Friday, May 27, 2011
Friends—I have taken it upon myself to properly translate ‘long-assumed-to-mean-even-though-it-doesn’t-directly-say-it’ scriptures. Today’s lesson is on the real meaning of John 3:16:
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
What we in “the religious church” really understand this scripture to mean is:
For God so loved the of-European-decent, white heterosexual Republican who attends church regularly, never drinks, smokes, swears or misses a daily shower, who is married (to a woman who was a virgin) and has 2.5 children and a house with a white picket fence—who freely pronounces judgment over all others who do not fit into their mold—especially homosexuals, peoples of other races, mixed race people, single moms, the homeless (they are just lazy or drug addicted people anyway), people of any other denomination or belief system, as their understanding of God’s grace is the only correct one. That when they believe in Him—because all others obviously are miserable sinners who deserve hell so why would they believe in Him anyway?—they will not perish, but have everlasting life in heaven with all other people exactly like them.
It’s a bit rough right now—but I’m sure I’m spot on as I have studied this out. I know you picky, deluded sinners will try to point out the Greek word for “the world” κόσμος (kosmos) means the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family, the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ, but … you have to read between the words sometimes to really understand what God was trying to say! That is why we have helped God out with our wisdom and better explained what He meant with the development our all important religions. Obviously we can’t have literally everyone running around thinking God loves and accepts them! Just how many mansions in Heaven do you think there are? Clearly, God had not thought this through well enough at the time, either that or the Bible has a few typos in it.
Do you really want to spend eternity living beside some person of another color, or an alcoholic, or a queer—even worse, a married couple of queers—or horror of horrors, queers that have the gall to be raising a child? Could you imagine how awful it would be for all eternity to have rap music blasting out of your black neighbor’s mansion as those dangerous teenagers, showboating and talkin' smack while playing basketball with their shorts not even covering their butts in the driveway - making your friends feel it is not safe to visit? Do you want some single mom for all eternity to keep asking you to watch her bastard children as she heads off to her heavenly duties? And you know those Mexicans are probably illegals—they must've jumped the heavenly borders to get in, even though you would not want to do the work they are doing in heaven …
No, folks, God has standards! So let us, as reasonable, sound, religious people, start to rage against this plague of acceptance to all people that is spreading like some terrible cancer among the truly faithful. Whatever you do … do not love and see all people through the eyes of this, this … ‘Jesus’ that some infidels are trying to tell you He is. Look here, now, listen up. Jesus was a white, rich Republican, with blue eyes, a slight British accent and long, flowing, always freshly washed hair. He never farted, nor burped or snored, and he smelled very good—like sweet incense. And perfect teeth—He had perfect teeth, too. And no wine or garlic-breath either; He never had any halitosis at any time. He never scratched His privates, and His finger and toenails were always dirt-free and well trimmed, and even though the typical pictures of Him show him wearing a beard, this is highly unlikely … the Son of God would have been clean shaven. Always.
WARNING! Avoid at all costs going to Shiloh’s Lighthouse for Sunday worship or any of their many community outreach programs—for there you will find those unwanted rejects of society, the kind of people you don’t want to be around and especially do not want your children exposed to. Hell obviously awaits them all—so let them stay separated from you as it would be throwing pearls in front of swine to waste a moment of your time with those kinds of sinners. Raise the standard of exclusivity and elitism! How dare this ministry spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people! Take some comfort in knowing that, at least before they all go to hell, for a brief period of time they had the illusion of love and acceptance—that is probably okay, as long as you don’t have to put up with them in heaven.
So remember—God’s love and acceptance to all people—is a false teaching. I am a very religious pastor, so I know the truth—and if you had not yet realized this truth, then you can take my Word for it, and know and know it well now. Oh, thank you—oh, please, stop … you’re too kind. A standing ‘O’? Please. Be seated! Oh please, stop … there’s no need to bow in My presence, I’m just doing my divine job. Thank you, thank you all again. And please stop back often to our SLM blog … more accurate translations coming soon!
Keep the faith*
*… (That is if you are of European decent, a white, heterosexual Republican, who attends church regularly, never drinks, smokes, swears or misses a daily shower, who is married and has 2.5 children and a house with a white picket fence. And a dog or a cat. Or both.)
Monday, May 23, 2011
Who is welcome at your church? Would you be comfortable sitting beside a thief?
How about a prostitute?
Or maybe a strip dancer ...
A gay couple?
Could you share a row of seats with some gangbangers?
Would you move over for a smelly homeless person to have a seat?
Or are you—like most ‘Christians’—much more comfortable with the “perfect family” kind of folks?
Let's face the truth, get real, and tell it like it is. For many in our society, the doors to “the church” are locked.
