), hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

6 “Here’s What I Want You To Do: Find A Quiet, Secluded Place So You Won’t Be Tempted To Role-Play Before God. Just Be There As Simply And Honestly As You Can Manage. The Focus Will Shift From You To God, And You Will Begin To Sense His Grace.

7-13 “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-IGNORANT. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice and (Facebook postings), peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
let Your name remain holy.
Bring about Your kingdom.
Manifest Your will here on earth,
as it is manifest in heaven.
Give us each day that day’s bread—no more, no less—
And forgive us our debts
as we forgive those who owe us something.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[But let Your kingdom be,
and let it be powerful
and glorious forever. Amen.

14-15 “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.
— Matthew Chapter 6