Innovative Protesting?

I drive down the road and see corners filled up with clusters of people holding picket signs of hate. They spread their message of condemnation to the world. I must have missed the part where Jesus said, “It is the picket line that leads people to repentance.”

Just a few more blocks down and there’s more clusters of people only their signs carry words that spell out l-o-v-e, but the messages spread belittling statements about the other groups of people I saw earlier. I missed the part where Jesus said, “Belittle your enemies while there is hope.”

One group has men dressed in slacks and women in dresses. The other group has men and women in underwear.

Our kids are seeing all of this. 

“Mommy, why do people spend all day holding signs about each other when they can go to the beach like us and have fun?”

“Daddy, why are all those people walking around in their undies?”

“Grandpa, don’t those people go to your church? Isn’t that the deacon and his wife? I thought Jesus loves us. The bible tell us so.”

Sometimes a picket line works well, other times it doesn’t. Maybe it’s time we become more creative with how we protest and raise awareness. Especially if we want the end result to be equality, peace, and harmony.

Hate breeds more hate. 

It pays to speak of your passion with integrity. People are more likely to listen and maybe the kids can learn better ways for them to express themselves when they get older.

I think we would be naive to think our protests don’t affect our children. I see images of sweet little girls holding signs that preach hate for certain types of people. The bottom line is she’s being taught to hate.

Kids see men in their undies holding signs about love as he slips his tongue into the mouth of his partner. They’re teaching my kids that’s what love is.

I love my husband and can give him a simple kiss, but I don’t teach my kids to put their tongues in people’s mouths. I snuggle on the couch with my family, but I don’t lay around in my undies in front of them and their friends.

That would be inappropriate.

Some things are just not appropriate for the eyes of young children. This is why we have a rating system on television shows, movies, video games, and music.

But we’ll let people stand on corners and preach hate and sexuality where the kids can see it.

Maybe this is why people aren’t getting their messages listened to.

Aren’t there enough billboards, commercials, radio, ads on buses, and even on our smartphone apps?

The greatest way to get a message across is to live the message respectfully. No one is going to want to hear me talk about the love of God if it’s by carrying around a sign condemning people to hell. Likewise, people won’t want to hear about marriage equality if it’s by walking around in underwear and being sloppily intimate in public.

I guess, for me…. neither one of these is love.

  • I find love in helping the elderly cross the road, feeding the homeless, embracing a sad friend with a warm hug.
  • I find love in the cuddling of babies and kittens.
  • I find love in giving Eskimo kisses to my son’s freckled nose.
  • I find love in giving butterfly kisses to my daughter’s cheek with my eyelashes.
  • I find love in holding hands with my husband.

Anything more in depth than this is reserved for the sacred resting place in our little corner of the house. That private place where we can both be free to be love to one another. The place where it’s just between us.

People don’t need to actually witness our private intimacy to know we love and are committed to each other.

I understand groups who want their messages to be heard, but is it possible there could be more innovative and respectful ways of doing so?

 

Sisterlisa


American Christians Can’t Claim Persecution

Stay up to date with articles and resources for your spiritual journey Subscribe by Email

Soul Liberty Faith

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

 

Tolerance between Wild Goose and PantheaCon, is it possible?

As many of you know, I interact with a diverse group of pagans both online and in person. I have been given an incredible honor of being heard in regards to my relationship with God and they have been incredibly patient with me. They have been tolerant of me. Tolerance seems to be an ugly word for many Christians due to the idea that they think being tolerant means ‘to be in agreement with’. However, I believe true tolerance is an act of love and kindness to patiently understand one another so we can learn to better love others. In addition to this, I believe it is a way to exercise our faith and grow spiritually into the maturity and fullness of Christ.

In October, the Wild Goose Festival is coming to the West Coast. This is a festival where leaders from a diversity of Christian groups come together to be tolerant of one another, to learn from each other, and to grow spiritually. They discuss ways to interact with people in a variety of societal differences and those who live in suffering. They hash out what works in ministry and what doesn’t. Their overall goal seems to be learning how to better understand and love one another, as well as those in the world around them.

In February of 2013, PantheaCon will be in San Jose, Ca. Their theme for this year is ‘Co-operation, Tolerance, and Love’. This is a large event where pagans from all different paths come together to share their experiences and teachings with one another, to fellowship, to practice spirituality, and connect with each other.

It’s interesting to see both groups working in such a similar direction and for this I am quite happy to see such life within both communities.

I can’t help but to wonder if these two groups would be willing to work towards being tolerant of each other, to learn to understand one another, and to put down prejudices of those who came before us so we can work together for those who will come after us.

Are there any leaders on either side who have worked diligently to understand each other and help bridge the gap between these two groups, The Christians and the Pagans?

We all live on the same planet and each group has been given insight on how to be better stewards of this world and with the lives of the people thereon. Each group has value on this Earth and we should no longer reject one another or refrain from working together on some common goals.

Many Pagans have family members who are Christians and many Christians have family members who are Pagan. Sadly, they all testify of the tension between them and how difficult holidays tend to be. Holidays, the times when families should be able to come together, to rejoice, and to strengthen bonds.

  • So I ask, which Pagan leader will be presenting at the Wild Goose Festival and which Christian leader will be presenting at PantheaCon?
  • What leaders from each group would their groups trust and respect to represent them to the other?
  • Are there any leaders in each group that have mutual love and respect for the other?

What are your thoughts on this?

Sisterlisa


Biblical argument for Gays

Stay up to date with articles and resources for your spiritual journey Subscribe by Email

Soul Liberty Faith

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

 

Love’s Evangelism Method

In the many years I was in church world I looked into various forms of evangelism. My initial experience with Jesus was so life changing that I wanted to share it with the world. I have read countless books and attended many classes, workshops, and conferences to learn how to be a better evangelist. I kept finding pretty much the same methods everywhere I looked. While I have had hundreds of people recite the sinner’s prayer I sense that was all it was, a recitation. My experience with Christ was not like that so why was I pushing that method on others? I used books and pamphlets from

  • Billy Graham
  • Billy Sunday
  • D.L.Moody
  • Jack Hyles
  • Chick Tracts

and more, but none of them really resonated with what I had personally experienced.

fuschia white and pink by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Looking back now I can see what the difference was. My initial experience with Christ had nothing to do with a prayer or theological study. It had to do with the revelation of love. It was an awakening of him within, a personal resurrection. I can see now that trying to get people to submit themselves to a head knowledge of a perspective of Christ was not what true salvation is to me. For me, it was about a resurrection of his love within me and it had nothing to do with a theological pledge to follow the pastor’s interpretation of the bible and it certainly had nothing to do with condemning me to hell. Hell wasn’t even an issue. The revelation of Christ in my soul never spoke to me about hell, only about love. You see, love is what conquers everything.

