Minimizing – Everything must go! 

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Today’s scripture was “with God all things are possible” but I wanted to read the full chapter so I could see the context of what this snippet was written about.  I’ve noticed that it’s easy to pull half a sentence from the Bible and put it on cards and bracelets and other material items to sell to Christians who want to shine bright that we love Jesus.  I’m a frugal person but I’ve sure bought 2 or 3 cross necklaces already… so I find it interesting that the context was referring to selling every material possession and giving to the poor.. houses and everything and then follow Jesus.  That’s pretty much how I was living before I started attending church.. I just called my higher power the universe at that time.  

​Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  

Yesterday’s scripture was this… 

And I kid you not… knowing there would be homeless people in New Orleans, rushing to get dressed because I was late meeting a friend, something spoke to me and said… clean your closet .. you have a closet of clothes that just sit there.. sweaters that could keep people warm.. give them out while you’re out and about.  So I grabbed 3 sweaters.. that still fit.. that aren’t old… that I spent good money on and that I even liked.. because I don’t wear them.. it doesn’t get cold here to wear them often enough to have that many sweaters and I have a way to stay warm. I have a home. I have a van with heat.  Even though we have nice weather.. the temp drops at night and even at 50 degrees.. while staying still sleeping on a bench .. it’s cold.  I didn’t want it to be the focus of our day out.. but if the occasion came up I’d like to have them with me to hand out.. so I packed my day pack and set out.  

But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions. 

One of my sweaters was a really thick warm wool gypsy sweater.  I bought it thinking I’d back pack Europe in it.  It was too thick to take up that much room.  I’ve never worn it but I love it and it cost way more than I usually spend on clothing for myself.  I kept it because I didn’t want to admit I’d wasted my money on that impulse buy.  

Jesus said to his disciples, “Most certainly I say to you, a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into God’s Kingdom.”   

This may become my favorite scripture.  I know from experience that when I stopped chasing money and material things.. I gained so much happiness and love for life.  I started seeing beauty in the smallest things and having so much more time to just be in the moment of that beauty.  I see people chasing more money, more stuff, more more more… and I wonder what it’s all for… they really seem to advance.. I’ve never met a single person that chased all that and became a millionaire that didn’t have to work… if anything they work harder to maintain the level they grow accustomed to… and still come out stressing money.  It’s a very vicious cycle that spends all of our precious life… causing it to fly by.

Wednesdays scripture talked about what we bind on earth shall be waiting for us in heaven. If we spend all our time chasing money.. we will never feel like we have any to just give away.. or time to sew seeds of love… spending time with people. We don’t even have time to spend with people that we do know and love.  Quite crazy really.

When the disciples heard it, they were exceedingly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”  Looking at them, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 

And there we have it.. Jesus was referring to the fact that with God.. we can give away our possessions.. we can reduce ourselves to nothing but time to follow Him.. we strip ourselves of all these other worries because He will take care of us.  If you read my frugal blogs.. you’ll see plenty of testimony supporting this.  Where I traveled 10 countries and 24 states on a wing and a prayer… just knowing that no matter what.. I would be okay.. shedding the fears that imprisoned me in the symptoms of my ptsd… and here I am .. still surviving.. still clothed… still well fed… too well fed… loved by many and now giving glory to Jesus Christ.  I still stress paying my bills to keep my house… if I became a complete nomad I wouldn’t worry about the house.. I’d be completely at the mercy of Him… and carefree.  It seems like the disciples did just that… became nomads and followed Jesus…

  Then Peter answered, “Behold, we have left everything, and followed you. What then will we have?”  Jesus said to them, “Most certainly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive one hundred times, and will inherit eternal life.  But many will be last who are first; and first who are last.

The Bible tells us that this is the will of God.  Mother Theresa dedicated her life and everything she had to serving Him thru her movement within time help others.  To love complete strangers.  

As we were driving down canal st to go home.. we stopped at a light where a man in a wheelchair held a sign.  We handed him Amber’s last beignet and I frantically pulled the sweaters out the backpack while sitting in the driver’s seat before the light turned green.  I handed him the thick wool hoodie and wished him well… I watched as the faces above him sitting in the street car looked down and smiled… and I prayed that they were moved to touch one person before the day was over.  That’s all it takes to be the change I want to see in the world.  One act at a time.  

