Why put together a website titled godisforme.org? Because I and countless others have suffered immensely from incorrectly thinking “If there is a God, he certainly can’t be good, He doesn’t seem to be for me, and I don’t really want to be around him because I don’t think he likes me. And if he doesn’t like me, what does he think about those people who are really bad?” 

Oh, I believed there was a god from my earliest memories. And when questioned, I would have said he’s good. But my experience didn’t seem to bear that out. If – as I had been taught – he was flat out against certain groups of people and certain individuals – and if he wasn’t all that pleased with me…he couldn’t really be good…could he?

At Sunday school, when I was a child, I was taught that God liked some people, but he hated others and did horrific things to them…both in this life and in the life after. I was taught that even though there were some people he did like, if they didn’t do every little thing he wanted just right, they were in trouble too.  In short, I learned that God was CONDITIONALLY for me. I was told how good he was because I didn’t deserve for him to be for me at all, and just the fact that he was even CONDITIONALLY for me meant that he was somehow really GOOD. I could never reconcile that…but I eventually became very good at reciting trite, party-line phrases that supposedly justified his fickleness. By the time I’d been a pastor several years, I became a master (so I thought) at defending an un-defendable position.

My friends and I came to the conclusion that those who didn’t want to have anything to do with god or the church, just didn’t want to believe the truth about god. We had a lot of time, energy, money & emotional capital invested in the church, and we didn’t want to admit that we might be wrong. After all, none of the other people at church were  questioning whether or not god was really good…or talking about wondering if he was really for us. 

Those weren’t wasted years by any means. I did have a relationship with God. I did hear from Him. My life did change in many ways for the better.  He helped many other people in many ways through the ministries I was involved in. But there was always this “elephant in the room.”

Even at best, I believed that God did love me, but because I and others had broken His arbitrary rules, He was angry beyond belief, full of wrath, and SOMEBODY had to pay. So…because of His love for me, instead He poured out His wrath on His own innocent Son and tortured Him in my place. But it didn’t count unless I sincerely believed, was genuinely remorseful, admitted all my sins, confessed them often, and said and did certain things.  There were CONDITIONS to his love.

Of course, I knew most people hadn’t done those things…at least not sincerely…so even though God poured out all His wrath on Jesus, He somehow replenished that in a big way and had plenty more and those other people were still gonna get it.  I was grateful for my being ok…but it still didn’t pass the smell test.  Jesus…I liked, loved, and was very grateful for. But, God the Father…truth be told, I really didn’t want to be around Him.  

I lived under that cloud for decades.

Then…I started learning The Truth, and Jesus set me free. I learned that much of what I had been taught and believed about God…was a lie. I learned God was for me…and you…and everyone, after all! I learned that God does love me…UNCONDITIONALLY – WITH…OUT…CONDITIONS!!!

That’s the reason behind www.godisforme.org – so you and others can be set free as well!

Jesus said “You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” Jesus is The Truth…and He’s for you…and He wants to set you free! I hope you’ll join me in learning about the freedom He has already provided for you because He loves you and is for you, and His love is UNCONDITIONAL!!!

To be continued   ~ Paul Gray

That “Anger” Thing

You ever struggle with something you just can’t overcome? Yeah, me too.

For a long time I was not able to control anger. That and other “control” issues landed me in the hospital emergency room on more than one occasion and was disastrous for relationships. From my own hellish experiences and from similar situations that scores of people have related to me during my 25 years of pastoring and counseling, I have come to realize that “control” is at the root of most of my struggles and that I still am not able to “control” anger, etc. 

Imagine my surprise when I found out that God didn’t wire me up to “control” my anger…or anything else, for that matter!  

I can’t. But He can…and He wants to! Fortunately…otherwise I would have no hope…the Holy Spirit of Christ who lives in me wants to also live His life through me. When I let Him, He does what I am unable to do by my own human efforts.

Prior to what He has done, I found that I simply could not overcome anger and couldn’t control my mind and emotions. I couldn’t stop judging and wanting to be in control. I tried and tried and tried. I did everything Christian mentors told me to do. I read and studied my Bible hours every day. I faithfully prayed and tried to “change my behavior,” “be more like Christ” and be a “more productive Christian.” 

There was outward change, but inwardly I was wound up tight and anger would erupt at the most inappropriate times. I was simply taking the human talents and abilities God had given me and now applying them to religious things rather than business, army and music.  I was an accident waiting to happen.  I would be pleased when I could go a length of time without blowing up and hurting people (of course that quickly turned into pride and telling others “how I did it”), but when anger would erupt again, I would spiral down to almost inconsolable depths. 

