Building A House -Notes

Therefore, holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.
For every house is built by some one, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant (eved), to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ was faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope.

Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared.  You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages earns wages to put them into a bag with holes.

 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared.  Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may appear in my glory, says the Lord You have looked for much, and lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while you busy yourselves each with his own house.

Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Every one who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

For good news came to us just as to them; but the message which they heard did not benefit them, because it did not meet with faith in the hearers.
 Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Would you build me a house to dwell in?  I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling. In all places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I speak a word with any of the judgesof Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,  having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,  in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,  in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God. Arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, so that the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy vessels of God may be brought into a house built for the name of the Lord.

 

Hebr 3:1 & 4-6; Hag 1:4-9; Hbrw 3:12; Malachi 2:17; Hbrw 4:2 & 14-16; Ps 127:1-2; 2 Sam 7:5-7; Eph 2:19-22; 1 Chrnc 22:19;

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We’re Not Past the God of the Bible

My man & I believe our lives are often a parable. There’s a saying we’ve heard many times: “the man is the message”. It strikes us being completely true. The bare naked truth. We can’t explain many things in our lives. Some of which we endure, some of which break upon us, some of which we seems to be an evident display before the people around us. God speaking in subtle ways. But why?

“To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again and be forgiven.”
 Mark 4:11-12

We’re not past the God of the Bible. We haven’t outlived the God who speaks, moves, and acts boldly. Jesus didn’t come to appease a wrathful God. Jesus came to represent a loving God, but a Love which we’re not familiar with. An enduring love.

But I’m not sure how much modern Christianity teaches us to pay attention to God (and God’s heart) except in our time of need. It’s like God is a given. There’s no need to stir ourselves to deeply consider God’s heart. Or so it seems that this is the message which we are given.

Yet God longs to be acknowledged. That is a constant theme throughout the Bible. When we forget to acknowledge God we don’t even acknowledge one another, at least not as that which God has created us to be. Instead we use a doctrinal filter to look at one another and decide if any given person is correct or correct enough (ect). All too quickly we don’t even see another person. We see a problem, a solution, a teacher, a heretic, but we neither see nor hear God’s heart about the person in front of us. A problem which started when we stared using God as pintrest board.

I know people often don’t see us or believe us to be much of anything. Yet I believe that God causes for us to live as parable to many.  A different parable to many different people, but I think God is speaking.
I suppose we so often missing seeing God because we often believe that we are God’s representatives and we don’t look for God among “the least of these my brethren” (Matthew 25:31-46). We believe we are bringing Jesus. Sometimes we do, but not quite the way which mission trips would have us to believe.

For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!  To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.  And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure;  being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.
 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.

 – 1 Corinthians 4:9-14

Sometimes we are a parable.
He who has ears let him hear.

Matthew 20:20-23

There’s something I love about “the Sons of Thunder”. In the Bible, around Matthew 20:20-23  these two men/disciples come before Jesus asking for one of the highest honors they could possibly fathom.
Now most of modern day Christianity would consider them selfish jerks for doing that, but what I love about it…they were totally sold on whatever Jesus was doing. They were in for the long haul -whatever that would look like- and they wanted to be two of the biggest supporters Jesus would ever have. Okay so maybe it sounds a little selfish. But it also sounds completely dedicated.

So Jesus asks these two brothers, do you really think you follow me down this path?
And they both wholeheartedly agree that this is exactly what they mean to do.
I imagine at this point Jesus might have let off a little chuckle. He could see their dedication, and he could understand how innocent they were to the things that were coming. Jesus was able to look into their hearts, past these words and outward brashness, and see that they really did mean to follow him committedly to the end.

While they might have had some trip-ups along they way these brothers became renown for their lives as disciples. As a matter of fact, out of the twelve apostles James was the first one to be martyred and John was the was one. I’ve often wondered if that’s just what Jesus meant when he answered them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with

Although they may have not reached the highest honors in the way they conceptualized, I imagined they reached higher honors than they hadn’t previously imagined in their younger years.

I suppose this is one of the things that God does for us. Although our ideas of glory maybe over-simplified, God often sees and understands our hearts, and as long as our hearts remain willing, God helps leads in a way that does bring a true honor or a true glory. Better than we’d previously dreamed.

