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Archive for December, 2020

by Jim Gordon

For those of us who had anything to do with church, we always knew exactly what it meant when we heard someone say it is the Lords’ day. We knew that was the day we considered the sabbath and the day we went to church.

We would think of Sunday as a special holy day, a new beginning for the week. It was the day we worshipped and fellowshipped with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It was a day to relax, do nothing and prepare for the week ahead.

Referring to the Lord’s day as Sunday, or whichever day you believe is the sabbath, is an old covenant way of thinking. The old covenant is now complete. Jesus fulfilled the old covenant, brought it to an end and began a new and better covenant. It is a covenant of grace and love without the rules and religious laws.

Actually, Sunday is the Lord’s day, as is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Each day is the day that the Lord has made and we can rejoice and be glad in each day.

As we approach the beginning of a new year, we can see that the Lord’s day(s) are similar to New Year’s Day in one sense. We always look to the new year as a time for new beginnings. A time to make changes to better ourselves in one way or another.

When we realize that the Lord’s day is every day, we can also see that each and every day of the year is a new beginning.

As we are ready to celebrate a new year, let us remember that we do not have to wait a whole year to start fresh. Every morning of each day can be a new beginning. Let us seek the guidance of the Spirit who lives within us, show the love of God to everyone and enjoy each day the Lord has made.

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by Mike Edwards

It isn’t always easy to believe all of the Bible, but the story of Jesus does seem to be an amazing love story. Jesus is claimed to represent or be God here on earth but doesn’t use His power to avoid crucifixion? What is up with that! Understanding what our Creator is really like can be very good news.

It doesn’t help that christian hypocrisy taints the message!

The truth is that we all are hypocrites. What human being lives up to the standards they know in their heart are honorable? But it is reasonable to expect those who talk about God to act godly. It doesn’t help that Christians don’t get along, as evidenced by the tens of thousands of denominations, all claiming their beliefs are the right ones. It doesn’t help that God-folks often don’t say sorry right away when they screw up. Beliefs don’t matter as much as your actions.

It doesn’t help God is claimed to be a hellish, sexist, homophobe! 

The three biggest lies about God may be that God is a hellish sadist, that God is a sexist who believe men should be in leadership positions over women which has encouraged dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men, and God condemns gays though they can no more chose who they are attracted to then straights. I doubt a loving God is capable of creating hell, denying women role they are gifted for, and condemning gays. See here.

It doesn’t help when claiming an almighty God is a controlling God.   

The truth is God can’t so some things. A good God can’t lie. God can’t act unloving. I would argue God can’t be controlling because such behaviors are unloving. Ask any adult child! It is plausible so much evil in the world exist because God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. Divine love limits divine power. Maybe God can only stop evil with the help of others freely helping. Prayer mustn’t be represented as if God is a genie in a bottle. 

The prosperity gospel is miserably false. A person who believes that all their troubles will be swept away through a relationship with God is left with the logical explanation that God has failed them. Why don’t these false teachers take their message to those in extreme poverty or go to hospitals and heal the sick? The Bible is clear that lack of faith is not the reason for physical ailments or economic hardships. What God promises is a relationship with your Creator will can make you a better person than you were. I am which might not be saying much but I am trying! 

It doesn’t help when Christians claim to be so damn certain. 

Message alert. Christians can’t prove God exist. Neither can it be proven God doesn’t exist. Either believe requires faith. Christians need to let God handle their own business. It God wishes to convince anyone God is real, that is on God! It is logical to suggest we can’t be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks, but supposed certainty has led to justifying slavery and other atrocities. Certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving, monogamous, consensual relationships. Women, though gifted, are denied entrance into the priesthood or pastorate in God’s name. Uncertainty not certainty about God, unless talking about beheading infidels, protects against imposing beliefs on others in God’s name. We need honest, open dialogue as we continually evaluate what a loving God would truly be like.

God is good news because the bad news isn’t true! 