  • Love wins
  • Condemnation loses

So then I read a book from Leonard Sweet called, ‘Nudge’. I love his philosophy on awakening the Christ within. How he describes it is how I experienced it many years ago. I also spoke with a Southern Baptist pastor once about evangelism and he was much on the same page with me. Jesus calls us to love others and allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives through that love. Why is it that so many Christians don’t believe the manifestation of Christ’s love is greater than the words they say to people about how they view the bible? Perhaps because they haven’t really had a revelation of his indwelling and outpouring love.

“Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There” ~Leonard Sweet

If you haven’t heard of Darin Hufford of the Free Believer’s Network, then please get acquainted with him through his book, ‘The Misunderstood God‘. His take on ‘God is Love’ is an excellent source of soul opening knowledge. He takes the Love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, and shows how God is everything listed in that chapter. When you look at it that way it’s easier to understand that God doesn’t insist on his own way as much as many Christians think he does. And while some Christians think God detests mankind, the Love chapter indicates his love believes in us!

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”(1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV)

Traditional Christianity looks for an outward repentance beginning with a verbal public confession, whereas the love of God just lavishes us with grace. When a person experiences love that washes over them they will know that experience is spiritual. Their experience doesn’t mean God doesn’t love them yet, as some Christians assume. A lack of this experience does not mean the love is not true unless you believe in it. Believing in something doesn’t make it true, the truth is why we believe it. If belief made things true then why don’t we see the tooth fairy taking up residence in all homes of small children and Santa Claus coming down our chimneys? God’s love is true and that’s why we believe it.

Christians know the passage of God loved us first, but that doesn’t mean God loved them first, it means God loves all of us before we ever love him. Loves chose us before we chose love. When we know love it’s natural to respond with acceptance. Think about your newborn baby who has no ability to choose you. You love the child before the child knew of your existence. This is love!

Ephesians 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined usb for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” ESV

hydrangeas by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

I do consider myself a missionary, evangelist, and ardent ‘soul-winner’. I have free reign to love everyone and no strings attached to try and manipulate them into pledging allegiance to my view of God. What better experience is there of proclaiming the love of God than actually living it out?!? It’s all about love! It’s not so much about winning their souls, as the term soul-winner indicates, it’s more about loving people into a reality of them receiving love.

So when you question my interaction with the GLBT and Pagan communities because you don’t see me condemning them to hell and pressuring them to recite a prayer and join a church, know that I am not called to do that to them. I get to love them, support them, and live out God’s love for them. I don’t need mankind’s stamp of approval on the ministry God calls me to. You can disagree with me all you want and it makes no difference to me. I know the message God has given me to preach to the world and it’s love. As Paul said so say  I, I received it not from mankind, pastors, or seminaries, but by the revelation of Christ my Lord.

The Message of Reconciliation

God has already reconciled mankind to himself through the finished work of Christ. So there is no pressure on me to try and make them believe this. People have the choice of what to believe and what not to believe. If believing in something doesn’t benefit them, then they won’t believe it. It’s no wonder they reject the condemning version of ‘god’, it doesn’t benefit them. However, a God who loves them and accepts them no matter what is worth hearing about! And if they know love, they already know God! When they freely accept true love, they are already accepting God. It doesn’t mean they are accepting God in the way traditional fundamentalists think they should. It’s a paradox! And isn’t that the way of Christ? His message is perplexing to self righteous people who look to please God in the literal realm with their religious works and practices of abstinence. But to spiritual people it is a message of life!

When you present God and the message you think he gives you to tell people, do they light up with joy or bow their head in shame? Real love has no shame! Not even a little bit! Presenting God as a lover with some hostility of threats if they don’t submit is abuse, not love. When real love is spoken and shown, the people know it!

If I didn’t truly love people, I wouldn’t bother trying to convince them. That would be manipulation. Because of the love God has lavished me with, I can’t help but to love others with that same love. When there is real love there is no need to convince. The Spirit of LOVE does the convincing. I’m not out to get people to accept me, to come to a church, or to take propaganda discipleship classes. I am free to love them as they are. If they desire to hear about the wisdom I believe to balance my life then I’ll gladly share that. If they want my personal counsel about something in their life, I will give it. But I am not out to get nosy into their lives and tell them how to live. If they want to know what I think about mentorship in Christ (by the way, I believe mentorship is not the same as discipleship), I will happily guide them through that. But again, I am not there to force, pressure, or insist on my own way.

Love is freedom and with wisdom we can navigate this life safer than trying to be free in foolishness, because that just leads to chaos. Love that does not insist on it’s own way is what will revolutionize the world. And isn’t that what Christ came to do anyway? I’d rather live my life in such a way that love nudges a spiritual revolution, than to exist in this world dying by every condemning word of tradition. Loving people can not be found in a cookie cutter type recipe with bullet points to adhere to. There is no religious tract to hand out and no script to follow. It comes naturally as you progress and mature in your spirituality.

Love’s evangelism ‘method’ is the best I’ve seen yet!

Sisterlisa

Biblical argument for Gays

Stay up to date with articles and resources for your spiritual journey Subscribe by Email

Soul Liberty Faith

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

The Church Built on Sand

When we left legalism and relearned Christ, funny thing happened. Christians didn’t understand us anymore. If we didn’t speak Christianize they automatically thought we were ‘new age’. Anytime we clarified something in the bible referred to Jesus, they would first get angry, then frustrated. They thought we were confused, but I think it’s them who had been on confusion all along. An example would be how Christians will say the Bible is the Word of God, but John 1:1 says Jesus is the Word of God. Long story short we had a difficult time finding authentic spiritual community where we could grow and not get verbally chopped to pieces if we spoke the language of this new birth.

I read a book titled, ‘Pagan Christianity’ in which author Frank Viola reveals some historical facts about buildings, rituals, and traditions which at first understanding might make some Christians run out of their buildings as fast as they can. Then after we had some time to readjust to an absolute faith walk away from tradition, my daughter and I got to experience a pagan spiritual ceremony. If you haven’t read that article, please do so! It was through that day that I had come to find value in Christian traditions once again. I realized that it’s fine to have traditions and in my spirit I knew that traditions did not reconcile me to God. I knew that reconciliation had already taken place and some traditions are symbolic ways of celebrating the finished work. Many of us already knew that Christmas Trees had pagan origin, but most Christians use it in December to celebrate what they represent to them, Christ.

sacred writings by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Different religions all over the world have similar or exactly the same spiritual symbols. The tree is life, the egg is fertility, the virgin is purity, and the rising sun is resurrection.  Symbols on their own are not bad, they can be quite beautiful and serve as reminders of the connection we all have with God. Even the pagan symbol of the star is a beautiful representation of the seasons God created. They celebrate Samhain and we celebrate Harvest. They celebrate Yule and we celebrate Christmas. They celebrate Ostara and we celebrate Easter..oh wait it’s the same thing…. ok so we celebrate the Resurrection. It’s what these holidays, traditions, and rituals represent that matters. It’s about spiritual growth and about walking in this life with joy. Harvest is a season of change and death to old ways. Christmas is a celebration of rest and family fellowship. Easter is the time we celebrate new birth and joyful life. Christ has already fulfilled all of these things, yet we still find great satisfaction in celebrating rituals (traditions) in honor of what he did.

