Gay and Christ’s love


Recently, I had the great pleasure to meet up with good friends of mine (one of which I had not see. In eight years… EIGHT! I digress) over a short layover trip in Orlando Florida. Among all the subjects touched upon during our conversations, the issue of homosexuality came up. It was a short conversation but it brought to light a very interesting point concerning the issue. The issue being: we make much to do about nothing.

We would be hard pressed to find Jesus giving a lecture about any specific sin in scripture. But he often gave lectures about loving God, having faith, and following Him. And even when people where brought to Him who where caught “in the very act” of sinning. He merely said “go And sin no more”….done, no more lecture, not “our laws says this or that”. And you know what? These people, whom Jesus loved, did not preach down on, and merely stated the obvious, followed Him and lived a life for Him. Jesus didn’t have to sermonize them to death. He however did sermonize the Pharisees.

What brought me to Jesus after a period of complete rebellion, wasn’t people preaching to me about how wrong and evil homosexuality was. Many tried though, to which I simply erected my walls and drew closer to that what was comfortable to me, a life away from anything religious. But The Lord was at work in my life through moments of clarity, epiphanies, reflections, and spoken words (different than preached at word). In fact, the straw that broke my back was a simple question posed in a somewhat casual conversation. “Who is Jesus to Juan”.

So what’s my point? My point is that we as believer lack faith and have this whole evangelism thing backwards. We raise our pitchforks in the name of righteousness, vehemently denouncing the evils of sin while striping away the main ingredient to any change; love. We forget that God called us to proclaim salvation and to be lights on a city on a hill and to let our good works shine. But instead we try to force good works on others while proclaiming to be Christians. In other words, how can we ask someone to be Christ like when they may not have Christ. And if they do have Christ, why are we so faith deficient to realize that it is Christ in them that deals with their sins. Isn’t it the Holy Spirit that leads me to repentance? Or wait, is that only applicable in my life, but I have to somehow make other people repent by preaching at them? And where does prayer fall into all of this?

My standing in Christ is not because of any persuasion from church leadership or righteous Christians. My standing in Christ is because of the work He has done. That’s why when other Christians behave contrary to their professed faith or even leaders for that matter, I am unshaken.

The true work or redemption and sanctification is done by Christ. If Christ be lifted He will draw man unto himself. HE does it, not us. We need to lift up Christ and cease condemnation. We need to let the power of the Holy Spirit do His work.

So how does this apply to homosexuality? Understand first and foremost that love is the answer. Period. Cliche? Maybe, but true. I really could care less about what anybody knows, until I know that they care. This is especially true for gay people. We forget that they have had to deal with tons of abuse and discrimination. Fake love is not enough, not even “religiousy” love. The only Love that sets people free is Christ’s love. This goes for anyone really but especially for gay people.

Everyone has a decision to make. Why do we focus so much on the dos and do nots as opposed to our relationship with Christ is beyond me. It’s like approaching someone who doesn’t know Christ and saying to them, “are you clean? You must be clean first before I tell you about Christ”. What foolishness! Did not Christ himself say that we have to clean the inside of a cup first? And how does anyone clean the inside first. By trying really hard? Really!!? No, we don’t try, God changes us. For in Christ we are a new creation. IN CHRIST! Not in acting really good.

I don’t think the church body has taken hold of this yet. We may say we are saved by grace but we don’t live like it. And we don’t see people who need Christ through the lens of Grace but rather through the lens of the law. We see their sin and not the person.

This post is in the context of homosexuality but it really applies to everything. I am recently getting acquainted with the meaning of “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ”. Because for most of my Christian life I have been fed the lie, “you have to work hard enough”. The truth is, all the work that needed to be done, has been done. Once and for all. And the Spirit in me works for His good pleasure. I find that my desires and interest have changed. Not because I forced them to. They just have.

Let the Spirit do its work. Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit and let God be God.

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While I’m away, Tia will be ok


It’s the day of the end of the world, and I am sitting inside a subway restaurant in Downtown Orlando. My thoughts are a bit convoluted as I people watch. The sun slowly hides behind one of the buildings as a really mellow song plays on my IPhone headphones. Truth is, I’m sad.

