Helping Yourself

What is the Bible?
Jesus and AIDS
Women Disciples


Jesus said to "go wash in the Pool of Siloam."  Jesus expected sick people to do something.  He ordered them to "Stretch forth your withered hand;" "Go and show yourself to the priest;" "Take up your bed and walk!"  Jesus never encouraged people to sink into self-pity and give up.  Applying for assistance, taking necessary medication and allowing others to help can be difficult for AIDS patients. Feeling good about yourself is a great step toward healing and hope. 

As I write this in the summer of 2001, great progress is being made in funding and research for treatment of AIDS.  New powerful and effective drugs are being developed, and hope for prevention and cure continues in the field of medicine.  But the need for spiritual truth and compassionate support for people with HIV/AIDS never lets up.  Do what you can.  Become informed about AIDS.  Join with others who give special care to people with AIDS.  Be part of the solution and take care of yourself.  Be here for the cure!

Update for March 9, 2004

Today, March 9, 2004, is my birthday.  I was born seventy years ago on 3/9/34.  Yesterday I lost the job that I have had for the past 4 years that has made it possible for me to give a gift copy of my book to every MCC clergy person in the fellowship that I could locate and contact since the book was published the last of January 2000.  I have given hundreds of copies of my book to others at conferences that I have led and have sent many gift copies to readers of my website.

My book and website are both being translated into several other languages by people who are committed to helping get my message out to as many others as possible.  I am grateful for you and what you have done to spread and share the good news of God's unconditional accepting affirming love for all GLBT people.

I checked Google again yesterday and saw that "Bible Abuse" is found on 610,000 other websites now.  My website and book are being used in GLBT small group study throughout the world from Taiwan to Texas.  I receive e-mail almost every day from gay and lesbian people who tell me that finding "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse" on the Internet has saved their lives.


I am at Yogi's fork in the road: "When you get to a fork in the road, take it!"  God has yet to show me what to do next as I face multiple forks in the road ahead of me.  I have no fear of the future.  God will clearly show me what to do.  The most pressing next step is to go to Phoenix March 19-20 for the conference there that I discussed last time.  (See information below)

My next most pressing step is to work on and finish my next book, which will be on the subject of "YOUR INNER JESUS."   The exact title will be developed later.  The extraordinary success of Mel Gibson's movie about the Passion of the Christ has been a clear reminder that millions of people are still very interested in Jesus and long for a clear understanding and experience of the "Real Jesus."


I have written a lot lately about experiencing God and the Spirit of Jesus within your own mind and heart.  See my recent updates.  The "Real Jesus" is already with and within you.  Nobody has to tell you or lead or mislead you in your experience with Jesus.  You already have within your own life and spirit the presence of God and the humanity and spirit of Jesus that you can discover and experience for yourself.  My next book will explore and explain and provide study helps and "lessons" to be the logical sequel to "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse."


In 1958 I was on an archeology study tour to Palestine and the Middle East with a group led by Dr. William Morton, professor of biblical archeology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where I had just finished my second year of study.  Dr. Henry Turlington was with us in the group.  Dr. Turlington was professor of Greek and New Testament at the seminary.  Both Morton and Turlington wrote textbooks and sections of the Broadman Bible Commentary (which now has been withdrawn and deleted from the Baptist Bookstores by the current leaders of the SBC).

When we were in Damascus, Dr. Morton and Dr. Turlington received news from their wives to tell them that they along with 11 other seminary professors had been fired by the trustees!  Morton and Turlington were part of a group of thirteen professors who had challenged the ethics of the President of the seminary and offered their resignations unless the President was removed.  The trustees supported the President and fired the 13 professors.

Only Dr. J. J. Owens, one of the thirteen and professor and a textbook author of biblical Hebrew and Old Testament, decided to stay at the seminary after this event.   A year later, I was in my graduate work and became Dr. Owens' student assistant and taught Hebrew sessions in his absence.  I learned a lot from Professor Owens and from all that was happening.  I also was a friend of the President of the Seminary, Dr. Duke K. McCall.


