How to Live a Good Life

Matthew 19:17-19

 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

If there was an instruction manual for how to stay out of trouble or to basically be a better person, Jesus was trying to provide the first and most important chapter of that book.
Jesus lets us know that nobody is perfect, no one is absolutely 100% pure and righteous either. We’re human beings. We have free will, we have quirks and flaws and finite characteristics, and we are prone to making goofs and mistakes. That being said, we were given plenty of gifts, skills, and talents to live pretty well with I think. We were also gifted with the capacity and potential to do great things. We were most importantly though, given the means to love one another and to discern right from wrong.
Living a good life doesn’t have to be any more complicated than trying to love and respect the God that put you on this Earth, love and respect your parents who raised you and provided for you, and loving and respecting your mind, body, and soul. It shouldn’t be a complicated process to try and love and respect your fellow human beings. Yet somehow it does get complicated.
How? We find reasons to dislike, distrust, fear, hate, and discriminate against others. We judge by appearances, we are taught our biases; and our preferences are nurtured but seldom explored or evaluated for their merits. We take comfort when we surround ourselves with like-minded people and we shy from those that challenge our views and thinking. We shy away from what we don’t understand and we shy away from intellectual curiosity and critical thinking and exploration– because that might undermine our deeply held beliefs. Our attitude may be to shirk critical thinking and reaching out simply because it requires effort and involves risk.
Stereotypes, lies, myths, false statistics, hearsay, and ignorance driven by fear mongering seems to prevent people from engaging the LGBT community. No one wants to see beyond the surfaces to understand the heart of the community. People are told to fear us. People are encouraged to hate us because we are not like themselves. They succeed in fanning this hatred by turning what is natural to us– love and living genuinely– into something unnatural. They don’t research the LGBT experience or create meaningful dialogues with the LGBT community if it means that their views and understanding of gender and sexuality may need to adapt or evolve or be re-evaluated.
People want to believe their beliefs are fixed and set like concrete slabs. They don’t want to re-visit these ideas and beliefs. They don’t feel the need to test them for their strength or durability and reliability.
If we didn’t apply critical thinking and if we didn’t explore and test knowledge, we might still accept the notion that the Earth is the center of the Universe and that the planet is entirely flat. We might also just as well assume that X-ray radiation is harmless and air and space flight is impossible and the combustion engine is just a pipe dream.
At no point in living the good life should we be cowering in fear or bending to untested myths and stereotypes. We should have the courage to try and understand each other, reach out to each other, and learn from each other. That is how we honor one another and build relationships.
Posted in Jesus, Love, Love thy Neighbor, Mathew, Opinion | Leave a comment

John 8:15-16

“You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.”


Jesus says it pretty clearly in the Gospel of John. He passes judgment on no one. He saw the people around Him judging others by human standards. True judgment comes from God, the Father, who sees us not with eyes that are flawed or fallible or finite, but with the eyes of our Creator, having seen our souls at the moment of our creation and conception.

Jesus is not concerned with our outward appearances or labels. He is not concerned with whether we are rich or poor or tall or short. He is concerned about our souls. He is concerned about or whole well-being. Rather than focusing on our sins, Jesus is focused on our forgiveness. Jesus wants to heal us and lift the guilt and shame from our shoulders. He does want us to stab into each other’s wounds and hold grudges or aim rocks at each other. He wants us to get past all that nonsense and see each other as God might see us, as precious beings capable of loving each other, respecting each other, living in harmony with each other.

It frustrates me that so many people find it easier to judge one another than to simply let it all go.

That being said, it is one thing to judge someone– but an entirely different thing to hold people accountable for their actions and to expect and encourage good behavior, respect, and moral conduct. But to judge someone based on their sins and hold them lower than yourself or to judge to the point where redemption is impossible is not what Jesus would want from us.

I look on this Scripture passage and suspect Jesus is evaluating how we pass judgment on each other. By what standards? Superficial and petty standards? By which moral compass are we judging others? We might have an understanding of right and wrong and we can identify when someone commits a crime against us or society. We can say that a person has made a poor choice or committed a crime. We can address the facts of the situation. Beyond that, who are we to judge with regards to the person’s soul or character? Do we judge to the point where we think we have a full understanding of a person’s motivations, conflicted conscience, psychological makeup, or character as a human being? Do we judge fairly or to we judge as someone who is reactionary, emotional, subjective?

