Donald Trump, You Will Not Have My Vote


Politics is scary and it’s rare for me to be in this position. I tend to not be too vocal about my political views. However, this election is different.

At first I thought it was a joke. Donald Trump running for president? What kind of popularity/media antic was this? Surely no one would ever think of taking this guy seriously? After all, his off color tweets, crazy media rants, financial woes, etc more than show his inability to lead a country. Anybody can see that…but boy was I wrong.

As I sit here and write, Trump has won the South Carolina Primary by an overwhelming 32.5%. He’s also won New Hampshire and Nevada. What I previously thought was laughable, has now become a source of concern. This is a candidate that wants people like me out of this country.  This is a candidate that hesitates to denounce a confirmed white supremist activist. This is a candidate that belittles women and minorities. And that’s not even the worst part…not by a long shot.

What saddens me even more is to see the evangelical group seemingly in full support of this man. What I once hoped was a cynical view of religious people has now be proven to be a correct view after all. The church does not care about the world, people, caring for the sick, the poor, the needy.  They don’t care about preaching the gospel, following Christ…none of that.  The church has become a lip service, a figure head of something that is nice and that every good person should try to do. But when it comes to standing up against injustice and those who practice it, nah, that’s too fanatical.

Donald Trump (among many things) has advocated against the poor, the needy, the hard working. He also dares to claim to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, who according to his own words is not in need of forgiveness.  Wait…what? Isn’t that the whole point? That we are sinners and need forgiveness?

I’ve been told by some of my friends that they rather vote for him than “a socialist” or God forbid, someone like Hilary Clinton.  But is Fascism better than Socialism? In order to not vote for a socialist, you rather vote for a fascist?

I cannot be silent anymore. This man, Donald Trump, is not someone a Christian should be voting for. He reflects everything Christ has denounced! His actions are prideful, arrogant, rapacious, reckless, and so much more.  Scripture tells us that a wise man rules over his tongue and is slow to anger but Donald Trump has shown otherwise. How can a person rule a nation and yet fail to rule himself?

As I sit in and pray, I can’t in good faith say that I am voting for someone who is godly, honorable, and righteous. Of course, you could argue that no politician is like this. I might even agree with you.  However, if there was ever a display of a lack of decency, morality, conviction, wisdom, compassion, mercy, truth, and anything that is Godly, is here and now in Donald Trump.

I may not know exactly who will have my vote…but I do know exactly who won’t. And that person is emphatically, without question, and certain with every single fiber of my being, Donald Trump.

 

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Refugees Are Human Beings! Have We Forgotten? Every Christian Should See This


Recently our world has witnessed a travesty, and a complete failure of humanity in the form of the refugee crisis.  Sadly, the events of these past weeks have revealed much about our world and how we value life. People have been persecuted, left without homes, lives destroyed in a blink of an eye. But their cries for help has been received with mixed reactions the most startling of which come from Christians. Those who are supposed to stand up for the weak and champion the cause of the broken. Those who carry the name of Christ and are supposed to be like Him. But some of these very same people are shouting with a very clear message: “Keep the refugees away”. To these Christians I offer this video.

Death To The Gays: Kevin Swanson and a sick proposal.


In a GOP event, Kevin Swanson proposed we ought to receive a view of the Bible that calls for the death of homosexuals. This “Christian” pastor clearly does not understand what the sacrifice of Christ is all about and his hateful rhetoric needs to be denounced. I’m not a political person (as you guys probably know by now), but a person does not have to be political to stand up against hate.  It’s time that the church starts speaking against these false teachers. It’s long past due. Feel free to check out my video entitled “Death To The Gays: Kevin Swanson and a sick proposal

What the Bible REALLY says about homosexuality (and so it begins)


According to a study conducted by the Williams Institute of Law at UCLA, 3.5% of the adult population in the United States is comprised of Lesbian, gay, or bisexual people. In other words, about 9 million Americans identify as LGBT. 

Nevertheless, within the nucleus of these people there is a major discord when it comes to religion.  In fact, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 48% of LGBT members surveyed stated that they had no religion (this is more than double the percentage of the general public that says the same thing). 