Our group visited many of the sacred places in Jerusalem, including walking with thousands of pilgrims of every race and language and religious tradition in the regular Friday tour of "Fourteen Stations of the Cross" ending at "The Pavement" under ground where tradition says that Jesus stood before Pilate and was condemned to die by crucifixion.  All of this was extremely moving to me and to everyone in our group.

Later, at the end of our stay in Jerusalem, Dr. Morton asked the members of our group to share their most meaningful experience in Jerusalem.  Dr. Turlington told his.  He said that he returned to the Garden of Gethsemane alone after the group had visited it.  He sat beside the large flat stone, about 5 feet square, that is the traditional spot where Jesus fell on his face and prayed to God: "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.." (See link below.)

Henry said that as he sat there meditating on the words of Jesus, he noticed that the edge of the stone all around just inside the very low iron fence, about 6 inches high, was stained brown.  He wondered why.  Then a visitor came and knelt beside the stone and leaned over and kissed it.  Henry said he then realized that the brown stains were left by the millions of pilgrims over the centuries that had leaned over to kiss the stone where Jesus prayed the final prayer that led to his betrayal, torture, death and resurrection.

I admired, respected and learned from all of my seminary professors, but I think that nothing else has so profoundly moved me and stayed with me as much as being with Dr. Henry Turlington to hear him share his Garden of Gethsemane experience with the rest of us.


Turlington and Morton left Southern Seminary and like ten of the others went on to teach in other places or become pastors and writers and continue their ministry to which God had called them.  One of the great privileges of my ministry was to be pastor of a Baptist church in Norfolk, VA, when Dr. William Lumpkin, one of the thirteen and my teacher and friend as well as a gifted and important writer of Baptist history, was also pastor of a Baptist church in Norfolk. 

As I look back over my own history in study, writing, pastoral ministry, travel, work with MCC and everything else, I rejoice in what I have learned from others and from my own life and realize and am renewed and energized by the thoughts of where God is leading in even the smallest details of what is happening now in my life.  God runs the universe and everything that exists.  To be in God's hands and in God's work is to be safe and productive no matter what forms or shapes God decides to use to mold and teach you and me so that God can use us for good.

One of my closest friends has been trying to help me in this time of financial crunch, even suggesting that I should shut down my website and the updates.  I have no intention of closing my website or abandoning my update e-mails to you.  I do need some financial help if you can give it.  God will show me the way and will fully equip me to follow it.


One of my favorite statements is in Psalms 46:10: "Be still and know that I am God."  The words "be still" in Hebrew mean: "Cease striving," with the marginal reading: "Let go, relax."

A woman working in a southern cotton mill was trying to fix tangled threads that had clogged the loom and stopped the machinery.  The foreman came to her and said, "What in the world are you doing?"  She replied, "I was trying to fix this mess and I am doing the best I can."  The foreman said, "In a situation like this the best you can do is to call me!"  When life gets tangled and the machinery stops, call the expert to come fix it.  This is some of what "Let go and let God fix it" really means. 

It is very hard for me completely and in faith to "let go and let God do it."  I want to fix it myself.  There is nothing that is broken that God cannot fix.

Luther said, "The God who made all things out of nothing can make something out of you only when you become nothing."  So, like the old saying: "Here goes nothing!"

Rembert Truluck
PO Box 24062
Oakland, CA 94623

See Matthew 26:31-39

Click here for latest Yahoo news about GLBT people and issues .

Meanwhile, the Same-sex Wedding March goes on.


On Saturday, March 20, from 10:00 AM to noon, I will lead the first Session of study and dialogue on "Instruments of Change: our view of the Bible" for GLBT people at Cross Roads United Methodist Church, 7901 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85020. For information, write to "WWIC" (Welcoming Witness for Inclusive Church) at Post Office Box 87447, Phoenix, AZ 85080, or e-mail to

Update for February 1, 2004

We are living in dark times.  All of the news that I see now about GLBT people and the public acceptance of same-sex romantic relationships and marriage is gloomy and depressing.  State after state is moving swiftly to pass anti-gay legislation into law and forbid gay marriage, deny same-sex partner benefits and take away other civil and human rights from being enjoyed by GLBT people.  What can we do?  We can be lights that shine clearly in the darkness.

