Monday, September 16, 2013

What Does "I am Spiritual" Really Mean?

So a few months back I read a comment from an acquaintance on social media similar to, "Is receiving Salvation or believing in Christ only meant for Christians"? I didn't know if I should respond or for that matter even how to respond. I know this friend states that he/she is spiritual and for the past few months I have been pondering what does that exactly mean or look like?

1 in 5 Americans identify as being spiritual, but not religious. I guess it is similar to believing in a power greater than ourselves, and not quite the religious type, disenchantment to institutions or organized religion, or for that matter God? Or maybe those whom are spiritual feel as if they don't have the time or energy to delve into a religion. It seems as though Spirituality is an emotion, religion is an obligation. Spirituality soothes, religion mobilizes. Spirituality is satisfied with itself. Seems somewhat egotistical to me.

Then I got to thinking, what is it that keeps those who state that they are spiritual from going that one step further to a belief in God and Jesus as that higher power? After all, how can you believe in a higher power and not even be sure what it is? Is it for one of the following reasons or another?

#1  You were hurt by religion and those that state they are Christian?
#2  You don't want to believe in a God that is wrathful?, or
#3  You don't want to believe that you should obey the rules of the God/Jesus as related in the Bible?

I will try to touch on my friends comment as well as the three questions above based on my personal belief. Since this is my blog. I think I have that right.

Please let me be very clear before going any further. I am not passing judgement on anyone at all or whatsoever, and everyone is free to believe what they may. I am most certainly not one to have the right to judge. This is just my place to write what is on my mind, in my heart at the moment and trying to understand.  But of course this is also a place for me to relate my journey with an ALL LOVING God, for others to read and understand my belief as well...

To answer the comment to my friend as to my belief and that of the 2,000,000,000 + Christians and growing of this world today. Salvation is the belief and full faith that God does exist and created the earth and everything on it. That he came to this earth as a separate and living human being. Being born of a virgin and was named Jesus. That he was crucified on a cross to shed his blood for the sins of humanity, and was raised from the dead and thereby, you make a life decision to follow the work and teachings of Christ... I know what your thinking.. seriously? Can you prove that? Follow this link to what I think is some  great evidence of the Resurrection.

Pertaining to Question #1... You were hurt by religion and those that state they are Christian?

I am right there with you. Hence my 25 years struggling with Religion, being gay and God. And let me say this, "I am so very sorry for the way that religion has treated you and I. Unfortunately religions of all genres haven't done too well at some of the laws that God gave us. To love your neighbor, to forgive others, and to reach out. That is why Jesus had to die for us, because not one of us is perfect and we are all sinners. If you are honest with yourself, it is hard not to judge others by the way others look, dress or act. It is just a part of life.

The most common misconception about religion is that Christianity is just another religion like Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. Sadly, many who claim to be followers of Christianity do practice Christianity as if it were a religion. To many, Christianity is nothing more than a set of rules and rituals that a person has to observe in order to go to heaven after death. That is not true Christianity. True Christianity is not a religion; rather, it is having a right relationship with God by receiving Jesus Christ as the Savior-Messiah, by grace through faith. Yes, Christianity does have “rituals” to observe (baptism & communion). Yes, Christianity does have “rules” to follow (do not murder, love one another, etc.). However, these rituals & rules are not the essence of Christianity. The rituals and rules of Christianity are the result of salvation. When we receive salvation through Jesus Christ, we are baptized as a proclamation of that faith. We observe communion in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. We follow a list of do’s and dont's out of love for God and gratitude for what He has done.

Pertaining to Question #2... You don't want to believe in a God that is wrathful?

I used to struggle with this as well, but let me put it this way. First of all, you were created by God. But let's put this in the perspective of your parents when you were a child. Your parent's basically gave birth to you. Therefore, they have the right to make rules for you and how they wish for your life to move forward. When you break those rules, they have the right to scold you or judge you as they feel is necessary to correct you, in order to make you live a life that is righteous and fullfilled to the best that it can be.

So based on that perspective, don't you think that God, who created you and everything around us,  has the right to give us laws to live by and thereby ask us to believe in him and the sacrifice that was made for us and to follow him? Otherwise, there would be no salvation and the right to spend eternity with him? I think that is fair. Just as your parents asked of you, he wishes for you to believe in him and know that he has your best interest at heart. It's not always easy, and he never promised that. Life on this earth will still be a struggle, but if you think about it, this life is so short. After all, how fast has your life gone by? But imagine eternity in one of two places.. Eternity will never ever end.. so what is the choice that you would like to make? I know mine.

 Pertaining to Question #3.... You don't want to believe that you should obey the rules of the God/Jesus as related in the Bible?

This goes back to Question #2 pertaining to your parents. His greatest commandments were:
  1. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength;
      2.  Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

If you think about the other commandments of not to steal, murder. not to bear witness against your neighbor, not to covet your neighbors house/wife/etc... Honor your father and your mother. Does this sound like the laws that are set by the government? Laws keep us in check and help us live a more fulfilled life.