On the flip side, 51% of those surveyed stated that they did have religion with 17% claiming religion to be “very important” in their lives. This would be encouraging news for the exception that a third of those who said they were religious also claimed that there was “a conflict between their religious beliefs and their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Of course, this is really not all that surprising since the majority of the general public (74 % white evangelical protestants and 55 % of all U.S. adults with a religious affiliation) believe that “homosexuality conflicts with their religious beliefs”.

So why is this important? 

Why does this matter? 

For someone who is straight, this may not seem all that important. It’s difficult to pay attention to the sinful or otherwise strange behavior of a group of people who seem to only identify themselves via their sexual orientation.  For someone who is straight, it may seem like a trivial thing for a group of people to be demonized, ostracized, or otherwise debased in the face of humanity while they stubbornly hold on to their erroneous view of a sexually charged lifestyle.

But for those who grow up  without a choice in the matter it’s a completely different story.  Those who in the early years of their lives find themselves attracted to the same sex will face discriminations, abuse, alienation, shame, and ridicule for the rest of their lives.  Sadly, this is a fate that will not change for them as readily as a simple action of “repentance” or “sanctification”.  No, these people are born into something they will forever struggle with (even those who claim to be “ex-gays”).  For this group of people, a life of pain, stress, unfulfillment, and utter confusion is what awaits them. A life, that lead many to the ultimate cry: Self extermination. In fact, numerous studies show that the suicide rate amongst LGBT members is considerably higher when compared to the rest of the population.  According to the U.S. government report entitled “Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Youth Suicide”  found that LGBT youths are four times more likely to attempt suicide. 

It’s obvious that a large group of people are hurting and hurting badly. Nevertheless, the group that claims to have the answer, the hope, the way, or whatever else religious people claim to have, are the very ones that are causing the hurt to begin with. I know because I have been both the victim and the victimizer in this scenario.  For 18 years I have had a “conflict of religion” with homosexuality.  A struggle with something that I had been aware of since the age of 7.  I came to know bible versus and prayers designed to help me deal with my struggle and before I even fully realized, I had associated something I could not change with something God wanted to change. Within my 18 years of faith so far I have been zealous for God and angry at God; loving life and, sadly, hating life (to the point where I too considered ending it).  

But why?

This is a question i’ve asked myself many times. Why?  Why me? What did I do? I didn’t ask for this, and quite frankly who would? But at the end of the day, here I am.  I have not changed, and as I grow older the foolishness of attempting such change is overwhelmingly obvious, especially after this year.  

And so, here I am. It’s time to get a few things straight with you people out there who keep claiming that homosexuality is a sin. Over the course of these few posts, I will share with you what has changed in the way I see homosexuality in the bible and why it’s so crucial for me to share it with you.  

This isn’t about justifying my “sinful” lifestyle (though I know some of you will think so). This is about giving hope to those who have none.  This is about revealing beauty where the church only sees death.  This is about the truth setting you free, as opposed to binding you with the yolk of religiosity.

Won’t you come and take this journey with me?  I want you to know what I know, and I want you to share it with those who are seeking God but feel as if God hates them. He doesn’t.  

So tune in next week, as I start the discussion of “What does the Bible REALLY say about homosexuality”.

Love is not compromising


As a believer, I hear this said by religious folk all the time:

“Love without truth is not love, people preach love but don’t preach truth and what they get is humanism”

There is truth in the above statement.  However, there is also a hidden danger.

When we look at Jesus, we see that Jesus always preached truth.  However when he did, people also saw love. Why? Because His actions spoke of the love He had for those whom He loved. 

This is not the case with most of today’s religious circles.

To speak truth in today’s context means to highlight people’s sin and destroy them in order to “save them”.  The danger is that those who are being destroyed fail to realize that there is love behind the truth.  Or maybe they are successful in seeing that there is no love behind the truth for truthfully most people are so enamored by ‘truth” and knowledge, that they forget that “the greatest of these is love”.

