Category Archives: church

Twenty-First Century Reformation

lutherFive hundred years ago, Martin Luther began to walk away from the rigid, judgmental system the Church had become.  God had revealed grace to Luther and as he embraced grace, he was transformed. He also began to see the un-Christlike behavior of Church leaders and challenged them.  Other people began to see what Luther was seeing and began to step away from that old system, as well. The Reformation had begun.

To reform is to remold or reshape. The Reformation, therefore, was a reshaping for the Church. In the old Reformation, it resulted in a new denomination, but continued to challenge the old orthodoxies. The leaders of the church of that day were propagating rules and punishment. It was as far from the Gospel as death is from life.

As many of us know, Mr. Luther posted his thesis, spelling out the error of the Church of that day. It didn’t win him any popularity contest, but it sure woke up some folks.

Another Reformation is Beginning

Many old, errant orthodoxies that are based on weak or loose interpretations of scripture or speculative reason, are being questioned, challenged and refuted.

Today, there is no single Reformation leader.  God is inspiring and speaking to many, many people, most of whom are not pastors or leaders. They are refusing to adhere to the old, false teachings or bow to the fear. They are becoming aware of the legalistic, judgmental teachings and how traditions have become requirements. They are waking up, once again, to grace and the love of Jesus.

Today’s political climate in the US has been instrumental in revealing the true nature of the portion of the Church (considered Evangelicals, the Christian Right or the Religious Right) and many church leaders. As much as I hate the “us vs. them” mentality, especially within the Church, there is a chasm being broadened between those who propagate false, judgmental doctrines and those who do their best to represent the true Gospel of Jesus.

This chasm is more serious than mere doctrinal disagreement. It is a matter of true, Biblical based teachings and following Christ as compared to teachings that are judgmental, sexist, racist and basically, anti-Christ.

Overall, we have become a people who are overly concerned with bashing the sins of those who do not follow Jesus, while we have some grievous sins being committed right under our noses. This once happened in the Early Church.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

My grandmother once taped a quote on my bedroom door that read, Clean up the world tomorrow. For now, just clean up your room.

The point, in this case is, we tend to judge those outside of the Church while we have serious issues right at home.

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

This was a problem in Corinth. I am not sure about the rest of the world, but similar are problems in the Church in the United States (As Solomon so well put it, there is nothing new under the sun). Like the Church in Corinth, people boast and brag while the real sin is behind their own front door.

This is about the Church, not about people outside the Church (unsaved). Paul directly addresses the church at Corinth. Believers. Christians. Followers of Jesus. He mentions a few sins as examples in verse 10. These weren’t unsaved people Paul was addressing, but those who proclaimed Christ, behaving in destructive ways, all the while bragging and boasting.

This reminds me of what is being made more plain among the Church, today. Many among us are telling the world how (sometimes specific) people are going to hell unless they “receive Jesus” and repent of their evil sin. Meanwhile, some of these same men are involved in adultery, pornography, pedophilia, financial impropriety or other destructive behavior, often while their followers and/or friends ignore, hide or even approve of what they do.

Subsequent posts – just a few – I would like to address the extremes we see, which are on either side of an issue. One side says judgment, while the other side justifies advocating of sins. Both sides misuse and misinterpret scriptures or even use/add illogical reason in order to prove their point. I might even tackle some pat phrases which may not be entirely accurate according to scripture.

With that, I will challenge a few old doctrines. I have done this before, but some may do with a slight repeat.

Let’s see where this takes us and the reactions therewith. I shall wear a helmet, just in case.


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Do Not Support PBA

My wife watches our youngest granddaughter 4 days a week.  The little one is 10 months old and enjoys watching Mother Goose Club.

Over. And over. And over, again.

What the heck, she’s adorable and it is all about her, anyway.

What does this have to do with this “PBA” mentioned in the title?

I will tell you with the story of the Three Little Kittens.  Hearing the several renditions of this old nursery rhyme made both me and my wife consider something about the story.

You know these kittens…the ones who lost their mittens.  The story has to do with PBA. What is this “PBA”?  I will get to that.  Now, let’s remind ourselves of the old story.

Basics of Three Little Kittens

It goes like this…they lost their mittens, mother calls them ‘naughty kittens’ and they are notthreekittens allowed any pie.  I am not sure what kind of pie…looked like some kind of fruit, to me. My cats don’t care for fruit. As for mittens – cats have no thumbs. Maybe they were really baby tube socks.

I digress.