At Shiloh’s Lighthouse we open the doors to ALL people. Our Community Center Ministry does not try to get people to “clean up” before they come in for worship or one of the many activities we offer here. Our ministry focuses on discovering your God-created purpose in life through a personal intimate relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. As a Community of Faith & Love we are an affirming ministry that will stand by your side in your faith journey—not tear you down and tell you what a miserable sinner you are. We will challenge you to be part of the answer for the Saginaw area by linking arms with you as together we form a unified front against the darkness that tries to tear out city down. We’ve got good news for you. God loves you! You may have been rejected by a church—told that who you are is unacceptable. Maybe you grew tired of playing dress up on Sunday wishing you could actually talk to someone about the real you without fearing judgment or condemnation. Maybe, you just … gave up hope?
Well welcome to SLM, where we believe in UNITY!
Not one of God's children is higher or lower in God's eyes, no one is better or worse than another, and all of God's children ... no matter what race, color, education or not, social or economic status, whatever the circumstances they are in ... are loved equally by Him. There are no "levels" of sin, from the most heinous atrocities to those little 'white lies' ... and since there are none among us without sin, we judge not. Not our place to do so, no human being has that right. Ours is to love all people equally, as Jesus did and still does for us.
We are spreading the word. Misfits, social outcasts, religiously judged, skeptics, doubters and those who have lost their faith are welcome here at Shiloh’s Lighthouse. Come find out what it means to be freely loved and accepted as we see ALL people through the eyes of Jesus—the One who did not come to condemn you, but to save you and make you free. Come by the office any day and meet Pastor Dana—talk to him and find out what it means to speak with a down-to-earth pastor who will not look down his nose at you. Come worship with us Sunday starting at 10:30 AM—no need to dress up (unless you like to!)—just come as you are (for real) and enjoy vibrant music and encouraging messages that help you grow in your faith.
If you are not from the Saginaw area but would like to support our ministry we invite you to go to our website HERE. SLM is a non-profit ministry, all donations are tax deductable. We are able to reach out to at-risk youth, the lost, hurt, and rejected people of society thanks to the generous financial support of people like you!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
"When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself." - Wayne Dyer
I grew up in a fundamental religious home—a home filled with love and stability, no doubt, yet strict religiously. I thought God was an angry old white man with a long beard who sat in heaven on His throne with a lightning bolt in His hand waiting for me to mess up so He could zap me with it. A vivid memory remains for me from a youth group camping trip when I was in the 8th grade. We were sitting around the fire and having “deep” spiritual conversations with the pastor. Being the deep spiritual kid I was, I posed a question to the pastor I was sure he would have to wrestle with before answering.
“Pastor – say I’m driving my car, and someone pulls out in front of me--making me get angry and I cuss at them, then when I go to hit the brakes they don’t work, and I hit them and die. Where would I go?”
Without even as much as taking a breath he looked at me and said, “You’d go to hell.”
Hell?!? For one little slip of the tongue? (Mind you, at this stage of my life, I had never uttered or even considered uttering anything close to a real cuss word) That night in my tent I was confessing sins I’d never even committed … making sure if I died before I woke up (what’s up with that tormenting childhood prayer they taught us?) that God was not sending me to hell. As a young man when I first started my ministry I was very judgmental of others. One day a young gal—19 years old or so—sat in my office with her boyfriend to confess to me she had had an abortion. This couple had crusaded right along with me just months before in some anti-abortion events I had lead and now they sat there confessing this dire sin …
Through her tears she told me how the doctor had told her if she tried to carry the baby to term that she could die. Without hesitation I said to her, “Then you should have died with the baby.”
I cringe now as I read those hateful, judgmental words that flowed so easily out of my mouth. I do not support abortion. I believe life is precious and begins at conception. Even so, I have no right to be the judge of any woman who has had an abortion. If that same gal were in my office today I would be speaking to her about grace, love and forgiveness.
The foundational theme that God is building Shiloh’s Lighthouse Ministry upon is in our purpose statement—“Seeing ALL people through the eyes of Jesus.” If you study the life of Jesus you must come to the understanding that He spent His time among the people—the common, non-religious folks who had “issues” that were easily judged by the religious establishment. He came to set us free—not to hold us in religious bondage. Last Friday at a local Pub, a benefit concert was held to help raise funds for the ministry. That’s right—we held an event in a bar to raise money to support this ministry. Three local bands volunteered their time and talent to perform; the waitresses donated their tips, and the Pub owner’s designated $5 per person cover charge—he gave all of it to SLM.