At first I went to counseling. That reinforced how bad I was. I was always told, in so many words “there’s something wrong with you…but you can fix it.” I was always given things to work on and told “you can change.” Didn’t help. Then I would go to my mentor for help. He would tell me how bad anger was (I knew that). He would show me Bible verses that talked about anger, tell me to memorize them, and then quote them when I started to get angry. That seemed to make things worse.

Even worse for me was the fact that hardly anyone else whom I knew was achieving lasting victory in the areas in which they struggled.  Christians just could not seem to overcome things. They might quit drinking for a while, maybe  appear to have given up pornography, stop doing drugs or quit cheating on their spouse, but there would always be something else come up…along with great condemnation, shame, doubts, anger and some degree of depression.

Somewhere I heard or read the question “How’s your theology working for you?” I could give the party line answer to that… “Fine, praise the Lord!”  But the next question devastated me: “How do your wife, your friends, and your kids think your theology is working for you?” I knew what I was doing just wasn’t working…for me, or really for most others.

I started having major doubts about whether or not God was really good…whether or not He really loved me—or others. 

My prayer time consisted mainly of me asking God to help me with things I struggled with…praying the same for other people, and, of course, for people to get jobs, get healed, change their behavior, sell their house, not be persecuted, etc. I would “talk at God” for at least an hour a day (most days two hours) and maybe listen to Him for a minute…on a “good day.” I did hear from God…when I would quiet myself and listen to Him. But it was mostly about me. 

 I studied my Bible a minimum of an hour a day…but rarely with an attitude of “show me what You want me to know about You.” I talked a lot about having a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” but in reality my life was about me spending time doing things that other people had told me I needed to do to gain and maintain a right relationship with God: to keep Him pleased; to earn His blessings; to persuade Him to answer prayers and help me and others. I worked as hard as I possibly could to “be successful for God.” I equated “personal relationship” with “trying to do good,” spending time at ‘spiritual things,’ and reading or listening to teachers who believed the same things I did.  I felt like I was strong in my doctrinal beliefs…therefore if I worked hard at doing the right things…God should make things go well for me.

Eventually Jesus brought a few people into my life who were considerably different than most everyone else. Some people who were genuinely happy, who seemed free, who really seemed to know Jesus and talk to Him and hear from Him and who didn’t seem to struggle with the same things I did…and, maybe even more importantly, didn’t seem to go down the tubes when they did mess up. They weren’t uptight. They were much more easy going with their kids than I was. They had come out of some religious systems that I thought produced pretty good churches, but my new friends…without disparaging others…starting teaching me about grace, resting in Christ, trusting in His Finished Work at the cross for everything in my relationship with Him, about hearing from the Holy Spirit consistently and being obedient to what He asked me to do at any given moment rather than trying to keep a list of rules that I and others had come up with. 

 I would go to my new friends with my problems, they’d listen, then always ask me what Jesus was saying to me. At first I got really upset because I hadn’t asked Jesus at all…I just wanted them to tell me what to do and I thought whatever it was, I was a hard worker and I could do it. Rarely would they tell me specifics about what to do or not do. They always led me to seek Jesus and listen to what He wanted me to do. The fact that they had way more scripture memorized than I did and were super well-read and very insightful…but yet resisted telling me what to do, was very compelling.      

Then one day…after a few months of “doing well” and not getting angry, it all came out at a most inopportune time and I really hurt my wife emotionally and scared her. It  scared me so much that I had to go & lock myself in another room and cry.  I absolutely knew I could not overcome anger. Or depression. Or doubts…not really. I just broke. I told Jesus that I knew I could not keep from getting angry, I said “I tried everything and nothing works. There must be something wrong with me. Jesus, if I’m ever going to change, it’s going to have to be You that does it.”

He spoke to me right away, gently & lovingly: “Paul, that’s what I’ve been waiting for. There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s Something right with you…you just don’t know it. Let Me live My life through you. I’ll show you how. Get to know Me.” I started really listening to Him and writing down what He said. He started teaching me about “Christ in me, the hope of glory” and showing me that I – as well as all humans – are incapable of living like Christ – He’s the only One who can. It’s a setup for failure to try to do what only He can do. He would impress on me over and over that He was for me…really for me! And He started teaching me how to let Him live as me and through me. 

To be continued ~ Paul Gray

What we think we know

Jesus  eventually told me that, like with Saul of Tarsus, He knew that I had to try my absolute hardest for a long period of time to gain and maintain His approval by things I did, so that I would eventually “break,” “come to my senses,” and confess (agree with Him) that what I was doing wasn’t working…and ask Him to do it instead of me continually trying to do the same religious things over and over and hoping for different results (they call that insanity).    

