Use the brochure Invitation To Freedom or create your own approach for sharing your faith with others. Write out your own experience with God and share it.
"Always be prepared to explain to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and respect."
1 Peter 3:15
Matthew 4:19; 9:36-38:
"Jesus said, Follow me, and I will make you fishers for people…
Seeing the crowds, Jesus felt compassion for them, because they were
distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd, and Jesus said
to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few: ask
God to send out workers into God's harvest."
My earlier book, Invitation To Freedom, published by Chi Rho Press, is 10 chapters of study on how to lead people to Christ in
personal evangelism in the gay/lesbian community, using my brochure on The Bible As Your Friend
Further discussion of Step 11 can be found in my book Steps To Recovery From Bible Abuse in the following Lessons:
(Click on the Bible references to see them.)
No. 41. "HOW JESUS LIBERATED OUTCAST PEOPLE"
No. 42. "LETTING JESUS BORROW YOUR BOAT"
No. 43. "HOW TO HELP OTHERS EXPERIENCE JESUS"
No. 44. "RESOURCES FOR SHARING CHRIST"
Luke 24:44-54; Acts 1:1-8
On to Step 12
March 3, 2003
Jesus declared in his teachings and actions that all people have equal value to God.
To follow Jesus is
to accept and recognize the value of each individual who comes into
your life, even briefly and for a great variety of reasons.
Traditional "Christianity" has abandoned many of the basic ideals of
Jesus but none more flagrantly than the equal value of all
people. This failure is demonstrated in church practices of
separating clergy from lay people, children from adults, pagans from
believers, homosexuals from everybody else, the rich and powerful from
the poor and desperate, and maintaining a system of religious values
based on what people do or do not do to conform to the demands and
doctrines of the ruling church or denomination.
JESUS AND HUMAN VALUE
Jesus, all of the disciples, including Judas, John, Mary and Peter, had
equal value, as dramatically and powerfully pictured by Andrew Lloyd
Webber and Tim Rice in "Jesus Christ Superstar" (2 movie versions: 1973
and 2000) and by Martin Sorsese in "The Last Temptation of Christ" in
1988. Jesus made provision for the future both for the thief on
the cross and his own Mother at the Crucifixion.
held up a small child (about two years old) as the example of true
faith and trust in God and included women as his disciples and as the
first apostles and preachers. All of this was revolutionary at
the time, and is still just as revolutionary in the religious culture
of today. Any careful study of the Four Gospels makes it clear
that the approach of Jesus to each person was to recognize the value
and potential of even the most desperately troubled misfits like the
possessed man in the tombs of Gadara and the Woman at the Well.
(See my Bible studies on these two people in lessons 41 and 45 in my
book and the biblical material at John 4 and
Mark 4-5 given in this web site..)
worn-out people have the same value to God as bright young people with
unlimited potential for the future. Emotionally disturbed people
have the same value to God as well-adjusted high achievers. No
single race, sex, sexual orientation, personality type, ethnic or
religious group has more value than another to God.
PEOPLE HAVE VALUE TO YOU
underestimate what you can learn from the most insignificant person
that might come into your life. Nobody comes into your life by
accident. Do you look for the message from God that each person
has for you if you only take the time to listen?
D. Weatherhead tells of a spiritual leader in India who had a faithful
servant who came in every morning to prepare breakfast and begin house
cleaning. One morning the servant failed to show up. The
longer the leader had to wait, the angrier he became that this
worthless servant was so inconsiderate as to make him wait for hours
for his breakfast. The servant finally showed up. The
leader angrily condemned him for his failure to be on time and finally
stopped to catch his breath. Then the servant apologized and said
that he was very sorry to be late but that his wife died during the
night, and he had to make arrangements for her burial before he could
come to work.
spiritual leader said that he suddenly was angry with himself instead
of at his servant. The complete change of emotions came when he
learned facts that he did not know. Everybody in your life can
teach you something important that might even change your entire life
for the better. It all depends on the value you place on the
other people your life touches.
WAR AND FOLLOWING JESUS
should be obvious to anyone with a brain that following Jesus can never
lead to war. The overwhelming lesson of the history of war shows
that belief in equal value of all people must be denied and abandoned
as the necessary basis for war. The "enemy" must be demonized and
the "good" side must be wrapped in the holy mantle of God's power and
will. Children and women, whom Jesus elevated to equal value to
all people, are the real victims of any war.
human history, every war has simply set the stage for the next
war. The past century has demonstrated the futility of war as the
final solution to anything. World War I ("the war to end all
wars") led to World War II and to the Cold War and to the present world
crisis. In many ways, the Crusades of the Middle Ages led to the
present conflict of religions and cultures that are plunging the world
closer and closer to a war that the President of the United States has
predicted will bring peace to the world!
was my "major" at Furman University. My history professors, Dr.
Gilpatrick, Dr. Babb, and Dr. Sanders, taught me that all history is
written from somebody's point of view. There is no objective
history. Just as there is no objective Bible study or religious
writing, including everything I have written and this update. The
key to understanding is learning the point of view of the writer.