Jesus.. help me see the way in which I can be a blessing to others today.  Lord continue to direct me.  Give me the courage to live with the action that supports what I believe your will for me is here on this earth.  Thank you for the treasures that I received from giving yesterday.. the fullness in my heart and the desire to do more.  Thank you for the confirmation that you moved thru me to do your work. I had no idea it would be 30 degrees this morning. God please be with all those that are homeless thru this winter.  Change the hearts of those who pass them and feel resentment because they had to feel guilty for not stopping and helping. Those that shun and look down on them.. or form their assumptions about what led them to be where they are in order to justify why they don’t offer a hand or an ear.  For all we know.. they could be homeless because they already shed all of their worldly possessions in order to follow you… God.. thank you for this 21 day plan of reading scripture that is teaching me to love like you.  Thank you thank you thank you… for I am finding the real message… not just parts of scripture that sound good or feel good.. but your whole message and desire for me.  I love you.  Amen. 

Matthew 19:21‭-‬30 WEB

http://bible.com/206/mat.19.21-30.WEB

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Reading the Bible on a 100 level

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Okay.. so as many of you know, in July I was baptized in the name of Jesus and church has become a bug piece of my lifestyle.  I’m currently following a plan called “Love like Jesus” which shares scriptures every day for 21 days which pertain to learning to love like Jesus more and more.  I have a confession.. I am really struggling to read the Bible without challenging what I read.  Some of it is truly inspiring.. and other passages I completely repel and then feel conflicted about whether Christianity is really in alignment with what I believe because the belief about the Bible is all or nothing.  Of course sharing this out loud feels terrifying.  Think of all the judgement that could come by my fellow church members.. and then I think… well maybe they struggle with it too? 

My most valuable asset is my word.. my truth.. honesty.  Any time I am hiding from being 100% honest.. it cripples my recovery and my mental stability.  Over the last couple of years, honesty isn’t just about not intentionally lying.. it’s about being 100 at all times.  No sugar coating.. no people pleasing..  no avoiding those uncomfortable c0nversations… and it really has changed my life.  Lately tho, I don’t feel in alignment with that.  I know that the Bible says;

1 Corinthians 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God

and I am 90% gay on the spectrum.  This isn’t something that is going to change.  I don’t feel conflicted about it.  I believe God is love and His love flows thru me and touches more lives than I can probably imagine.  I don’t give love in this world to buy myself a seat in Heaven.  That would be selfish and I believe that to love like Jesus, it should be unconditional and selfless.  I don’t feel the need to someday have my moment with Jesus when this life comes to an end.  He is with me in every moment that I am here on earth.  The awakening and fullness that I feel in my heart for each and every living creature.. for in each and every one of us, is Him.  Imagine if every Christian could love each and every person like they were Jesus! 

Anyway I got off track.  My point is this.. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the abomination that surrounds how my heart is pulled to love.  I choose not to share them in this particular blog because it was today’s scripture that really caused me to open a blog and begin typing. Here it is.. and I’ll break it down at the points I feel conflicted about it.  If anyone would like to enlighten me.. it’s very welcomed.  Maybe I’m misinterpreting it? 

Matthew 18:1‭-‬4‭, ‬6‭-‬35

​In that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”  Jesus called a little child to himself, and set him in the middle of them, and said, “Most certainly I tell you, unless you turn, and become as little children, you will in no way enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Whoever therefore humbles himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.  but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him that a huge millstone should be hung around his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depths of the sea.   

Okay.. so I am all for remaining humble and open minded like a child.  I have a really hard time with threatening manner of causing someone to stumble.  I think back on how many times, as an atheist, I have challenged and debated with people who I felt were using the bible against me.  How many times I’ve listened to someone quote a story and I’ve thought about how incredibly unlikely it was that it was a true story.. and debated my reasons for thinking that way.  Would God really give us the freedom to think and learn for ourselves to then want to chain an entire factory around our neck and let us sink to the bottom of an ocean.. for using our own voice to express those thoughts and feelings?  I mean debate causes stimulation of our minds and whirls up emotions in our hearts.  We are all His children.. I have a hard time believing He would wish such a wrath of punishment because of a stumble.  

 “Woe to the world because of occasions of stumbling! For it must be that the occasions come, but woe to that person through whom the occasion comes!  If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into the eternal fire. 

