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Jesus Bible Studies
Jesus Bible Studies

Jesus for the Twenty-first century and Beyond
For Everybody Abused and Alienated by Religion
Click here for my most recent study (5/30/03) of "The Real Jesus"

Studies related to Jesus in the Four Gospels are being developed and will be published by Chi Rho Press.  The material about Jesus will be a sequel to "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse" and will provide Bible Study Lessons for inclusive congregations and for anyone who wants to begin and sustain spiritual study and dialogue as an individual, with a partner or in a small group in their home.

The purpose of these studies will be to draw upon the very best of Bible study tools and research coupled with practical experience and application to our present world.  Special attention will be given to the issues that concern GLBT people and their families, friends and supporters.  Focus of these lessons will be centered in Jesus as seen in the Four Gospels in those sections that most clearly speak to the issues faced by anyone who wants to be inclusive, objective, realistic and logical about spirituality and faith.

The first 26 lessons will be based upon the Gospel of Luke.  The next 26 lessons will be based upon the Gospel of John.  Both of these Gospels give special attention to the unconditional inclusive love of God taught and demonstrated in the life and teachings of Jesus.  The problem that any of us face when we go to the biblical material for a fresh look and hope for real help is the fact that we have spent a lifetime being told by certain religious authorities what the biblical material means. 

When I taught Bible courses at Baptist College of Charleston, SC, from 1973 to 1981, I soon learned that the most difficult part of teaching Bible on a college level was helping students to unlearn the absolute teachings and doctrinal formulas that they had learned from their childhood and that they had not been given opportunity to question and think for themselves.  It was like having college science students who had been convinced in their earliest training that the earth is flat and the sun revolves abound the earth and that the core of the earth was the location of a fiery hell to which they would be consigned if they did not accept and obey the religion of their parents.

Some students in my classes had been brought up in a religious environment that caused them to believe that any disagreement with their family religion was itself a sin.  I had a number of pastors and church leaders in my classes.  Many of the religious people in the classes had great difficulty being open to new ideas and fresh information.  While I was at the college, I had over 5,000 students in my classes.  Every religious group and sub-group was represented.  I look back now and wonder how in the world we got through those classes!

Some of my classes were much too large for the kind of dialogue that I wanted.  I had several Bible survey classes of over 300 students.  This required many hours of personal counseling with students and demanded careful preparation of material that could be grasped easily by everyone.  It was 8 years of preparation for what I am doing now in churches, e-mail, this Web site and in my books.

"JESUS BIBLE STUDIES" will expand and build upon the current material in this Web site and my book and will be based on continuing biblical research and my ongoing personal experiences that I have shared with many of you and on what I have learned from you.

Below is an overview of the purpose and beginning lessons in the series.


From 1973 to 1979, I wrote Adult Sunday School lessons for the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board.  During this time, I had the privilege of receiving the best training available in lesson writing from experts in many fields at writer's conferences that were required for every lesson writer.  Writing for Southern Baptists was an exciting and rewarding ministry that I will always treasure and that I have drawn upon in my entire writing ministry for Christian GLBT people.

The Gospel of John was the basis for the last series of Southern Baptist Adult lessons that I wrote.  When I was about half way through the series, an editor at the Board contacted me to tell me that they had received word from a Baptist pastor in the Midwest who had heard rumors that I was gay.  The Board, therefore, had cancelled my contract and could not use me to write lessons any more.  This was long before I was asked to resign from the Baptist College in Charleston in 1981.

Now 20 years later, Southern Baptists have launched a Sunday School lesson war against Gay and Lesbian people through their use of biblical literalism and homophobic legalistic judgmental abusive use of the Bible against my homosexual sisters and brothers.  The first strike against us was in January 31, 1999, when adult lessons were based on the six Bible passages most often used to attack homosexuals (frequently called the "Clobber Passages").  These obscure and usually overlooked brief passages have come in recent years to be used as the major weapons in the arsenal of attack and destroy against homosexuals. 

These six passages are explained at length in my web site and in my  book on "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse."  My present "Jesus Bible Study Lessons" are an attempt to give the other side of the truth that Southern Baptists and others now have obscured in their war against us.  These lessons also are intended to encourage you to organize your own study groups within and outside of churches and in private homes to explore and learn the truth of God's love and acceptance of all people through Jesus Christ as presented in the Four Gospels.

The Lesson Plan

The plan of the lessons will be similar to that followed by Southern Baptists.  A passage of Scripture that shows clearly the true mission and message of Jesus will be given with careful attention to biblical backgrounds and word studies.  Then the passage will be applied to life situations and issues that all people face.  Questions for further study and group discussion will be suggested. 

Teacher's guides and lesson plans will also be made available to those who lead the study groups.  Your suggestions and questions about these materials will be most welcome and will help us to be responsive and helpful in what we provide for you to use in study materials, resources, and guides.   Pray for and help us to succeed in this project to take back the Bible for believers who have been condemned and rejected because of their sexual orientation.

Subjects of the Lessons

The Jesus Bible Studies will be published in "quarterlies" every three months to provide 13 lessons for each week plus an additional lesson for the fifth Sundays.  The subjects to be covered will be guided by current events and issues that are important to the Gay community.  The quarterlies will be dated, but can be used at any time.  A new series of lessons will be made available one month in advance of the starting date for those who subscribe to the lessons.  Details about subscribing will be available from Chi Rho Press, the publisher and distributor for this project.

The first two series of 13 lessons each will study experiences and teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke.  The theme will be "Compassion and Hope."  We will study the passages that most clearly give guidance and help to people of all sexual orientations who want to know and follow Jesus into a full and meaningful life of self-esteem, joy, wholeness, inner peace, and peace with God.  The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, also by Luke, are the only New Testament books that were written by a Gentile (a non-Jew).  The theme throughout Luke is the inclusive gospel for all people.  An introduction to Luke is included in the first lesson quarterly.

I recommend William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke in "The Daily Study Bible series" Revised Edition: The Westminster Press, 1975.  This is a clear and easy to read guide to the background and main ideas of Luke that I suggested to my college students.  Other resources will be included in the lessons.  The entire Daily Bible Study Series by William Barclay on all of the books of the New Testament will be a useful and informative source to supplement your studies in all of these lessons.  The entire series is available in an inexpensive paperback set.  Use Barclay's commentaries on the Four Gospels to supplement the material in first year of  "Jesus Bible Studies."  Barclay's material will be especially useful to teachers who lead the study of these lessons.

The third and fourth series of thirteen lessons each will explore the great themes of "Truth and Freedom" in The Gospel of John that the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board removed me from writing over twenty years ago.  I have learned a lot in the past 20 years, and these lessons hopefully will be a vast improvement over the first ones that I was writing.