I’m taking a journey to go visit my best friend and see my two girls (Sashi and Mimmer) which has me totally pumped. But at the same time, I’m leaving behind my Tia. And even though I have left her in very capable hands, I struggle with the fact that their not my hands. I’ll be back, sure, but she doesn’t know that. For all I know she may be thinking I left her. She may be wondering if I’m coming back. Gosh I did not realize this was going to be so hard. She’s been in my life for two months. That’s all the time it took for her to cement herself in my heart. A much needed piece to the architecture of my heart. But now, I’m in Orlando in route to Texas and she is in Gainesville. I already miss her. I miss her goofy way of waking me up. I miss her helicopter tail. I miss her twinkling eyes and her excited pants. I miss the way she approaches me when she wants me to scratch her ears. I miss the way she plays with her favorite almond butter toy I made for her. I miss walking with her. It’s not because its been so long since I’ve done any of these things, I walked her this morning before I left. I miss them because I know it’s going to be a while before i get to do or see them again.

Can I just brag on how amazing my greyhound is for a sec? As you know Tia came into my world in a sense by accident but I am confident that it was a God appointment. It was a busy time for me due to school and work to the point where I and other questioned the wisdom of my decision to adopt Tia. But you have to understand that when I saw her on that bright sunny day at the Gainesville Art fair, I knew. I just knew that I was meant to adopt her. During the weeks that followed we came to know each other as she carefully studied me (and I do mean studied, she would not take her eyes off me lol). And as I studied her. We got to know each other (and well always be getting to know each other). Everyday for the next two months I got to see how amazing she is. To wake me up, she licks my feet, her tail is a cyclon when she sees me, she’s so affectionate, when we walk she’s not a crazy hound. She loves people and is curious about almost everything. Almost everyone that see her comments on how beautiful she is, and indeed she’s beautiful. He physical ability for speed is crazy! I see her run every time I take her to our enclosed yard area in my apartment complex. Her goofiness has no equal as she gingerly steals my belongings and places them ever so carefully in the living room and then gets totally excited when I come to get it back. Lol, it’s the little things I guess you can say that makes my dog like no other. Maybe I’m bias.

I can’t wait to run through the door and see her wag with excitement. I can’t wait to see her jump in me (yes she jumps on me, and I like it!).

I better get out of here and start making my way to my destination. Thank you for reading. If you own a dog, give me lots of love and lots of hugs and kisses. They like that. And if you read this and are ever tempted to harm a dog, please don’t. You may think people like us crazy. Lol maybe we are a bit. But owning a dog has been one of the wisest decisions I have ever made. Ill gladly pay the expenses, deal with messes, take care of accidents, and bear her blame. Because, she (Tia) is family.

Thanks for reading
Juan Castillo Jr.
Ps.
If there are any weirdly spelled words. I apologize. I’m writing this from my iPhone and it’s hard to type. 🙂

Songs that are ministering to me: Heal the world by Michael Jackson


The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think we forget sometimes that we live in a big bubble hanging in the middle of nothing. We further forget that in this bubble we are left with lots and lots and lots of people who have the power to destroy lots and lots and lots of other people, and often do.  But how different it would be if we actually cared about other people as oppose to seeking our selfish desires.  To seek the well being of our neighbors instead of seeking the well being of #1.  The fact is, if we all did this genuinely, then we would have someone else looking out for #1 so that #1 would be taken care of while focusing on someone else.  Idealistic? Why?  Is our nature so depraved that this can never be a reality? I’d like to believe that this is not the case.  It all starts with me.  It all starts with you reading this blog.  We can make this world a better place by beginning with #1.  For all that is good, lay aside the skepticism and distrustful intellection, and see around you.  This is not socialism or whatever else I’ll probably be accused of.  This is a hope.  A hope that wants to believe that humanity can do something good for others so that in turn, we can all live better.  So, with that said, let’s go heal the world. There truly are people dying. It’s easy to want to blame policies, controls, governments, and whatever else comes to mind. But the question I pose to myself, and to anyone who would read this is what are we doing?  We persecute anything that is good by ridiculing it, legislating it, removing it, and

Politics Now set, used since 2011

Politics Now set, used since 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

fighting it.  We argue with those who want to control the content on TV and Radio, upholding our freedom of expression.  But when that freedom has an influence on the proliferation of evil (songs that talk about women being hoes and about “capping your ass”, or TV shows that make fun of minorities, sexual orientations, and religions), how is this actually protecting freedom?  I mean, when evil things happen, people who are innocent are not free.  When you say yes to something, you say no to something else.  There really is no gray as some would want to believe. If I say to yes to a song that says a woman is nothing but a female dog, than I say no to the song that says women are beautiful, valued daughters.  If I say yes to a philosophy that says life is cheap and accidental, easily disposable and nothing more than a nuisance, then I say no to anything that shows how truly valuable, costly, purposeful and unique life truly is.