Then, the little kittens find their mittens and their very pleased mother gives them pie. Problem here, is, they wore the mittens while eating the pie.  They, thus, soiled said mittens, which rendered them as ‘naughty kittens’, once again.

Can’t threaten them with no pie…too late for that.

This has a big problem, though…Mom served them the pie. Did she not notice the mittens?  Well, whatever.

The little creeps decided they would wash their mittens.  This pleased Mother Dear, once again.  With that, she noted she smelled a rat nearby.  Okay, now kids.  Don’t wear your mittens while mauling that rat.  It will only start all over again.

By this point, you are wondering what this PBA is all about.  Enough with these ignorant kittens.

PBA is Performance Based Approval.  

Often, people are approved or disapproved based on their performance.  Performance Based Approval is a serious issue within the Church.  How we act, what we say, what we do or don’t do, what we wear, how we talk, etc., etc.  There is more about pleasing others than there is in knowing that the Father is pleased with us.

The Father always approves of us.  While I am pretty sure He is not so thrilled when we act contrary to His design or desire for us, He approves of us.

Parents…don’t you approve of your kids?  Sure, they can be loud, disobedient, wall-coloring, sass-mouthed, fight-picking, booger-eating vermin.  But, really…you totally approve of them.  Not the booger part, just them.  How much more does the Father approve of all of us?

In the Church, people are graded.  How much they serve, what they do, how loudly they praise or how often they raise hands during worship.  How we conduct ourselves determines whether we can head up a ministry or even serve in one, or in some churches, where we get to sit.  Sure, there are things that we need to be wise about concerning certain issues.  But, too many are put into some sort of confines of man-made rules.

Look who Jesus chose as His twelve.  Judas was overly concerned about money, Peter was headstrong and had issues with Gentiles, James and John wanted to one-up each other and there was certainly a good share of argumentative questioning and doubt to go around.  Jesus also ministered to countless people who had nothing to do with Him after they were healed, taught or fed.

He approved of every single one.

Really?  Yes, He did.

Maybe we just need to get over ourselves or get off of our high horses.

God’s approval is not based on our performance.  Why do we demand certain performance in order to approve of anyone?

What this breeds, most often, is behavior modification.  People will act and talk in certain ways around their fellow Christians, whom they want to be approved by.  They can’t be themselves, they can’t have a bad day, they can’t have a hole in their jeans which are frowned upon for wearing in the first place.  They have to sing with a certain amount of apparent excitement, talk like life is one big victory, be sure to give tithes and offerings, have near perfect children, perfect hair and never be late to service.

All to win approval.

No.  This is too much pressure for people.

Love and grace have no performance demands for approval.  Say “No!”, to Performance Based Approval.

In this case, I do not support PBA.


Once Upon a Church

churchdoorSome brief church stories.

I have attended a few churches in the past 40 years, from a small Presbyterian congregation in Irvington, NJ, to an Assemblies church in Newport News, VA, to a few here in southern NJ.  It has been the few I have attended in the last 25 plus years that opened my eyes to some very important issues that are serious issues in the Church, at large.

First, let me mention that little church in Irvington.  That was the place the Lord used to get my attention in His direction.  The pastor, Wade, was loving and patient and didn’t judge those to whom he ministered.  I have nothing but great memories of those days and the people I got to know.  Wade, particularly.  For that matter, we are still in touch through social media and he has a blog, here. (The Lazarus Project, The Horizontal Church – Take a peek, if you wish.)

Since Then.

The church that really opened my eyes to some issues was a small congregation from the Cherry Hill, NJ area.  We were part of that one for twenty years.  We were deacons, my wife was on the music team, I ran the sound board, our kids did various stuff. About fifteen of those years were spent under a pastor who became more proprietor than pastor…more of a manipulator than minister.  In the last 5 years we were there, his demanding ways became more rigid and his doctrinal views were questionable, at best.  There are a few brow-raising details…but, to make a long story short, we left that church.

What happened after that was we have been basically shunned.  We left nearly nine years ago, and no one from that church ever has called or emailed to see how we are.  We knew most of those people for twenty years. Our children basically grew up in that church.  One family I knew from north NJ and we go back to the late seventies.  How much have I heard from them?  Nothing.

Now, I know what you are saying.  I could call those folks too.  Well, I did.  One family welcomed my calls and we talk from time to time.  Others, it was rather cold, awkward…as if I had some sort of communicable disease or something.  Even the couple I knew from forty years ago has had nothing to do with us.