Lessons being developed and written for the First Series:

Introduction:  Gathering Evidence About Jesus.  Luke 1:1-4
(Developing a point of view)

1. How Jesus Came Out
Luke 2:40-52; Luke 3:1-22;
Luke 19:28-48; Luke 24:1-53

2. How Jesus Handled Pressure
Luke 6:1-19

3. How Jesus Related to Women
Luke 8:1-3 and 10:38-42

4. How Jesus Related to Men
Luke 5:1-11

5. Jesus Prayed
Luke 6:6-16; 11:1-13

6. Jesus Touched Lepers
Luke 5:12-16; 17:11-19

7. Jesus Broke Religious Laws
Luke 6:1-5; 11:37-41

8. Jesus Taught Inclusive Love
(Love your enemies)
Luke 6:27-38

9. Who Is the Greatest?
(Rank and Status in Jesus)
Luke 9:43-62

10. Choosing Your Friends
Luke 5:1-11; 6:12-38; 10:1-24

11. Correcting Bible Abuse
Luke 4:1-13; 13:10-17

12. Getting the Point Across  (Parables)
Luke 6:39-49

13. Why People Don't Listen
Luke 8:4-18 (Parable of Soils)

See special material on "JESUS AND FAMILY VALUES"
See also:
"How Jesus Came Out" and "IMAGINING JESUS" and on "FOLLOWING THE WRONG JESUS" (5/15/01) and "JESUS FOR DUMMIES"  5/18/01 and "IDENTIFYING WITH JESUS" 7/26/01.
See special item on
"TWELVE STEPS TO RECOVERING JESUS" 2/10/02 and added material on "JESUS FOR DUMMIES" 2/9/02.  See "THE JESUS WITHIN" 3/10/02

This material sets forth the underlying purpose of the Jesus Bible Studies:


Several years ago when I was pastor of MCC Nashville, a middle-aged man in a nearby town called me to talk about his distress and confusion about the religious abuse that he had suffered because he was gay.  He was married and had two children.  He went to a fundamentalist church and was afraid that somebody would discover his terrible secret that he was gay.  I tried to explain the good news of Jesus to him and show how the gospel has been distorted and misrepresented by homophobic abusive religion.  I asked him if he had ever asked Jesus to come into his life and help him.

His reply was: "I never turned to Jesus, because I did not think that Jesus wanted me."  I still tear up when I remember his emotional tone when he told me this.  I tried to assure him that Jesus did love and accept him.  He decided he wanted to pray and ask Jesus to come into his life now.  We prayed together and the conversation ended.  Several weeks later he called again to tell me how relieved he was about his connection with God now.  He still dared not tell anyone he was gay and he did not feel free to come to MCC to attend church.  He had, however, found inner peace and self-acceptance, which he had never enjoyed before.


Everybody already has some opinion about Jesus.  What is yours?  Where did you learn what you believe about Jesus?  Write a list of words or brief statements that you think describe Jesus for you.

If you are sharing in a group, talk about the lists and discuss how to describe Jesus in one brief statement.

Read carefully through the Gospel of Luke in preparation for this series of lessons.  Read slowly and make notes on the first 10 chapters of Luke.  What image of Jesus emerges for you in these chapters?

What brief statement best describes Jesus for you?


Emphasis on Jesus being inclusive in actions and teachings dominates Luke.  For people who have been systematically left out by the churches, the Gospel of Luke is a spiritual breath of fresh air.  The "unhindered gospel" that includes everybody is the theme of Luke and Acts.  Acts ends with the word "unhindered."  Luke and Acts are a two-part work that gives the details of the story of Jesus and the early followers of Jesus.

Luke was a close companion of Paul.  The "We Sections" of Acts (20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1--28:16) place Luke and Paul together in ministry.  At the end of the Second letter to Timothy, Paul said, "Only Luke is with me." (2 Timothy 4:11)  Luke was a Gentile and probably wrote or helped to write about half of the New Testament.  Luke knew what it was like to be excluded from religion and from the love of God by exclusive religion.  He worked hard in careful research to set the record straight and tell the truth about Jesus accurately and carefully.  Read Luke 1:1-4 and memorize these four brief verses.  They state the purpose and methodology of Luke.

Read Luke 4:16-30 now to get the flavor of the Inclusive Gospel of Luke.  Learn the details of this account of the first teaching ministry of Jesus recorded in Luke.


Following Jesus means relating to other people with gentleness and respect (See 1 Peter 3:15).  Following Jesus includes listening, asking questions, giving answers, accepting yourself and others, feeling compassion, seeing potential in every person, working hard and taking time for rest and reflection, always putting people first, and constantly redefining the meaning of love by your own words and example.  These are some of the obvious features of the life of Jesus that create a pattern for us.

To Jesus, helping people meant realizing that people always were more important than religion.  Jesus frequently broke the current religious laws in order to help people.  Following Jesus means seeing every person as having equal value before God no matter what the world or abusive religion might say.  Following Jesus means noticing people and focusing on practical help for troubled people undistracted by religious customs and prejudices.

Following Jesus is based on a clear positive acceptance of yourself as having value to God, yourself and the world.  You are created in the image of God.  You already have within your being the potential for the Spirit of Jesus to empower and guide you and to teach you to become a teacher and healer yourself.

Jesus has not called us to walk on water or miraculously feed the multitudes.  Such supernatural events can happen whenever God wills them.  But they are not events that we can will and create.  Jesus has called you to follow him in becoming the most honest loving human that you can be.  To be like Jesus is to be truly human and truly obedient to God.

A revelation came to me when I read carefully what Jesus did at his first recorded public appearance in the Temple (Luke 2:40-52).  Jesus listened, asked questions, and gave answers.  When I read that, I said, "I can do that!"  It was a great event for me to realize so clearly that the human Jesus was the Jesus that I was to follow.  The humanity of Jesus in his relationship to people became for me the unexpected window on reality and truth for my own life.

Perhaps the greatest miracle of all is God's loving powerful deliverance from abusive oppressive religion and the new freedom that floods our lives when we follow Jesus as human beings in the image of God and not as those who struggle vainly to be God.  For Jesus, most formal traditional religion was an idolatrous substitute for God.

Following Jesus is freedom from abusive sick religion.  Following Jesus is finding freedom and bringing as many other people as possible along with you.  Look within.  Look at other people.  You already have within you and in the people you meet the greatest source for knowing God that is available in human experience.  No matter who you are, you are not trash.  You are not junk.  You are not garbage.  You are the child of God.  Jesus saw himself as the child of God and made it clear that he also saw you as a child of God.


Following Jesus moves us into a new level of intense communion with God and into a fantastic realization of our own spiritual potential.  Following Jesus creates in us an intense concern and involvement in the pain and suffering and potential of other people.  There are no boundaries or limits to what is possible in following Jesus.  Religion always sets clear boundaries and limits.  Jesus crashed through all of the barriers that separate people from God and from each other.

The intensity of Jesus is often almost overwhelming when you put yourself into the place of Jesus and feel what he was feeling in the situations described by Luke in the first 10 chapters.  Jesus knew who he was and why he was in the world.  What was more intense: the encounter of Jesus as a boy with religious teachers in the Temple or the encounter with his parents when they found him and scolded him for causing them pain?  Both of these experiences say as much about you and me as about Jesus.  Otherwise, there would be no reason to include them.