Our actions should focus on love…always! This does not mean compromise on truth, but it means that we ALWAYS speak truth in love.  It means that we focus on loving rather than bashing.  And if the time comes when we must speak something that challenges another person’s view, actions, beliefs, whatever; that this spoken word is said in love, because indeed our actions have already testified of the fact that we love.

Love beloved! Love!

And let your love shine, speak with love, admonish with love, grow with love, care with love, help with love, preach with love.  For in this time in our world, the greatest miracle is love.

Juan

 

 

 

 

Less arguing, More Jesus!


Jesus-weepsAs I turn on the news and go through my social media outlets, I am confronted with a blaring and disheartening observation: The world has seemingly turned its back on anything associated with religion (with a particular interest to anything that resembles Christianity).  But as sad is this scenario may be this is not what I consider disheartening.

When I see the response of “Christians” to the dilemma at hand, I am blown away by their adamant stance against leftist political leaders; the right to their expression of beliefs; the act of abortion; gay marriage (gay anything); health care; their vocal accusations of religious intolerance , the teachings of evolution in schools, and so on.  All of these things come across loud and clear from the lips of Christians.  But you know what I am not hearing from these same mouths? The Gospel.

There is one thing and one thing only that Christians should be so adamant about, and that is the Gospel. God’s glorious work (so glorious) of humbling Himself to die on a cross, to pay for the sins of many in order to make salvation possible.  This is not being preached, illustrated, or spread.  All I hear from religious people are cantankerous ramblings of the ills of society. Of course there is always the exception to the apparent norm (and for these I am grateful).

But let’s reason for a moment.  In the scriptures, we don’t see these zealous accusations from our Lord and savior, nor do we see them from his apostles.  Rather, we see a furious zeal for the spreading of the Gospel; the Kingdom of God and the Good news of a risen savior.  In fact, when the issue of “righteousness” or adherence to the law was brought up against the gentiles, Paul pointed them to freedom in Christ rather than a flurry of “don’t do this and don’t do that”(pretty much the whole book of 1 Corinthians).  So the argument that I keep hearing is “so are you saying that Christians can sin and live a godless life and is still ok?”.  Those who possess the Holy Spirit will know the foolishness of this argument, for those who have the Holy Spirit are compelled towards righteousness.  This is a Law, there is no mistake in this. If you claim to be a Christian, filled with the Spirit and have no desire towards righteousness; sorry to break to you but you don’t have the Holy Spirit (i.e. you’re not a Christian).

Sadly, it is this same truth that “Christians” miss.  God did not send us out into the world to convict it of sin.  HE does that.  He sent us out into the world to show them where and who to turn to WHEN they are convicted.  He sent us to tell them about Him.

Do they sin? Absolutely, but what do you expect? Would you expect an elephant to climb a tree? Or a snake to fly across the skies? Sinners act according to their nature, you can’t expect anything else.  Moreover, the battle for righteousness or conviction is not waged by us, is waged by God.  It is Him who begins the work of conviction.  As a youth pastor friend of mine once said, “If someone can convince your mind of something, someone else can convince your mind of something else”.  Meaning, we are not the ones who should be doing the convincing here.  But if the spirit has truly taken a hold of you, there is no need for “convincing”, the spirit will guide.

Do you not see this; those of you who are so loud to testify against these petty things?  It’s as if you are wasting your time plucking the leaves of an invasive weed without pulling it from the roots in hopes that this weed dies.  How foolish!  You must extract the weed from its roots in order for it to die and not spread.

The root issue in our world is the rejection of Christ.  That’s it.  It’s not gay marriage, it’s not Obama (I see what some of you say about him in your posts…but that’s a different blog), it’s not our health care, its’ not abortion, it’s not any of the above! It’s Jesus. Plain and simple.

Stop rolling around in the quagmire of futileness and pick up the banner of love.  Let people be drawn to the beauty of Christ and not to the reasoning (or lack of) of vain and unnecessary arguments. Does not Christ say, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me”?  Let’s start lifting HIM up, not ourselves, for scripture says “Knowledge puffeth up” but God, “resists the proud” and “Gives grace to the humble”.