We attended a rather large church for a couple of years.  It was a bit of a drive, but worth the trip.  Met some great people, there.  Unfortunately, we were having transportation issues and decided it more prudent to go to a church closer to home.  We kind of just left. Funny thing was, virtually no one noticed we were gone.  Well, one guy emailed me after about a month and I was able to explain things.  But, I was part of a greeting team and the team leader called me a few months after we had left to ask me to head up the team on Sunday.  I informed him we hadn’t been there in X-amount of time – he had no idea.  That team served once a month and no one on the team noticed my absence.



The church we went to next we only attended for about a year.  I attended a couple of study groups and we got to know a few folks there.  We stopped going.  Not one person wanted to know what happened or where we were.


Now, don’t think I am trying to get anyone to feel sorry for me or my family.  No need to. This was not meant as a complaint forum.  Just some brief stories to show that we need to consider something Jesus said.

Love one another.

It seems that we have lost the idea of what it is to love one another.  There is also confusion between loving our neighbors versus loving one another.  To put it simply, our neighbor is pretty much everyone.  One another is those with whom we fellowship as believers.

As I have stated several times, love is putting oneself aside for another.  It is putting another ahead…to consider another more highly than ourselves.  When we shun, overlook or forget someone, unless we have a memory issue, we are basically putting self interest above others.

We say we fellowship.  Do we?  Is fellowship just sitting next to each other while listening to the pastor drone on about stuff?  Is it about those covered dish gatherings?  I think it is more…it is about relating with one another.

Just a thought…one thing we need to be careful of is calling or talking people to “convince” them to stay among the congregation.  That is just a marketing ploy.  What we need to do is love, no matter who they are, where they are or why they may be leaving or thinking of leaving.  We should love one another in spite of viewpoints, quirks, ideals, hobbies, habits…just love one another, period.  Can’t do it?  Pray and ask the Lord to work love through us.

After 20 years…

One would think that, after twenty years, that bonds would have been made.  After raising all of your children with that place and having taken part in all sorts of different aspects and activities, one would think that the bonds would be stronger than the fact that you might leave their midst.  But, when we forget how to love, we place importance on things that are less important than what Jesus told us is.

One another.

To be fair, there is the passage about not to fellowship with those who embrace sin or false teachers.  I will probably approach that one, at another time.



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The Worldly Church

“There’s a stylized, bastardized Christianity that many politicians and celebrity pastors have peddled for years; one that has slowly but surely become our American template. It’s a bloated, opulent, consumerist, aggressive, nationalistic, might is right amalgam that really doesn’t resemble Jesus much at all.” – John Pavlovitz (

In the quest to be what actually results in the above description, church leadership has stooped to tactics which include lying, manipulating and over-sensationalizing.  They have misinterpreted scripture and misrepresented the Gospel. They either don’t see it, or don’t care, since they often get what they want.

If you have to lie, manipulate or over-sensationalize in order to prove what you say is right or true, then you have nothing to stand on.  Besides, this is how the world works, not how things get done in God’s Kingdom.

But, there is an audience.  A flock.  A band of followers.moneypreacher

They listen.  They cheer.  They give money.

Nickles and noses.  A faithful audience that hands over money.

They make it all sound so good and specific scriptures (often out of context or ‘clobber’ verses) are used and then, they place Jesus’ Name on it and it is all accepted as right and true.

Not all churches or ministries are like this.  But, way too many in the US are. They could be a small congregation of 30 or a massive mega-church. Tactics are used to hold those people there, control/manipulate them and make sure they give money.

Rather than being “transformed by the renewing of the mind”, it is a system which would act in a manner reflecting the world system of kings and superstars…that is, being “conformed to this world”. To use manipulating tactics to attract and keep people is the world system way.  To do all of this for big money is greedy and selfish.  To aspire for worldly treasures…massive salaries, huge and opulent buildings, power, notoriety and huge followings are all earthly treasures, even if they are dressed up as “Kingdom building”.

2 Timothy 3 New International Version (NIV) 

3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds,who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.~

This has been taught as being about general sin and the “unsaved”.  But, if we take a closer look, it is about the Church.  Key..verse 5, “…having a form of godliness…”  Another key, verse 7, “…always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth”, and “…these teachers oppose the truth”.  That last one has my attention.