So many claims about God aren’t true. The Bible implies we can understand God’s love because perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Do you wish to believe in a God that you understand is truly loving? Also, do you wish to be shown mercy, be given second chances, to be forgiven for your regrets no matter how many times you fail, to be encouraged to be the person you deep down desire to be? Don’t you think you should show the same behaviors to others? Good news – God is a better lover than we are!

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by Jim Gordon

Christmas

For most of us here in the United States, Christmas is being celebrated on December 25. For Christians, it is the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus into our world. For others, it is a time of family celebration and the enjoyment of exchanging gifts with one another.

Yet, just because we live in the United States we need to remember that there are several other holiday celebrations going on here in the states and around the world. Following are a few of the more known holiday celebrations going on during this time of year:

Hanukkah

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that’s celebrated for eight days and nights, beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. The Jewish calendar is based on the lunar cycle, so Hanukkah can fall anywhere from November 28th to December 26th. “This holiday commemorates the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.” People celebrate Hanukkah by lighting their menorahs, spinning dreidels and eating delicious foods!

Kwanzaa

In the United States, roughly five million people celebrate Kwanzaa each year! Kwanzaa is a seven day holiday that celebrates African culture. It begins on December 26th and ends on January 1st. On the sixth day of Kwanzaa, there’s a Kwanzaa Karamu, which is a big feast. Gifts of Kuumba (creativity) are given to loved ones. Kwanzaa’s also celebrated through lighting the Kinara, performing and listening to traditional music and discussing African principles and history.

Winter Solstice

For Pagans, December means the holiday of Yule is coming! It falls on December 21st, which marks the winter solstice; which is the shortest day and longest night of the year. The winter solstice celebrates the rebirth of the sun, because days get longer from then on out.

Las Posadas

From December 16th through December 24th, Las Posadas is celebrated by some Hispanic families in the United States. It’s a nine-day celebration before Christmas, beginning with a procession with candles, songs and sometimes even people playing the parts of Mary and Joseph who lead the parade. Every night of Las Posadas is celebrated with gifts, piñatas, song, parties, tamales and prayer.

Diwali

While this holiday falls a little bit before the rest, Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, is a five-day long Hindu holiday celebrating life and the victory of good over evil. Taking place in October or November, each day of Diwali has a different legend it celebrates, but the holiday is filled with fireworks, feasts and family. The date of Diwali is determined based on the Hindu lunisolar calendar.

Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days, beginning on the first day of the lunar new year. The 15th day of the new year is the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with a parade. The Chinese New Year marks the end of winter and the beginning of Spring and is a time to be spent with family and loved ones, eating and enjoying time together. So this holiday season, think outside of the Christmas box and appreciate all of the great holidays celebrated during the most wonderful time of the year! Happy Holidays, collegiettes!

So to each of you, we here at Done with Religion say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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by Mike Edwards

It is said the good news about God is that Jesus came to earth to save us from going to hell. Without the Bible I doubt few would think a loving God would create such a place as hell. It is claimed all you have to do is confess certain beliefs to get a pass to heaven. Jesus’ agenda in the Bible actually appears not to push certain beliefs but convey that God loves you and seeks to help you be a more loving person. What is God saving us from?  See here.

The bad news about God may not be true.

God is claimed to be a hellish sadist, but the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. God is claimed to be a homophobe, but a loving God couldn’t possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? God is claimed to be a sexist, but God wouldn’t put men in leadership position over women which has encouraged dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men. For additional possible lies about God see here.  

But don’t you believe the Bible?

Biblical scholars who respect the authority of the Bible actually don’t agree on their interpretations. Some defend the above positions; others defend to the contrary. For example see  here. We are forced to choose between plausible interpretations. Which interpretation is best to choose? Choose understandings of God with the fewest negative human consequences. Err on the side that doesn’t contradict your intuitive sense of a loving God. You are free to choose the most loving way.

The good news is God surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others.    

Only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in. Such a statement is nonsensical if we are clueless about perfect love. The Bible implies we can understand God’s love because perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Do you wish to be shown mercy, be given second chances, to be forgiven for your regrets no matter how many times you fail, to be encouraged to be the person you deep down desire to be? Do you think you should show the same behaviors to others? Good news – God is a better lover than we are!