The "Ex-Gay" homophobic religious establishment is generating most of this darkness with the willing cooperation of greedy politicians and misinformed social and community leaders.  Now Bill Fritz, the Senate Majority Leader, who is a medical doctor from Tennessee, has come out against giving any recognition to GLBT partnerships.


You can demonstrate in your own life the love, honor, self-acceptance and respect that you expect from others.  Jesus said: "You are the light of the world; Let your light shine, so that others may see your good works and glorify God." (Matthew 5:14-16)

It is always better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

How can you become a more effective light in the world?  One way is to learn all you can about Jesus and to follow the Spirit of Jesus in your own life to demonstrate the powerful positive light of truth and love in your relationships with others.  Small group study in homes is a great setting for this kind of learning and dialogue.  Use my web site and book as practical guides and for information.

Try reading through the Gospel of John in a good large print literal translation (such as the New American Standard Bible).  It can be done in one sitting, but you probably will profit from better understanding if you take several sessions to read and meditate on all of it.


After speaking of working out your own liberation ("salvation") with fear and trembling, Paul says some important words: "Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world."

You can make a difference simply by being different.


Light consumes energy.  To be a light in the darkness is costly and consumes your energy and time.  You have to burn to shine.

What do you need to let go and give up in order to shine as a much needed light in the darkness of your world today?  You are an individual and your situation is not exactly like that of anyone else.  You have to decide for yourself what direction your life should take now in order for you to let go and become the light that changes the darkness into truth and love around you.


Jesus gave a lot of emphasis to letting go so that you can really live.  "Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me."  Taking up the cross does not mean getting sick or losing your job.  It means to follow Jesus in taking responsibility for the faults and failures of others and do what you can to stand with others who suffer.

One of my favorite stories is of the little boy who was sick and needed a blood transfusion.  The doctor suggested that the boy's younger brother, who had the same blood type, should be the donor.  The parents talked to both of the boys and explained the situation.  They asked the younger brother if he would give blood for his brother.  The little boy thought for a while and then nodded his head and said that he would.

The next day before they took the boys to the hospital for the blood transfusion, the youngest boy started taking loads of his toys in his arms and leaving the house then returning to take out some more.  His parents asked him what he was doing.  His reply was, "I am giving all of my toys away to my friends, because I will die when they take my blood."  His parents were shocked that he had misunderstood.  He thought that they would take all of his blood for his brother, and he knew he could not live without blood!

Maybe this is why Jesus said that "a little child will lead them."

What do you have to let go so that you can be the light of love and truth in your world?

Rembert Truluck

HELP IF YOU CAN.  I have encountered some financial challenges in keeping my office space available and in the cost of maintaining and replacing two computers along with two DSL connections and web hosting expenses.  If you want to help support my Internet and book ministry of helping GLBT people around the world cope with religious and bible abuse and help to meet this financial need, please send a check to:

Dr. Rembert Truluck
PO Box 24062
Oakland, CA 94623

If you send a contribution of $100.00 or more and request my book, I will send you a signed gift copy of my book, which sells for $24.95 plus packaging and postage.

Update added September 23, 2001:
(On the Sunday of the Spiritual Celebration in Yankee Stadium 9/23/01 in NYC after the Terrorist Attack on New York 9/11/01)

"Don't Be Afraid Anymore" is the title of Troy Perry's book about the history of MCC and his own pilgrimage out of fear into self-acceptance and confidence as a gay minister of the gospel.  LGBT people know well the meaning of the "Fear Factor," a term that is being used on television news to speak of the mood of the nation today.  "Homophobia" ("fear of homosexuality") has been analyzed, studied, debated, and challenged for the past 30 years, since the term was invented by psychotherapist Dr. George Weinberg in his book on "Society and the Healthy Homosexual" in 1972.


