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Archive for February, 2022

By Mike Edwards

I have never been a great prayer. But early in my relationship with God at least I would sometimes get on my knees or get in a quiet place to avoid distractions. I knew people that kept a list of people and things to pray more. I guess to check them off when answered. I even had a list but over time I found another way.

Prayer is talking to God and not always requesting stuff 

We can replace the word “praying” in the Bible with “talking.” God won’t punish you for not shutting your eyes. Silent or out loud conversations can include asking to be more like God, for self-examination, for sharing concerns. We tell our children associating with the right people leads to making wiser choices. God’s influence is a powerful positive encouragement. It may be easier to not be distracted if have a private place to go, but I prefer talking to God on my walks, sometimes while driving, sometimes when lying in bed. Humans are the ones with hang-ups not God.

Prayer isn’t rubbing a genie lamp

More prayers are unanswered than answered. God can’t wave a magic wand without accounting for freedom. It’s not that we didn’t pray enough with the right words and behaviors so God will answer. God can’t make one’s partner willing to stop drinking. A lot of prayers ask for healing. I doubt God is stingy. Conditions in our body may not always be right. Various biological and environmental factors are involved such as cells, organs, etc. If God respects human freedom, it may not be a stretch to say God has to account for natural freedom as well. God surely intervenes by all means when circumstances will allow. 

Prayer is more acting than talking 

Relax! God is an omnipresent Spirit. God already knows needs before spoken. Prayer shouldn’t be a substitute for acting. It is easier sometimes to pray for someone than take cooperative actions with God. This is the most common way that God answers prayers – with others. Rather than praying your friend’s partner stop drinking, which is harming their family, see if your friend would rather you say something to their partner. When you know two friends are in conflict, speak to the one wrongly denying any wrongdoing. God longs to help us help others.

What does the Bible say?

You won’t find some ritual in the Bible God demands you follow. Mathew 7:7 is used to support the false prosperity gospel: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Isn’t this passage in context simply saying that if we parents give good gifts despite our imperfections, will not God as our perfect Parent always want to give good gifts. First-century readers didn’t assume this was a blank check for requests. The Apostle Paul expected persecution for beliefs (2 Tim. 3:12). 

Rethinking Prayer 

It isn’t that God had the power to do something about it but chose not to. Divine love limits divine power. True love, thus God’s love, is uncontrolling. God is already doing all they can in a free world. It isn’t that you didn’t beg enough or behave enough. God is tireless in working through individual lives to change the world. Pray for wisdom, pray for healing and the ability to accept whatever happens, pray for the courage to cooperate with God for positive change.

Can I Be Close To God If I Suck At Praying?

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Why does the word inclusion make so many of us Christian people cringe?

We often want to only include our preferred group. People who think like us and have faith like us. If a person thinks differently, we feel you should stay in your own group with like-minded people, but leave us alone. Fortunately, many of us are changing our mind on such feelings.

We see this so much within Christianity with such a wide variety of denominations and interpretations of the Bible. Yet, I am not necessarily just talking about organized religion or institutional church, but accepting people in general in our daily lives.

When it comes to including people who we see as different from us aside from spiritual matters, it is even worse. African-American/White, LGBTQ/Straight, American/Foreign, Atheist/Muslim/Jew/Hindu and on it goes. We seem to think as believers in God, we need to separate ourselves from those who see things differently and should not associate with them.

Really, behind all the labels we put on people we are all basically the same, so why not associate and get to know people who we feel are different from us? We can learn from one another and get to know one another and find that we really are not all that different.

We see Jesus do this all the time when reading the gospels in the Bible. He did not differentiate people based on their religion, belief, lifestyle or nationality. He did not separate himself from those who thought, believed, looked and lived differently. He loved and respected all people.

Obviously, loving and accepting people does not mean we always agree nor are we always going to get along in life. Yet I believe it does mean treating others equally, respectfully, with kindness, acceptance and the love of God.

