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Give Yourself Time
Follow Jesus' Steps

Follow Jesus' Steps

Jesus worked the steps!

To "follow" Jesus and "to walk in his steps" (I Peter 2:21), is to work these Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse:

1. Jesus admitted that he had been injured by abusive religion.

2. Jesus turned to God for help.

3. Jesus saw in himself the love and work of God.

4. Jesus faced and dealt with his own anger.

5. Jesus avoided negative people and resisted hostile religion.

 6. Jesus faced the scripture used against him and answered it.

7. Jesus found supportive scripture at his temptations and later.

8. Jesus lived the message of the Gospels.

9. Jesus "came out" and revealed his truth about himself.

10. Jesus developed a support system of close friends and disciples.

11. Jesus called people to follow him.

12. Jesus was a freedom missionary to abused and oppressed people.

Give yourself a little Bible project.  Take the time to search the Gospels and find passages that illustrate how Jesus followed each of these steps in his own life and teachings

Update added January 26, 2003

Religious and spiritual resources are always subject to interpretation.  Everything in the Bible and in religious dogma is subject to interpretation based on various translations and traditions.  Nothing is absolute but God.  Yet the defense of religious absolutes occupies most of the time and energy of the leading religious groups in the world.

Making anything but God absolute is idolatry.  See my web site material on "Legalism as Idolatry".

How have you avoided being caught up in religious absolutes that are not absolute at all?  For me, being gay has helped.  Since the absolutes about GLBT people in most religions are clearly wrong, I find it a lot easier to question all of the other absolutes and find a realistic and practical spiritual life that really fits me.

I have not found any final answers.  I am working on my own spiritual life, and I am making progress.  How about you?  Are you on a journey or are you settled into a static state of spirituality that does not really fit you or give love, joy and peace to your life?


You are your own best spiritual resource.  You are created in the image of God.  The Spirit of God has been given to the entire human race (see Acts 2), and you have the Spirit of God within you already.  Look within.  What have you found?

The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us (Romans 5).  External religious forces often batter you and force oppressive attitudes and negative self-images upon you.  But from within, you can find affirmation and acceptance that God has given to you from the beginning.

Last week, an eighteen-year-old gay man wrote to me about the pain and distress that had come upon him when he came out to his Southern Baptist Bible teaching parents that he is gay.  The vigorous unrelenting attack that was launched against him is hard to imagine, yet it is typical of the religious reaction of homophobic fundamentalists when any of their religious absolutes are questioned or challenged.


The incredible power of misinformed abusive religion is pervasive in our present American culture.  Suicide continues to be the leading cause of death for gay and lesbian teens in America.  Where does all of this self-hate and self-destructive behavior come from?  Religion!

Why does our society tolerate and even encourage the nonsense and negative destructive forces of contemporary religion in America?  I truly do not know.

Powerful religious institutions and ignorance-based special interest groups have great influence in government and in the social life of America that wounds and destroys millions of young people on a regular continuing basis.  Why do so many otherwise intelligent and informed Americans ignore and even give support to the religious garbage that forms the foundation and power of homophobic oppression and suicidal self-destruction of GLBT people?

The President of the United States recently appointed an "ex-gay" religious homophobic nut to the national AIDS Commission and had to withdraw the appointment when the horrible truth was known!  The real question is why this appointment was made in the first place, as many GLBT activists have asked!


God gave you a brain.  Use it. 

Faith can be an illusion.  Face it.  You are encouraged from a very young age to believe things that are flat out not true!  What hope do you have to learn to think for yourself in an objective realistic way?  Actually, you have the opportunity to think for yourself a lot more than you might think.  You do not have to buy into the negative self-image that religion forces upon you.

You really can think for yourself! 

If religious absolutes seem to be suspicious or wrong or ridiculous, they probably are.  Be a heretic.  That simply means to be different.  Be yourself.   Be real and be honest.  That will really confound the "religious"!

Jesus was the ultimate heretic.  To be a Christian is to be a heretic.

You are a unique individual.  Nobody else is exactly like you.  Your individuality is a gift to you from God.  You are different.  Explore and affirm your individuality.  Study and learn from yourself.  You are your own best teacher.

So face it.  You are a heretic.  Rejoice and be glad.  You are on the right track.  Don't waver and don't doubt yourself.  You are vital and realistic.  You already have your own truth and wholeness within.  You have the God given capacity to be logical, objective, realistic and practical.  Exercise your freedom to say no to misinformed abusive religion.

Just say "No!"

You are not broken, and you don't need to be fixed.  Misinformed abusive religion is what is broken and cannot be fixed.  It can be replaced, however, by something better that really works for you.

Rembert Truluck

This update added July 29, 2002:

To Jesus, people were always more important than religion.