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Updated
by Jim Gordon

I grew up in the institutional church and was always of the persuasion that being gay was a sin. I felt that since I was pretty open by saying I hated the sin but loved the sinner, I was doing better than most. Yet, either way I was saying being gay was a sin.

I never treated those who were gay in a bad way. I never treated any of my friends or relatives who were gay any different than I treated anyone else. I saw them as normal everyday people, except for a great sin in their life, or so I supposed at one time.

Things changed on this subject, and amazingly it was after leaving the institutional church. I started to see that God loves people, all people. There was no ‘I love you but’ when it came to God. I started to read some on the subject (something I never dreamed of doing before). I read Justin Lee and Matthew Vines. I really thought about a God of love and how could that God condemn people for the way he made them.

I finally began to see the LGBTQ community for who they really are….people. Take away the labels and you have human beings like everyone else. Just because they were born with different sexual views does not make them second class citizens and does not make them deserving of the awful ways they are treated, especially by the christian world. They are doing nothing more than being themselves just as God made them.

Today I seem to have a special sense of wanting to show those who are LGBTQ that all straight people who call themselves christian are not the same. I want to help promote information and acceptance between straight christian people and those who are LGBTQ, whether christian or not. I can no longer say I believe being gay is a sin. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinterpretation by the church and evangelical christians. Rather than continuing to accept what a religion or pastor tells us, we should take time to check further for ourselves. Below are listed several good books on the subject.

I do admit I do not understand the attraction of two men or two women. Of course, that is because I am straight. I bet those who are gay or lesbian do not understand me and my attraction to the opposite sex (well, just one person of the opposite sex, my wife).

I recently read a book by Amber Cantorna called Refocusing My Family. It is such an interesting read, telling of her questions, struggles and hardships in her walk with God and her family. Her traditional christian upbringing and her dad being an employee of Focus on the Family made it extremely hard on her when she came out as gay. What terrible struggles and treatment she received. It is so hard for me to understand how parents can disown their children, yet I know it happens all the time.

I also believe that the christians who still believe being gay is wrong are handling it all wrong. Whether you agree or disagree, our instructions from Jesus are to love God, love our neighbor and love our enemies. We are to love, not judge and condemn. I have read so many articles about the abuse the gay community takes: beatings, exclusion, disowned by their family, suicides, it is terrible. No matter what stand we take on the issue we are not to judge and condemn. As followers of Christ we are to be known for our love and for treating everyone equally.

I personally am tired of the way the christian church has treated those who are LGBTQ. Whether they agree or disagree they should be treating everyone with love. For me, I have concluded that being gay is not a sin and I fully love and accept all people just as they are. I hope I can show that love and acceptance to others in some way.

I do not completely understand it but for some reason this topic has taken on a new meaning for me. I am tired of seeing the abuse, the exclusion and the discrimination against those who are LGBTQ. I pray that I can be a help by showing love and acceptance to those I meet each day, and especially to those who are LGBTQ.

Following are a few good books I have read on the subject with links to Amazon:

** UnClobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality by Colby Martin

** Is God a Gay Basher by Jan Liebegott

** God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines

** Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee

** Unashamed: A Coming Out Guide for LGBTQ Christians by Amber Cantorna

** The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley

** Clobber the Passages: Seven Deadly Verses by Mel White

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by Mike Edwards

The truth is we can’t prove that God exist or doesn’t exist. Either belief takes faith. If a Creator does exist, most agree only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in.  Surely a Creator love in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others.

There are moral reasons to doubt or question God though there may be an explanation.

  • Laws in the Bible proclaimed by Moses supposedly came from God. Deut. 22: 28-29 says: If a man happens to meet a virgin…and rapes her…He must marry the young women, for he has violated her. Did God really encourage a woman being required to marry her rapist? But maybe God didn’t inspire this law; only humans believed God thought this was a good law.
  • God seems to intervene in the world very little based on the amount of evil present. Can there be a plausible reason? Maybe God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. Divine love limits divine power. Maybe God can only stop evil with others freely helping. See God Can’t by Thomas Oord.
  • God is neither audible or visible and God certainly hasn’t made it crystal clear what we are to believe about God. Are there plausible reasons for such uncertainty? See here.