 

Loving the Unlovely: Christian Conflicts With Israel

There ought to be things that still break our hearts. IF we consider ourselves to be in some relationship or acquaintanceship with God, then there definitely out to be things that still break our hearts in very tender ways.

I struggle to find the words of what I saw.

There are a people within Christianity who claim to love the Jews people, but they believe that something just like the last Holocaust is possible or even likely to happen again. These said people wish to do their part to protect God’s Chosen People. They believe a redeemed Israel will come out of the calamity, albeit a drastically reduced number.
Some times these people speak so factually it scares me to here their casualness.

But it got worse. …

I once heard a vehement Jew…maybe rabbi, I don’t remember right now…say something along the lines of, “Christians just want to use Jews to bring back their Christ! They don’t care about us!“. As if one religious culture could use or manipulate or sacrifice another. I hate how right he may have been. I could only imagine what he’s seen and heard. I know what I’ve seen and heard makes me sick to think about it, even as I search for the words.

These select group of Christians (fore mentioned) had a portion of them give a message/sermon which I heard about after the fact, although I was at the same camp…I skipped this particular “teacher”.  He spoke from Ezekiel 39:9-16, and he spoke words of mockery.

One of the other seminar attendee’s gladly recount the summary for me. The theory went something like this: after the Jews survive (barely) another world war, then they’ll see Christ and be humbled, then they’ll have to be on cleanup duty for seven months from all the Armageddon that just occurred, and they’ll become even more humbled. Then after that, maybe they’ll be truly reconciled with God.
My heart broke.

These are the Christians who claim to love Israel and love the Jew? What love is this, that delights in their being kept out of their own Holy City and having to do humiliating unclean work of peasants? While what..? The “Christians” get to hang out with the Messiah, partying because they’re so much more fit to be in the Holy City?
No. I do not hear the heart of God in this. No. I will not be with that crowd.

If that was the only way such scriptures could be read, then let me just say, I would set aside “party time” or “ruling and reigning with Christ” and I would go help the Jews with the disgusting, unclean work of picking up corpses and bones left rotting months after the most horrific battle of history.

These things should not be taken so light-heartedly.
Did this teacher even stop for two minutes to consider God’s heart on these things? Or how Christ works over and over again? How is that Christians can take verses like, “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” or “And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses“, but they are only for Christians?
How is it that there is still this idea that one must clean themselves up before God will accept them? How does one clean themselves up with God’s help?

In case you should become curious what is in Ezekiel 39:9-16 and what does it say… may I just offer another point of view? It’s not about Israel going through more disgrace and humbling. By this point in the eschatological story (end of times story), the remaining People of God have already beheld and meet their God in fullness. They are already a priestly people. Now God has put a new love in their hearts where they can’t stand the idea that something -even something defiling- would stand in the way of anyone coming up the Mount of God and meeting with the true God. Therefore, they’re so fervent, that they willing go out, work as hard as they can, for as long as they can, and they will clear the Traveler’s Valley, so anyone…absolutely anyone can come and meet with God.
They are not doing this to earn merit, but out of Love…the Love of God, which we only gain when we experience a personal encounter with God.

I don’t understand the words “I love you” or “love” itself when people hook with circumstantial requirements. Although maybe we all do. Maybe we’re a people who forgotten how to love other just because …just because there is some unmistakable beauty in the depths of another person’s soul, which our soul notices even before we see it or understand it ourselves.
Even if we fail at this… can we just, please, not put God’s name on it?

Can we just have enough respect for a being that would qualify as God to not try to make him into a tyrant or monster at every other turn? Can we just admit we want points for our deeds? Can we just stop putting other people down even though we find disappointment all around us? Can we have a little respect? Can we hope in beauty? Can we stop being mean to those who brought us here?

If we’re going to were the title Christian, could we just believe in the way Christ Jesus lived, and they things he taught? Could we just look at the scriptures without trying to find our own treasures, and just search for God’s heart instead?

Could we stop saying “I love you” just to make it easier to use people? Please… Please stop feeding your hate.