Other people are part of who you are and how you see yourself.  How do you relate to other people?  Do you try to control other people, or do you let others control you?  How you relate to other people shapes your life and your personality.  A helpful exercise in self-analysis is to read through the Gospel of Mark in one sitting and notice exactly how Jesus related to other people.  Try it, and see what it says about you.


Who is the most important person in your life?  Most people immediately answer with the name of a loved one or partner.  The most important person in your life, however, is YOU.  Codependency can seduce you into concentrating on another person instead of yourself.  Unhealthy codependency has been thoroughly documented by Melody Beattie and others.  (See her works listed on the Internet.)

It isn't easy being free!  We let our attraction to or obsession with other people jerk us around and make unrealistic demands on our time and imagination.  Maybe you never do this, but I do!  Breaking the shackles of bondage to affection, obsession, and preoccupation with another person can challenge your best abilities, your objectivity, and your willingness to be yourself.  Sometimes my attraction and interest in another person can drain my time and energy beyond all reasonable limits.  How about you?  Does any of this sound familiar to you?


I have made trips across the country in order to be with and visit with an important person in my life.  I did this when I went to St. Louis to visit with Mahan Siler.  I will do it again August 8-12, when my sister and I travel to South Carolina to be with our mother to celebrate her ninety-first birthday!  I never regret making the effort to connect with a person who is part of my life.  Sometimes this involves a trip.  Sometimes it is a phone call.

Last week it was a wonderful visit to me for three days by Carolyn Mobley as she prepared to help lead the orientation of new clergy in MCC at Berkeley this past week.

Carolyn is a very important person in my life.  I met Carolyn in 1981 in Atlanta MCC.  Ever since then, she has been a friend and a great encouragement to me in my life and ministry.  She took 27 copies of my book to the orientation for new MCC clergy in order to give a copy to each student clergy person in the program.  I have known few people in my life who have been as supportive and practically helpful in my life as Carolyn has.

Who has stood by you and encouraged you through the years?  Get in touch and say "Thanks"!


I recently experienced a very disappointing break with two different friends.  These experiences take a lot out of me!  I always suffer a lot of pain when a break occurs with someone I love and care deeply for.  I usually become depressed and despondent.  Sometimes it paralyzes me in my work and in the constructive use of my time.  How do you handle a break with someone you really love and care about?

Yet, no matter what other people do, life goes on.  New people appear in your life, and old friends become even more important than before.  Often breaks with people can be healed and friendship restored.  God is at work in all of your relationships, but recognizing and appreciating what God is doing takes a lot of realism and unusual objectivity.  Our involvement in other people alters our logic and diminishes our clear thinking, but with the help of the Spirit of Jesus, we persevere and learn and move on into greater spiritual and personal maturity.  Health and strength come from exercise and proper nourishment, spiritually and physically.  What most nourishes your spirit when you are stressed out and confused about other people?


In the e-mail that I receive and from knowing other people, I know that I am not alone in wrestling with my interpersonal relationships.  We all deal with challenges and opportunities from others every day.  Letting go and allowing God to work out what we neither understand nor control is part of my own approach to relating to others, whenever I have the good sense to think of it!

The "Serenity Prayer" is always relevant: "God grant me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."  One key to all stressful relationships is to learn to live "one day at a time".  After all, one day at a time is all any of us have!  Don't stress out about a lifetime of turmoil when you actually only have to face and deal with it today.

To the most stressed out person Jesus ever met, the thief on the cross, Jesus said, "Today you will be with me in paradise."  Jesus promises the same thing to you and to me every day.  That's wonderful!

Rembert Truluck

"Remember: you cannot control other people."

Update for December 17, 2001:

The high cost of real love discourages us from letting go and really giving our love to anybody.  Love always involves risks.  Sometimes love really hurts.  The courage to love comes from your courage to accept and be your true self.

You cannot really give yourself to others if you cannot give yourself to you.

You most need love when you are the least lovable!  It is easy to love lovable people who like you and who are pleasant and agreeable.  You need love the most, however, when you are hateful and angry, unreasonable and vindictive.  Yet at those times you are the most unlovable, and otherwise accepting and loving people avoid you and reject you.  Developing inclusive love that does not run hot or cold depending on the other person's attitudes and moods is the only way that you can follow Jesus in the invitation to love as Jesus loves us.


"The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:5)  The inclusive unconditional non-judgmental love of God within you equips you to love under pressure and especially when the object of your love is most unlovable.  The love from God that flowed through Jesus became strongest and most helpful when the person loved was the most unlovable and wretched, as with the thief on the cross and the demon-possessed man in the tombs (Luke 23:39-43; Mark 5:1-20).