Where has certainty gotten us?

It is logical to suggest we can’t be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks, but supposed certainty has led to justifying slavery and other atrocities. Certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving, monogamous, consensual relationships. Women, though gifted, are denied entrance into the priesthood or pastorate in God’s name. Uncertainty not certainty about God, unless talking about beheading infidels, protects against imposing beliefs on others in God’s name. We need honest, open dialogue as we continually evaluate what a loving God would truly be like.

Doubt or question away!

For whatever reason some are inclined to believe there was a Creator in the beginning and not others. If you are the former, don’t believe everything you hear claimed about God. Consider for yourself what a perfect, loving God would be truly like. Challenge God to reveal themselves to you as tangibly as possible. Still doubt! Not a problem with God. Being so damn certain may bother God more.

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by Jim Gordon

As Christian people, it seems our most emphasized event is attending church each week. I know my mom and dad took me to church the first time it was safe to take me out after being born.

I continued with regular church attendance for the next 55 years or so, all the time feeling I was doing what was the most important part of being a Christian. I looked to the pastor as my main teacher and guide, and attended all the events at the church that I could.

Even when I talked with others about God, it was more in tune with asking them to come to church. My whole Christian life seemed to be more about church life rather than living the follower of Jesus life.

It started bothering me over the last 15 – 20 years about going to church each week, year after year, sitting there listening to a chosen few participate and the rest of us just sitting, looking at the back of one another’s heads. Where was the fellowship in that?

Today when we talk about church, what we are really talking about is a religious organization that meets in a building, follows particular interpretations and doctrines and is guided by a select few people. It seems to me the biggest part of this system is getting enough people involved to make enough money to pay the bills.

In the organized church today it seems we strive to pay the mortgage, pay the utilities, pay for insurance, salaries and all the items we feel we need to put on a good performance each Sunday. If there is enough left over after all that is paid, we may put in a little to help the homeless or some good cause the leadership feels is worth it.

In more recent time, many churches have become known for participating in political activism. Some churches I have been in had a reserved section for local politicians where they could sit together and be seen. Some even provide time for politicians to speak and many endorse and back certain political parties and candidates.

I personally feel this is wrong, but although they cannot make their members vote in any particular way, many who belong to a specific church take what they hear from their pastor as gospel truth. Due to this, I believe the churches today should be taxed and pay their fair share like any other business.

I remember reading in the bible that when you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. I read that Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to live within us and that we are now the temple of God. I also read that the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands, and that we have the Spirit within us and we no longer need anyone to teach us because the Spirit is now our leader and guide. It certainly raised questions about church attendance as I knew it.

Yet when I read forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, I often wondered if we were being told to participate in an organized religious service. What I determined was that the assembling together does not necessarily mean in an organized service on a set day under the guidance of other human beings. It means that we need one another. We need fellowship, encouragement and being able to express our thoughts and feelings with others. That does not need to be in a building, or in an organized service, or under the control of a specific leader. I have found it actually works better outside the walls of church. It comes about as the Spirit leads us to one another throughout our normal day to day lives.

Is it wrong to gather? No, there are plenty of good Christian clubs and organizations where people can get together. The organized church is just another one of those organizations meant to provide support and encouragement for one another.

The church as a religious organization, based on its particular beliefs and doctrines, is not what Jesus was talking about when he said he would build his Church. I believe he was talking about building his followers into a living organism that would spread his love and good works to other people they met along the journey of life. And doing so would mean living life out in the open, day by day where we are in contact with others. I do not believe we are meant to be shut up within four walls of a building expecting people to come to us.

So for my wife and I, we left doing the day to day business of the church…attending the organized meetings, paying to keep the building and system running along with following the pastor, the doctrines and the rules of the church. Yet we did not leave our love for God and for people. We left the organization, we left man led religion, but we still follow Jesus. We, like many others, are doing the day to day business of the ‘Church’ that Jesus is building. Those who are his followers are the Church whether they meet in a building or never walk through the doors of what we know as church today.