I am amazed how anyone who calls themselves a teacher or a preacher would dare oppose the truth.  They appear to speak the truth, but much of what they spread has little to no truth.  Then, if confronted with what is correct and true in scripture, they deny it.  They are convinced they have all the “proof” they need for what they believe and teach.  This is what makes them, basically, dangerous.  This is why we read in verse 5, “Have nothing to do with these people”.  They draw people in, drag them down and take their money.  They do this, all the while believing they are serving the Lord.

Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!~

This is not just about the people who are “traditional Christians” or pastors by career only, nor is it about the ritualistic religious. An example of the subject of this verse in plain view, right on the television. Yes, the beloved “televangelist”.  Not all people of this ilk are on TV, but these guys are the epitome of what we see in this verse.  They often use false prophecies, sensational End-Time Eschatology topics, as well as, rhetoric and “clobber scriptures” to take their stands against abortion and homosexuality.  They use fear tactics to sway people to the altar and shaming tactics to convince people toward certain behaviors.

controlcartoonThe result is followers, which brings power and, often, massive amounts of money, which further feeds the power.  Meanwhile, they are convinced they are doing the will of God, pointing out that they are doing His will.  Often, however, their speech and actions show some things that are not Christ-like, at all.

They use Jesus’ name as a rubber stamp that they have permission to use on whatever they feel should be God’s will.  They stamp it on the opulent buildings, the huge salaries, the judgmental statements and messages and even the false prophecies.  If they want a specific candidate for office, they put Jesus’ name on that, too.  If they want people to behave a certain way, His name (and a good deal of shaming) is spoken.

By the way…using Jesus’ name to garner favor or to persuade God or people is using His name in vain.  I believe the Commandments these guys blast at people has something in there about that.

There is a faction of the Church, I believe, which will rise up.  They will not rise up in power or come with convincing words.  They will not seek to build huge ministries or massive buildings.  Their goal will not include having a title, a following, a huge salary or a lavish lifestyle.  They will bring one thing.

The Gospel.  The Good News.

Their lives will reflect what we read about Jesus in His Earthly ministry.

Love will be the nucleus of what they say and do.

They will seek to be the Jesus people need.

They will expose truth to and about these modern day Pharisees.

They should be all of us.

We need to be Jesus to a lost and hurting world.

Love should be our nucleus.

As it should be.

As we walk together.






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Home Sweet Home?

There is little that is more sad than the stories of homes where there was neglect or abuse.  If there is anywhere we should always feel safe and loved, it’s home, among family.  It is also sad when we hear of Church abuse or neglect.  We should feel safe among those who love Him.homesweethome

According to what love is, our fellow believers should be a circle of people with whom we can share, people we care about and who care about us.   If we are able, we should readily help when help is needed. We should be able to be confidential and transparent without being judged or someone using information against us.  The Lord is our main confidant, of course.  But, we are in a family of believers with whom we should be able to walk together through life.  Yet, in too many circles, judgment lurks, ready to pounce on anyone who confesses a sin, weakness or failure.

Jesus said, “Love one another…”.  He placed emphasis with, “I give you a new commandment.”

Note: People often cross this with loving our neighbors.  Actually, if we look at the language, the idea of one another is derived from the Greek word allelon which means “one another, each other; mutually, reciprocally.”  That would be, those with whom we have mutuality, our brothers and sisters in Christ.  In that respect, I would think that the last word, reciprocally, would be according to its second definition, (of an agreement or obligation) bearing on or binding each of two parties equally.  So, while loving our neighbor is one of the most important commandments, Jesus also made sure that we would look to love one another.  I think this idea comes up again in Galatians 6:10, about doing good, “especially to those of the family of believers”.

Loving our neighbor is huge.  The world needs Jesus’ love.  But, we should not be so busy that we neglect our own house.  The world sees how we treat one another and this will speak volumes.  As we read further about the “New Commandment”, we see He says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

Jonathan loved David.  He would give his life for David and nearly did.  Jonathan knew that God appointed David to be king and Jonathan would stop at nothing to protect David and promote him.  For some reason, we don’t even want to be bothered with our brother’s life issues.

Too many of us are too wrapped up in our own issues.  We become indifferent, self-absorbed or simply keep others at arms length.  We don’t want close relationships with others as we probably don’t want them to find out our shortcomings. But, among one another should be our safe place…right?

How big is love?  What does it mean to love?  How do we love one another?  There are great examples in scripture, of course.  Jesus showed the best example of a life of love. We can also see the famous list in 1st Corinthians 13 of the attributes of love…patient, kind, does not envy (this is not mere jealousy, but not wanting someone else to have what we want), does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonor others, not self-seeking, not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs.

