Sunday, May 2, 2021

Get Used To Different


"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me,"

Galatians 2: 20 NKJV 

I have been watching a few snippets of the relatively new internet series The Chosen on my Facebook feed for awhile now.  I have found it to be interesting and a fresh new perspective upon the life of Jesus and His disciples.  Yes, I've read the scriptures of these twelve men whom Jesus selected randomly to follow Him along His ministry, but to see it brought to life in such a way as the creators of this series have is nothing short of inspiring.  Last night I watched once again the scene where Jesus passes by the booth of the tax collector Matthew along with His other disciples.  Now, I am well aware of the reputation that the modern day IRS has with the working man, but the view of tax collectors in the time of Jesus was even worse.  For the hated Romans would recruit local civilians to man the tax collection booths.  You can imagine the feelings that the locals would carry towards a man such as Matthew.  This is evidenced as Simon, brother of Andrew, protests Jesus' calling of this tax collector.  "Do you know what this man has done?"  Finally, as Matthew joins his new crew, Simon proclaims to Jesus, "I don't get it."  Jesus' reply?  "You didn't get it when I first chose you either."  Yet, there is one phrase which sets the stage for this series that Jesus proclaims, "Get used to different."  Indeed, how different was this man who was asking these men to follow Him as He walked the countryside?  How different was the message that He was speaking than the one they had become so used to hearing?  For many of these men had been raised in the teachings of the Jewish texts, which certainly foretold the coming Messiah.  Yet, their own idea of the Messiah seemed entirely different than the man who would arrive to fulfill that prophesy.  Get used to different.  

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

1 Corinthians 6: 19 - 20 NKJV 

As I was thinking about this new series on the life of Jesus, I thought as to what was so different as to how we as Christians have traditionally seen Him.  Well, what is our traditional view of Jesus?  He came, He ministered, He was crucified and on the third day He rose once again and is now seated with the Father in heaven.  But is the story of Jesus really over at that point?  Not in the least, and I would say that the Christ we have the opportunity to know today may be radically different from the Jesus you were expecting.  That's right, get used to different.  The apostle Paul introduces us to this radical new Jesus in Galatians.  Far from spending His eternity in heaven, this new Jesus Paul speaks to actually lives in us today {Galatians 2:20}.  That's right, Jesus Himself resides within us.  How radical of a Jesus is that?  Yet, it's not like it wasn't predicted either.  Jesus speaks to the lives of His followers in His prayer in the garden in John 17.  The prayer of Jesus?  That we would be one with He and the Father {John 17:21}.  Knowing the truth of Christ which Paul speaks to, are we to believe that the prayer of Jesus has been answered?  I believe so.  What makes the truth of Christ so radically different is that it personalizes Jesus on a more human level than the traditional church teachings do.  Instead of Jesus watching over us from heaven, He is slogging it out with us through our regular every day life.  Jesus is with us throughout all we will ever do.  I know that this might be different from the Jesus you have been taught, but get used to different.  

But Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.  By who also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.  There is also a antitype which now saves us - baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

1 Peter 3: 18 - 22 NKJV 


Saturday, May 1, 2021

Young Boy Lost


Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgement on themselves.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.  Do you want to be unafraid of the authority?  Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.  For he is Gods minister to you for good.  But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is Gods minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.  Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake.  

Romans 13: 1 - 5 NKJV 

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  The young kid was outside playing on a warm summer day when all of a sudden he recalled the corner store his parents had taken him to so many times.  All the boy knew was that when they went to the store, they drove to the end of the street and then took a right.  It sounded easy enough, so he started walking.  Eventually he came to the end of his block looked around and, not seeing the store, took a right and kept making his way down the street.  However, something didn't seem right to the Virginia, Minnesota police officer who was on duty that day.  For he knew many of the officers who worked in this small northern Minnesota town, as well as their families.  The boy he saw walking down the sidewalk that day seemed out of place.  He recognized him as the son of a local sheriffs deputy, but wondered why he was so far away from home.  Approaching the kid, the officer asked where he was going.  Without missing a beat, the boy claimed he was walking to the store.  The officer immediately put in a call to the county sheriffs office and the boys father before he took him for a ride in his police car to the local store.  As the boy drank his soda, the officer wondered what might have been had he not came across the lost boy.