Pick up the mantle of love.  Pick up the mantle of Christ.  Let’s lift his banner and see what HE does!

Amen?

Juan Castillo

 

While Arizona votes to let businesses owners refuse service to gays on religious grounds, Jesus weeps


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So in Arizona, lawmakers are attempting to pass legislation that would allow business owners to refuse service to gays on religious grounds, a measure that the House approved with a 33-27 vote.  Of course this is all being done in the name of religious freedom (mainly by conservative Christians).

Can we be blinder I wonder?  How I wish Paul was here right now.  I wonder what he would say.  See Paul was a business owner (he made tents) but in the scriptures there is no mention of him denying service to sinners?

Right? Or am I wrong?

If anything, Paul would argue that we, as Christians, should serve sinners in order to have an opportunity to share Christ; because THAT is what it’s all about.  Millions of people are going to hell because selfish, pious, dogmatic Pharisees are picking up a banner of religion; slapping Jesus on it; and heralding it as if it’s somehow spiritual.

My question is simple.  Is your refusal to serve gays really about religious freedom, or is it about disgust for homosexuals.  Are you so bold as to wrap your intolerant views with the cloth of that which is pure, mainly the name of Christ?

Foolish people!  Since when has Jesus ever cared about such frivolous and un-eternal rubbish as who your business serves and/or refuses to serve?  Does not our God (wait, actually my God, because I suspect, he’s not yours) say “Come to me all who are thirsty”? ALL does not mean “Minus the homosexuals”.  ALL means every person.

You selfish, pious, poor excuse for someone to carry the mantel of Christ.  This is not what Christ would have done; this is NOT What any Godly, Spirit filled Christian would do.  But you do resemble your brothers and sisters; the Pharisees and Sadducees.

May the Lord bear witness against you!  He has commanded us to love and yet you refuse his commandment and instead; hate.  He has commanded us to go out into the world but you lock yourself in a safe haven of religion.  He has commanded us to “seek ye first the kingdom of God” but you seek your rights (as if you had rights), finances, and ambitions.

I council you to read through the scriptures and know how wrong you are.  Repent and come back to the Lord.  He indeed is knocking on your door.

Juan

When did we fall out of love with Jesus?


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As I take a moment and ponder where our churches are making an impact in today’s world, I come to the sad realization that we have fallen out of love with Jesus.  I stumble through websites, books, movies, and comrades and what I am presented with is a love for a law, commandment, religious duty and image of piety.  But where; where is that radical love for a savior? 

Some would argue that some churches do have that love, and that they are going out into the mission field, feeding the poor, preaching righteousness and salvation; and spending time reading the scriptures.  And though to be fair, I have to agree that I do see these events taking place, in my spirit I can’t help but to notice that most of it is done with a blatant lack of love. 

There are people who pompously parade around cemeteries to protest the death of military Imagehomosexuals (or homosexuals in general) claiming to belong to Christ.  But let’s be honest and clear.  You, who do this, are not of Christ and when the judgment day arrives, you will get the strictest of judgments, for your hatred has caused many to blaspheme the name of Christ. 

But aside from that; there are churches who really do strive to please the Lord, but have forgotten to fall in love with Him first.  Sure (here, I speak to the Church), you’re involved in missionary work, feeding the poor, going to church (the building), and maybe even reading the bible every morning.  But does your heart break for people, or does your sense of righteousness prevails against sinners.  Do you stand for what’s right and what’s wrong against those who practice such things or do you show a world; which is so lost in the darkness, One who loves them and can transform them into new creations? 

Scriptures tells us that Christians are to be known by the love they have for each other…but let me tell you, that love is not in the churches.  Not for the sinners, and not for the saints.  Sadly, our services have become but mere social clubs that we have an obligation to attend.  Some of these clubs have really good music and dynamic speakers…but at the end, we all go home to a life that fails to mirror a love unbounding.  

