and ask God to guide you into a healthy spiritual life and into a
Christ centered use of the Bible. God wants you to be happy and to feel
good about yourself. God, as you understand and experience God,
is very personal and individual. Nobody else can give God to
you. This is why all recovery programs encourage you to turn your
life over to your "Higher Power" or to God as you understand God. Your sense
of self esteem and self worth depends on your view of God.
Philippians 4:6-7: "Be
anxious for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication let
your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which
surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in
1 Peter 5:7: "Cast all of your anxiety on God, for God cares for you."
Further discussion of Step 2 can be found in my book Steps To Recovery From Bible Abuse in the following Lessons:
(Click on Bible references to read them..)
No. 5. "JESUS THE REVOLUTIONARY TEACHER"
No. 6. "FREEDOM TO REJOICE IN HOPE"
2 Peter 3:1-18
No. 7. "DON'T GIVE UP ON GOD"
No. 8. "THINGS YOU CANNOT CHANGE"
Jeremiah 13:23; Luke 12:25-26;
Ephesians 4:22-32; Colossians 3:1-17
This Update added June 14, 2004
is always equally present in all things. God is Sovereign.
God is with you now whether you are aware of it or not. You
cannot run away from God! God is special and unique for
you. Your God is whatever and whoever you imagine God to
be. Nobody else can dictate to you or force you to accept a
specific identity for God that does not really fit you.
Jimmy Durante used to say when somebody would interrupt his television
show: "Everybody wants to get into da act!" Far too many people
who mean well but who are wrong want to get into your act and write and
direct their personal script for you concerning God.
years ago, I went to Vanderbilt University with a group of my fellow
seminary students along with Dr. Wayne E. Oates to hear Paul Tillich
lecture. Tillich used his famous descriptions of God: "Ultimate
Reality" and "The Ground of Being." He decided to explain to us
what he meant by those titles for God. I had never before heard a
truly convincing explanation. Tillich simply said that unless God
is ultimate reality and the ground of all being, God is not truly God!
do you describe your personal vision of God? One person decided
that "God is a vague oblong blur." Many Christians follow the
ideas in the first chapter of the Gospel of John and conclude that
Jesus is God and that to see Jesus is to see God. The problem is
that we seldom if ever catch a clear glimpse of the "real Jesus" either
in the churches or in the doctrines and demands of the churches.
Jesus is reported by John as saying: "If you have seen me, you have seen God." (John 14:9. Read all of John chapters 12-17.)
THE "HONEST TO GOD" DEBATE
A. T. Robinson, Bishop of Woolwich, published "Honest to God" in 1963,
in which he challenged the traditional images of God. This book
became a hotly disputed work that many scholars challenged in a
subsequent book: "The Honest to God Debate" edited by David L. Edwards
and published also in 1963. Later, in 1996, Robert W. Funk,
founder of the Jesus Seminar, published "Honest to Jesus: Jesus for a
new millennium," which also challenged all traditional views of
Jesus. (See links below.)
three of these books are worth your time and energy, and I hope that
you will read and study them and their sources, which include Tillich's
"Shaking of the Foundations," and the works of Soren Kierkegaard,
including "Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing" and "Attack Upon
Christendom," along with Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Letters and Papers from
Prison." Become familiar with the "Quest for the Historical
Jesus," the "New Quest" and the works of Rudolf Bultmann and his
followers dealing with "de-mythologizing" the Gospels.
of this is a reminder of two sayings of one of my favorite seminary
professors, Eric Rust: "You can't put God in your pocket!" and "God is
not found at the end of an argument."
WHERE DID YOU FIND YOUR GOD?
is your earliest memory of God or religion? Long before you were
able to make your own decisions about anything, your parents and
teachers filled your mind with images and descriptions of God.
Perhaps your God was the fundamentalist vision of "Sinners in the Hands
of an Angry God," as Jonathan Edwards proclaimed during the so-called
"Great Awakening," which actually was "The Great Mistake" or we could
also call it "The Great Heresy" that clouded the image of God and Jesus
in a fog of judgmental legalism that remains with us today in every
major Christian denomination (over 300 at latest count).
logical and objective is traditional religion today in America, where
over 300 Christian church denominations each claim to know and teach
the truth about God and each also teaches that all of the others are
wrong! These obvious contradictions don't seem to make any
difference to the radical "company of the committed" that dominates the
religious environment of our world.
the religious contradictions is the publication of hundreds of
different translations and versions of the Bible that devoted
"believers" claim are the literal "words of God." These
contradictions may seem obvious to you, but the ludicrous illogical
foundations of contemporary church religions seem to be an accepted
fact of faith for millions of people. "The Bible says it. I
accept it. And that settles it!" Or does it?