I have wondered if it’s possible that God had unique ways of teaching his message to people in other countries. Why else would each spiritual community have such amazing similarities in their beliefs? I know it’s a popular belief that God was in dire need of a printing press so the bible could be printed and translated for every language in order for people to understand the version of Christianity we came to learn of (even thought it wasn’t English to begin with). Do you ever wonder why it wasn’t important to have it printed in Hebrew and Greek for every country before it was translated to English? God is much more magnificent than that! He doesn’t need an English bible in order to speak to people. Abraham didn’t have a bible, neither did Jesus. Oh yes, Jesus had the Torah, but Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob didn’t. They heard God through the spirit! Even Caleb followed God by faith when he saw the land of plenty and disregarded the giants. No big deal, it was the land of milk and honey!

Christians can be such silly people sometimes as they cower in fear if they see a pentacle, a PG-13 movie, or the next popular vampire novel on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. The Kingdom is here and by faith we get to live abundantly in it!! Why do they fear so much when the scriptures contain MANY passages about ‘fear not’ and the New Testament is filled with victory! By the power of God, we get to walk through this life as Kingdom minded citizens in full power of grace to go out and love people without fear. Caleb knew he didn’t need to fear the giants. He reached out and took hold on the promise God gave them. Will you walk in the promised Kingdom or be afraid of ‘the world’ and it’s ‘giants’?

We have heard for so long that everyone who isn’t a Christian is dirty, evil, infectious with sin and as a result they have excluded people and isolated themselves in their little bubbles. They are like the others who refused to go into the promised land because they were afraid. Peter told a story of the vision God gave him about the people and said do NOT call them unclean. God had cleansed them!

According to the bible, God created all of mankind. Through Christ we finally see that we are all children of God. Equally loved no matter what the differences. When you begin relationships with love you have the foundation of Christ. There’s no way to build on a foundation of fear. In fact the word ‘fear’ is an oxymoron to the words ‘build and foundation’. Trying to do so will only fall down in a storm.

My husband and I served in rescue ministry for many years among addicts, tattoo laden, facial piercings, court appearances, prison visits, and more. While many would pat us on the back for doing so, they cowered in fear and refused to come join us in loving those people. They missed out on a HUGE blessing. Those folks taught me so much about love, grace, and mercy. It was a missionary experience I’ll never forget. Imagine going to a foreign field, would you hide in your little huts in fear of them killing you? Would you throw stones at them out your window and condemn them to hell when they walked by? I guess if you treat people like CRAP, then it would be understandable why you fear them so much.

Therein is found the truth of the matter. A god and his followers who condemns, hates, throws stones, and mistreats people would certainly be afraid of the people they attack. Isn’t that how it always is with a bully? They’re really just fearful people who try to defend themselves by attacking others. This is a faulty way to live your life. In fact it’s not living, it’s dying. They go through this time and space …dying.

Now that I have laid down the foundation for this topic I will get to the nitty gritty.

This is America. The land of the free! We have the blessing of freedom of religion. The state (Constitution) is not allowed to sanction or reject a religion as a government body. The people get to decide what they will believe or not believe. This is an amazing gift since so many other countries don’t offer us this choice. There was a time when the Catholic Church would persecute anyone who left, questioned, or rebuked the church and it’s teachings. Then came a time when the Protestants (who protested that tyranny) began doing the same thing. Some Protestant leaders actually burned women and falsely accused them as witches. If there were real witches in their towns they never would have been able to burn them, because they would not have submitted themselves to arrogant tyrannical men.

Christians who are familiar with the persecution of their spiritual ancestors under the authority of Nero will tell you how great they suffered. But today’s Christians in American don’t really understand persecution. Oh yes, they get upset when people boycott Chick-fil-A, or when public schools deny religious activity in the school day, but this isn’t real persecution. Those Christians do no live in fear of saying they are Christians. They don’t have to fear for their lives.

In today’s nation of America, gays and pagans live in fear of their lives. Among those who participate in their pride days, there are many more who don’t out of fear. They have this fear because of how many ‘Christians’ have attacked them, bullied them, cussed at them, spat on them, harassed them, and even killed them. There are more documented cases of bullying to death of gays, than there are of pagans in today’s world, but nonetheless it’s wrong!

Christians are supposed to be the example of God’s LOVE to the world. Since Jesus forgave the whole world while they were yet sinners, why can’t we? I’ll tell you why, because so many Christians think they are teacher’s pets and everyone else is out. This is contrary to scripture and contrary to love.

This article about pagans discussing getting their own church caused me to cry. I sat at my desk today and felt the pain and grief in my chest as I read about their fears.

“Several months ago, my coven talked about trying to establish a community center for Pagans in our area. Many public sites suitable for celebrations close at dusk, our homes and backyards are often too small for activities, and all-too-frequently public facilities are just not available. We were still bouncing ideas around when we provoked very hostile reactions from some of our Pagan friends. For them, the issue was visibility. They opposed the community center project because its creation would reveal our presence to the larger community. All of these folks were still hiding in broom closets afraid the world will discover they are Pagans and kill them. The mere “possibility” of our opening a Pagan community center threatened them. Undoubtedly, visibility is a factor in some Pagans’ problem with publicly-known and dedicated gathering sites.”

Friends, love never threatens people (See 1 Corinthians 13). If a community of pagans live in fear of the reaction of their Christian neighbors for building a religious center then something is very wrong with your Christianity. No one should EVER have to live in fear in a Christian neighborhood! If you had an authentic love inspired Christian community people would be FLOCKING to come live near you. I know many will say that the scriptures say that followers of Christ will be hated, but you have to understand why…it was the religious leaders who hated them. They were hated for their love for others. Religion despised equality and some fundamentalist churches prove that by how they mistreat women and children. Religion favors power and control, this is why victims of sexual abuse are silenced in their churches and the criminals go unreported. Women and children are not valued.

Woe to those who claim the name of Christ and do the work of the adversary. Churchianity is a way of existing in this world and it’s members have their Christianeze lingo and brainwashed philosophies. It’s a worldy institution, all boxed in and bound up in legalistic rules and man made dogma with a counterfeit god-label loosely glued to the church sign.