His teaching involved showing me His true nature; how He is for me; His unconditional love; His amazing grace; what He did in His Finished Work at the Cross for me and everyone; and who I am as a result. He showed me that I am already as right with Him as I can possibly be, because he made me so—now He wants me to learn who I really am and live from that. He taught me that I can’t disappoint Him – He’s already taken care of all my sin, doesn’t keep a list of my wrongs, and I’m His Friend.

Now my motivation for life, living and relationships has totally changed.  Rather than wanting myself (and for others) to have knowledge about God and “correct” doctrine (which of the 40,000+ denominations should I pick?), I want to know the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit deeper and deeper and more and more intimately and continually experience and enjoy their life as they reveal to me personally more and more of their goodness and love for everyone. Every day is now filled with joy with Them!

At the beginning of my journey, Jesus led me to words like these, written by someone with whom I’ve now become friends: 

“One of the greatest barriers preventing many people from enjoying a life in grace is what they think they know. They are firmly entrenched in a paradigm of spiritual reality that to them is self-evident, however imaginary it may actually be.  Without divine intervention, the religionist will never experience grace to its fullest extent. Why? Because a religionist is a person who depends on his or her own practices and efforts to gain acceptance with God. Recipients of grace must have a heart and mind that is open toward God—and nothing so decidedly shuts down one’s capacity to receive as does empty religion.

“Many think they understand the truth about grace, yet they have never even begun to comprehend the reality of its beauty in full bloom.  Would you be willing to consider for a moment that some of the ideas about the Christian life that you have held as truth may not be grounded in reality?  As you continue to grow in your understanding of God’s grace, you will see that it is so much bigger and better than you could even imagine. Open yourself to learn, and the Great Teacher who lives in you will show you greater things about Himself than you have ever known.” (Steve McVey)

Philippians 3:10 from the Amplified Bible became a real-life, real-time quest for me: “My determined purpose is that I may know Jesus (that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly), and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness even to His death.”

Jesus started to show me that “knowing Him” had very little to do with studying doctrines and systematic theology that people and religious systems and organizations have developed. All of that is “knowing what someone else thinks about Him.” He started showing me that He, Himself, is the Word of God and He speaks to me constantly and He is my Teacher.   

Some months ago the Holy Spirit spoke the following words to me: “Oh Paul, this openness you accepted from Me is what opened the floodgates of heaven for Me to start pouring out wave after wave of revelations of My love and grace and finished work at the cross for you and everyone!”  I love it when He gives me personal confirmations like that!

 As I have started to know Jesus, The Father and the Holy Spirit better and better, things have really changed! Since they have changed my life drastically and totally (not saying I’m perfect or that I never revert back to my old unbecoming ways), and since I have seen them do this with an ever expanding group of people both in my network of friends, and over the world, and since I so ache for my loved ones who appear to still be struggling with things that used to debilitate me, I am compelled to proclaim Them and Their love to everyone. I can’t go back to something that didn’t work.  Christ’s love compels me to proclaim what He has shown me, what He has delivered me (and many others) from, and what I know will help my loved ones and everyone!

So with the above in mind, I have taken the things Jesus has been consolidating in my mind and spirit as I’ve been thinking and praying about how to help others come to really know that God is for them, and begun to include them in www.godisforme.org. 

As the blind man whom Jesus healed said “all I know is that I was blind and now I see.”   Similarly, “all I know is that what I believed before didn’t produce life, but what He is doing in me, as me and through me is producing His life not only in me, but in others!”

I hope that through the articles and messages and recommendations you see on www.godisforme.org, you will come to know beyond a shadow of doubt that God is for you!!!        

~ Paul Gray

Seeing What Really Is

New blog series coming soon!

This is a test of the logo and send out. 

October 3 ’16 Seeing what Really is  Part I ~Paul Gray

“Seeing What Really Is!”  Part 1

Jesus often refers to the “Kingdom of God” or the “Kingdom of Heaven.” Most often He uses parables or stories that have a deeper meaning than what’s on the surface. In every case, He’s helping us see something that we can’t see or perceive through our five senses…what “appears to be true” in the world around us.

The Apostle Paul refers to the “unseen eternal spiritual realm” as opposed to the “seen and temporal” realm of the world.

The following three versions of the same passage are key to “Seeing What Really Is!”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG  So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18  Mirror  We are not keeping any score of what seems so obvious to the senses on the surface; it is fleeting and irrelevant; it is the unseen eternal realm within us which has our full attention and captivates our gaze!