WHAT ABOUT THE LITTLE PEOPLE?
the past several years, we have witnessed the worldwide display of
grief and loss of life of certain "important" people, such as Princess
Diana, President John F. Kennedy, the victims of the terrorism of 9/11,
and most recently the seven astronauts aboard the space shuttle.
Throughout the entire week of news about the shuttle disaster, I kept
thinking of the lack of attention that is given to the multitudes of
children who starve to death every day and to the daily disaster of the
spread of AIDS around the world to millions of new victims every
year. Over 15 million AIDS orphans already are suffering in
Africa. Millions more orphans are being created by AIDS in India
said that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the notice of
God (Matt. 10:29). How much more does God care about the plight
of the millions of homeless, abused, enslaved, suffering children of
value is the foundation for all truly Christian ethics and
values. As Elton Trueblood said, Jesus was the greatest humanist
who ever lived. Jesus always considered people to be more
important than religion. To Jesus, the ultimate reality of the
presence of God was to be found in people. In John 17, Jesus
prayed that his followers would become united just as he was united
with God so that the world would believe that God sent him and that God
loved all people.
went so far as to proclaim in Matthew 25 that whatever you might do for
needy people, you do for him. The six categories of people that
Jesus identified with in Matthew 25 were the "sick, hungry, thirsty
(poor), naked (homeless), prisoners, strangers" all of these were
considered by the contemporary religious leaders to be sinners who were
being punished for their sins!
did not just love and accept humanity, he identified with his humanity
and refused to compromise his humanity even in the temptations to turn
stones to bread and escape his humanity by testing God. When
Jesus was baptized, he identified not with John the Baptist but with
the sinners who were coming to be baptized. This is why John
questioned the request of Jesus to be baptized and said Jesus should
baptize him. Jesus insisted, and when Jesus was baptized in this
extraordinary identification with all humanity, the voice from heaven
proclaimed Jesus to be the beloved child of God in whom God is well
pleased. This voice thus included all humanity in what Jesus was
doing, and this includes you and me and "the least of these" throughout
the entire human race.
THE FINAL WORD OF HUMAN VALUE
summed up his mission for all of his followers in John 13:34-35 with
the new commandment that replaced all others: "I give you a new
commandment that you love one another just as I have loved you, that
you also love one another. By this shall all people know that you
are my disciples, if you love one another."
personal relationships and in every way opened to you, make love, not war.
the presence of the Spirit of Jesus be with and within you to give you
inner peace and to make you an instrument of love and peace wherever
you go and with everyone that you meet.
The following article on helping others was published 12/9/98 as an update for this web site.
"WHERE TO GO FOR HELP"
of you have written to me about your concern for friends and relatives
who are struggling with their sexual orientation, self-acceptance,
depression, family problems, and even threats of suicide.
can you help your friends and relatives who are being overwhelmed by
the homophobic pressures that they face? If you have written to
me, you know that I have attempted to listen to you and respond with
the best information that I know. Here are a few suggestions that
could be helpful.
underlying difficulty in dealing with sexual orientation is the fact
that most problems are caused by ignorance, not by sin!
Accusations of "sin", "guilt", and other forms of religious attacks
against homosexuals complicates our efforts to help one another with
sexual orientation and practical personal and family problems.
Cultural stereotypes of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people
also create barriers to health and self-esteem. What can you do?
Jesus listened first and fit his healing and teaching to each
individual. Listening is the first step in personal evangelism
and in every ministry of help that follows the pattern of Jesus.
Listening is also the first step in modern psychotherapy, medicine,
law, and retail sales! Listening means hearing without judgment
AND LOOK AT THE PROBLEM. Clarify what your friend has told
you. Be sure you are really hearing what your friend is
saying. Don't jump to conclusions. Ask, "Is this what you
are saying?" or "Is this what you mean?" and let your friend reply and
explain until you really know what is being said and felt.
AND SHARE HONEST INFORMATION. Honest information about sexual
orientation and spiritual issues can be hard to find. A great
flood of anti-gay and "ex-gay" homophobic books, web sites, and links
has been unleashed in recent months. Many of the web sites are
deceptive and offer "spiritual help" to homosexuals but deliver
spiritual chaos and misleading untrue "information" and
"statistics". For reliable information in addition to "Steps to
Recovery from Bible Abuse", look at my "Resources and References" and
use the many sources of information that are given by PFLAG
(Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) in a number of good web sites and many links.
4.READ AND STUDY ALL OF MY WEB SITE.
"Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse"
now contains over 230 pages of basic information and updates. It
always takes time to learn new information and especially when that new
information challenges and contradicts the "conventional wisdom" about
sexual orientation that dominates our culture today. Learn the
truth about the Bible and homosexuality and other issues related to
5.PASS THE TRUTH ON TO OTHERS. Tell others how and where to find my web site. Order a set of my materials in my "New Gay Spiritual Survival Kit" in the "Contact Us" section of my site.
OTHERS TO BECOME HELPERS. Whenever you are trying to help a
troubled person deal with personal problems, keep in mind that whatever
that person learns about how to handle stress and pressure will prepare
him/her to help others with the same difficulties.