Growing up, that story was told many times over whenever I would visit my dad at the county sheriffs office.  To the point where the story was that I was rescued from the clutches of a hells angels motorcycle gang thundering through town.  I do vaguely recall my journey I took that day, yet some of the details are a bit fuzzy.  I thought about this episode the other day as I glanced at the coverage of yet another anti police demonstration here in Portland.  I admit that I am a bit biased when it comes to this issue.  For not only did I grow up with a parent in law enforcement, I seem to have inherited what many would describe as common sense and the knowledge of right from wrong.  I agree with many Americans that what happened to the man George Floyd last summer in Minneapolis was uncalled for and deserving of justice.  However, will we indeed demonize all of law enforcement due to the actions of a few men?  I would disagree with that all day long.  But let's have that discussion shall we?  Let's talk about the flavor of the month in our society right now which claims that law enforcement deliberately targets minority civilians.  Forget the fact that George Floyd tried to pass a bad check in the moments before he was taken into custody, or the fact that he had illegal drugs in his system.  Forget those facts and concentrate on what that eight seconds of video tells you, that a police officer choked the life out of George Floyd.  While the loss of the life of George Floyd was tragic and should never have happened, George Floyd put himself in a bad position that day.  

"You probably won't get your ass kicked by the police if you just used common sense"

~Chris Rock~ 

Comedian Chris Rock had a funny saying when it came to African Americans being targeted by law enforcement.  "Everybody knows, that if the police have to come find you, they're bringing a ass kicking with them!"  It's something that was instilled in me from a young age, respect authority.  It's also something which, as believers, we're called upon to do.  The apostle Paul tells us in Romans that we are to be subject to our governing authorities {Romans 13:1}.  But what about those times when we feel that those authorities God has put in place do not have our best interests in mind?  A good example is my own thoughts on Oregon's Governor Lockdown Kate Brown.  I disagree with her 100% as to what she should be doing, and feel that she has not been effective as our sates leader.  Yet, she is the representative which the Lord has installed to govern us.  I don't feel that it's un Christian like to harbor bad feelings if we feel someone is doing something wrong.  However, isn't it in Gods wheelhouse to deal with bad leaders He Himself has installed?  Then ask yourself this question, what are the Lords motives for allowing times such as these?  For in the end, it is not the effectiveness of leadership, but what the Lord Himself allows that we are questioning.  That is the question which I will spend some time on this week.  Lord, what is your purpose in this?  We may not agree with our leaders, but God will let us know His intentions if we will listen.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A Lesson Learned On The Trail


There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.  But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.  

1 John 4: 18 NKJV 

I decided to go old school this morning and write on a topic which many believers may look upon as a touchy subject.  I'm talking about faith.  Or, as some may call it, trust.  Why am I speaking to this?  Well, because this week my own faith took another hit as our illustrious do nothing governor Lockdown Kate Brown once again decided that it was much better to shutter businesses and keep people at home than to allow them to work and earn a living.  Now, I really don't care what side of the political spectrum you're on at this point as it makes zero difference to me and my situation.  For although I am blessed to still be working, there are now parts of my life which are once again for the umpteenth time put on hold.  This is where my lack of trust came in.  Yes, I know that we were slowly getting everyone back to work before this latest hiccup.  However, my very first thought when the closures were announced was that we were once again headed for a five to six month shutdown.  In reality, data in Oregon is evaluated each week to determine the course of fighting the Democrat politically motivated virus.  So, next week we could very well be back to where we were once again.  However, the card not played on the table is the governor and what she will decide to do.  That is where the lack of trust comes in.  Yet last night I thought about this situation a little deeper, who is it that we have our trust in?  Is our trust in a person, or in God to work the situation as He will?  Now, I don't claim to know all there is to know about God and His motives, but He most certainly has a objective even in these anxious times.  What may ease our hearts from time to time is asking the Father what His intentions are.  For those who feel that their relationship with the Father isn't that close that we can have a heart to heart talk with Him I refer you to the words of the apostle Paul.  For it is Paul who, in the book of Galatians, introduces to the reader the truth of Christ Jesus in us {Galatians 2:20}.  That is, it is Jesus who lives in each of us, and He is more than willing to talk with us any time of the day.  Will we listen? 