Can we wash one another’s feet just because Jesus called us to servanthood? Can we just act like the thing by which we identify ourselves as?

Something changes when you know God’s heart beyond the best doctrinal choices. When God doesn’t fit into our given options, we have a chance at expanding our world, our minds, and our hearts.

When Jesus had his infamous “angry moment” in the Temple, flipping tables and driving out the money changers… you need to understand the unspoken things that happened there. The context, if you will.  In those days, people sold potential sacrifices just outside the inner temple area, in an area known as the court of Gentiles. It was all the closer Gentiles were allowed to get towards the Holy God of Israel. Whether out of spite, commerce greed, or necessity of the day this area (the court of the Gentiles) had become so packed that barely anyone could walk around in it -because of the buying, selling, and trading taking place- let alone have a quiet moment to worship a still distant God.
So Jesus comes in see all this taking place and quotes the scripture, “My house will be called a house of prayer” …and the rest of the sentence is “for all nations”.

Hebraically, this is how you quote scriptures, in part. Because ever elementary age child learned the scriptures by heart. …or nearly. It’s iron sharping iron to quote part and have those around you quote the rest to you and still understand the greater picture of what’s being said. Kind of like we do with movie quotes nowadays.

So in this famous “angry moment” of Jesus at the Temple, we see God’s heart is broken in that Israel (and their religious system) isn’t taking seriously being the People of God and priestly to all nations. So I can only imagine if there comes a time when the Messiah shows up, and restores the fullness of all things, then these people too will see the truth about even this detail in the covenant.

When God shows up everything changes.

It would be absolutely impractical to have a half love for the Jew now, merely waiting for Jesus to come and rub their faces in it, and to think that will be enough to be a catalyst for their “full salvation”. It’s absurd!
If we want to make a difference in the darkest times, we must know God’s heart. We must know God’s heart beyond doctrinal correctness. We must not despise one we call our brother. We must see the beauty of what God is doing beyond our own selves and our reward.

Love is nothing if it is not lavish and strong to those who are weak and far off. And if our love is nothing, than so are we.

Fools On Display

“Sometimes I think God has put us apostles at the very end of the line, like prisoners soon to be killed, put on display at the end of a victor’s parade, to be stared at by men and angels alike.”
– St Paul

Strangely, I get the impression this isn’t one of the first five things anyone thinks of when they think of the Christian Life or walking by faith. …and I wonder what it’s like to be that person who walks along without this weight. I wonder what it’s like to think of Christianity in terms of things done in or pertaining to a “church” building.
I imagine it’s terrible and boring.

1st Corinthians chapter 4 is very powerful in a humbling way. It’s like reading a story of how my ancestors got to America and got established into our modest life. It’s a reminder that we aren’t just trusting God for our day to day life, but we’re part of something greater. It’s a reminder that it isn’t just about what’s happening now, but our “now” is part of greater chorus which has been sung out in faith. We join those who have believed before us. We join those who believe now, and we join those who struggle to believe but keeping living for one more day, searching for truth…if there be any left in this world.

This is a challenge. This is a weight.

Later on, in 2nd Corinthians, Paul uses the phrase “eternal weight of glory”. A small phrase that has baffled many. What could it mean?
I think it means, when we get connected into the roots of our faith, and into the forefathers of faith, and we start wanting to be a part of their faith, knowing their God, and living that faith…then we’ve connected to something that eternal. Something that’s glorious. And there’s a weight to it all. “the eternal weight of glory”

When we think of the long lineage of history that has processed our stories and brought message of a living God down throughout history, we look small. Yet…in our “now” state of being, we feel so worthless, so insignificant, and sometimes so forgotten by God.  We feel like God puts us on display in the worst way. We feel foolish. We like stoning up our hearts, instead of opening them up. We feel like we have no faith at all. We feel insane. …but we keep going.

There is no alternative.  There is no following the system into a happily-ever-after. There is no daydreaming and one day  it’ll come true. …not without an attempt. Not without skidding through some failure, bristling through some doubt, drowning in stares of people who “admire” your “cute faith” but they sure don’t want to be you or live their own faith in the same “admirable” way.