Inclusion is not a bad word. It is not a bad or unholy way to live. Inclusion is about ALL of us. Inclusion is about living full lives and about learning to live together. It makes the world our classroom for learning about our fellow human beings. Inclusion treasures diversity and builds community. It is about our abilities, our gifts and how to share them. Inclusion is the way of God and the way of showing the love of God to everyone.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

Let’s be honest. The Bible is a difficult read and a bit strange. It claims God often ordered Israel to commit atrocities (“Now go, attack the Amalekites… put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys” (I Sam 15:3). I doubt God inspired that writer’s thoughts about God. The biblical truth is the writers may have gotten God wrong at times. 

It’s not true we can’t know God unless we read the Bible 

The majority of the people born into this world didn’t have a Bible or know of Jesus. The Bible can’t be the authoritative guide about God, because we disagree what it says for major moral issues. It is only intuitive that a Creator loves the ways their creations ought to love one another. Every reasonable human being respects the golden rule in relationships. God’s love and perfect human love are surely one and the same. Views of God that don’t seemingly lead to loving your neighbor more may be amiss, because they are contrary to our moral intuitions of perfection.

It’s not true the Bible claims only Scriptures is used by God to teach

II Tim 3:16 is often cited to suggest God only inspired Scriptures: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” The word Scripture isn’t in the original. The Greek word translated as Scripture is “graphis” or writings. This passage could be declaring: God can use all writings including Scripture, whether having right or wrong views of God, to equip us for good works. God may speak to use through other writings, even possibly mediums such as music, so we can be equipped for good works. 

My personal journey with the Bible 

Confession – I don’t read the Bible as much anymore but God and I still rock. Okay, I have a long way to go in my moral perfection journey, but I am inspired by God daily to pursue a legacy worth having. For years I would study the Bible hours at a time. Commentaries line my shelves and I even attended Seminary for a year. Unfortunately, I assumed I could only know God through Scriptures, and I failed to have enough respect for interpretations different than mine. Each has their own journey. Currently, I draw close to God by writing, reading books that discuss God, and listening to podcasts.

Why bother to read the Bible 

The Bible does seem to be chocked full of wisdom. You can read the Bible over and over and come away with fresh insights for relationships. I am convinced God is delighted a recording of God’s beginnings with Israel culminating in the life of Jesus was written to encourage questioning and contemplating what a loving God is really like. 

How should we read the Bible?

If reading the Bible, it is important to read the Bible with a questioning and open spirit. Not questioning the writers’ views of God or our interpretations that don’t make human moral sense can led to carrying out immoral acts in the name of God. Don’t read the Bible if it discourages you from loving others like you want to be loved. We may be better off without the Bible if a Book replaces our relationship with God and common moral sense. But God has drawn billions to do good and shun evil when reading and reflecting about God.

Can I Follow God If I Can’t Stand Reading The Bible?

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

I remember when I was young, I was in a church service just about any time the doors were open. My whole spiritual life depended on whether I was at church or not. If I did not go, I felt guilty and made sure I was there the next time.

I was always active and participated in many church activities. I felt it was my duty and responsibility to do all I could for the church. I felt that was the only way I could serve God and do what pleased Him.

After many years of being in the organized church system, my wife and I became disillusioned with the religious organization and became a part of ‘The Dones’. We no longer attend a traditional or organized church, and no longer put any hope or trust in religion.

Does this mean we no longer think it is right to be part of a church? Not at all, yet for us, we are satisfied no longer being part of it and we are happy with the decision we made to leave. Yet, that does not mean we expect everyone else to think the same way. We have several friends who are satisfied with the church system and want to continue to attend services.

In our case, after leaving the organized church we have noticed a feeling of separation between church goers and non-church goers. After all the years we spent in the organization and all the friends we made, once we left, we noticed the struggle many people have to overcome a feeling of us and them. Obviously, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and there should be love and acceptance between us no matter if we attend church or not.

If you still feel drawn to the weekly organized meeting, I do not see anything wrong with it. Although we do not believe the church system is designed as God intended, there were many good things that came out of our time being involved. If you are going to be a part of a local church, keep in mind some important facts.

When going to church, you are not going to God’s house. God does not live in buildings made by human hands, but He builds His Church from living stones, which is us.