Perhaps the most intense situation of Jesus described by Luke before the trial and crucifixion is the encounter of Jesus with his hometown people in Luke 4:16-30, where he revealed his true identity and inclusive mission.  His boyhood neighbors tried to kill him.  Jesus faced abusive religion with confidence and faith in God.  What if Jesus had been killed by the mob that day?  God kept Jesus safe to continue his mission, and God will preserve you also to continue and complete your call to follow Jesus.  If you suffer and die, it is for a purpose.  You don't destroy your own life.  You keep going by whatever path is open to you as long as you can.


Whatever else the life of Jesus was, it was never dull.  Following Jesus is the most exciting thing you can do.  It is also the most rewarding and fulfilling.  Following Jesus always means letting go of the things that inappropriately control your life.  That can be vocation, religion, relationships, attitudes, addictions, pride, greed and anything else that gets in the way of your clear vision of Jesus.  You cannot follow anyone whom you cannot see.

The purpose of these lessons is to guide your thinking about Jesus in directions that are true to the Gospel and are realistic and objective.  These lessons are intended both as information and motivation that will help you to follow the real Jesus and not some inadequate imitation that others have created for you.  The legalistic judgmental image of Jesus is incorrect.  The rigidly set doctrinal propositions about Jesus that have often dominated religious teachings are misleading and contradictory.

Jesus is not a proposition.  Jesus is a person, just like you.  You are not a doctrine.  You are a human in the image of God living a dynamic life of constant change and growth.  When Jesus becomes part of your life, you learn to accept yourself as you are and continue to live and grow as before but in new positive directions that fit you as an individual and equip you to make a difference and be a difference for good.

In many ways, Jesus came to replace religion with something better: himself.  "Follow Me" was the first and last invitation of Jesus in the Four Gospels (Matthew 4:19 and John 21:22).  "Follow me" is the invitation that Jesus extends to all people.  This inclusive offer makes no distinction in sex, age, sexual orientation, education, race, religious rank, class or any other human classification of people.  "Follow me" includes you.  Jesus has offered himself to you.  How you go about knowing Jesus and relating to Jesus in ways that fit you is up to you.  Nobody else can decide this for you.

As you enter into this material about Jesus, you can count on having the help of the Spirit of Jesus to be your teacher and guide by bringing to your mind what Jesus did and taught (John 14:26 and 16:13-14).

Update for May 15, 2001

We all follow something.  Some of us follow the crowd or follow our own "impossible dream" or our instincts.  We follow people, especially "the leader."  We follow religion, the Bible, the law, an attractive role model, the example of someone we admire, the teachings of our church, and the desires of our hearts.

Sometimes we follow the map, only to discover that we have the wrong map.  We follow directions, and realize that we have them backwards.  A lot of us try to cut through the confusion by "following Jesus" only to wake up to the startling fact that we are following the wrong Jesus.  How did that happen!  Simple.  The source of our Jesus information was incorrect, distorted, misinformed or just plain muddled.

I have lost count of the number of times that people have written to me after reading some (not much) of my material to preach to me about the "Commandment Jesus" who demands that we keep his commandments, which they spell out as legalistic judgmental religion, the exact religion that Jesus rejected.


The recent Robert Spitzer study of GLBT people who claim to have been changed from homosexual to heterosexual orientation has distracted a lot of people from the truth.  This now discredited "study" has become the new banner of "ex-gay" homophobia and sparked a great debate and a huge waste of time.  My reply to all of the "ex-gay" nonsense is already in my web site and book.  The American Psychiatric Association issued an immediate rejection of the study.

Spitzer claimed that "highly motivated" people could change their sexual orientation.  Highly motivated people, like Adolf Hitler and most psychopaths, can indeed change everything --except themselves.  Being highly motivated by misinformation and distortions of reality is no advantage.  Someone has defined a fanatic as someone who has lost their sense of direction and redoubled their efforts.  When you are running down the wrong road, running faster only compounds your problems.


Gordon Allport in his book on "The Individual and His Religion" said that all motivation is difficult to trace, and religious motivation is impossible to trace.  The Bible is used as the basis for most religion based "therapy" to try to change the sexual orientation of GLBT people.  The Bible, however, nowhere says that homosexuals can or should change their sexual orientation.  So where does the religious basis for "ex-gay" ministries come from?

Religious motivation is a mystery to me.  I do not know why so many people insist on believing religious nonsense and messing up their own lives to please a discredited abusive religious system.  Why does religion have the power to stupefy the brains of so many people and convince them that abusive sick religion is the way of life?  There has to be some as yet unclear force that can "highly motivate" the practice of destructive religion that is running rampant over the lives of millions of people.


One reason for this update reply to Spitzer's "study" is e-mail yesterday from Mel White asking if I planned to respond to Spitzer.  Much of the ministry of Soulforce is a direct reply to all of the "ex-gay" industry.  My web site and book are my reply to the "ex-gay" disaster.  Mel prompted me to rethink the whole issue of sexual orientation.

I have believed for a long time that whether homosexuality is an orientation or a choice makes little difference.  If one decides that same-sex relationships are more appealing and more satisfying than heterosexual, then why should the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" be denied?  The only basis for denying our right to the freedom to find happiness in same-sex relationships is abusive distorted misinformed religion, which I flatly reject as alien to the Spirit of Jesus and as a destructive demeaning use of religious power to control people in the name of false gods.

Multitudes of people are "following the wrong Jesus"!  Jesus is not the image of legalistic judgmental sick religion pictured in many churches today.  Jesus is, however, a clear demonstration of self-acceptance and respect for and acceptance of all people.  Jesus embodies the inclusive unconditional love of God that leaves out nobody and believes that all people have equal value before God.

Rembert Truluck

My "proof text" for today is Romans 15:7:
"Accept one another (and yourself), just as Christ also accepted
you to the glory of God." (my paraphrase)

See my material on the "Ex-Gay Fraud":

See the entire Spitzer study and analysis by the "Ex-Gay" side at "New Direction" (Thanks to Maggie Heineman)

See Soulforce site.

This material was added on April 22, 2001:


Recently I visited the Zen garden in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.  This week is the Cherry Blossom Festival.  I was struck as never before by the mood of tranquility and peace that is caused by the beauty of nature in flowers, trees, rocks, running water and the careful trimming and shaping of shrubs and flowering plants.  When I go to the garden, I always ask God what I need to learn today.  This time the answer was powerful and relevant to all that I have written and plan to write.  "Look for the beauty in Jesus."

We are constantly seeking for wisdom, power, answers, understanding and truth.  God made me to see again that beauty is truth and truth is beauty.  "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever."  Yesterday also was "Earth Day."  What are you doing to make the world, including humans, a more beautiful place?


We are so caught up in controversies and explanations about religion and the Bible that it is very easy to plow ahead with our heads down and our minds full and overflowing with questions that we fail to look up and take in the beauty that is already all around us.  People are beautiful.  You are beautiful.  The world around you is beautiful.  Most of all, Jesus is beautiful.