Don Keathley: A REVELATION of grace, the finished work of the cross and an understanding of your true identity has prepared you to be on the transition team that will learn to move the total supply from the invisible kingdom within to a visible manifestation that will meet every need you have.

Don Keathley:  “IF YOU ARE AFRAID to read and explore outside your indoctrinated comfort zone with an open heart under the direction of the Spirit of Truth, it is a good indication that religion has done its work in your life. When you get outside your religious paradigm you might not only discover deeper truth but also enjoy the driving out of that fear as perfect love does its work in your life...”

Baxter Kruger: “Faith is seeing with Jesus’s eyes, seeing what is. From faith to faith, the Word believes.” (From “Patmos”)

 

 

October 4 ‘16 “Seeing What Really Is!”  Part 2 ~Paul Gray

The primary reason that many of us are unable to “See What Really Is,” is because we have believed lies about ourselves, God, and others. We have believed what our five senses appear to teach us is true and we have believed what human teachers (well-meaning but misguided) have taught us that “seems” to be right. 

We have been taught…and believed…the worst lie of all history—the lie that Adam and Eve believed as a result of their disobeying God: The Lie of Separation.

The Lie of Separation and our ASSUMPTION THAT IT IS REAL, IS The Great Darkness!

The Lie of Separation says that because of our sin, God separated Himself from us, is angry with us, has to be appeased, can’t stand to be in our presence, and that we are eternally doomed to be punished in God’s uniquely designed torture chamber unless we gain and maintain God’s favor by something(s) we do. This whole concept is flawed, and is a lie.

God never separated Himself from Adam and Eve! He pursued them, came to them, loved them and protected them. He has never separated Himself from us! The only separation has been in our minds. It’s “subjectively” true to us because it feels true, but objectively, it’s not true at all.

The only place the Bible talks about this separation is Isaiah 59. The chapter starts out by saying that God is surely able to save us. Then it says that “your sins have separated you from your God.” It concludes with “God’s own arm has saved you and given you His righteousness!”  Colossians 1:20-21 tells us that God already reconciled us all to Him (NOT v/v) and that was because we were “enemies in our minds.”

Believing this heinous lie of separation has put mankind in the Great Darkness where we have been unable to “See What Really Is.”

Fortunately, there’s Good News! Colossians 1:12-15  We give thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

God put us in the light! He delivered us from the power of darkness and put us in the kingdom of Jesus, where the truth… “What Really Is”…is that we are reconciled, redeemed and forgiven!

Objectively, we are totally right and one with God. That’s the basis for our true identity. It doesn’t always look like that in the seen world, but in the unseen world, the truth of all eternity exists. Everything changes for the better when we start to see and believe What Really Is!!!  

October 5 ‘16    “Seeing What Really Is!”  Part 3  ~by Paul Gray

How do we See What Really Is – in the unseen world?  We have The Holy Spirit of Jesus, living in us, who is constantly revealing the Truth to us! The Teacher teaches us what really is!

Hebrews 2:9 (Mirror) Let us then consider him (Jesus) in such a way that we may clearly perceive what God is saying to mankind in him.

Matthews 23:10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.”

Luke 12:12 “For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

John 14:26  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

Hebrews 8:11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.

1 John 2:27 But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

1 Corinthians 2:13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

The Teacher sees us differently than we see ourselves. To “See What Really Is” – what is eternal, we need to listen to The Teacher and thus learn how God sees us and believe God instead of what we believe about ourselves from the world and what religious people have told us!

Baxter Kruger: “Union or separation is the issue: we tend to either see our humanity as separated from the Lord…or as a living union (abide). We see “secular” and “spiritual” But, there is no secular, only the evil one’s perversion. There really is no secular world at all. Jesus has filled the whole creation with Himself!”

“I refer to the evil one as “Ophis” which is the Greek word for “serpent or snake” used in the New Testament. I like to use “Ophis” because it sounds like (and reminds me of our word) Doofus!  (“Doofus” – someone who hasn’t got a clue! – Urban Dictionary) 

 

 

October 7 “16    “Seeing What Really Is!”   Part 5  ~Paul Gray

Following are some comments (paraphrased) by Baxter Kruger

“Adam and Eve’s deception literally left them in the dark…blind to what was true. Even though Jesus fully did away with Adam’s race in His finished work at the cross, and even though He made us all objectively right with God forever, we still aren’t individually able to see that because our minds are still in the dark. 

I’ve found that it’s very helpful to see what we tend to do when we can’t “See What Really Is.”