The Bible is not to be held in the same regard as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The written word is inspired by God but written by men. All the translating men have done over the years, and men deciding which books are inspired and which are not, make it pretty clear that the bible is going to be flawed.  It is clearly stated that Jesus is the living, inerrant Word of God. The written word is a guide to lead us to Christ, but as Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39, You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me. They put the scriptures (written word) above the Living Word (Jesus).

The pastor is not God’s mouthpiece. He or she is only a brother or sister in Christ who is to walk alongside us to encourage and build one another up. We have the Holy Spirit within us who is our teacher and guide. We need no one else. It is good to hear other opinions and ideas, yet it is the Spirit that is to be our teacher and guide.

Bringing the tithe into the storehouse is not giving money to the church, and is no longer a requirement. We give from love as we determine in our heart to give. If you give at the church you attend, you are not giving to God but to support the organization and pay the bills.

Sunday is not the “Lord’s Day”. Every day is the day the Lord has made, and no particular day is more important than another.

When we are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, it is not talking about an organized church meeting. It is talking about loving and accepting one another, and depending on one another. It is supporting and encouraging one another on our daily walk with God and one another. We do this in many different ways each and every day, not just on one particular day.

When you go to church, do not fall for someone telling you God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on this place. God is everywhere and the Spirit fell upon mankind 2000 years ago. The Spirit of God is within us and with us all the time. He is not sitting on a throne up in heaven waiting for us. He goes with us each and every day, everywhere we go.

Realize that worship is not singing a few songs, raising your hands when the worship leader tells you to and reading a few scripture verses together. Worship is daily praising God, trusting God and letting Him be Lord of your life. To worship God in spirit and truth involves loving Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.

And do not give way to a prideful spirit, thinking you are more spiritual or a “better” Christian because you went to church. Going to a service is a choice, not a requirement and you are no better if you go, and no worse off if you do not go.

Remember, each of us are living stones and equal parts of the body. We are the Church and Jesus is the head of his body. As his Church, we are to show God’s love every day to everyone we meet. If you want to attend a local group of believers there is nothing wrong with that. Enjoy meeting with other believers, enjoy the atmosphere but remember you are the Church, you have the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God lives within you. We are to go about our daily lives under the leading of the Spirit, loving God and loving others.

So, do not look down upon those who have left the organization as backsliders or who have walked away from God. Do not look at those who still attend church as stuck in a man-made institution and following doctrines and interpretations of man. Remember that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and each of us are loving God and doing what we feel is right and best at this point. We should be loving and accepting of one another and let the world see the love we have for one another. As it reads in John 13:35 by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

The majority of people believe there is a God, but I don’t sense God is a major focus with that majority. I’m not making a moral judgment. Many not keen on God treat others as well or better than us God followers. It’s just that many God followers believe their relationship with God has made them a better person. We are convinced if more had a closer relationship with God, this could make for a better world. Do God followers create obstacles that push others away from God?

God-followers make faith in God too complicated 

Many Christians insist on certain beliefs or saying a magic prayer to be a true follower. It’s said you can’t just believe there is a God; the Devil believes in a God! But the Devil was committed to opposing God. I’m not convinced the majority have such a commitment. Even the Bible in one passage doesn’t declare faith a set of beliefs but hope in what you can’t see. (Heb 11:1) Why can’t a God follower be one who hopes/believes in a good God and seeks help being the person they deep down desire to be? If you are a butt according to friends, I still suggest going in with God.

God-followers make dogmatic claims about God according to the Bible 

The Bible is used to condemn gays and oppose women priests or preachers. But biblical scholars who have a deep respect for Scriptures don’t agree what the Bible says about these and other moral issues.  See here. See hereBiblical scholars don’t even agree a literal Hell is a reality in the Bible. See here.  Even if our interpretations were infallible, we can’t be sure the biblical writers always knew or portrayed God accurately. God gave us a brain. Our moral intuitions are not the enemy.

The Bible is used to claim non-Christians can’t go to heaven. The majority of people born into the world didn’t have a Bible or knew of Jesus. Most people accept or rebel against a certain religion based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. A child sexually abuse by their father may struggle to accept a God who is most often betrayed as our Father in Heaven. No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world requiring their eternal destination be based on circumstances out of one’s control. A loving God can’t be a God of chance! 