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11: 1 NKJV 

Does anyone besides me feel as if their own faith is weak sometimes?  Back in the day, I was told that a weak faith meant that something was in the way of my seeing God.  That something being sin.  However, I think there's something different in play here.  When is it that our trust is shaken the most?  Do we feel as if we can trust someone we are happy with?  Of course.  Yet, when we become afraid for some reason all bets are off.  I suggest, therefore, that a big reason for our lack of trusting is our own fears.  Fear of a outcome we do not want to see.  What it all boils down to is our fear of something unknown.  We do not know what tomorrow will bring, so we hang on to rumors and the lies of the enemy which distract us from what we know to be true.  A few years ago, my friend Dennis and I were pretty big into the hiking scene.  There were more than a local trails we conquered.  I still recall one of these trips where the trail brought us to a razor thin bend in the trail about 600 feet above the Clackamas river.  My friend stood in front of me as my fear of heights began to take over.  In a moment of panic I confided that I didn't wish to die on this trail.  Of course, Dennis laughed and assured me that I wasn't going to die.  Guess what...I didn't.  Yet that is the fear of the unknown which many believers face in their relationship with God.  Will He help me?  Will He be there for me?  The answer to these questions is, of course, YES.  The writer of Hebrews describes faith as our assurance that what we will hope will come to pass.  We all too often cannot see it, but we know in our hearts that it is real.  The same assurance which tells us that a tree or a rock is real is that same assurance which tells us that what we hope for will come to pass.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith.

1 John 5: 4 NKJV 


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Jesus University


For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 10: 10 NKJV 

I never imagined that there was so much I needed to learn and know about following Jesus.  Yet, I was reminded once again this week of the academic requirements of knowing who Jesus is.  Or, more importantly, someone's version of who the Christ is.  If one looks at my opening scripture reference they will see a common verse from Paul's letter to the Romans concerning believing in Christ Jesus.  That is how we have come to accept this passage.  But wait, do Paul's words really speak to this truth?  Or, do we need to dig deeper into the context in order to come to the truth about Jesus that someone else feels is out there?  Welcome to Jesus university.  Where there is plenty of studying and lectures, but no degree is ever earned.  Where those with a knowledge of the ancient language and texts speak to those who simply desire to follow Christ about how they should go about doing so.  We see this all too often in the academia of seminary.  Or, as I have come to refer to it, Pharisee school.  Now, don't get me wrong, I believe that a good copy of a concordance is a good item to have for every believer.  For when the ancient texts we know today as the scriptures were written all those years ago, it is often helpful to know what the writers intent was.  Helpful, but not required.  I believe that it is indeed helpful to know just how Jesus felt about the religious academics of His day.  Those who studied the script and applied their knowledge to the lives of others.  These...were the Jewish Pharisees.  It it helpful to point out that in the first few books of the new testament we are introduced to the rocky relationship which Jesus had with the religious leaders of His day.  Was this how Jesus felt about them personally?  I doubt it, for they were Gods children as well despite being blinded by their knowledge of the Jewish texts.  The Pharisees accused Jesus and His followers of everything from working on the sabbath (actually...healing) to breaking with Jewish traditions {Matthew 15:2}.  In fact, Jesus' own disciples warned Him of the Pharisees displeasure {Matthew 15:12}.  Jesus' response?  "They are blind leaders of the blind" {Matthew 15:14}.  Sounds a lot like many Pharisee school graduates today.  