Centuries of religious art have tried to express the beauty of Jesus, but these efforts have only expressed the ideas and inspiration of the artists.  The beauty of Jesus goes far beyond human imagination and any artist's ability.  Jesus is to some extent like a beautiful sunset or a brilliant rainbow.  You cannot explain either of them, but you can enjoy them and be inspired and uplifted by them.

Explanations and doctrinal statements cannot express fully the beauty of Jesus.  Even music and the visual arts fall short.  Just as there is a great deal of beauty within you that others might not see, the beauty of Jesus grows on you throughout your life and is more spiritual than visible.

Beauty is by nature true, inspiring, pleasing, and a revelation from God.

Years ago Tim, the twelve-year old son of Baptist missionaries, asked me to help him invite Jesus into his life and be baptized.  Tim's parents were Southern Baptist missionaries to Argentina and were on a visit to Greenwood, SC.  After Tim prayed to invite Jesus into his life, I asked him how he felt about it.  His face lit up and he broke into a big grin from ear to ear and said one word: "Happy!"  That memory remains with me as one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.


Many of you have worked long and hard to win victories for the truth of God's unconditional inclusive love in Jesus.  You have also been fighting for spiritual beauty.  Your face reflects whatever is in your heart.  If Jesus is in your heart, your face and your personality will reflect it.  You don't have to be physically beautiful to show forth the beauty of God's love in your conversation, your attitudes, and your way of relating to other people.

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about Jesus was his way of relating to children, women, the sick, outcasts, lepers and all marginalized rejected people.  We cannot know how the face of Jesus looked.  This is probably a good thing.  No two people look exactly alike, and one person's idea of a beautiful face might be quite the opposite from another.

The hand that is extended to lift you up from the pit of despair and self-hate is far more beautiful than the hand that points to you as an abomination to God or coils into a fist to beat the pulpit to accompany shouts of rebuke and condemnation.  All hands might look alike, but we do not see all hands the same.

"Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" We see Jesus through our own spiritual eyes and see what our hearts tell and confirm within us is true and beautiful.  Nobody else can see the beauty of Jesus for you.  You have to see it for yourself.

We not only resist and avoid spiritual violence; we also discover and share spiritual beauty wherever we go.  Love, joy and peace express spiritual beauty.  "A thing of beauty is a joy for ever" is more than just a happy slogan.  It gives expression to the heart that has found beauty in Jesus.

Perhaps the opposite of spiritual violence is not spiritual non-violence but spiritual beauty.

"Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only those who see take off their shoes.
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries."
--Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Update added February 9, 2001:

Who is Jesus to you?  This question is filling my mind and guiding my research and writing as I try to put together the first series of "Jesus Bible Studies" and make them relevant and practical for you.  I want the first 13 lessons to be ready on April 1, 2001.  I would like to hear from you.

Write out a brief one-paragraph statement of how you view Jesus.  Send your statement to me in e-mail with permission for me to quote you.

As I search my own mind and experience, I have wrestled with how to grasp the reality of Jesus without keeping Jesus imprisoned in ancient forms and ideas that simply do no speak to me today.  The Four Gospels are part of the problem.  They are ancient literature from a culture and society 2,000 years ago, and none of our way of seeing people, the universe or anything else is the same now.  I have been reviewing my own studies of the Gospels.

My friend Rev. Carolyn Mobley said to me on the phone this morning that one main problem is our tendency to view Jesus in abstractions like physical images and doctrines and not to encounter Jesus as a real person.  We discussed how Jesus reaches out to people through us.  We can see Jesus in the individual next to us.  We can also see Jesus in ourselves.


Carolyn said that the main thing that Jesus means to her is liberation.  I have felt for some time that the main thing that Jesus means to me is acceptance.  Liberation and acceptance go hand in hand.  Carolyn also spoke to me of "slavery theology" that developed during the years of slavery and still influences religion in America.

Jesus in the Gospels clearly was on a mission to liberate people from bondage, including bondage to self-hate and fear.  Abusive religion was the most obvious source of spiritual slavery that Jesus faced.  Jesus spent a great deal of his life and teachings dealing with deliverance from sick oppressive legalism that dominated the society of his time.  One of my favorite quotes is from Harry Emerson Fosdick, who said: "What Freud called religion, Jesus called sin."

Slavery takes many forms.  Abusive obsessive substance addiction, pride, codependent relationships, sick religion, work, sex, food, television, pleasure, ambition, church work, and a thousand other controlling forces can enslave us and limit our lives.  If Jesus can somehow liberate us from inappropriate destructive controlling forces in our lives, we can enjoy a far better life and a far more positive self-image.

The question is: "How can we experience Jesus and the Spirit of Jesus within the present religion soaked environment where we live today?"  Can we escape from the traditional pictures and other misrepresentations of Jesus and find the Spirit of Jesus that fits us and is relevant to us where we really live?


Searching for spiritual truth about God and Jesus is a never-ending story.  I certainly have not found all of the answers, but I keep listening and studying and learning.  So do you.  Many detours and distractions come along to use up our energy and time.  Chasing confusing and misinformed religious speculations wears us out and prevents us from learning the truth in Jesus that could make a real positive difference for us.

Tell me your perception of Jesus.  Keep it simple and brief (two or three lines) so that I can quickly grasp what you say.  When you send it to me, please also tell me a little about yourself as to sex, age, orientation, work, religion and anything else that will help to identify you.


he endless flow of books, web sites, journals, television programs and other resources that deal with Jesus is overwhelming.  I have to be selective in my research.  My mind is just as limited as yours.  I feel like the little boy in school in the Gary Larsen cartoon who raised his hand and said, "Teacher, may I be excused, my brain is full!"

Thank you for whatever you write.

Rembert Truluck   (CLICK HERE TO SEND E-MAIL)

Update for February 15, 2001
(A followup to the update above)


Thank you very much for your responses to my question about who Jesus is to you.  I have read and printed out every response, and I now have a huge stack of e-mail letters!  Your ideas and experiences have been my teacher.  Your clear objective realistic view of abusive religion and its effects on you and others is obvious in your letters.  Your personal experiences have been encouraging and informative.  No two people view Jesus exactly the same.  You have seen clearly the contrast between Jesus and religion.

I hope that you have grown stronger and been encouraged by thinking about Jesus and writing your thoughts to me.

Many of you have suggested helpful resources about Jesus in books and Web sites.  I have been encouraged in writing the "Jesus Bible Studies" and have a better sense of what I should write to be helpful to you.

You have confirmed my conviction that the human life of Jesus gives us great help and encouragement in dealing with the pressures of everyday life that we face.  Many of you have emphasized the importance of the human nature of Jesus in your experience of identifying with Jesus and receiving practical help.


Lately, I have begun to realize that homosexuals are a special gifted human life form.  We always have been.  Society and culture have successfully confined and subdued us because of fear.  We are different.  But we are not bad. We are incredibly good.  We have powers that we are taught to deny and reject.  We have been deceived into believing that we are abnormal depraved humans, when we actually are superior gifted humans.