God-followers make the Bible an idol for worship 

You don’t have to believe the biblical writers always got God right. Many insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis, to deny that God could have used evolution in the creative process. Don’t reject God because you believe in evolution. No one was there in the beginning. As mentioned, you don’t have to believe in Hell or that God condemns gays or is bias against women. Don’t disregard your moral intuitions in discerning what God is like. See RETHINKING THE BIBLE

God-followers rationalize away why God doesn’t intervene more in evil and suffering 

We say “everything that happens is part of God’s plan” to supposedly protect God’s all-powerful character. We claim God is a mystery to justify God’s evil is sometimes good. Crazy talk! Love cannot insist on its own way. (I Cor 13:5) A good God’s love must be uncontrolling, not manipulative, etc. A God who supposedly can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child suffer. Evil and suffering in the world may be because God can only intervene when there is human cooperation. See God Can’t by Thomas Oord.

God-followers insist you must believe in miracles or Jesus’ resurrection to be a follower

I don’t know if all the miracles recorded in the Bible really happened or not. I wasn’t there. I don’t doubt the historical accounts of events in NT times, but you may. Jesus didn’t ask the disciples for certain commitments or unshakable belief to follow Him. Some of the disciple didn’t believe Jesus’ resurrection talk until having physical proof. If you saw someone die on a Cross and alive days later, you may believe too. I doubt Jesus rejected those who didn’t instantly go all-in. If wanting to live for the Devil, then don’t follow Jesus.

God-followers insist you have to go to church to be a follower 

Many are done with religion or church but not God. The Church can be a great place of encouragement for like-minded people, but Church can be like politics in today’s world. There is lack of open and meaningful dialogue. I am tired of the cancel culture in church or the public arena. I’m not anti-science or heretical because I disagree. I got tired of being preached at where I couldn’t ask questions directly to leadership when disagreeing with opinions taught. Being so damn certain all the time is hardly relational and fails to recognize reality – biblical scholars don’t disagree what the Bible says about issues that impacts millions of lives. 

God-followers as a group are poor role models

We are all hypocrites, but God followers should at least admit and do something about their failings. Clearly Christians don’t get along as more and more churches and denominations keep forming that creates division not unity. Christian opinions should be able to stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving way. It’s hard to make a big impact in the world alone. A Movement succeeding at loving others like they want to be loved maybe can change the World!

God-followers often have hidden agendas in their relationships 

Who blames others for avoiding spiritual conversations with God followers? I hate to admit I use to have a hidden agenda with those outside the church. I was taught God’s good news was saving people from Hell so they could get into Heaven. I was wrong according to Jesus. See here.  I am afraid the ship may have sailed for those on the fence about God, trusting us to have open conversations. I will never stop hoping though. My focus is trying to lead a life where actions speak louder than words.

Maybe taking a leap of faith is worth it

If God claims to love and guide us, God should be up to your challenging God to prove they are worth following.  Don’t believe everything others claim about God. If interested in being the person you want to be deep down, you may be able to do it on your own but I need all the help I can get. Through God’s influence I have experienced God’s encouragement to continually strive to be a better man, husband, father, and friend or at least better than if on my own. I am convinced believing in a good God and pursuing a godly life is not in vain!

Why Don’t More Who Believe In God Pursue God Intensely?

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

As I move through life outside the walls of religion, I have found myself being more comfortable with questions about God. Do you do that too?

Growing up in the church, I remember the feeling of having questions but was afraid to ask. I knew people would question my faith or tell me I was back-sliding so I kept my mouth shut. The issue was that as time went on, the questions kept popping up and I finally began to realize that questioning was not wrong.

As Christians, we have been taught that we need to have the answers. Study to show thyself approved meant you must have an answer for everything people come up with so you can prove your beliefs are right.

I truly believe God accepts us, questions and all. I am hoping that one day I will have more answers, mostly for my own sake and not necessarily to defend my beliefs.