"The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.  Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.  For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  But all their works they do to be seen by men.  They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.  They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.'  But you, do not be called 'Rabbi"; for one is your teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.  Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.  And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.  But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.  And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  

Matthew 23: 2 - 12 NKJV 

Back in my church days, it always amused me when I would began a conversation with one of the church pastors by referring to him by his first name only.  Indeed, many of these Pharisee school grads loved having that word "pastor" added to their name.  I get it.  I mean, a Pharisee school degree can't be cheap, so you might as well enjoy the title you've earned, right?  Wrong.  For this was one of the issues which Jesus had with the Pharisees of His day.  To walk around the city and have everyone acknowledge you as "Rabbi."  Not only that, but the perks?  The best seat at feasts, the best seats in the house of worship.  Walk into any church service this Sunday morning and you will know exactly where to find the pastors...front and center in the front pews.  The best seats.  Now, I cannot say in all honesty that all pastors put themselves on display like this.  For I know a few former pastors who shy away from the limelight of the positions they once held.  For me, I'm more comfortable with someone who is approachable and can tell me all about Jesus without bringing out their Pharisee school degree and knowledge.  I have a concordance, I can find out what a word means as well as you can, dude.  I've been blessed in my life to have a dear friend who has seen the pastoral life from the inside and at times was very uncomfortable with what he saw.  I respect him for that.  Yet, on any given Sunday followers of Jesus around the world are expected to give reverence to a man...a position.  Not this guy.  I give reverence where it's due, to Christ Jesus.

Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"  But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.  "Let them alone, They are blind leaders of the blind.  And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."

Matthew 15: 12 - 14 NKJV 


Saturday, April 24, 2021

The Graveyard Of Christian Hope

 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  

1 Corinthians 15: 22 NKJV 

I heard a radio pastor make a astounding claim this past week.  In his sermon, this pulpit pounder stated that "God hates anything which is against those He loves."  The first thing I thought about was, God hates His own children?  Seriously, how many of us have experienced other people, even other fellow believers, being against us at one time or another?  Does God hate them?  Does God even hate me for being against other believers when I have?  Can you see how this could play havoc with a believer who does not know any better?  A believer who does not know the true nature of God {1 John4:8}.  In my young Christian church going days I would have heard a statement such as this and felt as if all was lost.  I know that I have been against other people at times, so God must hate me.  So, this God of love must hate me, right?  Wrong.  Like many messages coming out of mainstream church theology, this one has no basis on the truth.  The truth is that God is loving and merciful.  The truth is that He desires for ALL to be saved and come to abide in Him {1 Corinthians 15:22. 2 Corinthians 5:15, Romans 5:19}.  It has never been the Lords desire that anyone be left out of His presence.  Yet, if you listen to most church messages, you will surely come across more than a few that claim that our sins prevent us from experiencing all of the fullness of the Lord.  Talk about living in the past.  For that is exactly where our old sin nature lies dead the past {Romans 6:6, Romans 5:18}.  I cannot claim that church theology is designed to squash the hopes of believers, but it certainly looks that way at times.  For how can God fearing Christians hope to live in the forgiveness of God if the sin card is continually being held over our heads?  I believe that it is for the knowledge of the truth of God and all which He has accomplished through Christ Jesus.  

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."

