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Archive for December, 2018

by Rocky Glenn

Music has always played an important role in my life.  Growing up with a CD collection containing over 350 albums, each season of life contains its own soundtrack.  If certain songs are heard, memories — both good and bad — flood in like a tidal wave instantly taking me back to times and places past.  The journey of the last few years is no exception.  This path of recovery has had and continues to have its own soundtrack.  Although the style of music I enjoy ranges from hip-hop to country to gospel and to metal, admittedly, growing up as a churchboy, the majority of artists I allowed myself to hear almost exclusively had to be labeled Christian or I simply would not play them or purchase their material.  Part of being a churchboy was boasting in the fact that I could find a “godly” alternative for any genre chosen.  This narrow-mindedness severely limited not only what I heard, but also at times, and probably more often that I even realize or care to admit, alienated me from peers and schoolmates because I didn’t know their music and they didn’t know mine.

Since waking up to the realization of God’s true grace and acceptance, I have stopped determining what I allow myself to hear by limiting it to those artists only found on a Christian radio station or in a Christian bookstore or labeled as Christian at all.  I’ve not only found myself enjoying many artists and songs who would never be considered holy and righteous by the religious elite, I am finding God in their lyrics as they cry in agony or scream in rage or celebrate the joys of everyday life.

My intent is to share many of these songs, the ideas they present, and what they have spoken to me in upcoming posts.  I plan to update this introduction piece with a link to each writing as it is shared and look forward to possibly providing each of you a new way of hearing a tune you’ve may have been humming for years or exposing you to something you’ve never heard before.

Stay tuned and keep reading for a recovering churchboy’s soundtrack.

Rocky

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by Jim Gordon

I recently listened to a YouTube video by Richard Jacobson and in it he mentioned veal crates. I had never heard of that before so I checked it out a little. It was interesting reading about veal crates and it got me to thinking about another type of box.

What I found was that veal crates are a close-confinement system of raising veal calves. Veal crates are designed to limit movement of the animal because meat turns redder and tougher if the animals are allowed to exercise. In some veal crate systems, the calves are kept in the dark without bedding and fed nothing but milk.

Veal crates seem to limit the calf from being able to move about and roam in much larger areas thus getting exercise which would cause the animal to strengthen. It also keeps them from contact with other calves and under the control of the person raising the calf.

VealCrate

Personally, this makes me think of the institutional church. Before we go any further, I want to point out that I am not an enemy of the church. I was part of the institution for over fifty years and very involved, so I can speak as an insider rather than someone who knows nothing of what I am saying. I do believe the institution confines us and limits the freedom God intended us to have.

I also realize that people cannot just up and leave because someone else says they should. It is a choice between the person and the Spirit. I believe there is specific timing as to when and if someone leaves the religious institution. I know for me it took fifteen years or so of being dissatisfied and thinking there had to be more. As Barbara Symons mentioned in her book ‘Escaping Christianity: Finding Christ’, “There is a need for all of us to experience restriction until Christ is formed within—like a pearl within an oyster, closed tightly until the time of harvesting. Before I understood this principle, I tried to convince others to leave the system as I did and in retrospect, it was before their time. I felt like a cage fighter; only my opponent was the cage itself. I was battered and beaten by trying to dismantle the religious system from the inside out as I tried to liberate those still within its grasp. I now understand that people will remain within restraint as long as they need to”.

People are brought into the box of religion and kept there to support and grow the institution. Once inside the box they are taught what that particular denomination believes or how that specific pastor thinks. Sometimes they are kept in the dark and only fed the milk of the word rather than the meat that gives them strength, knowledge and the ability to hear the Spirit for themselves.

Many times, people are restrained from being free to serve and use the gifts they have been given. Therefore, due to lack of exercise of using their talents they become weak and have no confidence to do anything other than what the institution says.

Most of the time they are only having fellowship with those within the box and usually encouraged to avoid fellowship with people who see things differently or do not go along with their way of thinking.