We live in a long line of gifted people who were different and considered to be "misfits" and who challenged the system, including Jacob, Tamar, Joseph, Ruth, King David, Akhenaton, Socrates, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Paul, St. Francis, King James I, Queen Victoria, Abraham Lincoln, Mae West, Martin Luther King, Jr., Liberace, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and many others including you and me.  Oscar Wilde, one of my ancestors, was a great prophet and victim of the world's war against homosexuals.

How do you view yourself as a homosexual person?  You are different and you are gifted and powerful beyond your own awareness.

The positive power of homosexuals has always been limited by social, religious and political methods of isolation and control used against us.  Who will bring us out into the open and bring us together to become the redeeming and transforming positive power in the world that we were created to be?  God?


God is with us because God has created us just as we are in order to accomplish something so important and so incredible that we have not yet imagined it.  What is it?  Does God want us to come out and come together in order fully to experience, express, and enjoy our humanity?  Is this the purpose of Jesus as pictured in the Gospels?  Is our mission in life simply to be and accept our humanity as our greatest gift from God?  Can we learn to enjoy being who we are and resist striving to become equal with God to play our own dismal game of "I'm god, and you're not"?


I have believed for a long time that lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans people are the strongest people in the world simply because we have to go through such intense psychological, physical, spiritual, social calisthenics just to survive.  If we grow up into adults, we have gifts and powers that others have missed.

The AIDS epidemic has taken many of our people from us.  The Names Project quilt is being moved to Atlanta to have more storage space.  If all of the quilt panels were laid end to end, they would stretch for 50 miles!  But the AIDS epidemic also has made us stronger.  It has brought us together.  It has united us as never before.  The Names Project, Open Hand, MCC AIDS ministries, shared pain and loss across all orientation and racial lines, various activist movements, and especially the compassionate practical support that we have given to each other has created a sense of unity and group identity that homosexuals never had before.

We have experienced and learned a lot.  We are far better informed with the facts than ever before.  We have won and are in the process of winning many battles for acceptance and affirmation in our culture.  There have been setbacks, of course, but the progress of our social acceptance and our personal freedom continues at an accelerating rate.


As we wrestled with self-acceptance and resisted the social and religious pressures to reject and hate ourselves, we had little help from churches, schools, parents, and public opinion.  We learned to think for ourselves, or we did not survive.  We are not likely to let ignorant homophobic people run over us and jerk us around without a fight.

We are better equipped to be objective and realistic than most people, and we are growing stronger every day.  There is a great deal of hope in our future.  There is a lot of light at the end of our tunnel, and it's not an oncoming train!

Declare and exercise your independence.  Think for yourself.  Learn all of the facts that you need to accept yourself and grow in self-esteem and confidence.  The truth is out there.  Be selective in what you read, learn, believe and imagine.  You are in control of your own ideas.  Good for you!


if you have not yet written a reply, I would like to read your answer to: "Who is Jesus to you?"  Write two or three lines to give me a brief reply.  I will report further to you on what you have written when I have time to assimilate and reflect upon your ideas.  One writer asked: "When will we see the responses of the others who write?"  That is a good question, and I have not yet decided how much of the material I can put on my Web site.  The great volume of material that is being accumulated makes it impossible to send it all back out for you to see it.  I will draw on your letters in writing the "Jesus Bible Studies."  Thank you again for making the Internet truly interactive.  We are learning from each other, and that's good.

Update added March 3, 2001:

Where is your focus?  What do you think about when you are not occupied with work or other routine activities?  Where does your mind automatically turn when you are free to think about whatever interests you most?

Honestly answering that question can be quite disturbing.  It might reveal more than you want to know about who you really are and what your true priorities have become.

I am fascinated by how much time and effort are being spent on the Internet to wrestle with LGBT church and political issues and events that have little bearing on where we really are and on what we can do to act on and enjoy who we are.  What difference does it really make that church leaders argue and debate endlessly about the role of LGBT people in churches that call themselves "Christian" yet have lost any semblance of what Jesus obviously taught and intended in the Gospels?

What difference do various actions and reactions to the Boy Scouts really matter to GLBT people who are debating their own personal right to exist as valid human beings and who continue to commit suicide at 4 times the rate of everybody else?  What difference does it make that cities and states are debating and deciding whether to honor GLBT committed relationships and marriages when the religious institutions that control marriage and other social customs continue to damn homosexuals to hell and teach lies and mistakes about what the Bible really says about sexual orientation and about everything else?


Nobody can emphasize everything.  We have no choice but to be selective.  We cannot study and understand everything.  Our minds, our time and our capacity to learn are limited.  Is there a good argument for focusing on Jesus?  What do you have to neglect in order to focus on Jesus?  Is the attempt to focus on Jesus really worth the effort?  So much misinformation and mythology have developed about Jesus through generations of religious confusion and abuse that knowing the "real" Jesus seems to be an impossible elusive undertaking.

Yet to focus on the mess you are in or on the negative things that other people say about and to you or on any other distracting and unprofitable pursuits that crowd into your mind and life can keep you from focusing on a spiritual direction that offers great hope for changing yourself and your world: Jesus.

Exploring new worlds and new ways of seeing old worlds can be extraordinarily demanding.  When Johann Sebastian Bach was a boy, he disobeyed his parents and copied all of his brother's music by candlelight late at night when everyone else had gone to bed.  His parents found his copies and destroyed them.  Young Bach simply waited and resumed copying the music again late at night instead of sleeping.  Building on his knowledge of music and his creative mind, Bach set into motion and began the formulation of music that is the foundation for classical music.  All subsequent music was to some extent built upon what J. S. Bach created.

What are you willing to do in order to learn and create spiritually what has yet to be realized and built upon Jesus?  Where do you begin?  It is impossible for anyone now to read and learn all of the tons of material about Jesus that have accumulated even in the past few decades.  Search engines now direct you to thousands of web sites related to Jesus.  Any community library contains more books related to Jesus than you can reasonably read and digest.  Libraries in theological schools and seminaries offer more books and articles than you could read and master in a lifetime.  And why would you want to?  Much of the accumulated literature related to Jesus is highly speculative and is based on misinformation and various distortions and misrepresentations of biblical material.


What is a better way or a more compelling focus for spiritual research than Jesus?  What approach to Jesus can be relevant to you personally and to the culture and rapidly changing world and universe in which we live?  Does that approach have a name?  If so, what?  Do we have to begin with biblical literalism, or is there a better way?  How can we cut through the jungle of wild religious growth and create a clean well-lighted place to study and learn from Jesus?

These are not superficial concerns.  They are the barricades that we must storm and overcome to make any progress at all in our drive through enemy territory and our hope for coming to the knowledge of truth, beauty and love that have been promised in Jesus.  I personally have decided that knowing the real Jesus is worth whatever it takes.


Many of you who write to me have questioned why I use the Bible at all in trying to express truth about Jesus or about anything else.  I fully understand and appreciate your concerns, which I also share.  The Bible, including the Four Gospels, does not tell us everything that we need to know in order to know Jesus, but the Bible tells us things that we have to know in order to move on to see and experience Jesus for ourselves in our own minds and hearts and into the final reality of who and what we are when we follow Jesus.