Yet not everyone can.
Someone has to be at the base. Someone has to discover that old path that now seems overgrown and hidden. If it ever was here, then it’s still here. But my God, it isn’t easy to find, and to keep, and follow. …Yet if that’s all we had to do, it’d be easier than this. Yet we know, behind us will come those who are looking for this same path, and we need to put signs out for them. We need to clear some of the brush. But we need to make sure, it is the right path at the same time.

To say it’s hard is an inadequate understatement.

We are on display, and this display makes us seem like fools. We know. Yet we must. It’s not just for our sake anymore. When we enter into an ancient and eternal faith, then we become part of legacy. One that must be preserved. One that must be given to the next generation. And I just don’t have the faith to believe that our “church” systems are going to be the ones to pass on a living faith with a Living God, where even the words of God are still alive to us today.

To be eternal means there is no “Old Testament” God vs “New Testament” happy-go-lucky Jesus. Just one triune God working throughout all of history. Including now.

There is an eternal weight of glory, and it’s exactly what Jesus was talking about when he said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light”. We preserve, because if we quit, we will never know what the saints of ol’ saw. We’ll never know why the cloud of witness is cheering us on. We preserve because there’s other children coming after us, and if we were kicked out of the church for seeking deeper truth in our perilous times, then what will happen to them?

This is why we are part of a faith that is on display before men and angels. Because God has a plan. …and that’s something that I want to be part of.  So here’s to one more try…

Do This In Remembrance of Me: DIY Godliness

Things Jesus didn’t say: “Blessed are the perfectionist and over-achievers, for they are the only ones who don’t embarrass me daily.”

My aunt remind me of the old saying: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness
How cool is that?  A substitute in case we fall a little short. We can just work are butts off into looking like reasonable responsible people and that will be enough for God to shrug and say “good enough my clean-machine servant.” at the end of our lifetime. So cool…. yet so falsely lame.
What is awesome about doing less than your best with something you want to dedicate your life too? If cleanliness is next to Godliness, it’s pretty much nothing at all, if the Godliness has any appeal whatsoever. But actually “cleanliness” is part of Godliness according to the book of Leviticus.

The unfortunate aspect to a personal God is that this God shows interest in details. And the only thing which is truly unfortunate about that is we assume the people who pay attention to details are anal, obsessive, OCD, pessimistic perfectionist who are here to make it hell for the rest of us. But to certain aspect details out to be the awe-inspiration of beauty.

I’ve worked for the bosses who can’t make themselves so lowly as to give a compliment before you die but they have extra work for you to do -since you actual do your work-, and I’ve worked for the bosses who are willing to give an ounce of respect for a job well done. I could travel for miles on an ounce of respect. I’ll work hard, be on time, stay late (if needed), and get jobs done that aren’t actually my responsibility but someone has to do it. It doesn’t take too much for me to be someone who pays attention to the details in the workplace.
However at home, my husband and I compete to see who can wait longer on doing the dishes. I frequently lose. We’re not clean freaks when it affects just us.

But maybe that’s the good point of “cleanliness is next to Godliness”
Maybe, cleanliness is sometimes our consideration of others, and messiness is our simple need to function.

I’ve heard the little Evangelical slogan of joy means:
J – Jesus first
O – Others second
Y – Yourself last
…and I just want to be the person to say, Jesus didn’t say that.
Actually Jesus did say the first & greatest command is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself.
People are tied. There’s no greater and lesser. One does not give what one cannot receive. We are paradox people. We are creatures in need of balance. To over emphasize the need cleanliness, as if it were a substitute for Godliness, is damaging. To disregard it completely is to miss the poetic nature of a parable and to suffer such losses that otherwise would not be known.

God understand messiness. Jesus understand messiness.
In beginning God created and gave order which in return created purpose. We think that according the Hebrew poetry, God actual allowed himself to come into his Creation at the beginning of time, and before sin entered the world. Then somewhere around 2000 years ago, we believe Jesus enter into the world as it was becoming increasingly messy, and something happened with Jesus that didn’t necessarily happen with others who lived at his time and tried to promote a sort of substitute.
During that time there were a lot of different sect who were trying to work towards a sort of cleanliness that would bring the Promised One of Israel. Well known groups were the Pharisees, Zealots, Sadducee, and Essenes. They all had different plans on how to clean up Israel, and they all believed that if they did succeed in this then their Messiah would come. Essential their cleanliness would be next to Godliness. It didn’t work out too well for them.