Outofthebox

Rather than enjoying the freedom God has provided outside the box and a life of accepting others and loving others, they are kept inside. By doing so they learn to exclude people, avoid certain people and are only fed the knowledge the institution and pastor wants them to know, all with the purpose to keep them from leaving.

It seems to me that breaking out of the box and being free to follow God without the rules, regulations and expectations of religion would be a much better way of showing the love of God to others. Being free to fellowship with all people, accept and love others with the love of God no matter who they are or what they believe.

We are not meant to be confined within the walls of institutional religion. God has set us free to follow Jesus wherever he leads. We are free from the rules that religion puts upon us for the purpose of making us better Christians. We are the Church that Jesus is building, a people who love and follow him not a building or organization.

Rather than live within the confines of the box religion puts us in, break free and live in the world God has created. Love people, accept others and show the unconditional love of God to everyone.

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By Mike Edwards

I recently wrote here why a fair-minded person may think God approves of women being restricted from roles men are offered. Many opposed such equity because of bigotry but bigots don’t read spiritual blogs. It is so important how God-followers represent God.  The good news is what is often said about God may not be true. There may be similarities as to why fair-minded people think God favors roles according to one’s gender and why God condemn gays.

Many people of faith only condemn gays because they think the Bible does?  

Many of us were taught to believe God condemns gays because the Bible says so.  Some may be unaware biblical scholars who respect the Bible believe Scriptures do not condemn gay monogamous relationships. See  here. The bigger argument though is that no one can claim God condemns gays because the Bible says so. Literature require interpretations and we disagree. One main reason fair-minded people condemn gays is because of a misunderstanding of the Bible, thus misguided devotion to God.   

Some may also argue God condemns gays because homosexuality just isn’t natural.

You don’t have to be gay to understand one can no more control their feelings toward those of the same sex than you can control having feelings toward the opposite sex. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel natural to you. You aren’t gay. Let’s don’t cause others to keep secrets at the expense of their mental health. God-followers must always use their hearts and minds when loving others by being non-judgmental and putting themselves in another’s skin.

It is argued the world could not have populated in the beginning! We are no longer in that situation and the world will continue to populate because not all couples are gay. We have unwanted children who need loving couples. Is adoption by a same sex or different sex couple not a better situation than groups homes or orphanages? Many gay couples are far better parents than many opposite sex parents. Don’t worry! Loving couples don’t try to scare a child straight or gay.

How can we know what God thinks about gays?   

If God exists even atheists agree God must be morally perfect. The best way to understand God’s moral perfection is through our thoughts of human perfection. How we think we ought to treat gays is how to know what God thinks of gays. The test for human or godly morality is if treating others like we want to be treated. Let’s not defend our position only because the Bible supposedly says so. We do not have to check our moral conscience at the door. Be guided by love – how should I treat others if I had the same non-choices. I hope one doesn’t think I approve of pedophiles for such love is not between two consenting adults. 

How must we treat gays or anyone?

Psychological harm is done when one must hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility. Monogamous relationships, as opposed to mindless, selfish, uncommitted relationships, are in our best interests, though I am not suggesting we all should impose our views of consensual, sexual behaviors on others. One’s sexual orientation is personal and between them and their Creator. Personal relationship decisions are not violating anyone’s personal rights as do immoral behaviors as stealing, murdering, etc.  I hope more may stop judging others about their personal relationships because God supposedly condemns them through Scriptures.

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by Rocky Glenn

I’ve always had a fondness for Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang.  I can remember feeling heart broken over the “little red-haired girl” on Valentine’s, being spooked over the arrival of the Great Pumpkin, waiting for Snoopy to float down the street in the Macy’s parade, sitting in silence as Linus told the meaning of Christmas, reading the comics in papaw’s Sunday paper . . . Peanuts were and are a huge part of me.

Winnie the Pooh was not truly introduced to me until Geoffrey was born.  He fell in love with the willy, nilly, silly, old bear.  Because of this, as you can imagine, the movie was replayed countless times.  All of us familiar with the story can name all the guys . . . Tigger, Piglet, Kanga, Owl, Christopher Robin, and, of course, the resident pessimist, Eeyore.