John 3: 16 - 17 NKJV 

A good friend of mine commented to me after I told him of the radio preachers comments that this falls in line with contemporary church theology, to place the focus on sin and not on Christ Jesus who defeated sin and death {Romans 6:9}.  I agree.  I've lived it.  I've sat through countless sermons from pastors who, knowing that Christ provided for the forgiveness of our sins, continued to speak to my sin as a barrier to experiencing the fullness of the Lord.  In this way, I needed to continue to live on that hamster wheel of chasing Gods forgiveness yet being told that the best I could ever do is to be "like" Jesus.  Well, the apostle Paul claimed that not only are we "like" Jesus, but that we ARE Christ who lives in us {Galatians 2:20}.  Walk into any church on a Sunday and try to proclaim that before the congregation.  Soon, you'll be hearing words like "heresy" and "blasphemy" before they try to convince you that you need saving from these devilish thoughts.  Yet the scriptures make it clear that our sins are indeed forgiven and that Christ lives in us.  Not long ago I watched the 2018 film Come Sunday which details the situation of Bishop Carlton Pearson.  It was Pearson who shocked his congregation by mentioning the idea that all of Gods children would be saved.  Well, in the end, Pearson lost his ministry, his home and many of the things he owned.  His life in the ministry seemed all but finished simply because he spoke to the truth of God.  So yes, walk into any church this Sunday and proclaim to all in attendance that sin is dead and that all of Gods children will be saved.  Then, let me know how that works out for you.  I might not be a prophet, but I can pretty much tell the outcome of that venture already.  For is is far easier for the church to fill empty seats speaking to sin than it will ever be to speak the truth of living in the fullness of Gods love and forgiveness.  

Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more.  Death no longer has dominion over Him.  For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.  Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6: 6 - 11 


Sunday, April 18, 2021

Letter Never Sent

 "If you could save your own father from hell...wouldn't you?" 

Bishop Carlton Pearson ~ Come Sunday 

July, 2016 


I'm just writing to let you know that mom passed away a few months ago.  I was with her during her last days and I know in my heart that she loved the Lord and was waiting eagerly for her eternity with Him.  I know that I mentioned in a few of my past letters to you that I am a believer in God, and I still follow that path.  I also realize that you were never too taken with what you called "church stuff."  Knowing your family history as I do, I understand.  But that in no way takes away my love for you, or the fact that I have prayed over and over that you would come to know Him as I have.  My desire is that assurance in my heart that I will one day be with my parents once again.  Know that I am praying for you each day...and that God loves you as do I.


It  was a letter that I never found time to send.  A few months after the death of my mother, I wrote a quick note to my dad in Minnesota to tell him she had passed.  He never received it because it was never sent.  That's on me.  I thought about that short note once again this week as I watched the 2018 film Come Sunday.  It's the story about Bishop Carlton Pearson, who ran afoul of church leadership in the 1990's by turning thousands of years of church teachings on their ear.  His crime of heresy?  Speaking to the possibility that a loving God would not and could not condemn His children to torment in hell.  The belief that those who are somehow "separated" from God will one day face the torment and fires of hell has been a staple of Christian theology for thousands of years.  Let me put it another way which may cause you to look a this differently.  The belief that those who are somehow separated from the God who created them has been a staple of man made religious teachings for thousands of years.  The movie Come Sunday caused me to look at my own life situations differently.  My own father, who to my knowledge was never a believer, passed away in 2018 without ever knowing the Lord.  Is he now in hell?  What if I could somehow save him from that torment?  Were that the case I would do it in a heartbeat.  But first I would need to recognize that hell is indeed a true and real place of torment, and that a loving God would have no qualms about sending His children to a eternity there.  That is something I cannot do.  I will never believe that the God who loved me enough to create me in His own image and to provide for my redemption through Christ Jesus would do all of these things only to ultimately banish me to torment in hell.  Yet millions of Christians continue to believe the spoon fed doctrine of Gods hellfire and punishment.  

"But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.  'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.'  "Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my fathers house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'  "Abraham said to him, 'they have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.'  "And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'  "But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.' "