FAITH INCLUDES DOUBT
Tillich wrote a very
helpful little volume on "Dynamics of Faith," where he showed how doubt
is a part of the faith process. The only person without any
doubts is a Hitler shouting his views from his balcony with no thought
of questioning or allowing anyone to question his "truth," which
consisted of lies so often spoken that people began to believe that the
lies were true!
religion is a mental illness that includes suspicion (paranoia) and
schizophrenia (obvious contradictions that are accepted as true) along
with a heavy dose of manic/depressive behavior, co-dependency and
unresolved anger at the traditional God and at yourself for failing to
"measure up" to the requirements and standards of legalistic judgmental
religion, which are rapidly becoming part of the air you breathe and
the culture that you feel obligated to obey and defend. What a
THINK FOR YOURSELF
traditional religions do not try to teach people to think for
themselves. The aim of the religious system is to convince
believers to follow the spiritual leadership of the designated clergy,
teacher or bishop authority who can dish out your spiritual truth as
though "one size fits all"! Church has become an elaborate hog
trough where the religious slop is dumped out by the spiritual keepers
and then is swallowed and digested by the faithful. If that image
of religion is offensive to you, why do you keep coming to the
legalistic trough every Sunday? Is it because you enjoy the
company of other pigs? Or is it simply a disgusting habit that
you cannot face and discard.
doubt that you are enjoying this update up to this point! Most
sick people so not like the idea of undergoing major surgery to remove
a malignant tumor. But most people who face their unhealthy
condition and seek relief from the pain and disfigurement caused by a
physical or spiritual tumor gladly and gratefully accept the surgical
skills of the medical team and are glad to be rid of destructive
obstructions and life threatening conditions.
"A LIFE OF UNLEARNING"
I just received a gift copy of
"A LIFE OF UNLEARNING:
Coming Out of the Church: One Man's Struggle" by Anthony Venn-Brown,
who lives in Australia and receives my updates and has frequently been
in touch with me on the Internet. "A Life of Unlearning" was
published this year, 2004, by New Holland Publishers, 14 Aquatic Drive
Frenchs Forest NSW 2086 Australia. This timely book is a powerful
personal "coming out" story that will encourage and inform
you. (See link below.)
IS YOUR GOD TOO SMALL?
translator and scholar J. B. Phillips wrote a helpful little volume
with the challenging title: "Your God Is Too Small." Read
it. Brother Lawrence gave us another brief "classic of practical
Christian devotion" in his slim volume: "The Practice of the Presence
of God." Read it. Learn from others who have had the "the
courage to be" (another short study by Paul Tillich) and to think for
will learn far more from others who have discovered the gift of
thinking for themselves than from all of the religious experts and
know-it-all biblical "scholars" who dare to dump their own undigested
slop into your trough.
To follow Jesus is to think for yourself.
PO Box 24062
Oakland, CA 94623
you for your encouragement and financial help with my Internet
ministry. You can still make a contribution directly to Dr.
Truluck at my PO Box or through my publisher, Chi Rho Press, PO Box
7864, Gaithersburg, MD 20898 or online at:
Write in the amount and indicate "for Dr. Truluck"
and your contribution will be tax-deductible.
The Jesus Seminar:
For up to date news related to GLBT people:
Look at "Yahoo! News" and do "search" for "Gay and Lesbian":
To order my book from my publisher:
author of "A LIFE OF UNLEARNING," can be contacted at his website:
triumphant autobiography reveals the torment and guilt Anthony
experienced as a conservative Christian who was, God forbid, gay.
Whether you're gay or straight, a Christian or a non-believer, you'll
find relevance in Anthony's tale and be touched as you join him on his
journey of discovery. This is a story about living your
truth‒embracing who you are and living the life you were meant to
live." (Copied from the back cover of the book.)
On to Step 3
"FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE"
Update for November 24, 2002
is here. Whatever else you might include in giving thanks, you
can always give thanks for faith, hope and love that have blessed your
life and the lives of people around you.
Stop and take time to read through
I Corinthians 13 carefully and thoughtfully.