We are all sinners, and not one of us is perfect or can be. But thru the grace and mercy of Jesus dying on the cross for us, we all can be forgiven. Does that mean that you can go on sinning? Most certainly not!!!  We are to turn away from sin and try to fight it off, win the victory over ourselves, our flesh, our egos and be the best of people that we can and were created to be.

Pertaining to sin. God isn't offended if we are struggling with sin, he is more offended if we put on a front. If we act as though we are not struggling and how we behave when nobody is looking.

As I heard in a sermon from the Pastor of the North Phoenix Vineyard Church:
"If Jesus didn't rise from the dead then god did not conquer his own suffering and God didn't beat death or sin. He came down to this earth as Jesus and suffered with us. If Jesus didn't beat death and rise again then he suffered with us and proved he was loving and compassionate but not very powerful, and Christianity, which is the largest religion is just a sham. (There were just too many witnesses for this to be true). If Jesus Didn't conquer his own suffering then he didn't conquer ours either."

The good news is that the all powerful god loves us and is for us. He is not wrathful. Being filled with the love of God is one of the most wonderful and awe powering things I have experienced. I never knew that I as a Gay person, I could ever know this kind of love, or be forgiven. But I am. You can be. We all can be.

Getting saved is admitting that you need to be saved. If your willing to be forgiven you are in. Not believing is condemnation. If you don't think you need forgiveness, if you don't think you need to be saved from anything, fine, your welcome to believe what you want, but that means that Jesus doesn't really have anything to offer you. Eternal life is offered to you. If you don't want it, that's a choice you have to make.

One of the biggest breakthroughs for me this week was hearing that I am forgiven without repenting, but we should repent to show the love we have for Jesus having sacrificed himself for us. This opened me up during the middle of the week to a total open heart. My job of trying to satisfy my sinful self to God is finished, completed and been paid for. To stop trying to do more to earn forgiveness. At the end of church service today. I was asked by a good friend if she could pray for me, as she had received a feeling and an image and it spoke to exactly that moment for me this week. It was God speaking to me yet again thru someone else' praying with and for me.

If you are not a believer in Christ, I hope this little diddy either changed your mind or made you think hard about it. I would hope that everyone would accept Christ and his forgiveness, so that we all could enjoy eternity together where there will be no more sin, no more tears, depression or hatred. No more wars, no more anger, no more poverty, none of the crap that just gets in the way. It will be an eternity just filled with pure love and pure joy for one another and everything on a new earth that will be renewed, regenerated and will be more beautiful then our pitiful little brains can even imagine.

Now that is a place that I want to be, and I hope to see you there right next to me...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Crying Out to God!!!

First I have to say that I am sorry if my posts aren't eloquent, hyphenated correctly, and go from one subject to the other, or the correct God Speak. I seem to always be apologizing for not having gone to college or seminary, being new to the Christian life & skipped a LOT of middle and high school. These are just my thoughts of the day, as crazy as they may be.  Moving forward. Hallelujah.. God quite possibly still loves me even though!!!

I have been told by a special Christian friend many times, that she see's me in the corner of a room crying out to God. How could she possibly know this about me, without me having talked about this with her?

It's as if she has a special relationship with God that Jesus truly speaks to her and gives her images as we are praying. It is so prophetic, as I can't tell you how many times that I have literally sat in a corner on the floor crying out to God so hard that my eyeballs hurt until they feel as if they are bleeding and popping out of my head.

Jesus never promised any Christian that life on this earth would be easy. But what most people don't understand is that it is that much harder trying to integrate my identity of being gay with wanting to be a good and faithful Christian. It just doesn't seem to fit in the realm of Christianity these days.

At the time of this post, I have been faithfully attending church for 11 months, and attending our Home Bible Study Group for 9 months. Crying in church every Sunday at the excruciating (which I believe derives from, "Out Of The Cross") death of Jesus on the cross for me and all of humanity. Especially on the Sunday of communion or sacrament, whatever it may be that your church calls it. Everyone in church must think that I am a consistent nut case and sinner. This day is the moment that has me shedding tears so hard, knowing that I haven't done enough for his suffering for me. How can I not even try to suffer for his sufferance. I try, but I keep giving in. DAMNIT!!!!

I will admit that I haven't been faithful about studying the word (that could be one of my main problems) or praying daily (Although I do talk to God daily while taking the dog for a walk, driving in my car, etc... I guess that is considered praying). But I don't feel connected to God or filled with his Holy Spirit as I should. Is it because I am Gay with a Gay Partner and due to that fact, I am not afforded the wonderful and Holy experience that all others are able to participate in? Or is it because I am still struggling with a few of my sinful stupidity's? I want it to be known that just because I made it seem thru my last posts that I was 100% healed, I didn't want to shield the truth, so if I did the old backslide or fell, it should be known. There is no healing in hiding the truth. It is a constant struggle.

I am trying so hard to believe that Jesus loves us all equally. From my first three posts you would think that I had gotten over this, but as most Christians, I should understand that this is a daily struggle for a lot of us. But I find myself still wondering that because I identify as a gay man, that I am trying to walk in faith of a salvation that I cannot be a part of.