Insert Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”  I memorized this verse as a growing “churchboy,” but never really grasped the true meaning of it.  Of course, being the true churchboy I was, I had to memorize it in the King James Version as it was the only Bible and all other versions were just trash. One day, I discovered The Message, a paraphrase of scripture written to read like a novel.  This is what I discovered in Romans 8: “With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud.”  What???  Let’s go back and read that again.  So I did . . . again and again and again.  Suddenly, images of Charlie Brown and Eeyore filled my mind . . .

 

That’s the way I had lived my Christian life, always expecting the worst knowing that if something bad did happen it was because I had done something to cause it.  When I read that, a light bulb popped on for the first time.  We are not meant to live under a cloud of condemnation, guilt, and hopeless.  We have been set free.

It has taken several years, and is still an ongoing process, but since that time, God has revealed a number of clouds that I have let hang over me in my life . . . guilt, low self-esteem, approval of others, and the biggest of all (and the true reason for the creation of this blog to begin with) the laws, rules, and man-made expectations of religion that God never intended or ever created us to live under to begin with.

What are your clouds?  Romans 8 says you don’t have live under them any longer.  It’s my prayer and hope that all reading this will learn to live out from under the clouds we have either placed or allowed to be placed over us by others.  We have been set free.  Galatians 5 form The Message says it this way: “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you,” or, just in case you prefer to read the King James Version, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

So, take your stand, be free, and live outside the rain clouds!

Rocky

(This post originally written April 2, 2016.)

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By Mike Edwards

I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same leadership roles as men in the spiritual or work realm unless believing God according to a Book requires this. Most would agree not allowing equal roles because of the color of your skin is immoral. I would suggest denying women equal roles is emotional abuse if they are gifted to lead. Does God really believe roles are best determined according to gender than gifts?

Can we determine God’s views according to some Book?

Men who believe roles should be determined according to gender than gifts aren’t all pigs. I used to believe this but my gut could never make sense why a good God would think this way. Many of us were taught to believe because the Bible says so. In many countries a Book is used to suggest God condones women not having the same rights as men to vote, drive, or dress how they want.

I don’t wish to argue though what the Bible says. Some may be unaware the Bible can be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. See here.  I don’t wish to argue if the biblical writers came to a better understanding of God over time. I only wish to point out that the Bible or any literature requires interpretation, thus why so many disagree over the meaning of the same passages. No one can claim certainty because the Bible says so. 

How can we know what God thinks about women and roles?  

Saying “I love you” is nonsensical if we don’t have some ideas what “to love” means. Most believe One who claims to be God must be morally perfect. The best way we have to think what a perfect God is like is to discuss what human perfection is. Godly and human perfection surely are one and the same. If we know how we ought to love and treat women, we intuitively know how God ought to love and treat women.

The test for human or godly morality is if treating others like we want to be treated. Terrorists proclaim morality according to a Book but something is amiss – they would object to being beheaded, raped, or denied their freedom of beliefs. Men, we must treat women how we wish to be treated when opportunities arise to lead a church, business, etc. At least let’s not defend our position only because the Bible says so. We do not have to check our moral conscience at the door.

What if moral intuitions clash?

There is universal agreement on most moral matters such as murdering or stealing. We may not agree what a perfect parent or God would do in each situation, but we could agree on many attributes. Keep in mind even if believing the Bible in infallible, interpretations are not infallible. Read the Bible with a questioning spirit while putting ourselves in another’s shoes. Uncertainty, rather than supposed certainty, forces us to be more open-minded. 

The most qualified or gifted should surely be the CEO or preach!

I am going to stand on the side that is potentially less abusive to half of God’s creations concerning roles. Similarly, in marriage equalitarian rather than hierarchical relationships are less likely to lead to the mistreatment of women. Do we really want to imply that God doesn’t trust women to handle the Truth? Different opinions, expressed without hostility, surely help lead us to the most loving stance.

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