Fear is a part of everyone's life.  Managing your fears is part of becoming a whole healthy person.  Jesus said many times, "Don't be afraid!" (John 6:22); and (John 14:26): "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled (to "stir up, disturbed, unsettle, throw into confusion"), nor let it be fearful ("timid").  The theme is continued in 1 John 4:18: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear causes pain ("punishment, torment"), and the one who is afraid is not yet mature in love."

The opposite of peace is not war; it is fear.  Fear dominates the thinking of millions of people in the world because of ignorance, hunger, tyranny, oppression, sickness, natural disasters, and human enemies.  Millions more are afraid because they are misinformed, misunderstood, abused, diminished and rejected by established religion and other negative cultural forces.

Homophobic fundamentalists often have written to refute me and say that they are not afraid of homosexuals.  They have missed the meaning of homophobia, which includes their fear of homosexuality in themselves.  I am not afraid of homosexuality or homosexuals.  I am, however, afraid of homophobic fundamentalists!  I am afraid of ignorance.  I am afraid of sick abusive religion and religious oppression and I avoid them at all cost.  I hope that you do also.


When I was in South Carolina at Hunting Island Beach in August, many little deer roamed the park.  Just before daylight and just after dark, many of the deer walked around in the roads.  The speed limit was set very low to protect the deer.  Every time that I drove after dark, I saw little deer standing quietly in the middle of the road staring at the headlights and not getting out of the way.  I stopped and waited for them to move on.

Fear can paralyze us and set us up to be like frightened deer in the headlights.  The forces that we fear do not stop and wait for us just because we are immobilized by our fears.  Many of us have suffered great disasters in our lives simply because we did not see disaster coming or because we were afraid and did not know how to move out of the way.


Hope, love, joy, and peace are the four key words of the upcoming Advent season, when we celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world at Christmas time.  They are the words most associated with deliverance from fear in the life and teachings of Jesus.  It is not by accident that the largest MCC in the world is called the "Cathedral of Hope."

Hope is an important ingredient of healthy living at every age and in every area of life.  Years ago, I took my college religion students to visit the Bethea Baptist Retirement Home in South Carolina.  The director met with us and explained the purpose of his work.  He said that the main objective of the center was "to build and sustain an atmosphere of hope."  Now that my mother is a resident of the Martha Franks Baptist Retirement Center in Laurens, SC, I can even more appreciate this objective.

Beyond our basic needs for safety, shelter and food, we need hope and a reason for living.  Frustration and hopelessness can so dull our sense of self-esteem and drain our energy that we give up and quit trying.  Take away hope, and you take away life.


Don't give up on yourself or anything else that is of real value to you.  Don't give up on God or on finding a spiritual path that really fits you.  Don't give up on your friends or your family.  You may have to establish realistic boundaries for your own peace of mind and get negative people out of your life, but you can still demonstrate your love and care for people who do not understand or accept you.  The Spirit of Jesus within you will help you to do this, for Jesus demonstrated love and care for those who misunderstood, betrayed, denied and rejected him.

Dictionary definitions of "hope": "To cherish a desire with anticipation;" "to desire with expectation of obtainment;" "to expect with confidence."  See Romans 5:1-11 and 8:18-25 for details of hope in Jesus.  (Take the time to read and meditate upon all of chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8 of Romans.)

"Hope for the best" is a common slogan, but "the best" never comes without courage, faith in yourself and hard work.  Unrealistic expectations regarding what others will think and do can invite personal disaster into your life.  Hope is not gullibility or wishful thinking.  Hope grows out of realistic, logical, practical thinking about yourself and your life situation.  Self-acceptance and self-esteem are the foundation for a lively sense of hope about your future.


"Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble" is the repetitious refrain of the witches in Macbeth, Act IV; Scene 1, as they cook up evil for other people.  You can spend your life concentrating on your "toil and trouble" or you can focus on the new life of liberation and hope that you have found in following Jesus.  You can choose to wallow in your problems, sufferings and self-pity, or you can "turn your eyes upon Jesus" and look full into the face of God that is also in you and "the things of the world will grow strangely dim in the light of God's glory and grace."