If we want to heal the world, we have to go deeper then policies and controls.  We have to look at our very own selves and look at the fabric of our society.  These poor children in Connecticut died, not because we failed to install or control or whatever other excuse there exists, but they died because as a society, we failed them. We failed to promote their worth by our careless infatuation with convenience.  We failed them by our lack of genuine love for people usurped with political, business, and special interests’ greed whom constantly seek the increase in their profit, yet neglect social issues such as better social cares and environment; and education.  Nevertheless, they are only a reflection of our society.  As a people, we put them there by our elections, purchases, interests, etc.  We are the ones who buy their music, read their books, see their movies, buy their products, and vote them into service.  So ultimately, the only ones to truly blame for Connecticut, is us.  So my question stands.  What are you going to do?  In the face of a society whose enjoyment is violence, derogatory jest, self gratification, and escalatory gossip, what will you do?   “So if you care enough for the living”, do we really care for the living?  Then we need to start showing that. This problem is not about a Band-Aid solution because there is none.  This problem is about a broken social fabric, who apparently fails to see the influence our actions have.  All of our actions. To “Make this a better place”.  I choose to promote “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy”.   Wishful thinking? Well, it will always remain wishful if we collectively decide to do nothing with it.  I choose to do something with it.  What will you do?

Lyrics:

Think about the generations and to say we want to make it a better
world for our children and our children’s children. So that they know
it’s a better world for them; and think if they can make it a better
place.

There’s a place in your heart
And I know that it is love
And this place could be much
Brighter than tomorrow.
And if you really try
You’ll find there’s no need to cry
In this place you’ll feel
There’s no hurt or sorrow.
There are ways to get there
If you care enough for the living
Make a little space, make a better place.

Chorus:
Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me and the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make a better place for
You and for me.

If you want to know why
There’s a love that cannot lie
Love is strong
It only cares for joyful giving.
If we try we shall see
In this bliss we cannot feel
Fear or dread
We stop existing and start living
Then it feels that always
Love’s enough for us growing
Make a better world, make a better world.

Chorus:
Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me and the entire human race.
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make a better place for
You and for me.

Bridge:
And the dream we would conceived in
Will reveal a joyful face
And the world we once believed in
Will shine again in grace
Then why do we keep strangling life
Wound this earth, crucify it’s soul
Though it’s plain to see, this world is heavenly
Be God‘s glow.

We could fly so high
Let our spirits never die
In my heart I feel
You are all my brothers
Create a world with no fear
Together we’ll cry happy tears
See the nations turn
Their swords into plowshares
We could really get there
If you cared enough for the living
Make a little space to make a better place.

Chorus:
Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me and the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make a better place for
You and for me.

Refrain (2x)

There are people dying if you care enough for the living
Make a better place for you and for me.
There are people dying if you care enough for the living
Make a better place for you and for me.

You and for me / Make a better place
You and for me / Make a better place
You and for me / Make a better place
You and for me / Heal the world we live in
You and for me / Save it for our children
You and for me / Heal the world we live in
You and for me / Save it for our children
You and for me / Heal the world we live in
You and for me / Save it for our children
You and for me / Heal the world we live in
You and for me / Save it for our children

Video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWf-eARnf6U

Living with the god of self


 

Jesus Christ Bobby

 