There’s nothing wrong with a community having a building or family activities, nothing wrong with rock and soul music or weekly pot lucks. What’s wrong is when those places become idols that favor power over truth. It’s wrong when the leaders favor each other’s image rather than the image of Christ which is love with his Bride.

It boggles my mind how so many church leaders will turn a blind eye when the Bride of Christ is being attacked, raped, abused, bullied and forced into communistic kingdoms of their own. Do they have no reverence for the resurrected Lord and his beautiful Bride? She doesn’t belong in a casket!

When you see kingdoms like that where women are less than, questions are rejected, and child abuse goes unreported, then run as fast as your feet can carry you. It’s not a Christian community.

Jesus dined with gluttons, lounged with tax collectors, welcomed pagans and offered living water. A Christian is one who practices loving hospitality and respects their guests! No pagan should be afraid of the ‘christian’ response if they build a community center for themselves! They are free to be themselves and enjoy the love of God and enjoy loving others without fear of rejection, bullying, or spiritual tyranny!

So while not many other Christians will speak so boldly and openly to defend the freedom of pagans, I AM! So if you don’t like having pagan neighbors then YOU move to another community and leave MY friends alone. You see, my Jesus LOVES them as they are and opens his arms wide for them!

Indeed! Woe to those who claim to follow Christ and deny HIS power therein. Their faulty kingdom is built on sand.

Sisterlisa

Minister of Organic Faith

 


Biblical argument for Gays

Stay up to date with articles and resources for your spiritual journey Subscribe by Email

Soul Liberty Faith

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Transparently Yours

I do what I can to walk by faith in Christ and seek his wisdom, yet I can not stand idly by while brethren (and sisters) behave with such immaturity and lack of understanding for others who are not just like them. So, when I write an article like this, know that this comes from a follower of Christ. I preface this article like that, because I can be harsh at times and I don’t want it to be said that I’m anti-Jesus. I just don’t appreciate the hypocrisy, lies, and manipulation taking place in the Christian community. Jesus was harsh at times too, like in Matthew 23 when he ‘ripped the lips off’ the self righteous pharisees.

Proverbs 4:7 “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” KJV

For the last year I have worked very diligently to understand the diversity of pagans in our world. Through patience and humility I have allowed myself to walk by faith in entering their world so I can learn to understand. I have come to respect them as fellow human beings in this global community called humanity. I have found so many that respect my path and they have never tried to convert me nor do they bash Jesus to me. In fact, it was in a Druid community that my faith in Christ was deepened.

2 Corinthians 5:7 “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” ESV

I have found that many of them do respect the Jesus they read about in the bible, they just don’t respect the abusive version that some denominations of Christianity are forcing on society.

I found an article written by a pagan that I found rather interesting and posted it on my Facebook wall. I wanted to encourage a conversation of understanding so my Christian friends can learn to understand paganism with a more educated basis than the popular paranoia perspective so many of them espouse to.

It’s sad to see those who immediately throw stones without taking the time to listen. How do these people even claim to be missionary minded if they approach people with such exclusion?

I believe myself to be an organic minister and I love people where they are. It is not my intent to manipulate people into choosing Jesus as a deity, savior, or otherwise. In my faith, I believe that if Jesus wanted to give people a revelation about him, he could do that without manipulation and terrorizing tactics. Furthermore, I’m also not interested in conning people with false kindness in hopes that they’ll recite some man made prayer and pledge allegiance to the Christian flag.

Many times over the years I have had intense experiences with the Lord that convinced me to follow his teachings and accept the love he has been giving to me. It grieves me greatly to see religious leaders portray God as an abusive tyrant who threaten people into choosing Jesus. It does matter to me what people think of Jesus and how the Holy Spirit works, because I have a beautiful connection with him and I do not want to have broken relationships with people who think I’m lumped in with such immaturity.

In my view of Christ, people matter to him. And it’s through this perspective that I find myself viewing people as worthy of love. This authentic love flows naturally, but I’ll be honest and say that there are times when it’s more difficult to let that love flow. It’s when abusive people intrude and disrupt in which case I struggle with showering love on them. I fall miserably short and grow impatient when I see people being abused. Or perhaps this is just how the love of Christ manifests in defense of victims.

Luke 23:24 “Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” Meanwhile, the soldiers divided his clothes among themselves by throwing dice.” GWT

image credit David Hayward

I believe God loves us all equally. The story of the prodigal son is really more about the father and how his relationships with his sons can teach us a powerful lesson. Both sons had an inheritance. One wanted to receive his right away then depart to go live life as he so desired. The other stayed home and close to his father’s side. Through this story we see the father freely give the first son all that he requested and allowed him to go free, leave the family, their community, and did not condemn him for doing so. Once the son had lost all he had, he decided to come back and serve his father as a slave. The other son was not happy with how their father welcomed him home, prepared the fatted calf, and threw his arms around his son. This son who stayed home is often portrayed as the faithful son who obeyed his father and didn’t ask for anything. Yet, many times Christians fail to see the real problem with the story.

The story is not about the first son living the party life (although we do learn a lesson from that), but rather we see the obedient son plagued with a toxicity we call self righteousness. He thought he was better than his brother and felt that he deserved the fatted calf more than his brother. Even with this view, there is a bigger picture here. The bigger picture is the father who loved both sons equally. Both sons had the freedom to do what they wanted, yet each brother learned different lessons. One learned his father loved him and was a man of grace, while the other learned his father was not legalistic as the son assumed he was. Two sons had different views of their father.

God gives us the freedom to decide for ourselves. He freely gives Pagans, Atheists, Unitarians, Trinitarians, Catholics, Fundamentalists and Pentecostals alike, the choice to make on their own. If we force someone to recite a prayer without having the opportunity to make an educated decision, then we aren’t really giving them freedom to choose. When Christians make choosing Jesus into a threat, then what kind of choice is that?

If Jesus wants someone to choose him, he can contact them on his own. The Spirit knows how to convince someone of love. At the same time I do believe we have a responsibility to represent him with love and compassion. Even if people never choose Jesus, our responsibility is to represent him with humility, grace, and love.

Maybe some folks should refrain from calling them Christians if they aren’t going to be committed to living out the Gospel with love. Perhaps they can simply say they are learning about Christ, rather than trying to speak on his behalf and putting both feet into their mouths.

My heart for my fellow pagan loved ones (and anyone else for that matter) is not a mission to convert them, but rather a desire to understand them and to love them. We are all a part of the global family of humanity. Let’s follow in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiration by loving our fellow man equally. Even some of the most self centered, arrogant, and self righteous Christians are equally loved by God, it’s just more difficult for us to love them. Nonetheless, we’re all created in the image of God.

Genesis 1:26 “Let us make man in our image” ~God

Some people are easier to love than others. While it has taken a journey of faith for me to learn to love others, it’s taking me a journey of strength and patience to love bullies.