You and I naturally avoid truly miserable and unlovely people.  We draw back in horror at some of the human wreckage that we have encountered.  Go through the Gospel of Mark or the even longer account in Luke and notice how often Jesus went out of his way to love and reach out to help people who were unlovable and whom the religious leaders considered to be spiritually unclean and unworthy of any help at all from God.

The only way that you can see people as God sees them is for the Spirit of God within you to give you understanding and insight that cuts through the external appearances of people and recognizes the presence of God within each individual.  Jesus made clear the identification of God's Spirit with needy obnoxious people when he declared: "Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you have done it to me." (Matthew 25:40)


People usually become obnoxious and offensive because of some kind of human damage that has been inflicted upon them.  Damage can be emotional, spiritual, physical, sexual, financial or any number of other forms of hurt.  Anyone who seems to represent the painful past can become the hated enemy.

Transference of past angers and hates to people who remind one of torments and pain from the past can create hostility and violence that seem to be pointless and meaningless.  Chronically angry people can be very difficult to understand and accept.  Angry people often do not reveal the specific source of their anger.  The anger is simply there simmering under the surface all the time, ready to erupt into conversations and relationships without a moment's warning.

Anger is not the opposite of love.  Neglect is.  Love is to care.  Not to love is not to care.  Being angry can even be a powerful expression of love for someone who is profoundly frustrated about how to relate to a troubled and troublesome friend.  When your express anger, even extreme anger, at a person you love, you at least are not ignoring her/him.

Hate is not the opposite of love.  The opposite of love is not to care.  It is to ignore or neglect the person that you want to avoid accepting and loving.  Yelling at a person is at least saying that that person is important and deserves attention!


In trying to smooth over the difficulties between people, we avoid confrontations and the realistic differences that truly do divide people and set them against each other.  We try to figure out ways to show that people actually agree, when in fact, they don't!  Differences in the way that various people see things are important.  Reality does not belong to a select few.  Reality is the product of many views and experiences.  Seeing things from a different point of view is not nearly as suffocating as denying that other points of view exist and are valid for consideration.

The context of church work prevails against open confrontation and comparison of ideas and points of view.  Previously decided religious and spiritual ideas and practices are accepted without question and without foundation.  People who disagree with the tradition or with the majority can be singled out for special abuse and ridicule.  They don't fit in. This is a murky process that is based on personalities, emotions, and a lot of misinformation and speculation.


Listening is the key to building love and acceptance.  Telling your side of the story or demanding a hearing for your views can cut off the thoughts and feelings of others and smother healthy dialogue and conversation.  Exchanging ideas can require a lot of patience and thoughtful listening.  Do you really hear what others are saying?  We are tempted to listen only to mark time until it is our turn to talk.  Have you learned yet to hear what other people are saying and to take them seriously and really care about their ideas, feelings, and views?

We tend to be impatient with people whom we do not understand or who disagree with us.  Sometimes we have to discipline ourselves to listen and really hear what other people are saying.  What techniques have you developed to hear and really listen to others when they are vastly different from you?


The first characteristic of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is: "love is patient."  The word "patient" is a Greek word that means literally "long anger".  It means that it takes a lot to make you angry or irritated.  You listen and you hear what another person is feeling and saying and you withhold judgment and just listen and care and give the time necessary to understand.  We tend to jump to quick conclusions about the feelings and attitudes of others without giving the necessary time for them to express themselves and explain what they really feel and think.  How patient are you?

I must confess that one of my main faults in communication and listening is my tendency to jump to conclusions about what another person is saying and meaning and to quit listening and start judging before I really know what is happening.  Do you ever do that?  It always brings communication to a jolting halt and keeps people apart rather than bringing them together.  We all seem to be adept at a thousand ways to do it wrong, but what is the solution?

The Spirit of Jesus is the great communicator in our psyche.  The Spirit gives understanding and bathes our listening in love and patience.  Ask the Spirit of Jesus to teach you how to listen.  Then let go and allow the Spirit to be your teacher.  I cannot teach you, but the Spirit of Jesus can!

Ignore me!  "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"  Listen to the Spirit of Jesus and the way of love will open up before you like a superhighway.


"The Miracle of Dialogue" by Reuel Howe can be a great teacher for you.  "On Listening to Another" by Douglas V. Steere can also help you to become more like the God who also listens to everyone, including you!  Learn to listen and you learn to love and to live.  The ministry of listening cannot be over emphasized.  Listening can be therapeutic and healing.  Listening can be creative and loving.  Listening is to act like God, who listens to every smallest cry for help and every longing for love.

As you go, listen!  Somebody out there needs to be heard.  Maybe it's you.

Rembert Truluck

Update for January 25, 2002

You live in two worlds.  One world is the people, events, and places all around you.  You are part of the LGBT family and all of its cultural, political, religious, educational, and other connections throughout the world.  You can keep up with news of the larger world that all of us share by subscribing to Interfaith Working Group, PlanetOut, Whosoever, Gay.com or many of the other great resources that tell what is happening in events and developments related to our lives and our issues as GLBT people.  Your larger world includes the entire human race.