Luke 16: 25 - 31 NKJV 

The phrase "separated" from God has been playing in my thoughts a lot this week.  It was something that was discussed as we watched the movie this week.  Perhaps God does have a special place designated for those who have become separated from Him?  Was my own dad separated from God?  Well, as I so often say, it's a good story if you can sell it.  And the mainstream church has been selling this story hook line and sinker for thousands of years.  I don't know about you, but I have a hard time believing that a God who created all which we see could ever be separated from anything He has created.  We are created in His image {Genesis 1:27}.  It is God who breathed into us the breath of life {Genesis 2:7}.  Are we to believe that at some point God decided to remove Himself from something He lovingly created?  I don't see it.  However, millions of believers have drank the kool aid over the years to the point where it has become accepted theology.  As someone once said, tell a lie often enough and eventually it becomes truth.  Is it a lie that the mainstream church has been teaching?  Each person needs to decide that on their own based upon what we know and understand about God.  Bishop Pearson did, and he lost everything in the process.  I know in my heart that God is a loving God {1 John 4:8}.  I know that I am created in His image, and that He lives in me {Galatians 2:20}.  I also know that Jesus became sin that my own sins would be wiped clean {Corinthians 5:21}.  All of this leads me to believe that God loves His children He has created and that His greatest desire is that we be one with He and Christ {John 17:21}.  God is not seeking to punish...but to redeem.  I only wish I would have shared that good news with my dad.  

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.


Saturday, April 17, 2021

Family Business


The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 

2 Peter 3: 9 NKJV 

It is not a popular message, and if you speak it you could end up as a perceived enemy of the church.  It's a message that popular pastor Carlton Pearson spoke to in the film Come Sunday.  The message that it is certainly not the Lords desire that all of His children should perish in hell.  That our own beliefs on hell may indeed be wrong.  In the end, bishop Pearson was stripped of his church leadership and mocked within the church community for bringing his heresy to light.  I can relate to much of what bishop Pearson endured, because for many years I was that guy in the pew absorbing each and every word that the mainstream church wanted me to hear.  That God was a good and just God.  That God, at times, could be a angry God.  If you wanted to keep on Gods good and blessing giving side, you needed to follow the commands spoken by the pastor on Sunday morning.  I get it.  I remember those days.  But now they seem like more a memory for me.  See, I haven't stepped into a church since 2010.  In fact, the other night while watching this movie with a few friends, I was told that perhaps God had indeed turned His back on me because I turned my back on Him.  Really?  News flash, I didn't turn my back on God.  I love the Lord with all of my heart.  I love Him because He loved me first.  I love Him because He loves me even when those around me see nothing good in me.  I could not turn my back on Him.  Even if I did, God would not abandon me, He would wait for me to return to Him.  So, I have not turned my back on God, just on the family business.  That family business that is hell bent on making full pews and offering plates the focus of their existence.  The family business that forsakes speaking the truth of Christ Jesus and instead continues to read from a two thousand year old playbook.  That is what I walked away from. 

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."

John 3: 16 - 17 NKJV 

For Carlton Pearson, his come to God moment happened as he watched a news program about a war torn region of the world.  Then the question came...are these people going to hell?  Granted, they had not been "saved" in the eyes of the mainstream church, so were they then destined for hell?  My own come to Jesus moment happened at the end of a Easter Sunday sermon.  The pastor had just finished wrapping up the traditional sermon on the death and resurrection of Christ and how through Him all of our sins were now washed away.  Then, almost as a afterthought, he invited the congregation to come forward for prayer if they had any sins they needed to confess.  I was done.  This certainly wasn't the God I had been taught, who spoke to me about forgiving my sins but then goes back on His promise.  Can God lie?  Absolutely not.  It was then that I realized that my struggle wasn't with God, but with the men who taught me about the Lord.  The old Christian mindset that God is a vengeful God does not sit too well with me.  If God were a vengeful God, then why did He provide for my salvation through Christ?  If God is a vengeful God, why did he create me lovingly in His own image? {Genesis 1:27}  If God is a vengeful God, why is it that He lives in me today? {Galatians 2:20}  No, I will never believe in that image of the God I love.  This is the struggle that Carlton Pearson wrestled with.  It is also the struggle which a dear pastor friend of mine wrestled with as well.  longing to speak the truth of Christ and the love nature of God, but knowing that if he did his place in the family business would be no more.  One thing is certain, however, you will not find me in that pew come Sunday.  

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our only but also for the whole world.

1 John 2: 2 NKJV