There is no doubt about it. We live in a society where ‘self’ is the ultimate god.  This is a period in time where psychologists stress the value of self help and charge an exuberant amount of money for theirs.  People spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to get a piece of paper that opens the doors for self advancement. Our society is defined by its obsession with consumer goods and how these define the buyer. Another person’s success is usually not seen as self improvement so those who want to get “ahead” in life have to make that happen by themselves. Heck, even in something as mundane as driving, we get upset when someone cuts us of, because now they are ahead of us meaning we are no longer number one.  Make no mistake; we live in a self driven society.  I guess the question then becomes, how does someone live in a world where ‘self’ is god? Christ tells us to live for others but this world tells us to live for self. Even some who claim the name of Christ are deceived by the god of self because they constantly seek their own rights and their own gains and yet neglect to seek after the Kingdom.  It’s important to state that there are exceptions to this worship of the self god in that not everyone does it. But the vast majority in our culture does. This is not an exaggeration or even an over simplification on my part. Marketing research confirms it, psychological research confirms it, and even physiological research confirms it. We are hard wired to seek our own interests. It is our nature.  So how does someone live in a manner that is against the god of self? I guess the question that needs to be asked is: is training self to habitually do something that is not natural, good?

 

Actually, this is something that we do already.  We teach a child not to steal, hurt people, to be nice, etc. However, there is research that shows that left to our own devices; we will do things that are considered to be negative like be angry, steal, be violent, etc. Why, because that’s our nature. But I guess a person could argue that these things in it of themselves are not necessarily wrong.  I mean scripture does say to “be angry and sin not”. But what make these things so wrong are not the actions in it of themselves but the lack of control within themselves.  I.e., control is the main unnatural catalyst. It would be natural for me to be angry and punch a guy in the face if I was provoked. However it’s unnatural for me to restrain the

 

English: The structure of DNA showing with det...

 

urge to do so because control is unnatural. Nowhere is this clearer than in sex, especially for guys.  According to scientists, it would be absolutely natural to have multiple sexual partners.  Scientists have pointed to the fact that such behavior is natural for us since it’s wired into our instinctual nature and DNA in order that we may spread our genes. Thus, to some scientists, to restrain such sexual proliferation is unnatural. Yet we do it.  So what does this have to do with how to live in a world that serves the god of self? Everything.  Understand that to seek your own desires is natural.  The god of self is a natural god whose worship is as natural as anything else. To do anything other than worship it, is unnatural. So, when Jesus asks you to do something like be selfless, he is asking you to do something completely unnatural. And that is the point. Anything and everything that God will ask of us goes against our nature. And that is why the Christian life is unlivable. “With man this is impossible”.  This is actually a good thing.

 

It stands to reason then; if something by nature acts one way, and yet you want it to act contrary to its nature, you have to change its

 

 

Scanning electron micrograph of Clostridium di...

Scanning electron micrograph of Clostridium difficile bacteria from a stool sample. Obtained from the CDC Public Health Image Library. Image credit: CDC/ Lois S. Wiggs (PHIL #6260), 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

nature.  This can be clearly seen in medical science, by changing the makeup of bacteria, you can change its behavior and its effects on the human body. For example, in the case of the Clostridium bacteria, it can be trained to target cancerous cells that have a necrotic node as opposed to attacking healthy cells. This is accomplished by changing the nature of the bacteria. In the Clostridium’s case changing some of its properties enables it to attack and kill cancerous cells (for more info on this treatment, check out: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2010/11/03/bacteria-the-anti-cancer-soldier/).

 

Is restraint and control possible? Sure, but ultimately we will act naturally and produce the product of our nature, sin.  To change this fact, our nature must be changed.  Is this possible? “With man, this is impossible but (and this is a big but) with God, all things are possible.” God has asked us to do things that go against our nature, an impossibility, but He has provides a way to do it. A good boss will equip you for the assignment he gives you. In like manner as a good boss (He is so much more than that but for illustration purposes let’s just say He’s our boss) God has also provided a way to do the impossible, the unnatural…to love the true God, as opposed to the god of self. He did this by changing our nature. How does He do this? Well He actually already did, 2000 years ago on a cross.  Perfection (unnatural for us) required a payment for our sin that involved and still does the utter and complete annihilation of our existence both in the physical and the spiritual. Since perfection is not natural for us, our annihilation would be justified. Yet God did something that only He could do…He paid the requirement of perfection by offering Himself.  Naturally, He could do this for He is perfect. By taking upon Himself the blunder of our imperfection he paid for it, lifting the sentence of the law and equipping that which is imperfect with His perfection.  To live in an imperfect world, we who are