We are not floundering about and distressed by the temporary winds of change that never let up or die down.  We know that whatever else may happen, faith, hope and love will remain, and the greatest of these is love.

Recall the truth of God that you already know.  You don't need to learn anything new.  Just act on what you already know about Jesus.  The safest and most hopeful path already lies under your feet.  You are the best person to make the right decisions for you!  You already are moving in the right direction.  Let go and move on with courage and confidence.  Take others along with you, if they want to go.

Rembert Truluck

Many of you are receiving this e-mail update for the first time.  Welcome!  I hope that you enjoy and pass on to others whatever is helpful to you.  These updates are not intended as professional advice, and they are not intended to do your thinking for you.  I simply share with you the way I see issues and events that we all are facing.  Think for yourself.  Gather accurate reliable information for yourself.  The Internet gives you detailed information on every subject you could possibly explore in millions of web sites.  You have to be selective, of course, but the information is out there.  What you think and do is far more important than any of my ideas or suggestions.

Learn the background and point of view of any author you read.  Know your own background and point of view also.  Read and study my web site and take time to read "About the Author" in my web site and book to learn my background and point of view.

(Due to viruses and other problems on the Internet, I do not open attachments in my e-mail.  If you want to send me something, copy and paste it in your e-mail.)

Update added September 14, 2001:
(on a National Day of Prayer concerning terrorism)

Jesus prayed.  Jesus wept. A powerful part of the picture of Jesus in the Gospels is Jesus praying and the disciples asking Jesus to teach them to pray.  (See Luke 11:1-13 and read this passage today).  Another important image of Jesus is in John 11:35-36 where "Jesus wept" and demonstrated his grief at the death of his friend.  Read all of John 11:1-57 for encouragement and insight into the meaning of hope in the midst of pain and despair.

The President has called upon all of us to join in a day of prayer and remembrance today.  Prayer means many different things to different people.  Whatever prayer means to you, consider spending some time in prayer today.  The word for prayer in biblical Hebrew meant, "to lift up" and was a reference to the traditional posture of prayer in lifting up the hands toward heaven in a gesture of reaching out to God.

Prayer is basically some form of turning to God and communicating with God in whatever ways fit your personal experience and beliefs.  Prayer can be aloud or silent.  Prayer can be with others or alone.  Prayer can be in a church or in your closet.  Prayer can be angry or sad.  Prayer can be humble and soul searching.  Prayer can be a brief cry or a long time of reflection.  Prayer can be your personal means of deliberate connection with God.


Many years ago, I read a book called "Prayer" by O. Halesby.  It was simple and practical, and helped me gain a very important perspective on prayer.  Halesby pointed out that your need is your most eloquent prayer.  He used the example of how parents respond with love and care to the needs of their babies without the babies having to ask for water, food, protection, affection or anything else.  The needs of a baby say everything that needs to be said to a loving parent.  Jesus commented on this in Luke 11:33.

Recognizing and facing your own personal needs can be an effective form of prayer that opens you to God and to the love and encouragement that you need.  Praying for others can help you to examine yourself and be more open to God's help for you and can prepare you to minister in practical ways to others.


Prayer changes things, because prayer changes you.  Prayer and reflection can help you to sort out your own values and your view of yourself.  Prayer is not a waste of time.  Prayer is not an attempt to change or manipulate God into doing what you want.  Prayer as demonstrated in the life of Jesus is a form of letting go and letting God inform you and lift you up to a higher and healthier spiritual dimension of living.

Prayer helps you to face and deal with conflicts, uncertainly and confusion.  I was in Atlanta and San Francisco as the AIDS epidemic began and grew into an unspeakable horror for our GLBT community.  MCC congregations provided a place for prayer for multitudes of confused and suffering people.  I participated in some of the all night prayer vigils, just as many of you did.

One spiritual issue that repeatedly came up in times of prayer and sharing was the feelings of guilt in people who were HIV negative.  Why are my friends dying while I go free?  Prayer provides a setting for you to deal with all of your feelings, no matter how confusing and uncertain they might be.