We truly have forgotten who our Lord is; the Omnipotent almighty Father who cowers from nothing and no one. This Father, who has paid our sins in blood; His blood, and calls to the masses to come to Him; we have forgotten that this Father is the one that changes people and that we are but to voice His call to the masses. 

I remember the day of my salvation.  I remember my wide eyed love for Christ. No one had to tell me to start reading the bible; to start praying; to start asking for help with my anger issues.  These things God showed me, through the scriptures, and through loving people who spoke the truth over me in love (not forced it).  But slowly, as time went on, I too forgot my first love.  It started with an over zealousness for the law (do this, don’t do this, go here, can’t go there, etc).  I stopped looking at Jesus and instead looked at the law, which made me look at other things, and it wasn’t long before I wasn’t looking at all.  Now in my 30’s, the Lord is showing me new freedoms, and I cry because even now, even as I type this, I realize how wrong I’ve been.  And I realize that I too have caused some to go away from the One who loves them so much.  

Why didn’t I see this before? 

I’ve been a product of a lie; one that so many have fallen into.

One from which few will get out of. 

We crave the love of people, of others, and yet we don’t realize that that same craving shadows the craving we should have for our savior.  This does not mean that we should strive to be more righteous, more holy.  To be fair I would argue the opposite.  Some of you need to fall and fall hard.  

Why do we strive to please someone whom we can’t please?  Or what, do you think that our righteousness pleases the Lord? How can you please someone who knows the past, present, and future?  He knows your failure and the many that you will inevitably fall into and yet, He loves you.  We can’t please a perfect God because there is nothing more that we can do that has not already been done, per se.  God has accepted us by knowing everything of us, from our birth to our death. 

So, if the love of God is so powerful that in spite of our failures (all of them) He has and will forever love us; why is it that we have such a hard time loving others?  Why do we feel that it’s our job to transform people’s behavior before presenting them a savior, as opposed to presenting them a savior that can change their behavior?  We have it backwards! 

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Don’t forget who Jesus laid hands on…in a forceful but Christ-like manner 🙂

I leave you with this:  Study the scriptures and take careful note who Jesus directed his strongest reprimands to.  Here is a hint: It really wasn’t the sinners, but the religious leaders who had fallen so in love with the law, that when their true God showed up in front of them, they could not recognize Him.

Juan

Lesson from the Samaritan woman


ImageThe story of the Samaritan woman at the well is one that reveals a huge truth that should be a caution to most Christians (find the story in John 4:1-42). Here, Jesus demonstrates gentleness and respect that unfortunately, most of us who call ourselves Christians lack.

To understand what I am about to say, let me give you a quick background (really quick) to this story:

Jews hated Samaritans.

Women were not valued nor viewed upon highly in that time.

Jesus was a Jew.

Jesus was a man.

See, told you it would be a quick background.

Now, with this in mind we come to a story that shows Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman who (as he already knew) has had five husbands and is currently in a relationship with a man who is not her husband.  Now, if you were Jesus, and you came to this Samaritan woman who is in what would be considered a very wrong relationship, what would you do?

OK, hold that thought and read on.

Now Jesus, knowing what she is doing (and has done) asks her for water. Stop right there. So Jesus, knowing her “sin” asks her for water. He does not ask her about her sin, He asks her for water.  I’m going somewhere but keep reading.

After the women shares a comical discussion (in which she pretty much mocks Jesus), Jesus flat out tells her “I am the Christ”.  Actually, Jesus also tells her about true worship and how the Father is spirit.  One thing He does not touch is her “sin”, at least not the way you’d expect.  He uses her sin to establish his credibility but not to somehow tell her “you’re a sinner!” I think you know now where I’m going, but then again maybe you don’t, so keep reading :).

After the interaction, Jesus tells His disciples “My food…is to do the will of him who sent me” and “I sent you to reap what you have not worked for…” In other words, the work is the harvest.

OK what does all this mean?

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Why does this happen? Jesus was nor is anything like this.