In my view, love seems to be about setting aside ourselves…our agendas.  We are told that there is no greater love than to give up one’s life for his friends.  Husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave up Himself.

Self.  Set aside.

Love is not about self-denial or self-deprecation, but about doing for another beyond yourself: your needs, your wants, your desires, your opinions…your agenda.  There are Christians who talk an awful lot about the agendas of others, but I think many of us have some pretty major agendas (I think I might tackle this agenda issue in a future post).

For now, I encourage each of us to examine where we might set our agendas above what is good for one another and, conversely, where we can set one another above our own agendas. We need to begin to love one another as Jesus loves us, as He demonstrated with the disciples.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35, NIV










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Two Guys Walk Into a Church…

It’s Sunday morning.handshake

Greeters are at the door.  People are walking in to the church building.  Most are familiar faces and friends.  As on many Sundays, there are a few visitors, who are warmly welcomed and guided to wherever they need to be.  Then, two men enter the building door.  You move to greet them.  But, one of your fellow greeters puts his hand on your shoulder, leans in and quietly says, “Uh, these guys were holding hands as they crossed the parking lot.”

The next reaction is critical.  We’ll get back to that.

There was a time when I was a bit uncomfortable around gay people.  It was a combination of my own discomfort mixed with a legalistic mindset.  While I served in the Navy, I knew a few gay men. Most were simply good sailors serving their country.  However, I did meet a young man who made a disgusting and rude pass at me.

My reaction?  I grabbed him by the shoulders, put him down to the ground and told him to never talk to me like that, again.  He found the whole thing funny.  I, at the time, did not.  But, knowing what I know now, I could have handled that better.  Had I just seen he was actually harmless, rather than getting on my high horse, a simple ‘no’ would have sufficed.

No one was hurt, but my behavior was wrong.  Looking back at other instances, I know I have cast judgment on others, whose life choices went against my self-righteous grain. Maybe not in words, but surely in attitude.  Much of this has changed, in me, and I pray the Lord to continue to change me.  One needed change is proven when I am driving.  For some reason, when I get behind the wheel,  the dashboard often becomes a good place to bang a gavel.  Yes, I still have a long way to go.

Yeah, being human is difficult, sometimes.  Well…often.  Okay, it can suck.

So, back to those two guys.  There are a few ways their visit would be handled.

  • Welcome them, but encourage them to take a seat in the rear of the sanctuary.
  • Quickly grab hand sanitizer after shaking their hand, so you don’t “catch” their sin.
  • Put on your best Christian grin and suggest they might be more comfortable at the Episcopalian church down the street.
  • I was present when one pastor was “inspired” to preach against homosexuality when a visitor happened to be a lesbian.

Yet, there are people like those from Oasis Church in Scotch Plains, NJ, who choose to be undaunted by the ways people live.  They love people, right where they are.  There are other people like them, for sure. They choose to be more like Jesus.  Here is a blog post of a super example about a group of women who went to visit women who are shunned by Church and much of society…

People need to be accepted.  People need love.  We need to come to a point where we are undaunted by what we see in people.  It is too easy to judge.  It gives a feeling of superiority.  But, love does not seek personal superiority.

The love that Jesus taught and lived is unconditional.  He didn’t make a fuss over anyone’s life choices, their actions or how they were esteemed by the religious leaders.  Well, He had no small words for those religious leaders, but they were the ones keeping people under condemnation, rather than leading them to God and His grace.

Jesus  didn’t bring up or make issue of sins/life choices or a lot of things.  Why?  John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world…”. Both Matthew and Mark recorded Jesus saying, “…the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life…”.

He was not here to create a new religion, but to deny the power of the religion that had been developed.   That religion condemned people.  I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be in the condemnation business, anymore.  To condemn is, essentially, anti-Christ.  I have done it too many times – I may not have usually said judgmental things out loud, but certainly harbored them in my attitudes.  I sometimes avoided certain people, as I was taught that the “world” could only drag me down with them.

Wait…what?  Jesus hung out with “sinners”, right?  Why can’t I?

Well, He is Jesus, after all.  He could do that.  I could never do that.  Or, could I?

His Spirit dwells within me.  This does not give me the license to hang out with just anyone, but whoever is within my sphere of influence or whomever He brings to my path. “They” do not have the power to take me away from Jesus.  “Greater is He Who is in me…”  Because of Him, I have within me His love to share.

I want to keep sharing what I have been learning about love…as we walk together.