Prayer gives you insight into yourself.  The more clearly you know and accept yourself, the more strength you have to handle pressures and fears that come into your life.  Going through pain and grief can help you to grow stronger yourself and prepare you to be helpful and compassionate with others.

Jesus taught his followers that God would give them the Spirit to be their teacher and to remind them of what Jesus had taught.  The Spirit would show them the meaning of what they were experiencing and would give them the ability to handle pressure whatever new forms it might take.  (See all of this spelled out in John chapters 14 through 16.)

Jesus did not give his disciples or you and me a set of foolproof formulas or rigid rules for spiritual success but gave and continues to give his Holy Spirit to be our continuous helper to "stand alongside" ("paraklete") us to guide us and empower our lives.  Through prayer we are reminded that we do not have to struggle with anything alone.  No matter how complicated and frustrating life might become, God is always the same and is always available with and within you.

Prayer helps you to remember who you are.  You are a child of God, created in the image of God with the capacity for communicating and sharing with God.  Nobody can ever take that away from you.  Don't let anyone even try!


Prayer is appropriate every day.  On this day of extreme challenge to our entire nation and to every one of us as individuals, prayer is not only appropriate, it is a welcome path back to inner calm and the "peace of God that surpasses all understanding." (Philippians 4:6-7)

I am writing this as I watch the prayer service at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, and hear the television reports of further threats of terrorism. As Billy Graham just said, the evil attacks on America that were intended to tear us apart have instead drawn us together as a more united people than ever before in history.  Prayer brings us together as prayer unites us with the Spirit of the living God.

God is with us.  God is with you.
Peace be with you.

Rembert Truluck

Update added July 28, 2001:

What we learn from the people around Jesus is of utmost importance for our own lives.  The variety of people who are recorded in their contact with Jesus in the Gospels speaks to every one of us in some special personal way.  Just as we are a lot like Jesus, we also are a lot like Mary, Martha, Peter, Judas, the woman at the well, and the lepers, cripples, blind and outcasts.  We can relate to the Good Samaritan and to the prodigal son and his angry brother and to all of the stories that Jesus told.  We can relate to Pilate, the priests, the Pharisees and the soldiers and criminals that crossed the path of Jesus.  The life of Jesus is also the story of a full range of humanity, from the little child Jesus held in his arms to the thief on the cross at the end.

Learning from Jesus includes learning from each of the people whom Jesus encountered along the way.  We not only identify with Jesus; we also identify with everybody Jesus touched and heard and loved.  You also learn from everybody who touches your life now or who has come across your path in the past.  God is in every human being, in you, in those who live with you, and in those whom you encounter throughout your life.  Some you do not remember, and some you can never forget.  But every human who has touched your life has left an impression that is part of you.

What have you learned, both positive and negative, from the people that your life has touched?  Whenever you reach out and give to someone else, you receive just as much as you give, but sometimes we fail to recognize or appreciate what is coming to us from others.  Jesus never missed what was coming to him from others.  Jesus did not overlook anybody.  Why do we?


Some of the people who have taught me the most have been people who hurt me or gave me the most trouble along the way.  Opposition always makes you work harder.  Conflict makes you think and reconsider what you believe and what you are doing.  We never welcome criticism and rebuke, but we can always learn from it.  Stressful relationships can either tear you down or motivate you to grow and change.  It's up to you how you see people and how you handle your own feelings and reactions.  Others are simply being themselves.  You, however, have many choices as to how you will relate to others and what you will learn from them.

Sometimes the same people who gave Jesus the most encouragement and support were also the ones who gave him the most stress and hurt.  Peter, for instance, hurt and helped, discouraged and supported, denied and defended Jesus in many ways and in various situations.