Transparently yours.

Sisterlisa

Did Pat Robertson Forget Something?

Again our nation suffers tragedy at the aim of a shooter and citizens shout for more gun control and others, like Pat Robertson, place blame of a senseless act on Atheism. This is what Pat Robertson has a habit of doing whenever we, as One American Family, suffers and grieves. May I please say that his view of God is not my God. When people suffer, Jesus rallies beside them to console them and cry with them. I suppose if I used Pat’s philosophy of placing blame on an entire group for the actions of one then I can place blame on him, the 700 Club, and countless other Christian agencies for the criminal act of the sexual violation of a teen girl by former mega church pastor, Jack Schaap. Or perhaps we can blame Pat for the hate mongering cult of Westboro Baptist Church who pickets funerals of fallen soldiers. But that just wouldn’t be intelligent or compassionate. He says we need to talk about the love of God, but the love of God does not falsely accuse.

When I look in the bible, I see Jesus publicly reprimanding the self righteous religious leaders of his day and forgiving the adulteresses, gluttons, and tax collectors while lounging together over a meal. Where are the Jesus-with-skin-on-folks who will blow the smoke away to reveal the truth of what these false leaders are doing?

Condemning innocent people for the act of one is not only ludicrous, but uneducated and lacking in spiritual discernment. Even worse is preaching hate with a God label on it. It is not the Atheists who are at fault for the crimes of individual criminals who force their own hate onto the lives of our fellow Americans. For far too long Christians have placed blame instead of learning to own up. They place the blame on actions, on people, on groups, and even on Satan. Yet, they fail to portray the very words of God which teaches us to confess our faults to one another and offer restitution where required.

“The truly free mind does not have to engage in this struggle between the inner space of personal feelings and the outer space of public expressions. It has evolved to the place where it has neither personal or public prejudices. It knows that ‘under the skin all people are kin’.”~Cecil Murray

There was a time when American put down their personal vendettas against one another and joined forces to defend our country from British rule, a time when Americans put aside their differences to support this nation as we all grieved together after 9/11, and now our nation suffers from two shooters in one month’s time and religious leaders further divide our Nation instead of uniting her.

“We are One American Family.”~President Obama

This religious competition these preachers have had for so long is nothing more than modern day Hatfields and McCoys backyard battle.  When abusive religious leaders scattered the children of Israel, Jesus came to unite them in love. Today’s religious leaders seek to further conquer, divide, hoard, and bar up the kingdom for themselves and Jesus says as he did through Moses, “Let my people go!”

In 1992, Southern California suffered deeply when Rodney King was abused by officers, the very people who are supposed to protect us. Does the actions of a few officers get blamed on all officers, all government agencies, all firemen, all paramedic teams, and all white humans? NO! The officers needed to face their own music and be brought to justice. While citizens all over Los Angeles County broke out in utter chaos, a few humble churches of brothers and sisters of this ‘One American Family’ put down their differences and tirelessly volunteered to help bring peace back to the streets.

Just this last month, Anaheim suffered from more of the same type of chaos and did the citizens learn anything from the Rodney King tragedy? Of all the newspapers I read on the matter I found only one minister who was brave enough to call for peace among the gangs and their families and instead of committing crime he admonished them to get an education to become nurses, doctors, and lawyers.

A wise minister, of any religion, will be those who not only call for change, but also bring unity and peace. They were never intended to stop chaos, but rather to bring unity and peace amidst the chaos. We need more ministers (whether licensed or not) to use their platform to call for a unified approach to bringing peace and maturity to the world.

Christians have gotten a mixed message for many years about Jesus coming to bring division. The division is not to be between individual people, churches, or communities. The division was to be brought to each individual soul, to divide us from chaos and to nurture peace and love within.

So please know that Pat Robertson does not represent the God I know and love. He is not Christianity’s voice to the world. Jesus is. And Jesus calls us to love one another. God does not call us to manipulate and call it God’s love. God does not ask us to blame the masses for the actions of a few. God doesn’t operate that way in the New Covenant. Each person will answer for themselves. Pat even contradicts his own theology by blaming atheists instead of Adam, where the first blame began. Much of Christianity fails to see the absolute perfection of the resurrected Christ who conquered death and the grave. Fails to acknowledge that Adam brought a condition call sin and Jesus came to cover it entirely. This doesn’t mean that there are no consequences to our earthly actions (and inaction). It means we all can go boldly to the throne of grace and engage in reconciliation with God. Once we know our reconciliation with God, we can extend reconciliation among mankind.

The hope of the world is not found in condemning the world, it’s found in the fact that the whole world has been reconciled.

Acts 10:  26But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” 27And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.” ESV

Peace,

Sisterlisa

 

Traditional Marriage, Boycotting, and a Movie Massacre

Last week the media and social networks were all a buzz about the controversy behind Chik-fil-A’s statement about the ongoing battle on marriage equality vs. traditional families. I have seen many graphics that looked more like propaganda than anything else. The traditional famly-ists against the non traditional famly-ists continues to wage war against one another and they don’t seem to really bring about peace to the nation as a whole. We are a diverse nation of people, whose forefathers came from all over the world. They were of several different beliefs, cultures, and races. Our ancestors came here in hopes to find freedom to live peaceably and to pursue our own individual beliefs. Why can’t the country embrace their own beliefs and yet give others the freedom to pursue their own? We’ve already had a Civil War and I really don’t want to see it happen again.

Those who have accepted the public school avenue for education and those who choose alternatives all claim to pursue the best education possible for their children. If all of these groups truly are working hard to increase their education then why can’t they figure out a better way to have public discourse without using the same belittling smoke screen attacks the politicians use? Why can’t we find a way to communicate effectively without making it all about choosing one way over another?

People have the freedom to have a traditional family. There is nothing in the law of this nation that prohibits them. The traditional family does not know what it’s like to hide the fact that they have one mom and one dad. They don’t have any reason to fear their children will get beat up in school just because their mom and dad got married. Traditional families have nothing to fear if one spouse is hospitalized, because they have full access to be with their spouse in ICU. Traditional families have nothing to fear if one dies before the other, because they have the right to claim their social security. All of this security for them, yet they worry about the traditional family being in danger? No one is going to force a traditional family to give up their marriage rights, break them up, or halt them from having a legal wedding.

If the traditionalists are going to worry about the sanctity of marriage then they need to focus on their own marriages and not worry about everyone else’s. Traditional marriage will never die, because without a sperm and an egg people can’t have babies.

It seems to be an oxymoron for a traditionalist Christian to worry about anything, because Christ tells them to have faith. They are to walk by faith and pursue their own walk with God, while being willing to give up all their ‘rights’ for the cause of Christ. Yet they continue to create battle after battle where there is no threat. Maybe Chik-fil-A didn’t realize this as they fanned the flames when they issued this hypocritical statement,

“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect –- regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.

Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.

Our mission is simple: to serve great food, provide genuine hospitality and have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

I don’t have a problem with a company saying they support traditional families, but when they claim they don’t discriminate then financially back laws and other agencies who do, then that is where I believe people become weary of the hypocrisy and understandably so.

A traditional family is where the parents are one mom and one dad who entered into holy matrimony and are raising children together. What about the widowed grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren, because the parents are both in jail? How about the single grandfathers who are caring for nieces and nephews whose parents never married and are homeless due to drug addiction? What about single women who have compassionate hearts and are foster parents to children who were abandoned? None of these families are traditional families. Who supports them? Why can’t we just support families in general? Shouldn’t supporting the family be for the purpose of offering children a future? Are children from non traditional families not relative to the future, because their parental unit does not consist of one man and one woman?

I saw a graphic that made me wince a bit. It was of the Chik-fil-A cows painting a billboard that read,

“Be mor tolrant, boycot Chik-fil-A”

What an oxymoron! The whole reason people are upset is because Chik-fil-A and other agencies are boycotting non traditional families while people are claiming they are intolerant for doing so. Isn’t boycotting a form of intolerance? So I re-created the graphic to this;

I understand the anger when there is discrimination. I understand wanting to support businesses who do support equal rights. What I don’t understand is how one group can discriminate against others who are discriminating too, then ask for tolerance for themselves.

I support equal rights. Two consenting adults should have the same equal rights as anyone else. They should be free to make a commitment to one another and have their own families without discrimination. Their children should be able to go to school and church without being bullied for being a part of a non traditional family. These children should not be discriminted against, because their parents choose a different lifestyle than the status quo.

When Jesus walked throughout the land, he never commanded the Christians to force the government to live by the Torah. His charge to his followers was simple, “Love others as you love yourself”. He even went further by saying, “Love your enemies”. There was also this scenario where a rich man asked how he could be a disciple. Jesus told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor. The man chose not to do that and Jesus let the man be free to make his choice. He didn’t condemn the man or withhold his money from him. He didn’t demand the government to take away the man’s right to be rich. Jesus didn’t picket the man’s business nor build billboards to incite rage and gather an army to boycott his business either. He let it go!

Then, in the midst of this last week’s drama about whether or not we should eat fried chicken advertised by uneducated cows or shop at JCPenney, innocent lives were taken just after midnight as a shooter entered a movie theater in Colorado. The social network newsfeeds halted the marriage equality debate as everyone stood in agreement that this was a senseless act of violence. The people, both traditional and non traditional, cry out for justice!

The president issued a statement and this part grabbed my full attention,

“We are committed to bringing whoever was responsible to justice, ensuring the safety of our people, and caring for those who have been wounded. As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family.”~President Obama

This is the absolute truth of the matter, we are One American Family. We are an American family that is both white and black, red and yellow, male and female, young and old, Italian and German, English and African, Christian and Muslim, Pagan and Jew. This One American Family has it’s fair share of dysfunction, but it is still one family! We rejoice together on the Fourth of July and weep together every September 11th.

This is a country where we are both of our ancestor’s heritage and one new heritage under the stars and stripes. This is a family that is both traditional and non traditional and as we face uncertain days of senseless acts of violence, we are still one family. Be free to build community with those who are supportive of your individuality, tradition, or sacred beliefs. What is sacred to one may not be sacred to another and that’s ok. So long as we can be supportive and protective of one another’s right to pursue happiness and freedom to worship as each person sees fit.

Sisterlisa

We’re All in this Together

We have seen an incredible shift in Christianity these last few years with some folks being more inclusive and others being more exclusive. There have been a lot of divisions, hurt feelings, and economic suffering as folks have changed churches or left them altogether. Many are trying to find blame in either the struggling economy and/or in the leaders and laity of their congregations. Others are trying to revive spiritual communities by offering innovative ways of nurturing communication through conferences and festivals of all kinds. Instead of casting blame, can we hoist up the white flag? Whether we’re Episcopalian, Catholic, Liberal, Pentecostal, Conservative, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, or All-Inclusionists, we are all in this together.

We don’t really have to worry about whether traditions will survive, we as the Body WILL survive because Christ is our eternal groom. He has demonstrated his unconditional love for us all by dying and most importantly, resurrecting us with Him. He has conquered the grave and given us an abiding love and life that is immeasurable. Even if you ended up being the only human interested in your tradition, you are never alone with Christ who dwells within you. It is enjoyable to have others partake in traditions with us and yet our own insecurities cause us to react in fear and anger when someone chooses to depart from one tradition and go to another.

potted succulent by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Along with that comes the economic suffering as tithes and offerings leave the organizations. This poses an incredibly difficult dilemma for those remaining in the tradition, because they can’t keep up with the cost of the church’s expenses. Have we become dependent on the organization and forgotten our first love? Has the building become an idol that swayed us into an adulterous relationship with brick and mortar? Are we trying to squeeze money from folks who don’t have any left to give? We can try to find blame and root out dysfunction, but the bottom line is that we lost sight of our true identity in Christ. Smash that idol at the feet of Christ.

We have no need to feel insecure, yet we do. We get sidetracked by the material things of this world and Christ remains true to us as he embraces us in his everlasting love. Even while we may not notice him, he is still embracing us. Finding community with others can be an enriching experience. If we’ll just let go our insecurity and really come back to walking by faith then we can develop new relational communities where we can grow spiritually. Without Christ as the head, the body will stumble.

This next month my husband and I will be attending a Faith Leaders Institute where we will be coming together with faith leaders from a variety of religious backgrounds to discuss the economic impact our communities have suffered and combine our intellect, talent, and spiritual insights to help support one another in making changes in our communities. We need to resist fear and confidently walk into a new and innovative way to develop and nurture communities to grow and bond again.

One area that I have seen which is suffering, is outside the walls of organized Christianity. Sadly, scores of people have been wounded by insecure and controlling Christians. People of faith who are suffering from inflicted pain by false accusations, condemnation, and even physical assault are feeling buried. Their souls are gasping for fresh air and living water, while not able to see that their abusers are suffering too. We’re all suffering in one aspect or another. We’re all in this together.

refreshing by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

We have people inside the Christian community who are lashing out at those who left and those who left are lashing out at those who stayed. The communities have become a battle ground instead of safe havens for recovery. It behooves us to have a time out and cool down. Every wounded soldier needs to leave the battle field to recover. It would be even better if we could stop the war.