As Christians we focus a lot on sin when dealing with the unbelievers or those not part of the “fold”.  We have churches carrying signs talking about how God hates fags and how God hates abortion.  But even worse, we have Christians who sees the sin of a person and completely miss the person themselves.  God does not approach people by slapping them in their face with their sin; as if they can do anything about that! Does not scripture say that God is the author and finisher of our faith? (Why yes it does, it says it here: Hebrews 12:2).  If he is the author and finisher of our faith, does it not stand to reason that he also works to sanctify us?

Jesus is the one who sanctifies us (1 Corinthians 1:30).

But how can He sanctify that which He does not have a relationship with?  And how can that which does not have a relationship with Christ, obtain one if we are not willing to share it?

You see beloved, God is concerned with our sanctity, but He knows that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).  An unbeliever who lacks a relationship can only act as someone who does not believe.  Is there sin? Of course. Can we change them? No.  So why beat them with something neither they nor we can change instead of introducing them to He who can?

Jesus did not approach the Samaritan woman with her sin.  He did not even beat her with her sin and reveal to her the vile sinner she was.  Why would he?  He LOVED her.  Rather, he showed her who He was and allowed her to come to Him.  Isn’t that what we are supposed to do?

Let’s drop these silly banners of hate and let’s pick up the flag of love.  You know that cross dresser?  Yeah, why don’t you go hug her and love her?  Sit down and have lunch sometime and discuss life.  Who knows, maybe she’ll see something she wants.  And maybe she’ll reach out and grab it for herself.  And after that, if God wants her to change, do you not think He’ll let her know? Of course He will.  But that’s not your job (nor is it mine for that matter).

Think about it.

Much love.

Juan

The truth about a realistic view of life.


ImageYou could argue that people fall within three categories; those who are positive; those who are pessimists; and those who fall somewhere in between as realists.

Positive people tend to live in an idealistic world where possibilities exist everywhere and nothing is really unattainable.  On the other hand, pessimists live in a cynical world where nothing could ever be too good (or good at all) and everything has a streak of negativism.  These two are the polar extremes to the human psyche.

Yet somewhere in between the two extremes there exists what is commonly known as the realists.  These people choose to see the world as “it is” with no delusion of extreme hope for something that seems impossible.  They’re not necessarily negative and their positivism have a “realistic” limit.  Sounds like a good balance overall…

Except for its flawed assumption. 

Those who profess to be realists assume to know what’s real.  No, I’m not one of those philosophers who argue against reality; rather I propose that we don’t fully understand it.

Let me explain

Those who are positive will see situations in an ideal light.  Some could argue that their idealism is too much or unbalanced.  However, when you look at great people in history or even people we consider great today, we find a common thread:

They chose to believe in what was ideally possible, not in what was considered realistically impossible.

Martin Luther King had a dream; a seemingly impossible dream.   But his dream became reality (to some point…but that’s a different blog).  Napoleon had a seemingly impossible dream, idealistic and seemingly unattainable.  But today, we know him for the fulfillment of his dream.  Steve Jobs had a dream.  He suffered some setbacks which made his dream seem like impossibility yet today we know him as one of the greatest businessman ever (among other things).

But here is the kicker,

Jesus showed us that what we understand to be “reality” is probably the worst illusion ever.  He taught us to pray prayers that where seemingly impossible (if you have the faith of a mustard seed you can tell this mountain to move and it will move…Matthew 17:20).  He challenged us to do things that where seemingly impossible (peter walking on the water Matthew 14:22-33). And what’s even more shocking, is the fact that Jesus said, we could do greater works than Him (John 14:12).

If you want to be a realist, that’s fine:

But understand that realism is much more than what we comprehend.  That which is real will always push us to our limits and arguably beyond it.  Realism will always keep us looking at that which is ideal, because the truth of it all is that we really don’t comprehend reality.  We barely comprehend ourselves!  So in order to do anything worthwhile, we have to look at that which we have no comprehension off.  We have to look at the ideal.

Don’t let negativism and “realism” hold you back from doing something great.

You are meant for greatness.  

You are created with a purpose.

And that purpose is not bound by our understanding of that which is real.

Juan Castillo Jr.