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by Mike Edwards

Whether you believe there is a God or Supreme Deity is a personal decision. I can’t always tell you why some are readily inclined to believe in such a Being and others aren’t. I don’t consider either a personality flaw. I can tell you a God many don’t care to believe in. See here. Don’t believe everything you hear!

Believe what the Bible says about God…….…………..NOT!

Many when describing God begin: “The Bible says…..” They possibly believe God inspired all of the Bible thus approved everything written about God. But others would argue God didn’t necessarily inspired every word due to God’s uncontrolling nature. Neither can claim certainty. We also must recognize that biblical scholars don’t always agree what the writer meant about the same passage. Read the Bible to contemplate what a loving God may be really like.

How can we understand what God’s love is like?   

An imperfect unloving God is not worth believing in. The best way to talk about what a perfect loving God is like may be by comparing to perfect human love. A Creator surely loves in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others. I don’t know any reasonable God or non-God person that doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. Rational people don’t always agree what is our moral obligation concerning immigration, climate change, abortion, health care, taxes, or responding to evil dictators that murder their own people, but civil dialogue allows evaluating challenges to discover what different views have in common.

So, anything goes?

C’mon! Who doesn’t believe physical or sexual abuse is wrong? Certain beliefs are universal. Ask a terrorist if you can rape their partner. If it clearly violates the golden rule, it doesn’t pass the “love” test. What does your loving sense tell you if women can serve in the same roles as men if similarly gifted? About gays? Why would anyone choose a lifestyle subject to bigotry and hostility? Do straights wake up one day and decide to be attracted to the opposite sex? Gays neither of the same sex. Are you believing and treating others like you want to be treated if in their shoes?

Even Bible-believing Christians suggest trusting your moral intuitions.

Christians often say God’s spirit (aka Holy Spirit) does or can reside within you. Unless the Spirit talks to you audibly or visibly, we can only discern the Spirit’s voice by examining our intuitions. We can’t always be certain how to best love, but we can strive to love others like we want to be loved. Unless you are a totally self-centered human being, believe about God what makes loving sense to you!

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by Jim Gordon

There is an old hymn that says “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand”. This leads me to think about the organized church. As important as the church is in our lives, we have to be careful not to put our hope in it. I have received a lot of help through the church and a lot of good basic teachings. I also learned of salvation but my hope is not in the church. My hope is in “Christ the solid rock”.

There are times when we are alone in our walk with God and without regular fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Many of us have left the organization and are deconstructing our faith and may have to stand alone for a while. Fortunately, we can rely on our relationship with Christ because his Spirit lives within us. The church is no substitute for Christ. It is where we can learn about Him but it is not the goal. The point is that we have a relationship with Christ and not the church, and He is our source of strength.

The modern-day organized church is a place for believers to get together, but it is not the main source. Going to church does not make us Christians, it does not make us better people or more dedicated believers. It is a place to get ideas, different interpretations and encouragement from others, a place to meet other believers and enjoy fellowship, and a place to reach out and help others.

We need to stop putting the focus and emphasis on church, stop putting our eyes on pastors and realize that they are not the answer. We need to put all focus and attention on Christ. It is Jesus who we follow and worship. He is the Shepherd and the rest of us are his sheep. There are no co-shepherds and no intermediates between Christ and us. We are to follow Christ and Him alone. We are to learn from Him and love others equally.

There is nothing wrong with going to church, but do not put your eyes on it and the leaders therein. Keep your focus on Christ. Whether you go to church or do not go to church, Christ is the one we look to and serve. Do not worry so much about going to church, but rather be the Church. It is not a building we go to, but it is the people who love and follow Christ.

If you have been going through the deconstruction process from organized religion like I have, you will learn that you can depend on Jesus to lead you into his truth. He will prove His love and care for you over and over just as he has done for me. Bottom line, let’s be careful that we do not put our dependence on an organization but on Jesus. All other ground is sinking sand.

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