You can click here for my translation. No matter what your life has been like in the past year, you still have faith, hope and love, which remain
when everything else is gone.
still have faith that God is at work in everything that happens to me
and in all of the various circumstances that I do not understand and
cannot control. Our rapidly changing world challenges our faith
but does not destroy it. Loss, grief, anger and depression can
challenge your faith, but they cannot destroy it. Faith grows
stronger under pressure.
is a gift from God. "God, increase my faith" is a prayer that
opens the way to greater faith. Exercising your faith, like
exercising your body, makes faith grow stronger and become better
focused. Faith in God and faith in yourself go
hand-in-hand. The more you believe and accept the goodness of God
and God's love and acceptance of you, the more your faith in God and in
yourself grows and develops towards spiritual maturity and inner peace.
a storm raged around the small boat containing Jesus and the disciples,
the fear of the disciples caused Jesus to ask: "Where is your
faith?" Where is your faith and why do you place your trust where
brings us to hope. Hope also is a gift from God. The gift
of hope delivers you from despair and depression. Hope comes into
your heart because God is at work in your life all the time, whether or
not you are aware of God's presence and God's actions.
is not an indefinite good feeling about what might or might not
happen. Hope is a positive energetic expectation of good in your
future. The basis for hope, like the basis for faith, is the
continuous work of God in all things for your benefit. Where does
your vision of God come from? Is it the product of abusive
misinformed religion, or is it based on your own understanding and
thoughtful reflection? Does your vision of God come from others
or from within?
nature of your experience of hope depends on how you see God and
therefore how you see yourself. Both faith and hope are attitudes
that are meaningless unless they are truly relevant to who you really
are and to what your present world is like. Living in the past is
contradictory to faith and hope. The joy of a living hope and a
solid faith comes from living in the present and in the Spirit of God,
who has been given to you to reveal to you what you need to know to
enjoy being yourself and be open and accessible to others.
brings us to love. Paul did not give long detailed explanations
of faith and hope, but that is simply a matter of emphasis not of
importance. Paul did, however, give a long detailed explanation
of love. If you have never done it, memorize the characteristics
of love given in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. See my discussion of this
in Lesson 5l "Growing Up in Love" (pages 426-432) in my BOOK. See also Henry Drummond's brief
classic on this subject: The Greatest Thing in the World.
Try this little exercise. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and substitute your name for the word "love"
in each statement. I had my college Bible classes do this, and
used my name: "Rembert is patient". Everybody laughed along with
me. The final statement: "Rembert never fails" also sounded
impossible. All of this makes you realize that love also is a
gift from God and not something that we can just work up on our
own. Romans chapter 5 also discusses hope, faith and love and in
5:5 points out that "The love of God is shed abroad in your hearts by
the Holy Spirit who is given to you."
good way to remind yourself of what you have to be thankful for this
year is to read all of Romans chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8. These
powerful words of faith, hope and love are a true thanksgiving feast
for your soul.
I HAVE NO ANSWERS
great deal of the e-mail that I receive is from friends who want me to
answer questions for them about what my writings mean or to answer
questions about what they should do in various personal
situations. I actually have no answers. Everything that I
have to say is already in my web site and book. I never try to
give personal advice in e-mail. I cannot know what another
individual is thinking or experiencing or how other people are already
handling their crisis events. God knows. God is already
there and working on their behalf.
answers are already within you because you are made in the image of God
and because the Spirit of God has been given to you at your birth into
the human race. Everything that Jesus did was done for the entire
human race. At his baptism, Jesus clearly identified with all
humanity, and he was baptized for all people, not just for the select
few who knew the religious formulas and said the right words!
the Spirit of God was given at Pentecost in Acts 2 the obvious emphasis
is that the Spirit came upon all humanity with no exceptions! The
quotation from the Prophet Joel makes that abundantly clear. The
religious captivity of the Spirit is a false notion that has divided
people and distorted their vision of God and themselves. The
exclusive religious attitudes that leave out great portions of the
human race are a blatant denial of the unconditional inclusive love of
God that Jesus demonstrated and taught.
OUTSIDERS ARE INCLUDED NOW
often receive very poignant touching e-mail from people young and old
who tell me how they have been made to feel like outsiders by their
abusive religion teaching them homophobic misinformation as God's
law. Then they go on to tell me how reading my web site changed
all of that and gave them a new vision of themselves as included and
accepted by the God they had been taught to fear and dread and avoid.
Faith, hope and love are not just for the special few. These are God's gifts to the entire human race.
is a great time to feast upon the riches of faith, hope and love that
have been given to you in abundance by the Creator who made you and
sustains you at every moment of your existence. You are not
alone. God is with you, and you also are surrounded by a great
invisible multitude of other children of God who have gone before you
in faith, hope and love.
Rejoice and be glad, for this is the day that God has made for you.