 Jesus is both historical and existential.  We learn information and we experience the ring of truth in our own inner self.  The dynamic process of knowing Jesus is like the dynamic process of knowing any human being.  We relate to Jesus in those events and experiences that closely parallel our own and that say things to us that ring true to how we experience the world and the people around us.


The tremendous problem of multiple doctrines and statements of faith about Jesus and God overwhelms us.  We are distracted from the real Jesus by the mountain of propositions and religious statements that have developed in multitudes of different Christian traditions in attempts to describe Jesus and to create fool-proof formulas for stating the truth without any mixture of error.  No human being can be captured and completely expressed in words and propositions no matter how carefully crafted and refined.

Surely the most fully human of all people cannot be so easily classified and placed in a carefully created box of definitions and explanations.  No two people see any other person in exactly the same way.  We do not even see ourselves exactly the same from one moment to the next.  Jesus in a doctrinal box is not Jesus, any more than you in a particular temporary box is the real you.  Your view of yourself develops and evolves throughout your life.


Both you and Jesus are fully human.  You have that very necessary starting point.  It is at least a beginning.  The strangeness and divinity of Jesus have been emphasized so much by the historic churches as a means of controlling both the image of Jesus and the way people are allowed to view Jesus that the creative imagination of each individual about Jesus has been stifled and even forbidden.  No wonder we are in a spiritual mess!

Knowing and following the real Jesus can begin with an intentional radical rejection of everything that you have ever been told about Jesus.  Start over.  Question everything.  Start learning who Jesus really is to you.  Start now.

Read through the Gospel of Mark as if you had never seen it before and did not already know anything that it says.  Let your mind loose to chase every rabbit that springs to mind as you read.  Think new instant thoughts about what you are reading.  Laugh when it is funny.  Cry when it is sad.  Be amazed when it is amazing.  Enter emotionally without reservation into whatever happens within you as you read.

Read critically.  Ask why the picture of Jesus is given as it is.  Ask yourself what the material means to you personally.  Don't ask God to think for you.  Think for yourself.  That's why you have a brain in the first place.  When something in the story does seem to make sense to you, ask yourself why it does not make sense.  When you do, try to notice what this has taught you that you need to know in order to continue to learn and grow.

The Gospel is not a list of rules or a set of propositions.  It is a dynamic fully human story that you can grasp, with which you can identify and from which you can learn as much about yourself as about Jesus.

If it becomes too intense, put it down and rest and come back to it when you are ready.  Keep plunging back into it until a new exciting real Jesus emerges for you.  Then don't turn back.  Keep moving on and begin to build a new life and spiritual reality that actually fit you.  Go ahead; give it a try.

Let me know what happens.


A supernatural dimension is part of experiencing Jesus.  The Spirit is the interpreter and teacher "called alongside" and within you to make Jesus real, personal and relevant to you in ways that fit you as an individual.  This is a major theme of the Gospel of John from chapter 13 all the way to the end.  The continuing work of Jesus through the Spirit dominates the Book of Acts.  The Spirit is a key issue in the Gospel of Luke, where Luke frequently added references to the Spirit in material that he copied from Mark.

Professor Emil Brunner was the leading Christian theologian that we studied when I was taking theology courses at the seminary.  Brunner was the best-known student and interpreter of Karl Barth.  A student asked Brunner if he believed in the supernatural.  Brunner replied: "Do you realize what you have asked?  You have asked if I believe in God.  Of course I believe in God!"  Do you have room in your focus on Jesus to include the supernatural?

Whether or not you include the supernatural, the supernatural includes you.  Do you pray?  If so, why?  What do you pray about?  How much of your praying is listening?  What does prayer mean to you?  How much of the real Jesus can you experience without the supernatural?  These are basic questions as you develop your vision of Jesus that can bring peace within and peace on earth.

See new update added March 19, 2001: "JESUS OR THE BIBLE?"

The following material was prepared for the final session of New Visions II at Palo Alto First Presbyterian Church on Saturday, March 24, 2001. 


Luke 2:39-52:

"When Joseph and Mary had performed everything according to the Law of God, they returned to Galilee to their own city of Nazareth.  And the child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

His parents used to go to Jerusalem every year for the Feast of the Passover.  When Jesus became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the feast.  As they were returning after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents were unaware of it.  They supposed him to be in the caravan, and they went a day's journey.  Then they began looking for him among their relatives and acquaintances.  When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, looking for him.

After three days they found him in the temple.  He was sitting in the midst of the teachers listening to them and asking them questions.  All who heard Jesus were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

When his parents saw Jesus, they were astonished, and his mother said to him: Child, why have you treated us this way?  Now listen: Your father and I have been anxiously looking for you.

And Jesus said to them: Why is it that you were looking for me?  Did you not know that I have to be about my Father's business?

And they did not understand the statement that he had made to them.  And he went down with them to Nazareth and he continued in subjection to them.  His mother treasured all this things in her heart.

And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and the people. (Quote from 1 Samuel 2:26 except for "wisdom")"


"Follow Me" is the persistent invitation of Jesus to the great variety of people who came into his life.  It is the first and last invitation in the Four Gospels.  The human nature of Jesus invites imitation and is set forth in the Gospels as the example for all disciples.

Only Luke tells anything about Jesus before his coming out at his baptism by John the Baptist.  The appearance of Jesus at the Temple at the age of twelve is of great significance in the Gospel of Luke.  Jesus is pictured sitting with the teachers.  Sitting was the official posture of teachers and disciples.  Jesus identified himself as both a teacher and a learner in his first act of coming out.  Jesus listened and asked questions.  When I read that, I thought: "I can do that!"

Following Jesus means coming out and accepting who you are and acting on your true identity with courage and faith.


My earliest memory of Jesus is my mother reading to me from the big Bible Story book that was illustrated with colored pictures.  The pictures I remember best are of the boy Samuel standing in the Tabernacle and one of the boy Jesus standing in the midst of the teachers in the Temple.  These pictures are almost identical.  They both had on little "bathrobes" like mine.  They were standing respectfully before their elders.  Luke, however, said that Jesus was "sitting" in the midst of the teachers.  This image of Jesus at the age of twelve sitting like a teacher and a disciple is of great importance and is ignored in the paintings.

Searching the Internet, I found over 2,000 sites about Jesus and the Temple.  Many paintings have been created to picture Jesus in the Temple at the age of twelve. All but one of them showed Jesus and the teachers standing.  (See picture below.)  So much for artistic accuracy of the story of Jesus!  When you follow Jesus, you don't go around with a holy glow around your head, and you don't walk on water or raise the dead.  You listen and ask questions, and you sit with others just as Jesus did and you are available to listen and care.

Luke gives great emphasis later to Jesus sitting and eating with outcasts and "sinners".  Jesus was comfortable with everybody.  He knew who he was, and he had no fear of being with the wrong people.  At the age of twelve, Jesus declared himself to be different and special in God's plan for him.  So are you.  You are different and special.  God has a mission for you that nobody else can fill.  You are a unique individual with special gifts and a purpose in life that fits only you.