If curse words send people to hell, then many of the musicians there must be headed straight to it. Yet there they were, donating time and talents, because they had heard we had had our praise band musical equipment stolen—and to them, this was an awful thing; they wanted to help us, and their fellow ‘brothers and sisters in music,’ to regain our music gear. These heavy metal, tattooed, screaming misfits (any ‘typical’ church would judge them as) wanted to help us out! … When so many ‘Christians,’ who have heard about the theft of our musical equipment … have done nothing to come to our aid …
After each set I thanked the musicians involved. When the second band finished I was talking to the lead singer (Okay—screamer, but he gave it all he had) and his buddy who had come to the benefit. When I introduced myself as the pastor he said to me, “Pastor I’m F***ing sorry for all of the cussing I did up there, I tried to sensor myself. When we heard about what happened to your church we just wanted to help out.” He and his friend (who is a PK) then went on to tell me of their religious upbringing and how they just can’t find a church that accepts them. I hugged the young man and told him I was thankful for his time and talent, and that what he did was honoring God that night. I asked them if they knew John 3:16. In unison they said, “Sure! For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
I then asked them if they knew what the next verse said. They had no idea. I recited it to them.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
After telling them what that verse was, I said, “Guys—God loves you and wants to have a personal relationship with you through His Son Jesus. He does not want to condemn you.”
They both took a step back and audibly gasped … then they shouted out, “Awesome!” and gave me high fives. I told them my church is open to them any time as well as my office door. There standing in a bar, a place where, as I child, I was taught to even enter such an establishment would assure my place in hell, I was able to share God’s love and grace with two young men who needed to hear it. Are they living perfect sin free lives? Of course not … are you, am I?
The doors at SLM are open to anyone—no matter their race, their beliefs, their sexual orientation, their profession, their social status or, even if they are Michigan State fans! God loves us all and it is not this pastor’s job to be their judge. My job, along with the others in this community of faith and love, is to ‘see everyone through the eyes of Jesus.’ It’s all about love!
Keep the faith ...
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
There are many challenges to developing a non-profit ministry. Defining what you are, what is the God-created/inspired purpose for the ministry is vital. As individuals we all need to strive to know and understand our created purpose in order to find success; the same rings true for ministry organizations. As I continue to develop Shiloh’s Lighthouse Ministry I am at times amused by the many “experts” who try to add their voice into what SLM is or should be. To me it is a lot like our new softball team. A group of ‘too old to play competitive sports’ to ‘young and don’t know what in the world they are doing’ cast of characters that has gathered together and formed a team to play in our local YMCA Church Softball league. FYI—I fall into the too old to play competitively part of the team—yet I’m happy to be healthy enough to get out there and enjoy the fun and fellowship.
As our team started practicing I got a kick out of the abundance of “experts” offering advice to those who were struggling at the plate to hit the ball. “Put your back elbow up.” “Get back in the batter’s box.” “Move up in the batter’s box.” “Move you back foot!” “Move your front foot!” “Keep your eye on the ball!” A vast cacophony of voices ringing out to where that the poor person at the plate was being overwhelmed … well meaning advice that ended up only adding to their confusion. I often am on the receiving end of a large number of voices that try to tell me what SLM should be: “We’ll really grow when we….”
As a younger man I often fell victim to being a crowd pleaser—doubting myself and my calling just enough to find myself at yet another dead end ministry street wondering where I made the wrong turn.
When I was living in Blacksburg, VA I was moving forward on a great ministry opportunity. I had found an empty 1920s area hotel that was perfect for a boy’s home. I formed a steering committee to help develop the non-profit ministry that would run it. Social Service agencies all were excited as the area totally lacked placement opportunities and they had to spend extra finances out of their budgets to place boys out of their counties. Politicians wanted to be there for the ribbon cutting ceremony. I was cooking along and then it all just stopped. Phone calls ended and were not returned, donors suddenly went other directions with their giving, the steering committee fell apart and I was suddenly alone in the effort. So, wise spiritual man that I am, I decided I should ask God what was happening. He told me I had been working on a good idea, but … not a God idea. I was traveling on a dead end street.
It is often too easy to run ahead of God or away from God thinking you are on the right path. The ministry path God has set out for SLM is not an easy one. Ministering to at-risk youth, the poor, dysfunctional and hurting of society is not glamorous stuff. Sunday services lack the polish of larger churches, and the dirty work of dealing with the many broken lives that come through the doors each week is tiresome and challenging. The constant need to raise finances to keep the doors open is emotionally and physically exhausting. Yet this is the ministry God has called me to have here in Saginaw and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
What I can tell you is, lives are being changed here. Oftentimes it is not pretty and a great deal of the stories are ones that I won’t share publically. For those of you who call SLM your church home, know that you are part of so much more than a church—you are part of a ministry that is daily impacting lives in need here in Saginaw. For those of you who financially support this ministry—thank you! Yes, it’s true I don’t ask for big donations—just $20 per month—but let me tell you, your $.66 per day is helping transform broken lives into lives that have hope, direction and purpose. SLM might not be pretty, but it is a ministry God has brought into existence for such a time as this.