I am constantly condemned for being gay, being told that I possibly chose this lifestyle thru life circumstances, (maybe, but regardless this is who I am, and I don't believe that at all) not being born this way, yet God tells us that he knew who we were going to be before we were even born. Truth be known, had I not met my gay partner of 13 years, and us both coming to a dual decision together of following Christ 11 months ago, I can truly tell you that I most likely would not be moving towards a life of Christ. I would still be stuck in my old life of terrible sin. So is it wrong for me to be gay and have a gay partner? 

Without that relationship, I would still be in a wretched state of life of not moving forward. So please God or others of this world don't tell me that I shouldn't have the right to be gay man. There is a reason that God set my life up in this state as it is now. For this very reason, I have been led to write a blog in the hope's of witnessing to those in my life circumstances, to share my struggles, yet my joy in moving towards a life in Christ. Yes, we will struggle, but it's a journey to want to finally be forgiven and come back to God who has always been calling us back to him. If we aren't moving forward towards a betterment, then what is the meaning of this life right?

Is it as true and as simple as John 5:24 "Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life"

If so then why do I keep struggling with the fact that, Oh your gay, your still living of this world of watching TV that corrupts your mind (although it doesn't change my values, it actually makes me realize more and more what a messed up world this is, and I do find myself recording more of the faith value channels) your not reading my word every day, your not spending enough time witnessing to others, not enough time helping those in need, your not fighting your sins as you should if you truly love Jesus, etc.. mentality.... Is it just the stupid legalism that has been placed in my head from previous religion and hearing the crap on TV? Am I truly forgiven even though I don't contain all of these things? Just tell me God.. Am I forgiven or not? Can somebody just sit down with me and truly help me wrestle with this please? God? Can you shout out to me? I am tired of crying out to you!!!!!

How do you not live of this world? To be honest, I just don't understand what my fellow Christians do all day? I get up and take my dog for a walk first thing in the morning when I wake up (It helps that she jumps for joy for that special time of the day with her dad), then I start delving into work until about 5 or 6 or 7 PM.. then I watch TV.. What do my fellow christians do all night and weekend long? Sure I should read the bible every day, but I can't read more than 15 minutes of anything before I get drowsy and need a nap... then what? What the heck do you do the rest of the night? This must be my problem with hearing from God and truly feeling the Holy Spirit of God!!!! What fills the rest of your night? Am I not understanding the full realm of not living in this world? And that's what keeps me from hearing? "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says"

The enemy is constantly trying to defeat me/us. And although I repent of my sins of the day, the largest sin I have committed today and this week is the unbelief of his true word, and that I/we are truly forgiven. Why can't I get that through my head?

It is because of the constant beating of religion across this country and the world that because I am gay, I am less of a person and that I can't be forgiven; that I have crossed the line of God's forgiveness and that Jesus died for all sins except for mine..  Could even the vulgar crimes of a murderer, rapist, child/spouse abuser, kidnapper, child molester be forgiven before me?  Really? Even those in prison of vulgar crimes can't forgive some of the aformentioned.

I need to keep reminding myself of having just studied Romans Chapter 1, that ALL sins are equal. None is greater then the other. So that abortion you had, that adulterous affair you had, that white lie that you told, your arrogance, your greed, your slandering, etc.. is equal to mine.. and ALL ARE FORGIVEN!!!!!

I guess the whole point of this entry into my blog, is that I have been a little depressed this week of so wanting to hear from God and feel his presence. Why do I doubt? Keep getting depressed about it? Is it a special feeling that others receive? Or is it just a knowing? Should I even expect it even though I am still sinning and gay? Please God.. talk to me.. I need you so much.. My heart and soul wants it so bad.. To know you, to hear you, to feel you, to know that you hear from me and truly care about me!!!!!!!!

I so want it with all my heart and soul, to have that special relationship, true love and knowing his true forgiveness that so many others in my church and home group feel every day and every minute of their lives.. 
Although I struggle, I never thought that I would say, that Sunday is my favorite day of the week. I look forward to it all week. I get such a high from worshiping and praising our Glorious God that as soon as it is done, the week cannot go fast enough for me to do it all over again. 

As I always have said, "Get your feet wet and step into the water deeper and deeper until it cleanses your whole body with his Mercy and Grace and washes you fully in his love".

Special Thanks!!! I want to say thanks to those from church whom have thanked me for sharing my life and journey thru this blog with them. I so look up to you all and you are all huge inspirations to me. Having heard some of your stories, isn't it nice that we are all not alone and that we all have life sores? You have no idea how much I so look forward to seeing you all every week. (Hence the reason I can't stop talking to everyone at church). I just can't get enough of you all.  I strive to have the faith in Christ that you all have. It gives me no greater joy then to know that I have found the right place of joy and worship with people whom truly care, forgive and love all others regardless of lifestyle or brokenness...Coast Vineyard Rocks!!!!!!