My thinking about this was triggered as I thought about Judas and his resentment and jealousy, which could have motivated his betrayal of Jesus.  Judas obviously was upset because Jesus let the woman kiss (repeatedly) and wipe his feet with her tears and possibly because the "beloved disciple" replaced him in the favor of Jesus.  This made me realize that I was allowing myself to become resentful because of what a dear friend of mine was doing with someone else, and I decided very firmly that I did not want to be like Judas!  (See page 328 in my book.)


We watch Jesus remain true to himself when he was drawn into the arguments of the disciples about who will be the greatest and the petty debates of religious leaders about details of the law.  Jesus could relate to many different kinds of people without being overwhelmed by their attitudes and personal conflicts with each other.  How did Jesus do this?  Perhaps it was because he had a higher power in his life and a more important purpose in life that kept him focused on what really mattered and not on the distractions that swirled around him all the time.

What keeps you from being drawn into self-destructive attitudes and behaviors by dysfunctional people that come across your path?  What keeps you from letting other people's craziness make you crazy?


When other people disappoint you and cause you to loose your cool, what do you do?  Do you let how others treat you control your life?  Do you alter your own self-image when others chip away at your self-esteem and your basic desires for yourself?  Just how codependent are you?  I have to confess that I have to battle codependency all the time!

I have always wanted and craved the approval and acceptance of people that are close to me.  If I don't get it, I begin to fall apart and develop feelings of inferiority and failure.  I have frequently let how others feel about me influence me far beyond reason.  Have you ever done any of this?  Or am I the only one?

I don't really expect you to answer that, but I encourage you to think about these things for yourself.  Jesus established patterns of relating to the people who touched his life that not only helped them but also retained his own self-confidence and built up and demonstrated his sense of purpose in the love and power of God.


What experience of Jesus dealing with another person most clearly speaks to you and has helped you to learn something important about yourself?  Reading through the Gospels with this question in mind can help you to relate to Jesus and grow in your own spirit in special ways that fit you.  You are not an island.  And neither was Jesus.  All that we know about Jesus has been given to us in the context of Jesus relating to and dealing with other people.

Whenever you study about Jesus, you are also studying the people in contact with Jesus and studying yourself in relation to these people and to Jesus.  It's never simply a matter of what the words mean now or in the original Greek.  It is a matter of human nature, your personality and feelings and your real human encounter with Jesus within your inner self.

Don't be afraid to just let go and be your real self and get into the feelings that the stories arouse within you.  This multi-level encounter with the Jesus of the Gospels can be tremendously liberating and profoundly revealing.  Whenever you contemplate Jesus and the people around Jesus, you are examining yourself also.


To Jesus, people always mattered most.  The story of Jesus is also the stories of the people around Jesus.  In the Gospels, we always encounter Jesus in the context of people.  To Jesus, the people individually and collectively were the reason for his life and teaching.  People to Jesus were more important than religion or anything else.

This week I received my copy of the newspaper published by South Carolina Baptists, "The Baptist Courier."  This July 19, 2001, p. 14 issue contained an account of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship meeting June 28-30 and focused on their vote against homosexuals in the denomination.  The article stated: "The 701 to 502 vote came after long-time leaders warned that such a move would mean the demise of the CBF because more traditionalist churches would cut off funding to the group."  Never before have I heard Baptists say so clearly that religion is not about people; it's about money!


To identify with Jesus is to identify with people.  Following Jesus includes how you relate to others in every dimension of your existence.  Jesus made clear his identification with 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)

You are more like Jesus than you are different.  Jesus was special, of course, but so are you and so is everybody who comes into your life.  Jesus was a human in the midst of other humans, and so are you.  The word of God becomes human ("flesh") in Jesus and also in you.  What are you building upon this magnificent sense of identification of yourself with Jesus of Nazareth?  Perhaps how you relate to people is what really matters most.

Now, where does "religion" fit into all of this?  Perhaps it doesn't.  Maybe Jesus has led the way for us to go beyond religion to something far better.  I certainly hope so.

Rembert Truluck

The first thing that Jesus did in public
was to listen and ask questions.  –Luke 2:46

"Before you can help troubled people,
you first have to sit at their feet and
let them be your teacher."   --Wayne E. Oates

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