But there was also another group that wasn’t really on anyone’s radar at that time. Later that small group would become known to the world as “Christians” but at the time they were just Jews who had taken an interest in Jesus.  Jesus had a way of making the prophet’s words come alive again. He seemed to plunge into the heart of a saying and not just combat the external uses of a saying. This same man who was known for healing the sick, raising dead children, causing the blind to see and the deaf to hear, restoring withered & crippled body limbs, he was also known as a drunk, a lush, and a friend of the unbearable types of people in society.
Jesus was a little messy according to those who had a plan for cleanliness.

Yet thousand years later, and out of all these people and their crazy plans & lifestyles, the only two that are still known to be around and well are the Pharisees and the Christians. The Christians believe the Promised One of Israel has come and that they are included in that promise, and the Pharisees who are still waiting for the their Promised One to come.

Let me just be the one to say, Pharisees were not necessarily bad people, however any of us who try to accomplish things of Godliness without actual core heart-changing Godliness, we are damaging people in our world & culture.
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness” is a recipe for disaster (and dry skin).

There are not enough chemicals in the world to create perfection. Only God creates perfection, and he does it by entering into our chaos, our messiness, dark night and then he’s just there with us. God and us commune together, that’s where perfection is. Our balance in life isn’t something we create than show God, so that he’ll be impressed. It’s something we obtain as we allow ourselves see the paradoxes we are, and the fullness which God brings forth out of those paradoxes.

(spoiler alert)  At the end of the movie Schindler’s List,
there’s this scene where Schindler has to flee because the war is over and he’s been associated with the Nazis party, which means if caught he might be killed or tried. The Jews which he saved are all around him, and he looks around at all these people and looks at his car that he’s about to get into and drive away and his gold pin on his jacket and he says, “Why did I keep these? That could have been one more person I could have saved!”  The man had put himself in poverty saving the Jews that he did, but in the end he still saw more he could have done. His heart was all in. There was no “good enough”.
It’s a heart breaking scene, and one I hope I never forget.

If we think doing something great or even small good things we eventually add up to “good enough”, then we’re wrong. The only “good enough” we ever find is in fullness and completion.
In Hebrews 12:2  there’s this piece of scripture that talks about Jesus being the author and perfecter of our faith, and some translations say finisher of our faith. It’s this idea that’s it not over until it’s all fulfilled.

We are paradox people, but a personal God who creates and redeems, does not need us to assist him with a substitute Godliness or backup plans. What God offers is more than sufficient. Let’s not settle for second best.

Why I Stopped Reading Most of the Bible

In my life I like to reconsider where I am and what got me here. I am here because I left another time and another place, rather literally. I’ve known what it is to move around a little bit, live in a new house, new address, new town, and smile your way through it. Several years ago, I moved home to the land of my brothers. It was time to change my scenery again. Honestly I came “home” in broken up and confused internal state of being. I certainly didn’t hid it perfect well, my disappointments and failures were known, and those around me noticed it well enough to label me as non-Christian, or fallen, or such things. I didn’t really mind at the time. I wasn’t happy with the whole program anyways. I’d come from the disillusions of an exhausted Christianity that was found wanting still. I’d learn all there was to learn. I’d done ministry. I’d failed ministries. I been known; I’d been ignored. I’d been played by the synthetic church-systematized machine and left out in dumps to find my way home… whatever and wherever that was.

God and I were at difficult place. We still acknowledge each other (so the speak), but I wasn’t really sure about the true character of God …and church systems & programs made me less & less sure. I made the inglorious move of vacating the buildings. I caught some hell for it (and still do). But I couldn’t scour through the synthetic to find enough air of truth. It was suffocating and I was totally willing to take hell over artificial perfection, which was indigestible to my soul.