Religion can be an incredible distraction from
the true meaning of "faith, hope and love."
"GOD IS AT WORK"
Update for January 13, 2002
You may not see what God is doing, but God is at work in your life.
never abandons you. God never takes a vacation. As Paul
Tillich observed: God is the ground of all being. God is the
ultimate reality. Nobody understands God. The human mind is
incapable of grasping the mind and power of God. Just because you
do not understand what God is doing in your life and in your world does
not mean that God is not there.
most painful and destructive things that have come into my life have
prepared me for my present ministry through my web site and books, as
an MCC pastor and teacher, on the Internet, and in workshops.
Whenever I go through troubled times, I look for what God is saying to
me and what God is preparing for me to do next.
LISTENING TO GOD
heavens are telling of the glory of God and the firmament is declaring
the work of God's hands." This is from Psalm 19:1 and has been
set to music by many composers. "Firmament" literally means a
"polished reflective surface," like a mirror. The "firmament" is
seen to reflect everything that God has done. The Psalmist is
saying that the entire work of God on earth speaks for God. God
is everywhere and speaks through every tiny detail of human
experience. Our problem is learning to listen when God is
speaking personally to us through our experiences, feelings and
with heaven, and every common bush afire with God, but only the ones
who see take off their shoes. All the rest sit round and pick
blackberries." –Elizabeth Barrett Browning. God is speaking to
you through everything that you see and every person that you meet and
in every thought and emotion that comes into your life.
ROAD BLOCKS OR STEPPING STONES?
God brings me to a sudden stop in my journey, the obstacles to what I
want to do could be an important stepping-stone into a new path that
God wants me to follow. When I was forced to resign from the
Baptist College in Charleston, SC, in 1981, it seemed to be a total
disaster, yet it was that event that led to the open door for ministry
in the LGBT community for the past 21 years through MCC and in hundreds
of meetings, writings, lessons and activism for our community.
times the loss of health, a partner, a place to live, a job or other
personal stress becomes the sign post to a new beginning as life
continues to make progress in our learning more fully how to "let go
and move on." Whenever God closes one door, God opens
another. Everything that God does in your life is done in love
and with the purpose of allowing you to enjoy the most full and
meaningful life that you can have.
gave us many reasons not to give up on God. The following list
was developed in one of our small groups as "The Eight Wonders of God"
and clear reasons to trust God and not give up:
1. God always is greater than your need.
2. God always is greater than your enemy.
3. God always loves you more than you do.
4. God always has better plans for you than you do.
5. God always gives you what is good for you.
6. God always is available to you.
7. God gives you what you could never give to yourself.
8. Whatever God gives to you can never be taken from you.
(This list comes from Lesson 7 on "Do Not Give Up on God" in my book.)
DON'T BE AFRAID ANYMORE
and even troublesome events need not be cause for alarm. God is
with you no matter what happens. For readily available
encouragement, read Psalm 23 and Philippians 4:6-7. Don't be
afraid of other people or of changes that you don't control.
Don't be afraid of anything that happens to you. Don't be afraid
of the opinions of other people about you. Fear can paralyze us
and makes us react in panic when we really need to be logical,
objective and practical.
comes not from what is happening but from how you perceive what is
happening. One of my greatest difficulties is dealing with my own
feelings when I try to make out what another person is really thinking
and feeling and over-react to what I imagine is going on. One of
my friends once told me that I have "a catastrophic imagination!"
If I don't know what is going on, I always imagine the worst.
Sometimes it has been worse than I thought, but I have always been able
to survive and handle it anyway. You can too.
GOD IS DEPENDABLE
never changes. God's presence with you is a fact of life.
You continue to breath and live because God has created you in the
image of God and has breathed into you the "breath of life." God
speaks to you in everything around you and in the still small voice of
God's Spirit within you. Help is not far away or off in some
distant "heaven" or temple. God's help, direction and
encouragement are to be found within your own self. Look
within. Be open to your inner voice. God is opening your
eyes to new truth and new directions and giving to you the wisdom and
power to follow the path that is meant for you.
"God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God to
those who are called according to God's purpose." (Romans 8:28)
See the web site of my friend Rik Isensse
who is a gay psychotherapist in San Francisco and has written 5 books
on helping us live life better. Rik offers many kinds of help,
including a new program of "Life Coaching." I have added this link to
my web site "Resources" page.