Jesus is trying to remind us that judgement comes from the only one equipped with absolute understanding– God.

Posted in Jesus, John, Judgment, Truth | Leave a comment

John 7:18

“Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.” NIV


Whenever I am faced with religious-based bigotry or discrimination, I always go directly to the Bible and directly to the Gospels and look closely at what Jesus taught, how He conducted Himself, how He related to others, and what it was He was asking of us as potential followers.

It always infuriates me when someone would use the Bible as a method of excluding people or putting people down. It disgusts me when people who claim to be Christian use the Bible as justification for physical or emotional violence against someone who they are personally uncomfortable with. The Word of God is not a weapon against the innocent. God did not give life or reach out to us through inspired prophets and writers and scribes just to see us slaughter each other or take His word out of context to serve some personal goal or worldly political agenda.

Our God doesn’t create just so He can destroy. God doesn’t create something to purposefully suffer. Mankind creates hatred, bigotry, prejudice, oppression, and violence.

God sent Jesus to us to try and teach us how to be better people, how to put our hearts and minds towards loving each other. Jesus came to us to restore and repair the broken and fractured relationships we may have with God and each other. There simply is no justification or reasoning behind hatred against anyone.

The truth is, Jesus asked us to love God with our heart, mind, and soul and to love each other with our heart, mind, and soul as much as we would love ourselves. Love our neighbors even if they be black, white, tan, purple, green, lavender, gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, transgender, a New York Rangers fan, a Boston Bruins fan, a Democrat, a Republican, a Libertarian, a Catholic, a Jew, a Baptist, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Hindu, or Atheist. Jesus asked us to love our enemies and to pray for them and have hope for them. Hope that our enemies will heal the hurt in themselves or to consider their actions or to open their hearts or repent for their sins.

People who use the Bible to condemn are missing the whole point of what the Bible is trying to teach and inspire.

Posted in Jesus, John, Love, Love thy Neighbor, Opinion, Peace, Truth | Leave a comment

John 21:15-17 “Feed My Sheep”

John 21:15-17

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.”


If you want to prove that you love Christ, may as well prove that you love what He stood for, fought for, and what He was trying to accomplish. Jesus was trying to be an instrument of God’s universal, unconditional love for humanity. Jesus was trying to care for those in need. Jesus was trying to meet the needs of those seeking His mercy, His help,   and His forgiveness.

I had also been thinking on this from another perspective. It is not always enough to say in words alone “I love you”. Showing love, acting out of love, and investing in the well-being of the ones you love makes a greater impact. Reaching out to lift up your fellow man or sister is an act of love. Helping those in need is an act of love. Showing compassion and generosity and care shows that you are walking the walk and not just talking the talk.

Jesus’ promise to His many followers came not just by word of mouth but by His active participation. He reached out and healed the sick, fed the hungry, and approached the sinner and forgave them. When Jesus asks Peter to “feed my sheep” or “tend my lambs”, He is asking Peter to show love not just for Jesus but for everyone whom Jesus loves. Take action! Share the love.

I also reflect upon the love Jesus is talking about. Love is a lot more than just hugs and kisses and being affectionate. To love someone is to care about the whole person– their health and well-being. It is to provide and to give what will provide quality to one’s life. That can include spiritual things as well as physical things.

Love is an investment of more than just words. It is an investment in a relationship and that requires and investment in resources and emotion and time and energy. Love takes work. Jesus is all about doing the work of being a loving person.

Posted in John, Love, Love thy Neighbor | Leave a comment

Thoughts of the Day: March 4th, 2018

I’ve reached about the two month mark on my hormone replacement therapy. I look at my body and look for the subtle changes in my shapes and curves. I wonder if my skin is a little softer and smoother. I wonder if I am developing my breasts, hips, and thighs. I wonder if I am looking more feminine. Yet as I do so, I know that there are some who believe what I am doing is un-natural, immoral, un-Christian, and an act of rebellion against God’s plan or God’s intentions for me.

I tell them and tell myself that it is no sin or act of rebellion to want to live as honest and sincere a life as one can. I also tell them and myself that God knows my soul. He knows my inner struggles with identity and feeling whole and natural and comfortable in my own body. He knows my soul intimately, because He enabled me to have this soul in the first place.

The body may be a temple, but it is what resides within that temple that is important. Jesus isn’t looking to save appearances or save face. He came to the world to save the eternal soul of each one of us and give us rest and peace and comfort and security.