Somewhere along the way we forgot that our war was in the spiritual realm and wolves brought chaos into the communities making it a literal war that could never be won in the flesh. The real war is not about the money needed to fund a building. All the beauty we create for our communities through gorgeous carpet, window treatments, and sound systems are all going to pass away. As comfortable as it is to sit in an air conditioned building during the summer in Phoenix or in a heated building during the winter in Wisconsin, it’s all going to be gone one day. Instead of fighting with each other over the buildings, why not brainstorm ideas about downsizing or renting out your building to the people in the community. There’s a lot of ways to be financially creative so your community can survive. Many families have needed to cut back so they can survive economically, there’s no reason why a religious organization can’t cinch the belt a bit to.

shore by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

There’s a lot of work to do in serving the community, from feeding the poor, housing the homeless, to counseling wounded people for the spiritual abuse they have suffered. I think we’re wasting too much time pointing out the speck in each other’s eyes when we have our own beams to deal with.

Lets get back to the simplicity of the Gospel and just love one another where we’re at. The Christ within who loved us while we were yet sinners, empowers us to do so likewise. Love one another as He has loved us. We have been commissioned with building up the faith of the people through encouragement and reminders of their identity in the perfection of true love, which is this indwelling Christ. If people choose to leave, then give them the freedom to depart. It can be the most loving thing you can do for them. We were never given the promise that certain people will always be in our lives.

Life Coach Carolee Dalton says this,

“Some people come into our lives with a need- They need us to believe in them! They may be lacking a healthy and accurate view of who they truly are; and we gift them with a new perspective. We help them see themselves the way God sees them-Powerful and Perfect! When we understand our purpose, it will keep us from becoming frustrated; wondering why we aren’t getting much out of the relationship. ”

People are a gift to us. We either get to receive their love as a gift to us or we can give a gift of love to them. In a rare instance we will get to experience ‘give and receive’ in the same relationships. At any time people need to depart for any reason at all, let them be free. It may be that they are fulfilled and secure in your love for them and are ready to go out into another community to share that same love with others.

Sometimes downsizing a community in a variety of ways will help us refocus on the indwelling Christ. Don’t fight against it, instead find purpose in it. Above all, love others. Otherwise we’re just noise pollution. If a church wants to include divorced people, homosexuals, drug addicts, or obese people into their communities, it’s really not your business to tell them otherwise. We’re are all brethren and equally under grace. Each faith community will have different ways to evangelize in their neighborhoods. Even Paul, the one who was sent, spoke to pagans in a way that many Christians totally reject. This was Paul’s freedom and the message God gave him to preach was unique to him and the people he was reaching. If you’re a church that has included divorced people, homosexuals, drug addicts, or obese people into their communities then good for you, but that doesn’t make you better than those who haven’t.

coast by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Grace is not a respecter of persons. Grace isn’t bigoted. Grace doesn’t give preference to a well dressed religious man while forcing the poor to sit in the back pew. Grace isn’t set aside only for the Reformers while ignoring the Universalists. Grace is for everyone.

Knowing your identity is in the One who equally loves us all is a place of rest where we can halt our wars with one another and allow the Spirit of God to do the healing work in our hearts.

Please pray for us and send us your positive energy so we can be of value at the Faith Leaders Institute beginning at the end of July. May we come together with the common bond of love so we can bridge the gap we see in the miscommunication Christianity has been wrestling with.

Sisterlisa

Being a Minister of Organic Faith

I recently changed a portion of my bio here on my blog and on my Facebook page to read, “Minister of Organic Faith”. Many may wonder exactly what that is so I’ll attempt to reveal my heart on the matter so you can understand. I am not a part of a particular denomination or religious organization. I do not believe a person has to be a part of one in order to love folks and nurture a positive and uplifting community. I think there is a time and place for belonging to such an organization, if that’s what you choose to do. I spent many years (half of my life) in such places and it is time for me to not be. I know from the depths of my heart that I am not to entangle myself with something that could become religious silly string. I am confident that one of the blessings Christ has given me is my freedom and I plan to fully enjoy that freedom from a place of love.

Paul, the one who was sent to the Gentiles, said he had no need for letters of recommendation. The credentials he had was first from the Lord and secondly, confirmed in his heart and the people whose lives he impacted. Paul certainly had spent many years as a good scribe, preparing himself for the Old Covenant ministry, yet it was the Spirit of the Lord who called him out into over a decade of private study and personal revelation before he hit the streets with the Gospel of grace. A minister is one who attends to the needs of others. No one is obligated to spend a fortune on a college degree in order to minister to (meet the needs of) people. I look at this word ‘minister’ as a verb before I observe it as a noun. It’s descriptive of what a person does. I attend to the needs of people and thus I become a minister. Now, there are people who go through the motions of meeting needs in order that they receive a title of ‘minister’, but their heart isn’t really in it. I don’t view people like that as true ministers. Not that I want to judge what’s in their heart, but rather what I am saying is that if any of us are simply doing the action in order to acquire some worldly title then we have missed the whole point of being a minister.

I have lived my life from the outpouring depth of my heart and in doing so others have told me that I minister to them. Whereas some folks may attend a seminary to get a degree called ‘Masters in Ministry’, then they went out to minister. I have received the confirmation of my gift of ministering from the very lives of the people that I touched with love and grace. For me, I put far more weight in the confirmation of those I have loved, than in a piece of paper that says I past some tests in a concrete building.

So here we get to the part of what kind of minister I am. I use the term ‘Organic Faith’, because it is something that flows from the heart with each step we make in this life’s journey. This organic approach can not be learned in a classroom setting and while I could speak at an event about how I minister, the teaching time in a room is nothing compared to what happens in my real life mission field.

A common conversation in my life resembles something like this:

Me: “Yes, I am a minister. I minister to people in my community.”
“How many people are members of your church?”
Me: ”The people are the church and it’s an unlimited number, world wide.”
“Where is your church?”
Me: ”Did you not hear me the first time? The people ARE the church.”
“Do you have a board of directors?”
Me: ”No need for a board, people stand up for themselves, I don’t lord over them.”
“Oh so you don’t really have an organization”
Me: ”I didn’t say I had an organization, I said I minister to people.”
“So you just walk around town and talk to people?”
Me: ”ummm yes, isn’t that what Jesus did?

I read throughout the New Testament that Jesus walked all over town, stopping at parks, rivers, and living rooms to lounge with people and love them. He had simple yet profound discussions with them and greatly influenced and impacted their lives. His simple words of grace inspired millions to live richer lives, while he sometimes shared pointed thoughts that challenged the self righteous folks to re-examine their motives. He didn’t go out of his way to seek out those arrogant citizens, but when they came near he had some astonishing things to say. The New Testament reveals that Jesus spent more time with people who wanted to be loved and less time with people who thought they had all their jots and tittles in perfect order. He even said he didn’t come for them, but for the others who had been cast away by the pastors of their communities.