Your other world is your special inner personal world that is yours only.  Your feelings, your personal experiences, your relationships, and your ideas form a world of your own that is unique to you and unlike the world of any other person.  Most of the e-mail letters that I receive deal with that personal inner world that is special and different from every other individual on earth.  Though no two people are exactly alike, most of us share common concerns, problems, pressures and decisions with far more other people than we realize.

How encouraging it would be if all of us could somehow participate in a small group to discuss and share our thoughts, feelings and experiences and learn both from ourselves and from each other!


Whatever you are facing in your life, no matter how complicated and strange your situation might seem to you, you are not alone.  Though many of us face the same problems, our solutions are not the same.  We are individuals with various personalities and various personal histories.  In our personal inner world, one size does not fit all!  Every solution that really works for you has to be made to fit you and be comfortable for you or it is no solution at all.

One of the greatest problems with religion is that religion tends to proclaim as absolute truth the proposition that "one size fits all."  It doesn't.  Legalism demands conformity to absolutes whether they ring true and fit the individual or not.  Take a fresh look at "LEGALISM AS IDOLATRY" in my web site.

You are both alike and unlike every other person in your world.  We all struggle for a lifetime to accept and affirm our true self and to feel good about who we are.  We battle for self-esteem and for the courage to be the unique person that God created us to be in God's own image.  The entire life and message of Jesus in the Gospels encourages us to do this.


Knowing yourself is not "self-centered" or "egotistical".  Learning and knowing the real you is practical and a necessary step into mature self-esteem and confidence within yourself and with other people.  Know yourself so that you can understand why you see things the way you do and react to other people the way you do.

One of the most important principles of learning is to know the basic background and point of view of any writer or speaker who tries to instruct you, including me!  Every idea is given in a context.  Your own personal context is part of your learning environment.  Know your own point of view and why you see things the way you do.

No teacher or writer communicates in a vacuum.  All of us have a point of view that profoundly affects what we teach and how we teach it and how we hear what others have to say.  Just as the medium is the message, the teacher is the main teaching that students remember, no matter what the subject might be.  This is most perfectly demonstrated in Jesus, whose teachings and attitudes were completely intermingled and consistent.  Jesus taught what he did and did what he taught.


Sharing with others in a home-based small group for dialogue and learning is an excellent setting for learning better who you are.  Reading from the great devotional and meditation literature can also lead you down very revealing inner pathways that are both old and new at the same time.  Modern meditation writers like Melody Beattie and Iyanla Vanzant and others have helped me.  (See Vanzant and Beattie web sites below).

Exploring your inner self is something that you have to do for yourself.  Nobody else can really do it for you.  A good objective psychotherapist can help.  An accepting non-judgmental small group can help.  Books of meditations and other self-help materials can help.  You, however, are your only key to knowing and understanding yourself.


During my seminary education in Louisville, I had the privilege of clinical pastoral training at Central State Mental Hospital led by Chaplain Professor Clarence Y. Barton and supervised by Dr. Wayne E. Oates.  Every day we students met for about an hour in a small group with our teacher and learned a lot about our selves and each other.  These sessions were quite intense and sometimes disturbing.  After one of them, our teacher observed that self-examination is like castor oil.  It is good for you once in a while, but you don't have it for breakfast every day!

Self analysis can be exhausting and can wear you down emotionally.  Let go and do something else whenever you are tired of exploring your own inner world.  Go easy on yourself.  Be patient with yourself.


One of the most helpful tools for learning about you is a daily journal.  Write down your experiences, relationships, ideas and anything else that is important to you each day. Even if you never read it again, the act of writing down what is happening to you will give you insight into your own experiences and help you to be more practical and objective about what is happening in your life.


God made you as you are in "God's own image and after God's likeness."  The better you know God, the better you know yourself.  And the better you know yourself, the better you know God.  Ask God to help you to grow in self-understanding and in self-acceptance.  God has a great investment in you and truly cares what happens to you.  Turn to God, your Creator or Higher Power or however you most comfortably name God, and ask for help.

Let me know what happens when you do.

Rembert Truluck

See also: "Exploration of the Inner World: a Study of Mental Disorder and Religious Experience" by Anton T. Boisen. Dr. Boisen was a pioneer in clinical pastoral education.  He experienced his own mental illness and recovered then wrote his autobiography: "Out of the Depths."  Boisen's books are out of print now, but libraries have them.  Search for Anton T. Boisen on the Internet and see what you can find.

Iyanla Vanzant web site: Read 11 page interview.

Melody Beattie web site: Brief biography and all books .


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