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Line In The Sand

Drawing lines in our lives can be a good thing.  We draw the line when it comes to personal preferences, personal convictions or promises.  It’s like, when people who like a thrill ride, but “draw the line” on bungee jumping, or skydiving.  Sometimes, however, we often draw lines as a matter of legalism.  The Pharisees were particularly fond of doing this.

One big thing about the Pharisees was that they had over 2000 rules on how to obey the Ten Commandments.  Basically, they created and drew lines that the Father never did.  At certain opportunity, Jesus challenged their doctrines and judgmental dictates.  The Church has too many people, however, who have embraced the ministry of the Pharisee.  We have drawn lines that were never designed by God.  It is time we challenge the religious dictates.sandline

God’s design has parameters – aka, He has drawn lines.  When we step across them, there are most often consequences.  However, those are His lines. We obey His lines according to His convictions, as we follow Him.  But, what we do is make our own lines – moral lines, legalistic lines, selfish lines, lines that oppress and lines that offend.  Then, if making up our own lines isn’t enough, we draw them for others.

The Pharisees were all about the Law.  Today, the Church has been little different.  We have come to the point where we want to impose our convictions up
on our neighbor.  This was never what Jesus taught, or even suggested.  When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment…Mark 12,

28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[b] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c]There is no commandment greater than these.”

We impose our convictions on others because we have stepped away from the main theme of love and the grace it comes with.  Instead, we are too busy being Christians, intent on piety, legalism and a false sense of righteousness.  We have made a religion out of what is supposed to be a relationship.  In so doing, we draw our own lines.

There are groups of Christians – movements, if you will – who have added rules that have little or nothing to do with scripture.  For example, there are those who have rules about…

The Bedroom

Anyone who studies the Bible knows that sex was designed for the contexts of marriage. Fine.  But, some folks put restrictions within the confines of married peoples’ sex – what positions are acceptable, frequency limited to procreation, lights off, the wife always being “available”.    These are things left between the two people for whom God created sex for, not some rules created by people. The Bible says that the “marriage bed is undefiled”.  Made up lines do not belong there.

Lengthen Your Hem, Dear

Some of us have drawn lines on how to dress.  Sure, modesty is ideal.  But, some have taken it to unnecessary points.  Besides, it puts pressure and blame on women for what amounts to lack of self control on the part of men.  Some congregations will even monitor visitors…one woman visits and her neckline is a little too low, one or more of the ladies will “lovingly” have a chat with her and maybe offer her a scarf to wear.  Here is a way we draw a line someone else is not convicted about.

Wine and Strong Drink

Alcoholic beverages are hotly debated.  Some Christians absolutely forbid drinking alcohol.  As I read my Bible, I see warnings about excessive drinking, but nothing about drinking, itself.  Otherwise, Jesus would not have turned the water into wine.  I am not a drinker, but I do realize that is not a line to draw for anyone else.


I remember, back in the late 70’s or early 80’s, there was a guy who did “Expose’ on Rock and Roll”.  Much of it was sensationalized bits and pieces of evidence in order to prove that rock music is a sin.  In recent years, we have come to accept “contemporary Christian Music”.  However, there are those who don’t accept that genre’, considering it “worldly”.  These same people think that only the old hymns are acceptable.  What is funny, when the old hymns were coming out as new, they were considered as “worldly” – for that matter, the beloved organ was considered a sinful instrument.  There is nothing in scripture that suggests styles, or the correctness thereof.  Once again, more lines drawn.

“But, scripture is clear…”

Actually,  I find that more than half of the people who say that really don’t know their scriptures as well as they think.  Oh, sure, they can pick out a chosen few in order to prove their point.  But, most of the time, what they cite is often out of context.  Or, they overlook the audience to whom God was speaking.

Whenever we see a “line drawn” in scripture, it was usually not for the common populace, but for the Israelites…or a specific person, family or community.  Of course, in the New Testament, Christians and specific churches were being addressed.  But, for some reason, there are those who want to legislate the rest of society to bend to “rules” that are meant for us.  It seems we want to draw lines for everyone, and anyone who does not acknowledge these lines is considered impure, sinful, anti-Christ, unacceptable and should be badgered, belittled, berated, judged and/or shunned.

It is past time we stopped drawing the lines God never did.  We need to seek Him and learn what it is to live in His love and grace and let Him shine through us.  If any line is to be drawn, it should be this: If Jesus and His love are not at the center of it, it is not scriptural and should not be entertained.






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