A reminder that this month we will start sending out in the mail a monthly newsletter. If you would like to receive it, please email (firstname.lastname@example.org) me your postal address.
Keep the faith …
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The philosopher Francis Bacon is known for his saying “Knowledge is Power.” That statement has become a nice little catch phrase used by teachers, preachers and politicians alike. Most every morning around 7 to 7:30 AM when I walk into my office here at Shiloh’s Lighthouse the thought that runs through my mind is “the longer I’m doing this ministry, the less I seem to know.” I am humbled by the responsibility and many needs of the precious people I have the opportunity to minister to every day.
I am a visionary man, the kind of guy who gets excited when he sees a broken down building because in my eyes I already see the new facility God will build there and the scores of lives that will be changed. For the most part I share the vision and do my best to help others—through faith—see beyond current difficulties as they focus on trusting God every day for their needs. A weakness of being a visionary man is that I often am lacking or too diplomatic in expressing the gravity of current needs since, in my mind, they are already taken care of—God has a plan. That is not the wisest thing to do is the lesson I am learning. So I have been praying for wisdom in how to deal with a grave situation my ministry faces …
3 Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
4 By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.
5 A wise man is strong,
Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength; Proverbs 24:3-5 (NKJV)
And by understanding it is established;
4 By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.
5 A wise man is strong,
Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength; Proverbs 24:3-5 (NKJV)
I need to make you aware of a most dire situation facing Shiloh’s Lighthouse Ministry. While lives are being changed, people are getting saved, addicts set free from addiction, physical healings from cancer and such are occurring—I could go on, my ministry faces a natural foe that has the potential to bring it to an end.
That foe is finances. SLM is currently running at 35-40% of its budgeted needs in weekly donations and offerings from Sunday services. As a Community Center Ministry there are people (mostly lower income) here daily being ministered to, and the bills are mounting. In April of 2009, thanks to a generous donation from a family in another state, we were able to purchase our facility via a 20 year Land Contract from the Eastern Michigan Free Methodist Church District. We are months behind in our payments for the LC. The generous Superintendent of the Eastern Michigan FMC District has been more than gracious with us, yet we must bring the LC current.
To meet our budget, (which is an extremely lean, no frills budget I may add) it takes just over $3500 per month. To date we are averaging around $1400 per month in donations. The wonderful people who call Shiloh’s Lighthouse their church home do what they can with fundraisers—taco dinners, candy bar sales, rummage sales—those things help, but they will not sustain the ministry on a regular basis. What the ministry needs are regular donations. Just as your household survives on those weekly or bi-weekly paychecks, the utility bills, insurance, Land Contract, etc., come every month and are part of running this ministry.
I am asking that you prayerfully consider:
1. If you are not currently a financial supporter, please pray about becoming a regular donor. All I ask of monthly donors is a pledge of $20 per month, just $.66 per day. The economy is still down, but your $20 per month along with many others will help this ministry survive and continue to change lives.
2. Whether a current supporter or not, or even if you have plans to soon join in the ranks of SLM supporters, Please send me via e-mail a physical mailing address so you can start to receive a monthly newsletter. In this age of email, texting, Facebook messages, Twittering and on and on we are so often overwhelmed with “news” that those things that may matter to us get buried in the process. An “old school” letter allows you to have in hand information and review it at your leisure.
3. All of you reading this: Check over your Facebook friends list, your email contacts, and your cell phone contacts and also send me via e-mail the physical mailing addresses of friends you believe would enjoy learning more about SLM so the “knowledge” about this wonderful ministry can increase. As others learn about what we do, the financial support will grow commensurately as well.
To be blunt now—if I am not able to raise a significant amount of new financial supporters this ministry will have to close its doors. A friend asked me recently as I was sharing the harsh financial reality about the ministry with him, “What is your plan B?” I have no plan B. I believe this is where God wants me to be. I believe that Shiloh’s Lighthouse Ministry is supposed to be here for years to come. I pray that you will take the time to read this over and then pray and act on what you can do to help. Thank you. I know this was long and out of character for me. Nevertheless, I believe that with the knowledge you now have, you can help me to continue to build this house of ministry here in Saginaw.
Keep the faith….
Pastor Dana Wilson
If you wish to mail a $20 donation, send it to:
Shiloh’s Lighthouse Ministry
1215 S River Rd
Saginaw, MI 48609