Mary and Joseph missed Jesus after they left Jerusalem and returned to find him in the Temple in dialogue with the teachers.  Jesus was declaring himself and demonstrating who he really was.  He was almost saying, "I am different from the other boys.  Get used to it!"

The reaction of his parents was to be "astonished," which means to be surprised by something unexpected.  They did not suspect a thing.  Yet here Jesus was, being his real self and causing great anxiety to his parents.  Mary expressed her frustration: "Son ("teknon" meaning "little boy"), why have you treated us this way?  Listen to me, your father and I have been anxiously ("literally "in pain") looking for you!"  In other words, Mary said what many parents say when their children come out to them: "How could you do this to us!"  The next two questions usually are: "What did we do wrong? and "What will the neighbors think!"

Jesus asked why they were searching for him and why they did not realize that he must be "about my father's business."  This last reference to being "about my father's business" is hard to translate and literally means "about the things of my father."

What has God created you to be and do?  Your sexuality is part of your human nature in the image of God.  Instead of denying who you are, you can follow Jesus by accepting and affirming who you are to the glory of God and get busy living and sharing your truth with others.  You can come out to yourself and to everybody else and get on with your God given purpose in life.

Mary did not understand, but she treasured these things in her heart and accepted Jesus as he was and continued to be a good mother.  Jesus continued to live and grow up to maturity.  He grew us in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and people.  To follow Jesus is to grow up, to turn knowledge into wisdom and to strengthen your relationship with God and with other people.


The more that I have studied and tried to share Jesus in my ministry the more I have realized that the humanity of Jesus is far more important than the supernatural.  Jesus had compassion for outcast and despised people.  I can do that.  Jesus went to troubled and rejected people and reached out and touched them.  I can do that.  Jesus was hungry, thirsty, tired, and frustrated and took time off to rest and recharge his spiritual life with prayer and meditation.  I can do that too.

Jesus selected friends that he wanted to be with him.  I can do that.  Jesus was disappointed with all of them when one betrayed him, one denied him, and all of them (except the women) abandoned him in his time of greatest need.  I have felt that also.  Jesus accepted them back later and gave them another chance.  He entrusted them with continuing what he had begun.  I can do that too, if I am willing really to follow Jesus.

The meaning of following Jesus is no great mystery in the Gospels.  Every act of compassion and every word of encouragement from Jesus was an example for us.  Jesus is summed up in John 13, where he washed the feet of the disciples as an example to them.  His conclusion in John 13:34-35 was: "I give you a new commandment that you love one another just as I have loved you, that you love one another.  By this everybody will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."


Jesus grew in "wisdom" ("sophia" meaning the practical use of knowledge).  By the time Jesus sat with the teachers in the Temple, he had memorized the entire body of biblical material and rabbinic teachings.  At that time, nothing said by the rabbis could be written down.  It had to be memorized and passed on orally.  Jesus could listen, ask questions and give answers because he already had learned and knew how to use the religious teachings of his time.  Jesus continued to learn and grow for the rest of his life.

Growth means change.  Everything that is alive changes.  Only the dead don't change.  To be dynamic and growing means to change and build something new.  Religion easily becomes absolute and resists change.  This is why John Spong wrote: "Why the Church Must Change or Die".  Hebrews 5:8-9 makes the astounding statement that Jesus learned obedience through his suffering and became complete.  Jesus continued to grow in wisdom up to his last breath.

One of the basic problems that we face today is the abusive use of biblical material that is partially known, distorted and used without wisdom or understanding.  Jesus demonstrated God's love and the spiritual meaning and purpose of the mind of God.  Find and follow the practical guidance of Jesus in the Gospels.  The attitudes and actions of Jesus are a clear pattern for us.

Jesus accepted himself completely and with joy and thanksgiving that he was called to do God's will.  Jesus wants you to follow him in accepting yourself as you really are and in truth and love continue what Jesus started and now continues through the Holy Spirit in your life and in mine.

Thank God you don't have to perform magic or do miracles to follow Jesus!  All you have to do is be real, be honest, be truly human as God made you to be, and be yourself.  Resist the current religious seductive temptation to play god.  Avoid legalistic judgmental religion like the plague that it is.  God has not yet gone on vacation and left you or anybody else in charge.  God is present in you and is called along side you by the Spirit to energize and guide you to find and follow the will of God for you.  As a result, you can be like Jesus and change your world.

Update for March 10, 2002

Jesus is not "out there" somewhere.  Jesus is present with and within you through the Spirit who has been given to you.  The real Jesus is as near to you as the air you breathe.  The traditional Jesus of doctrines, literature, rituals, liturgy and pictures is always remote and vague.  Paul summed up his understanding of the mystery of Jesus in Colossians 1:27: "Christ in you (is) the hope of glory."

The real Jesus is the Jesus within.  The objective Jesus of biblical research and distortions is never quite real.  The story of the "Velveteen Rabbit" will give you more of the meaning of "real" than will all of the biblical studies and manipulations that you can manage in a lifetime.

Jesus, in Luke 17:20-21, said that "the kingdom of God is within you."  Throughout much of the Gospel of John, Jesus promised to be present with and within all believers through the presence of the Holy Spirit.


Jesus moved about from place to place and was available wherever he was needed.  Jesus carried with him wherever he went the authority and power of God who was always with him.  The idea that a special group can capture and retain Jesus in a local building or in a set of doctrines, rituals, ceremonies and formulas is totally inconsistent with the picture of Jesus in the Gospels.  As Paul declared in 2 Corinthians 3:17: "Wherever the Spirit of Jesus is, there is freedom."

You are the temple of the living God.  People travel across the world to visit certain "sacred places," yet the most sacred of all places is the individual person in whom the Spirit of Jesus dwells.  The presence of God always made a place sacred, as the "holy ground" on which Moses stood when he met God at the burning bush.  The more we learn about the universe and the incredible vastness and complexity of creation, the more we realize that God does not dwell in temples made by human hands (Acts 17:24).

The living presence of Jesus within you is your starting point for finding your own truth and meaning for your life. 


Watchman Nee wrote many helpful devotional studies on Romans, Ephesians and other parts of the New Testament that were brought to my attention years ago by Dr. Professor W. W. Adams at Southern Baptist Seminary in his New Testament courses.  In "The Normal Christian Life" study of Romans, Watchman Nee focused on the powerful presence of Jesus within every believer and on how the normal Christian life therefore is triumphant and joyful.

He tells of visiting a Christian couple who asked him to pray for God to give them patience with their children.  He asked them why.  They told of their frustrations with the behavior of their children and how they had tried to be patient but failed.  Watchman Nee said, "I will not pray for you to have patience."  They were shocked and asked if he thought they were beyond help!  He said, "No, but patience is not what you need."  They were upset and began to argue that patience was their greatest need.

Watchman Nee then suggested that he would pray for them to have more of Jesus in their life, because Jesus was what they needed most of all.  He went on to explain that God does not give us little gift packages of patience, love, hope, endurance, etc.  God gives us everything that God has and everything that we need by giving Jesus to us.  So, they prayed for more of Jesus in their lives and got more of everything that God has to offer, including patience and understanding.