So how does one minister organically? Well, I can tell you what I do and what I see of the writings of Christ, but ultimately you have to know for yourself and it must come from within where the Lord dwells. I visit folks in their homes and invite them to mine. I invite them to the beach, to go whale watching, to have breakfast at a diner with friends and enjoy live music together.

coast by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

We sit around a bonfire to chat about life and share experiences, both good and bad, as we roast marshmallows and help children with the sticky mess they get on their fingers. We laugh and we cry together. We are building community. I babysit for single moms who work long hours into the night and encourage them when they come get their children with these comforting and affirming words,

“You’re a good mom, your children must be so proud of you”.

To the surgical nurse who labors all night to save a drunk driver from dying I say,

“I bet your kids see you as a hero, I do.”

Yet these affirming words were never told to her by the Christian she works with. All she ever hears from her is condemning remarks about her tattoos and disgusted grunts when she shows compassion for a family whose gay son died on the emergency room table.

You see, as much as I would be honored to speak at a large event (and I would if asked to), I find so much more value in touching real lives right where they are as their paths cross mine.

Then there are times when the self righteous come near. At a table discussion among men and women, a man says that he doesn’t think women should be pastors (complete with all his jots and tittles to prove why). Yet he sits among women who are pastors to people who have confirmed them as ministers. It is then that I choose my words wisely as I unfold my thoughts about the many female leaders throughout the Bible, including prophetesses, teachers, and an apostle. My sister-in-Christ shares her story of God’s calling on her life when the community leaders (all men) legally approved for her to preach the gospel in her native country. Had this sweet elderly (female) soul not been here I most likely would have had some more jarring and colorful words for this brother. In some crowds you can be blunt, like when Rachel Held Evans uses the word vagina, and in other crowds more finesse is required and this was one of those times.

A minister is not disqualified because she has a vagina and is not approved because he has a penis. It’s what goes on in the soul of a person that matters and how the sparks of abundant life positively affects and frees the souls of those who are in bondage, in pain, and parched for living water .

So while my formal education is limited, my field experience is rich and full of spiritual community and relationships that are pure as gold. I am a minister who lives in a female body, yet has a genderless soul. God is a genderless Spirit and those who wish to worship must do so in spirit. Calling God a literal ‘he’ is a human tradition and can equally be referred to in the feminine form without violating the Truth of who God is, the Spirit of Love. Yet we live in this physical realm of both male and female, both of which are created in the image of God. We are equally loved and equally empowered to touch lives.

So I shall continue to live my life as a minister and will even call myself a Minister of Organic Faith and no one can disqualify me based on my physical gender, because it is the Lord who qualified me in the genderless Spirit. Some men (and some women) may not like that, but it’s not up to them who I reach out to and love. It is now that I’ll log off this blog for the day and go out into my community and lavish them with affirming love and remind them of how valuable they are. It’s just what I do in my path of organic faith. If you need a jot and a tittle to prove to you that a female can be a minister, then following organic faith may not be best suited for you.

 Sisterlisa

You’re Invited

The year 2011 was quite a journey for me as a whole, but specifically as a Christ follower. I walked away from the hell-trend in modern Christianity and sought to follow my Lord in a more organic path without the threat of eternal torture. This has brought on a lot of criticism and at the same time a lot of genuine inquiry of my spiritual journey. In order for me to continue to follow Christ, I had to cease from viewing God as an emotional and insecure manipulator. According to evangelical fundamentalism, I already believe in Jesus and in his atonement for my sin, therefore a literal fire torture hell is no longer a threat to my soul and as such I found that living a life of victory was in order. So, believing in a literal hell made no difference to my Kingdom life as a Christian. I didn’t choose to follow Christ because of such a hell in the first place. So why would it matter to me now?

Many would say because I have an obligation now to tell other people about that place of never ending torture. Pardon me while I speak (write) so boldly as I declare that there are real life dangers, scams, and hells on earth to assist people with as it is, NOW! Those people have a difficult time imagining an afterlife of torture when they’re already living a torturous life as it is. I also found that using hell as a threat to ‘choose Jesus or else’ shaped a very dysfunctional relationship with God and Jesus that was not yielding the peaceable fruit of the Spirit within. For those who believe in this fiery torment, you may be relieved that you won’t be tortured, but it doesn’t alleviate the tension you feel over your loved ones eternal destiny in unending flames.

I don’t believe that God ever intended to put the weight of your family’s sin on your shoulders when Jesus already bore that burden on our behalf. So what’s the point in evangelism then? Why preach the kingdom if there is no eternal fire chamber that people dangle over by a thread? Is that all Jesus is good for? The get out of hell card? Or is there more to Jesus and this Kingdom Life that goes largely unnoticed by much of Christendom today?

With over 35,000 denominations of Christianity today, you can bet that none of them have all the answers to everything nor does any one in particular hold “the right” interpretation on every point in the bible. We listen to the pastors and famous theologians of yesteryear to determine what to place our beliefs in. Everything we believe as Christians is done so by faith…without evidence.  Yet, we know to test everything by the Spirit and in doing so I look for the fruit.

Nevertheless, I continue to walk by faith in Christ by the experience I have come to attain in this evidence-less journey. No matter what interpretation a person chooses to follow, they do so by faith. When it all boils down and we come up against brick walls within Christianity, I rest in grace. Grace is such a paradoxical way to live and often times is widely criticized by many. What grace looks like to God is many times not agreed with by mankind. Why should sinners get a break when religious people live by such high standards? How is it that those sinners can get away with riotous living while the religious work so tirelessly to perform feats of perfection for God?

Shall we be like Baal’s priests in the Old Testament who cut themselves to get the attention of their god? Or can we boldly go before the throne of God because Jesus already showed us the way? Do we have to abstain from certain things to be good representations of our God or can we do whatever we want?

Can we love the beaten man on the road like the Samaritan did or are we to ignore the poor and refuse to get dirty in the sin of the world? What about the gays, pagans, or Christians who have been divorced? Are we to ‘put them away’ in a ‘writing of divorcement’ from fellowship due to the hardness of our hearts or can we take the high road and extend grace and love to them?

These are all very important questions and I invite you to join me in 2012 as I share with you how I came to find a balance in this Kingdom Life. I will share with you how important I believe it is to become a part of the solution to finding peace in our communities instead of dividing and creating wars among ourselves. I hope that my input in 2012 can be a positive contribution to the ongoing discussion on living a life in Christ based on faith, but in no way do I intend to produce a new format for living the Christian life. I don’t believe that my path is going to be the final formula of success that everyone needs a carbon copy of. I don’t want to be the next guru who is trying to convince you that I have all the answers, nor do I want anyone to put me on a pedestal. I’m just a person on a journey and I invite you to be a fellow traveler with me.