I was really upset about how Christian represented God, and I couldn’t come to grips of who God was. I severed our relationship down to understanding God as Creator. I severed prayers to midnight debates. I severed the scriptures down to minimalist the Gospels only. I was definitely waiting on God to prove something. I didn’t know what but something.

Slowly I went from God only being the Creator to understanding that any creator is an artistic and even personal being. Personal remind me that the Holy Spirit is consider to be our counselor and friend, and I wasn’t going to deny that… we had some good times together in our past. Then Jesus… this was difficult. I mean, if someone wants to be Christian, as opposed to being Jewish or something else, Jesus is a necessity, but all these people who were this title of Christian (as comes from the naming Jesus Christ) really just weren’t what seemed to express Jesus. As a matter of fact, most of these people couldn’t quote Jesus some much as 5 quotes from Jesus. I heard about what St. Paul said, but Jesus was a foreign to his own religion.
Nonetheless… if Jesus matters so much, he’d have to prove it. I absorbed myself solely in the Gospel books which held the accounts of Jesus’ life, teaching, and story. No one else got a say one what this “Christianity” thing was about. It was me and Jesus going toe to toe, eye to eye. If Jesus couldn’t provide a legitimate Christianity then I was done here.

It wasn’t an over night process. Really it felt like it took forever. I had always liked Jesus before, but this Christianity stuff is so synthetic, that I serious couldn’t tell opinion from truth from ignorance. So there we were 8 months in the Gospels, over & over & over again. It took a few months to read it without Christianity-evangelical-super-filter interfering with what the words & stories were actually trying to convey. …a few painful months.

Somewhere along the line, it started to come through. I remembered that familiar silhouette of the Good Shepherd I’d heard about as a little kid. The one who likes kids, who care about the little guy, who has time for those who don’t even get recognized as important, the Good Shepherd who goes out and finds that one little straggly sheep. I remembered him. I still liked him. We began a new sort of relationship.

I realized Christianity is a religious culture didn’t have a lot of Jesus to offer, just to be really honest. To spend so much time solely in the Gospel books and just continuous read about Jesus over and over and over again. I notice a lot of things that I really loved about Jesus. Things that were lost to the systematic machine that calls itself “church”. I realized by following the rules and regulations of man-made traditions I nearly lost an age-old friendship, and the devastation of all of this has never faded to this day.

After months in just the Gospel books of the Bible, I knew I’d eventually have to step out and test the rest of the waters. I knew if Jesus could be real in the Gospels, then he’d have to be everywhere. They God that Jesus teaches of would have to be everywhere. I’d barely back to a reasonable relationship with Jesus and I knew I’d have to keep putting this thing to the test. I tip toed to the Wisdom books for a brief wandering, and then a plunged straight into the Prophet books, and then the History books. I avoided the most of the New Testament scriptures for a year or better because of the irrational abuses which we derived from them. I fell in love with the Old Testament and I made it my new home.

People had lied to me. They told me the Old Testament was scary, and that God was mean & cranky in the Old Testament. But I did find that. Spending 8 months in the Gospel books only made the Old Testament books all the sweeter. It brought beautiful tears that healed many relationship issues I’d been having with God, and it continued to unburden me from the man-made church traditions. I found God, and he was beautiful.

After a year and half or two years, I finally read not just the New Testament again, but Paul. Poor sweet St Paul had been so misrepresented by the church that I didn’t want to read him ever again, but I had too. It took Peter giving his recommendation to Paul before I even considered it (2 Peter 3:14-18).

These saints in the Bible were like old friends to me. I’ve grown up with the stories and scriptures from the smallest age, but I lost most of that when I realized how synthetic the church system is. If I’d not been willing to know truth and dig, I would have lost it all. I wouldn’t have realized how abused the Bible is in the hands of well meaning moralist people.

Unfortunately I can’t ever just leave things be. I had to know truth. I was willing to take the cost and condemnation. Precious friendships don’t just get thrown away and forgotten forever. Truth doesn’t just get thrown away and forgotten forever. There is a compelling need for more than man-made traditions and good-on-paper doctrine. To sacrifice Jesus to the modern Christianity is way too much to pay for a little hope and sparse community. Give me Jesus and keep your religion to yourself.

I need truth.