ANSWERS. When you don't know the answers to questions that
distress other people, study and find answers. Feel free to
e-mail me about questions that you face. The answers are out
there somewhere. Don't give up.
PEOPLE TOGETHER. Help people with problems to meet and share with
others who are dealing with similar situations. This can be done
through e-mail, letters, phone calls, and personal contacts. You
always grow stronger in your own life when you can help someone else
grow stronger in theirs.
AND DEAL WITH YOUR OWN PROBLEMS. Denial is the greatest enemy of
recovery. Admit and deal with your own issues. Learn the
facts about the abusive use of the Bible and oppressive religion.
Be clear about the scientific, medical, psychological, and legal facts
concerning homosexuality as set forth by the American professional
"Sexual Orientation and the Ex-Gay Fraud".)
A RECOVERY GROUP. I have no doubt that the best way for
individuals to resolve problems and issues related to sexual
orientation is in small groups that meet over a period of time.
Learning, growth, healing, and recovery take time. A regularly
meeting small group provides the setting for people in the group to
learn new information, test out ideas with one another, learn from one
another, and change the way they see themselves and each other.
Listening and sharing also take time. See my web site material on
"Start Your Own Group"
and write to me for detailed materials about setting up and facilitating a small group.
of you are already helping friends and members of your family to be
honest and to grow in knowledge and spiritual maturity. Some of
you have written to tell me about your experiences. Thank
you! Tell me what you are learning. Share your experience
with me and I will learn from you and pass on to others what you teach
me. With your permission, I will quote you and let your
experience speak to others as you have spoken to me.
"TALK ABOUT JESUS"
Update for February 1, 2005
I was professor of religion at the Baptist College of Charleston, I
suggested to my religion students that when they could not think of
what to say to talk about Jesus. Two of my students went to visit
one of their classmates to invite him to come to the Bible study that
they were having once a week in their room. When they knocked on
the door, they found the student was talking on the phone to his
girlfriend and was busy studying for a test. He barked out at the
two guys: "What do you want to talk about?"
of the students just smiled and replied: "Jesus"! The guy went
back to the phone and said, "You won't believe this, but two guys just
came in to talk to me about Jesus. I will call you back
later." He hung up the phone, and said, "OK, now talk." As
a result of this simple approach, the two students shared some
materials with their friend and he decided to become a Christian and
joined the Bible study group, and later he wrote a statement of his new
found faith and published it in the college newspaper.
TALKING ABOUT JESUS
life's work as given in my website and book has been basically "talking
about Jesus." Now that I am preparing a new book on the subject
of "Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up," I am reviewing my own
writings and years of personal journals. Who is Jesus? More
important, who is Jesus to you?
differences and contrasts do you see between Jesus and religion?
Look at the recent article by Bill Moyers "There is no tomorrow".
(See link below.) We are living in an extraordinary time of the
decline of common sense and a neglect of objective, logical,
reasonable, practical thinking about just about everything. Bill
Moyers spells this out in his powerful informed analysis of where we
are headed in our current religion/political headlong plunge into
DISCOVERING THE REAL JESUS
within yourself and ask yourself who Jesus is to you right now.
Pray. Let God help you through the Spirit to understand and
accept yourself. You cannot accept Jesus until you accept
yourself. You cannot discover Jesus until you discover
yourself. Your image of Jesus is directly influenced by your own
image of yourself. Jesus in the Gospels is the ideal expression
of human nature that God intended for you and me to experience and
Jesus is pictured in the Gospel of John (13:34-35)
giving a summary of who he is and who you are: "Love one another
just as I have loved you." I still recommend that you give
yourself a quiet undistracted place and time to read through the Gospel
of Mark in one sitting. Use a modern language version like "The
Good News Bible," which was prepared to be simple and quickly read by
people who had learned English as a second language.
is simply turning your attention to your spiritual resources that are
already within you. You do not have to beg God for
anything. Like any loving parent, God according to Jesus is
already ready and able to give you whatever you need. You
do not need any ritual or church or priest or preacher to enable you to
communicate with God and to receive everything that God has prepared
for you to live a full and meaningful life.
to meditate. I am beginning to grasp just how complicated and yet
simple meditation can be. Find the path of inner exploration and
peace that fits you. The Old Testament suggestion: "Be still and
know that I am God" literally means "let go and relax." The
Hebrew means "cease striving." Religion and churches teach you to
struggle and strain and work out everything. You don't have to do
that! God has created you in God's image and given to you the
Spirit and love in great abundance. You are never a lonely
pilgrim trying to make your way over a path of bloody rocks and
threatening shadows. You are a child of the Creator and a
follower of Jesus, and you will succeed. You will make it.
You will find the path that fits you.
201 W. Washington St. #805
Greenville, SC 29601
See a great article by Bill Moyers at:
to all of you who have made contributions to help me stay on the
Internet. I continue to need your financial support for my
Internet ministry. Look at my website and click on "information
about making financial contributions" on my homepage or click here: APPEALFORHELP