Jesus on the Cross

Jesus on the Cross (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

perfect must depend on the status that does not depend on our perfection (or lack of) but on the perfection of Him who naturally was able to give it to us.  But this can only happen to those who asks for this (God would not force something so precious on those who don’t want it).  You see, we have the option to remain natural or become unnatural. Being natural is easy, because, well, it’s natural. However the reward is temporal and fickle in the present and nonexistent in the life to come. Being unnatural is substantially more difficult since you wage war against that which is natural and by our actions, judge it. But this option offers the great reward of union with God both in this life and in the next.  The option to be unnatural is an option that will change our nature so that that, which was unnatural for us, now becomes natural. Where to love God is the goal of our every fiber I.e. natural. Not everyone wants this and so it would be unjust to force this change on anyone.  The consequences are unchangeable for either decision so each decision must be weighed carefully.  There is a reason why Jesus says to count the cost (Luke 14:28-35).  To be with Christ means to be a new creation (II Cor. 5:17), meaning you’re going to start thinking, behaving, desiring things that are different (A whole blog in itself).

 

At any rate, I guess the answer to “how does a person live in today’s self driven world” is: to act naturally. On one had you have those with the nature of the world and on the other hand you have those with a new nature.  As believers, our nature is to love God, our new desires are geared towards Him.  Act on these.  Seek to get close to the One who you now love.

 

For the unbeliever, your nature is for self (this is not a negative, derogatory statement. It’s just what it is) I admonish you to get the new nature of Christ but you have to count that cost.  I am not in the business of bible thumping you into religion but if you are interested, there’s nothing more that I would rather do then tell you about the most amazing savior ever. Jesus Christ, who was and is and is to come.

 

Famous Painting whose name I forgot


Famous Painting whose name I forgot

This is a gorgeous painting that was in one of the churches in Vicenza, Italy. However, I have completely forgotten what the tour guide person said the name of it was. Soooo for any one you art buffs out there (who are particularly skilled in Art History) If this painting tickles your memory, by all means, please inform me of its name 🙂

Hard work, but that’s the way I like it


Today was a good day at work. Probably one of the most fulfilling days yet for me. I worked hard, really hard. I’m exhausted and I can hardly put a coherent thought in my brain (i.e. I’m mentally exhausted) but I am honestly happy. I feel like I have done something that has helped and actually has value. I really could care less that I’m getting paid a intern’s rate. Pft, please. At least I’m getting paid. Tell me that what I’m working on actually has merit, and you have me hooked. Furthermore, tell me I’m doing a good job and you have a very very very happy intern. Both of which happened today for me. And if that’s not enough, I was told of a new project which has great promise for our MPO in which I will take part on…yeah I’m totally content. Long hours? Bring them on! Hard work? I’ve never feared that. I’ll give this my all and ill be the best at doing so!

Wal-Mart arrival


This is a selfmade image from the english wiki...

So there’s a new Wal-Mart in the neighborhood. Well at least in the neighborhood near my office.  Say whatever you want to say about Wal-Mart, but I see their arrival as a good thing.  For starters, this neighborhood is the epitome of a food desert.  There’s not a decent place to do groceries shopping for miles!  Let alone a place to buy lunch during your lunch time. Now you could argue that a Publix or a local food store like Ward’s would have been a better tenant and you may be right.  But guess what? This neighborhood has been a food desert for quite some time (and when I say “quite some time, I mean years…lots of them!).  None of the businesses mentioned above have ventured toward this uncharted territory. So for all their controversy, I personally welcome a Wal-Mart near this poor and forsaken neighborhood.  Moreover, this Wal-Mart is putting in sidewalks (politics at work I’m sure) which the area desperately needs…desperately! (Do you hear me Gainesville politicians! DESPERATELY! … Ahem.)  And yes, I know about the dealings and impact studies and all the strife between the city of Gainesville and Wal-Mart.  But In all and all, the facts remain: there is now a good source for shopping for food nearby (as compared to none), there’s development (as compared to none) and there’s sidewalks (as compared to… Oh I don’t know, none?).  So welcome Wal-Mart! I look forward to walking to your establishment during my lunch break :).