Update for December 10, 2001
you don't know what is happening or why, trust God. When life
does not make any sense and everything seems to be falling apart all
around you, trust God. No matter what happens, trust God.
is it so hard for you to trust God? You trust people that you
don't even know. You trust strangers who drive planes, trains,
taxis, and buses and who give directions, but you have a problem
trusting God. Why? You trust what you read in newspapers
and books and on the Internet and television, but you cannot trust
God. Why? Is it because your mind is not free to think
clearly and logically? Are our minds bound and controlled by
misinformation, traditions, cultural conditioning and a thousand other
hooks and scramblers?
What can free your mind so that you can trust God?
man with a disturbed child came to Jesus for help and said: "If you can
do anything, take pity on us and help us!" Jesus answered: "If
You can! All things are possible to the one who believes.
The man replied: "Teacher, I believe; help me in my unbelief!"
Then Jesus took the child by the hand and raised him up and he was
well. (Mark 9:17-29)
GROWING IN FAITH
does faith come from? Martin Luther said that faith itself is a
gift from God. Romans 10:17 declares: "Faith comes through
hearing, and hearing through the world of Christ (the Gospel)."
One obvious barrier to strong faith in God is our weak conception of
God that does not encourage us to let go of everything else and trust
only God. How can you gain a vision of God that allows you to
trust God when everything you have learned about God is confusing and
inconsistent with your own reality?
first step into real faith is to question your old beliefs and
recognize and admit your spiritual weakness and failures. "God,
help my unbelief!"
next step is to admit that you really do need God in your life and that
without God and some kind of faith in God, you are a frantic
mess! Recovery from abusive religion and ignorant distortions
about God is no different from recovery from any other "unclean
spirits" that inappropriately attempt to control you and jerk you
around. You admit your loss of control and turn to your "higher
power" for help. That is trust. That is faith.
A LEAP OF FAITH
call it the "leap of faith." A leap of faith is not a jump into
oblivion or a retreat from reality. The leap of faith in God is
letting go of "false gods" and moving on into something that really
works for you. You already are trusting in a lot of misguided
advice and murky instincts that are not working. Something has
caused you to wake up to your need to start over. You are
strongly moved to make some kind of spiritual change in your life.
have had so much success in running your life without clear guidance
and help from God that you have been able to maneuver yourself into a
trapped situation that you cannot understand or escape. How do I
know this about you? It's because I am in the same boat with you
and we are all struggling with the same pressures and perplexing life
situations. We are not really different from each other in our
sense of need or in our frustration with the solutions that we have
tried so far.
WHY TRUST GOD?
it seems to take a lot of wrong turns and hasty trips on detours and
into blind alleys before we decide to ask God for guidance and strength
to accept ourselves and move into inner peace and confident
living. Love is indeed the "greatest thing in the world," but
faith and hope are the foundations on which love rests.
already are placing your trust in a lot of people, ideas, views,
arguments, and reasoning that have not worked out for you. Why
not turn to God and trust that the Creator who made you in the image of
God has some really good things in store for you if you only believe?
know that all of this sounds terribly simplistic. Yet the main
thrust of the teachings of Jesus seems to have been an emphasis on
simple and humble ideas that really speak for themselves. Jesus
gave a lot of attention to what should be obvious to everybody.
Religion has so completely over-complicated the doctrines and rules of
"Christianity" that the simple trust and love that is demonstrated in
Jesus has been lost in the mountain of trivia that religion has worked
relentlessly to create over the past 2,000 years.
DO YOU TRUST YOURSELF?
you are so conflicted about your own self-doubt and self-rejection, as
many millions of LGBT people are, being able to trust yourself and your
own ideas and feelings becomes elusive and sometimes impossible.
Trusting God and being able to trust yourself go hand-in-hand.
How can you "accept Jesus" if you cannot "accept yourself"? How
can you really trust God if you cannot trust yourself?
God can help you to accept and affirm yourself by reminding you that
you are created in the image of God and after God's likeness. You
are not garbage or trash. You are already a child of God and
loved and accepted by God as demonstrated in the life and teachings of
Jesus. Begin by believing in yourself. The next logical
step is to believe in the God who made you and who has great plans for
your happiness, love, joy and peace in the full and meaningful life
that God has offered to you in Jesus.
God is a "win-win" situation. You can do far better by trusting
God than by not trusting God and trusting the slippery values of
culture, society and abusive discredited religion! You do not
have to remain the way you are. You can turn to God and ask God
to help your unbelief.
Christmas season can be very frustrating and distressing for GLBT
people. We often have been cut off from many significant people
in our lives, and the spirit of the holidays can seem empty and unhappy
for many of us. Read my material on "Help with Holiday Stress" in "A Response to Southern Baptists".
On to Step 3