To me, when folks try and use the Bible to justify a form of exclusion or condemnation of the LGBT community and their supportive allies, I have to look with sharp focus upon the Gospels and how Jesus conducted Himself and how He related to others. As a Christian, if Jesus is our guide, we must study Him and learn from Him and take His lead if we are willing to follow Him. At no point in the Gospels as I have come to understand them have I come across any message from Jesus telling me that He judges us by our outward appearances. He is not impressed by how spiffy we look nor is He turned away from us if our clothes are shabby and dirty. He doesn’t concern Himself if we are rich or poor or somewhere in between and He doesn’t push some followers away in favor of others and He doesn’t prevent anyone from reaching out to Him.

Consider His “Sermon on the Mount”. At no point did He seek out people and inspect them to see if they conformed to some kind of dress code. He didn’t charge anyone an admission fee either. He did not exclude females from hearing His message. He did not shove aside children either. He did not tell us only some could listen while others had to leave.

Jesus, as I understand Him, is about inclusion, acceptance of diversity, and unconditional love and forgiveness without condemnation or superficial judgment. I see in Jesus a determination to love others as He would want to be loved. I see Jesus determined to see value in all of God’s creations. I see a willingness in Christ to find some redemptive quality in everyone. I see an honest man speaking simple truths– that God is the ultimate authority and love and forgiveness are His to distribute as He wishes– it is not for mankind to take that authority from God.

Why is it so hard for some people to find good in others? Why is it so hard for some to understand that the LGBT community is a blessing and a manifestation of God’s wonderful creation? Why do some people feel they are entitled to feel superior over their human brother or sister? Why have we spent so many generations finding ways to divide and conquer each other rather than embrace and respect one another?

When will mankind get beyond the surfaces and appearances and superficial nonsense and get down to brass tacks and focus on the substances of our characters and the substance of who we are as people on the inside? When will learn to accept one another?


Posted in Equality, Hope, Inspiration, Jesus, Love, Love thy Neighbor, Opinion, Pride, Self-Reflection, Testimony, Transgender, Transgender Awareness, Transgender Hope | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Lent

This year the Lent season has been rather eye-opening for me. I’ve had my awareness raised to some new tests and challenges that I have had to face with regards to asserting my true and honest self. It seems that no matter how honest and sincere I wish to be, and not matter the efforts I go to try and be as transparent and clear about how I wish to present and express myself and who I am as a person, I am still often judged by my appearance rather than by the content of my character or by my actions and the efforts I make to make positive changes in the tough world we all live in.

Recently I have been trying to get more involved in my church and its leadership committee. I have introduced my name for their consideration, hoping that there is a space for me to contribute and help build our church’s future. It turns out that rather than consider my Christian qualities and character traits or my skill set or my active roles in what I offer the church, some would rather focus on my identity and gender expression or appearance.

There is fear that new church members and visitors would leave the church or refrain from visiting the church upon seeing me as an openly identifying transgender woman. The reality is that yes, 6 individuals left our church because they held different theological beliefs about transgender people and whether transgender people are good Christians or not or tolerable in a church environment, etc. Some believe that I am a sinner (never mind that we are all sinners in one form or another and none but Christ is righteous and without sin). some believe I am a hoax or fraud. Some simply cannot respond to me in a positive and respectful way. They have felt compelled to leave the church. This has caused something of a problem or rift among some of the remaining church members. They are afraid that the more visible I am in church, the more likely that people will not feel comfortable at this church.

For background, I have been an active member of this church for 4 years now. I am a fully baptized Christian. I have been officially included in church membership since Sept. 25th, 2016. I have been attending this church since December 24th, 2014. Six members of the congregation, some of them conservative and some with Pentacostal backgrounds, have chosen to leave the church.

This Lenten season I am finding myself seeking to defend myself and defend my identity as a Christian who tries to follow Christ’s lead with how a Christian should conduct themselves. I look to Christ for how He established His ministries and how He interacted with people. I look at what He had to say about love, tolerance, inclusion, and people who have been marginalized, oppressed, discriminated against, and made to feel excluded from God’s love and protection.

In trying to show that I am focused on being a good Christian leader for my church, I turn to Christ. I do not focus on judging others by appearances or by using the Bible as a weapon to make attacks on a person’s identity. I do not look to the Bible to justify exclusion– rather I look to Jesus to tell us how we should love one another, forgive each other’s sins, lead by following Christ.