We tend to create something we can see…in our imagination, and then we defend it with a vengeance because it’s all we think we have! That’s why so many well-meaning, but deceived people get very angry when they hear about pure grace and hear that sin is no longer an issue for anyone in their relationship with God!

Well-meaning people are determined, but they are blind. They cannot “see what is” so they invent things that they can see in their own head, and they die of exhaustion pursuing their invented ways of “getting in” with God. If we believe that we are separated from the Lord (and we are not) then we must find a way back. One’s eternal existence would hang in the balance. That makes us wide open to anyone’s claim to know how to get back to God.

But since we are NOT separated to begin with, ANY IDEA AS TO HOW TO GET BACK TO GOD WON’T WORK! AND WE EVENTUALLY DIE OF EXHAUSTION OR SADNESS OR CYNICISM OR DESPAIR…EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE BEEN FAITHFUL AND TRUE TO ‘THE’ CAUSE!' WRONG IDEAS LEAD TO DESTRUCTION!

The battle is between believing and seeing Union or Separation. Separation appears to be true because of what we can see, hear, feel, taste & touch with our five senses. But what is real and eternal is Union/Oneness!”

John 16:20 Mirror (Jesus)  In that day you will know that just as I am in my Father, you are in me and I am in you! (Picture 4 circles with the one fitting into the other – The outer circle is the Father, then Jesus in the Father, then us in Jesus, and the Spirit in us! This spells inseparable, intimate oneness! Note that it is not our knowing this that positions Jesus in the Father or us in them! Our knowing simply awakens us to the reality of our redeemed union! Gold does not become gold when it is discovered but it certainly becomes currency!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 10 ’16 Seeing What Really Is Part 6 ~Paul Gray

 

Some paraphrased thoughts from~

Baxter Kruger:

“As humans, in our own power, we are incapable of helping anyone see the truth about What Really Is. The Holy Spirit of Christ must reveal it to people. We, of course, want everyone to know the truth and we tell them, but we don’t have the power to get them out of the darkness and convince them. Jesus said:

John 8:12  Mirror  “I am the light of the world—whoever journeys with Me shall not walk in darkness, but will radiate  the light of life!”

The moment you meet (discover) Christ in you, you experience His LIFE, His hope, His freedom, His joy in the midst of the darkness! You realize you are free!

When we believe the lie of separation that keeps us in The Great Darkness, then we think WE have to find our way to God. The Greeks (and Calvinists) tried to do it through their mind and the Jews (legalists) and the Roman Church -- through the law. Others (Western Evangelicals) try through a combination of the two. The law became our default setting on how to get back to God.

As long as a person has made an agreement with Diabolos that God’s love is conditional,  limited and exclusive, that person won’t be able to “see or hear” love, grace, Finished Work and inclusion until they break that agreement!

Our writing and teaching must not be with the intent to inform or explain or convince, rather they should be with the goal of giving people eyes to encounter Jesus!  --Eyes to “See What Really Is!” Our teaching won’t really say what we want until something else happens…until the Holy Spirit transforms our words into an encounter with Jesus Himself!”

C.S. Lewis:

“We can be in full possession of all the facts and yet miss their meaning.”

George MacDonald:

“Good souls many will one day be horrified at the things they now believe of God.”

 

October 11 ’16 Seeing What Really Is Part 7 ~Paul Gray

Thoughts from~

 Baxter Kruger:

“The point of John’s gospel is that Jesus was face to face with His Father before creation and ALL THINGS came into being through Him. He became flesh to meet us in our great darkness and death, so that He could be in us, inside our darkness, and we could see with His eyes! We must see “All Things.” Today John would say:  “How could anyone use my gospel to teach that God does not love the whole world? The father found us all, Jews and Gentiles, even the Romans, in Jesus!”

Jesus IS the eternal message of God to us!

T.F. Torrence said “Not God alone, but God and humanity together, constitute the meaning of the Word of God.”

John The Apostle would say: “Not God alone, but God and humanity together, constitute the meaning of JESUS!”

JESUS MEANS THAT GOD AND HUMANITY ARE TOGETHER FOREVER!

The opposite of together is separated.

JESUS MEANS THAT GOD AND HUMANITY ARE NOT SEPARATED, BUT TOGETHER IN UNION! AND THIS UNION IS THE WORD OF GOD! IT’S WHAT GOD IS SAYING TO US ALL!”

Don Keathley:

"For God has consigned all men to disobedience that He may have mercy on them all." Romans 11:32...Doesn't that just kick the bee-jabbers out of your theology?”

 

 

 

 

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