Ok.. again.. time out! I’m a literal person.. and in envisioning this.. if I stumbled over my foot and cut it off to prevent that stumble again.. I guarantee you I will fall a lot more with one foot left to walk on.  I understand the scripture is using dramatic effect (which causes me to wonder how feminine Matthew might have been) but I think cutting off my hands because I’m writing this blog would be a shame.  What about all the good that come from these same hands?  Again .. the all or nothing factor comes up here for me.  In psychology this behavior has a diagnosis… borderline personality disorder.. and it’s a VERY destructive disorder.   Let’s continue… 

 If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the Gehenna  of fire. 

Again … a little dramatic in my opinion. 

 See that you don’t despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.  For the Son of Man came to save that which was lost.    “What do you think? If a man has one hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine, go to the mountains, and seek that which has gone astray?  

Is this a trick question?  It would depend on several factors.  Would the 99 sheep be at risk by leaving them to find the missing one?  

If he finds it, most certainly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray.  Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. 

So bottom line is don’t stray to begin with.  Ironically a good lesson for me right now because obviously if I am questioning if Christianity is right for me.. that would be a step in possibly straying.  In order not to stray, for me, I need to let these questions out and play it out on paper to really digest it.. and be at peace with it.  I guess that line is a conformation for me to continue blogging.  He is so amazing. Thank you Jesus for always providing the direction. 🙂 OK moving on … 

   “If your brother sins against you, go, show him his fault between you and him alone.

ALONE! just wanted to highlight this.  All too often I see posts on Facebook or other outlets that broadcast a person’s disagreement.  Cut the drama guys and girls.  Don’t be and villain… address it like a leader .. like Jesus .. with love. 

 If he listens to you, you have gained back your brother.  But if he doesn’t listen, take one or two more with you, that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 

Having third parties can help… referees make a living of it 😉 

  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the assembly. If he refuses to hear the assembly also, let him be to you as a Gentile or a tax collector. 

Can someone explain what that means?

 Most certainly I tell you, whatever things you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever things you release on earth will have been released in heaven.

This is so powerful for me.  What I hear it telling me is that if I live a life of selfless love here on earth … that life is what is waiting for me in Heaven.  This speaks volumes!! I witness Christians waiting for this life to be over so they can join Him in the Kingdom of Heaven all the time.  Knowing that it’s going to be a extension of what we are creating here on earth just completely motivates me to continue living this life to the absolute fullest.. where love is my main currency. Thank you Jesus! 

  Again, assuredly I tell you, that if two of you will agree on earth concerning anything that they will ask, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the middle of them.”   Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?”  Jesus said to him, “I don’t tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven.  

Forgiveness … it’s the key to setting ourselves free of the bandage that resentment holds on our hearts.  I highly recommend it every time.. but heed the wisdom that comes also.

Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who wanted to reconcile accounts with his servants.  When he had begun to reconcile, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  But because he couldn’t pay, his Lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.  The servant therefore fell down and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!’  The Lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.    “But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him one hundred denarii,   and he grabbed him, and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’    “So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will repay you!’  He would not, but went and cast him into prison, until he should pay back that which was due.  So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were exceedingly sorry, and came and told to their Lord all that was done.  Then his Lord called him in, and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt, because you begged me.  Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?’

A great story for “do unto others…”

  His Lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him.  So my heavenly Father will also do to you, if you don’t each forgive your brother from your hearts for his misdeeds.”

A little contradictarary.  So the Lord will forgive us countless times.. except the time that we don’t forgive someone.. then He will punish us? 

This is where I have a hard time with the Bible.  Quite obviously from the beginning of the story “the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to reconcile with his servants” this is Matthew’s analogy of how he interpreted the lesson of forgiveness.  This isn’t God’s Word… this is Matthew’s account from his perspective.  It’s very valid and a great analogy.. but like any one person’s account of something.. it isn’t the best all and end all.. and in that lies a great example for my having a hard time with all or nothing when it comes to the Bible.  Anyone who has been in a lecture at school can tell you that tho there is one teacher… the lessons learned by each student would vary if they were to recant what they had learned.  

The floor is open … I look forward to the insight that will come as I sincerely want to learn and grow in my faith while reading the scriptures. 

Matthew 18:1‭-‬4‭, ‬6‭-‬35 WEB

http://bible.com/206/mat.18.1-35.WEB