Teaching someone how to fish is far more important than giving someone a fish to eat.  The difference is great between giving someone a meal and giving someone a lifelong ability to get food.

Jesus has been given to you.  Paul reminded us that we have been given the mind of Christ.  "Let the same mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 2:5.  Read all of Philippians 2 for a guided tour into the "mind of Jesus.")  Learn to think like Jesus.  The Holy Spirit has been given to you to "bring to your remembrance" what Jesus did and said and to guide your thinking.  You already have within you the best possible spiritual teacher you could want: the living presence of Jesus through the Spirit.


Meditation is an essential part of every major spiritual movement throughout human history.  Frantic living in our present world of existing from one crisis to the next creates an atmosphere of panic that makes meditation very hard to do.  Finding a time and place to stop and think seems to be almost impossible.

Jesus practiced a rhythm of involvement in the human troubles all around him balanced with times of withdrawal to meditate and renew his physical and spiritual energy.  The Gospels tell us how Jesus responded to severe pressure by withdrawing to a quiet place to pray and think things through.  (See my material on "How Jesus Handled Anger" in Step 4 and in my book.)

I go frequently to the Zen Meditation Garden in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.  If I miss going for very long, I can tell the difference in my own attitudes and thinking.  Being surrounded by natural beauty of plants, trees, flowers, waterfalls, and the ancient art in the garden creates a "cathedral of tranquility" that inspires me and helps my mind to become free to think and meditate in new positive directions.

You don't have to go to a garden to meditate, of course, but you do have to arrange an intentional time and place to be alone and quiet.  We are easily distracted in our insistent electronic culture.  Turn off the noise, close out the clatter, sit quietly and think.  Jesus did it, and the Spirit of Jesus can help you do it too!

Rembert Truluck

Boy Jesus in the Temple
by Gustave Dore: 1832-1883

Added on December 7, 2001

Television personalities constantly remind us that September 11 changed our world forever.  They say that the world will never be the same after September 11.  But what are the changes and what do they mean?

What events have most changed our world in our lifetime?  Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001?  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941?  The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, that led to World War I and the collapse of the great world empires?  More important, what event has most changed your own life for better or worse?

No event in human history has had an impact on the world like the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit to all people.  How we measure time, our ongoing revision and reassessment of human values and spirituality, and many dimensions of art, literature, architecture, society and culture all flow from the impact made by Jesus.


The one most consistent theme of the story of Jesus in the Gospels is that Jesus included everybody.  The outcasts and rejected people who did not keep the details of the Law, the poor, the sick, the despised all were loved and accepted by Jesus.  Religion may take the exclusive rejecting posture of judgmental legalism, but Jesus never did.  The word "whosoever" in John 3:16 has become the name of a powerfully effective web site that has encouraged and informed multitudes of LGBT people for several years.

Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and hundreds of other social activists and freedom fighters have drawn on the example and teachings of Jesus to move all of us forward in human progress.  (See Soulforce) New age theologians and cutting-edge teachers and writers in the field of spiritual studies still focus on Jesus, as does the "Jesus Seminar" and a steady stream of newly researched television documentaries on Jesus and Christianity.

We have to take a fresh look at the Bible and the abusive use of religion to condemn and destroy GLBT people and all other misunderstood minorities.  Biblical literalism and legalism both are idolatrous religions, and without logical objective challenges, they will continue to cripple the spiritual lives of millions of God's children.


When Jesus came down the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem at the beginning of the last week of his life, the crowds shouted praise and adoration: "Hosanna in the highest; blessed is the one who comes in the name of God!"  The religious leaders demanded that Jesus should tell the people to be quiet.  Jesus replied that if the people were quiet, "the stones will cry out!"  The world has never been able to ignore Jesus.

Jesus has been terribly misrepresented and distorted by many forms of religion and politics, but seldom ignored.  How have you come to your present view of Jesus?  How has Jesus made a difference in your life?  What kind of impact has Jesus had on you?


Because the Christian religion has been used so viciously against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual people, the GLBT community has often avoided Jesus and anything associated with the religion that claims to follow Jesus.  The abusive use of the Bible and religion against Gay and Lesbian people has discredited traditional Christianity and has created a great gulf of hostility and alienation that hinders spiritual healing for millions of people.

While I was visiting my Mother in Laurens, SC, a couple of weeks ago, I had a sudden revelation that deeply moved me.  I was studying through the syllabus that I had written for my course on The Gospel of Luke at Baptist College.  I always prepared in great detail for every course ahead of time.  The syllabus included my basic research and applications of the inclusive themes of Luke in everyday life.  I was using my own studies to prepare for my forthcoming book of lessons on Jesus based primarily on Luke.

Then, for the first time, I noticed the date of the syllabus.  It was spring 1981.  I had already resigned from Baptist College by the time the course got started.  The lessons that I am preparing for our GLBT community are based on my research and preparation for the course in Luke that I prepared but never taught!


The Gospel of John is the basis for the second half of the Jesus lessons, and my research and writing for the inclusive themes in John were prepared several years ago for Baptist Sunday School literature.  While I was writing my lessons on the Gospel of John, the Senior Editor at the Sunday School Board called me to tell me that because of the rumors that I was gay, he had to withdraw my contract to do the lessons.  So the second half of my Jesus lessons will also be based in part on work that I did for Southern Baptists and never saw printed and used!

Now is the time for the powerful Jesus message of inclusive affirming love in Luke and John to become alive and convincing for GLBT people and everybody else alienated and oppressed by religion.

Jesus is not the problem.  Religious distortions and misuse of Jesus to teach legalism and prejudice is the problem.  My mission is to liberate Jesus from the clutches of religious abuse and misinformation.  The real Jesus is relevant and convincing in our present world and in the emerging tomorrows that lie before us.  We are seeking a realistic logical objective vision of Jesus for the twenty-first century and beyond.  Jesus is not out of date, but abusive religion is.


Accurate information about Jesus is within reach.  Careful objective realistic study of Gospel material and a lively sense of the presence of the Spirit of God working within us can combine with our own God given humanity in the image of God to produce a level of relevance, truth and tranquility about Jesus that deserves attention and can change our world.

Jesus was practical and person centered.  Practical application of the Jesus event to the issues and challenges that we face in our personal lives can be both healing and encouraging.  Spirituality that makes us happy and healthy is available through the teachings and attitudes of the real Jesus of history and faith.  Nobody has a private claim on Jesus.  Jesus belongs to the entire human race and not to any special self-appointed defenders and protectors of the holy faith!  Nobody owns Jesus, especially not the churches.

In liberating Jesus from abusive religious distortions, we are liberating ourselves.

Rembert Truluck


I have recently added to my web site the two lessons in my book on "Death Alone Shall Part Us: Ruth and Naomi" and "What Love Has Joined: David and Jonathan.  

See also "A Tribute to Laura and Nora"

"Be yourself!  You don't really have any other choice, do you?"

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