I am hopeful that folks will take this Lent season to re-connect with the core of Christianity, and that is Christ. Learn from His example. We shouldn’t be focused on the outward of a person, but rather be concerned about their substance, their character, and the well-being and health of their soul.


Posted in Opinion, Testimony, Transgender, Transgender Awareness, Transgender Hope | Leave a comment

The Uniqueness of Christ

What sets Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ apart from prophets or other spiritual guides and spiritual leaders?

This was a question posed during a recent Sunday sermon at my church. What makes Christianity and Christ stand out and what makes this spiritual path what it is?

Jesus claims to be the Son of God. Jesus also claims that He dwells within the Father and the Father dwells within Him. He is in union with God. God is in union with Jesus. Jesus was born of a virgin and the Holy Spirit and descended from God, the Creator of all Heaven and Earth. Jesus was there in the beginning of creation, as the Word. Jesus claims to be the Way, the Truth, and the Light. Jesus claims the only way to the Father, God, our Creator, is through Him. To know Jesus is to know God and to know God is to know Jesus.

Does this imply or suggest that the only way to heaven is through Jesus? Does this suggest that Jesus is the only means of achieving salvation and eternal life? If God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one or three aspects of a single divine Creator, does this mean that Christians hold a monopoly on the path to heaven? Is Christianity the only way to save one’s soul?

The works of the Bible do not claim to be politically correct. They do not claim to be aware of current societal trends or popular societal norms. The Bible does not claim to be a reflection of 20th or 21st or even 19th century sensibilities. More accurately, the Bible is a literary tapestry of reflections of a history going back to the 1st century AD and much, much earlier. That being said, the Bible also doesn’t claim to be a historical archive or complete chronicle of all human experience and history for the Middle East or Fertile Crescent or Israel or Mesopotamia or the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. Current archaeological efforts can support some of the Bible’s historical narratives and in some cases, it cannot or has yet to do so with present efforts. More research is needed and more digging into the past is likely.

Jesus claims He is the one true path and way. It is a matter of whether we wish to believe that or not. It is the biggest challenge Christians face I think. Is Jesus the exclusive means to salvation? It may not be what the world wants to hear. We want to live in a society that is inclusive, not exclusive. We want to believe in respecting the faiths and beliefs of others– whether they be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, or Wiccan. We want to live in a world where everyone’s perspective and points of view and identity can be respected and given equal space. Can such an approach actually exist in Christianity?

I don’t know. And not knowing, frightens me. I can share what Jesus has to say to the humanity He is trying to reach. Yet I cannot make you believe. I cannot make you believe His words have more value than say the words of Lao Tzu in the “Tao Te Ching” or in the teachings of Buddha or in the stories of the indigenous peoples of North America or Australia. I am not entirely sure myself.

I consider Jesus to be an honest, compassionate man. Do I fully understand what Jesus means when He says the Father dwells within Him and He dwells within the Father? Do I fully comprehend His existence and relationship with God and the Holy Spirit? No. I’d be expressing arrogance if I did. I’d be expressing wisdom I don’t have and insights I don’t have access to.

I have been considering that the Bible isn’t the whole story. It is perhaps one thread belonging to a much grander tapestry. I believe more has been written than what has been canonized by the Nicene Councils. I believe there are more books to be found dating back to the first 100 years A.D. I believe there are other testaments and testimonies yet to be discovered and revealed.

I suspect that there are other voices that need to be heard. I suspect that God has worked through others to spread His message. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I do believe that. Yet I also believe God can manifest however He wishes and deliver His message and work through any people He wishes. I believe God can do much more than what is contained in the Bible. I believe if God wishes there be a single path to salvation, it may be so. Yet I also believe that it is possible God is a God of possibilities and relationships. I believe God knows us from the moment of conception and understands that each of is unique with unique needs and understandings and perceptions. Maybe we all will come to Christ in the end, who knows… but how we get there may be up to an individual spiritual journey that passes through a variety of territories.

I suspect that God will find a way to gather those He wishes to save. God will get His message across to those that need to hear it or want to hear it. So far though, to my humble understanding of things thus far, only Christ seems to claim an intimate and direct connection with God and the path to salvation and it is through God’s grace that all of us can be saved through Jesus Christ as our savior. We must consider these claims and try and understand them if we hope to believe in them.


Posted in Faith, Jesus, Opinion | Leave a comment