I think the modern-day church and religion in general do not like questions, at least not hard questions. Especially questions that make us wonder about the basic beliefs they teach. They like to have all the answers, and answers that fit into their particular belief and doctrine.

In his book ‘Dying to Religion and Empire: Giving up Our Religious Rites and Legal Rights’, Jeremy Myers makes a statement that is oh so true: “And as is the nature with questions, asking hard questions rarely leads to answers, but only to more questions”

I think God is much bigger than what the church makes of him sometimes. They try to fit everything into a box and do not like people asking questions that require out-of-the-box thinking.

It seems to me the spirit within, the spirit of truth, brings up questions that the religious system taught us and we always just accepted. Now, rather than suppressing these questions, I have allowed them to surface and truly seek God for guidance.

A few years back, Mick Mooney posted an article on Facebook, part of which says: “But who has the faith to ask questions with the intention of seeking the answers to them? Who can let their foundation be not a doctrine or dogma that must be defended, but Christ himself who needs no defense? For it is those who have their foundation solely upon Christ, who can walk in their faith without fear of questions, but rather they walk in their faith knowing that God is lighting their path with questions, and it is these very questions that are paving the path that the Spirit of God is guiding them upon”.

If you have been feeling guilty for having questions, I have found it best to put that feeling aside and keep asking the questions. That is the best way to continue growing and learning in our walk with God. Even when we do not get the answers right away, or if ever, we should continue to be asking and seeking the truth from the Spirit who lives within us. There is nothing too difficult for God; there are no questions or doubts that will turn him away from us or keep him from loving us.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

The Good News couldn’t be about escaping a fiery, torturous God if such a hell isn’t biblical. What do the Gospels claim the Good News about God is?

What Really Is The Good News About God According To The Bible?

Well-meaning people passionate about God say things like “it’s all part of God’s plan” or “everything happens for a reason.” Is evil and suffering really some grand scheme by God?

Can We Stop Saying “Everything Happens For A Reason”!

We can’t prove God inspired the Bible or God didn’t. Are there good reasons to error on the side that God didn’t inspire all of the Bible?

Why We Must Argue The Bible Is Not Inspired By God!

Many are rightly disheartened about God when more prayers are unanswered than answered. How does prayer work and why bother?

Why Bother To Pray If It Doesn’t Work!

A loving God wouldn’t only let Christians into heaven when the majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of Jesus the Christ. One’s religion or rebellion against a certain religion is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Is God really a God of chance?

What Does God Think Of Non-Christian Religions?

A loving God couldn’t possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility?

What Does God Believe About Gays?

Jesus-followers in the first century had a radical impact in their world and centuries to come. Why aren’t such followers having more of an impact today?

What Reforms Are Necessary In Christianity?

A threatening God, or threatening parents, hardly helps break away from bad habits or behaviors we long to change. What kind of God is more likely to encourage positive change?

It Matters If Your God Is Nurturing Or Authoritative!

My Top Posts Of 2021

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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and Everyone Else is Confused

by Jim Gordon

For those of us who attended church for any amount of time, we find that there are often people who are acting and responding in ways that are very judgmental and condemning.

Especially when it comes to the gay community, atheists and those of various religious groups and denominations that differ in doctrine from what we think is right. Many of us Christians have a hard time accepting people who think differently.

We would rather fight and defend our interpretation and doctrine and prove our Christian moral way of living rather than show the love of Christ and accept people the way they were made.

I do not understand why we feel the need to try to prove our point and why we have to make sure everyone knows that the way we follow God is the only right way.

One Another: Accept One Another” Romans 15:5-7 – 8:00 and 11:00 Services –  Hanover First Church of God

A lot of us cannot even accept and associate with other believers from a different denomination. So many people say their version of the bible is the only true version or their type of church is the only true church.

I get so fed up with the pride and arrogance of some (not all) groups of Christians who think they have it all figured out and their way is right. They seem to think that you had better believe like they do or they want nothing to do with you.

Even some Christians in the same church, those who have been good friends for years will turn on you if you leave their church. How many times have you been involved in a church you really enjoy and the people are loving and kind only to find once you leave the group you never hear from any of them again?

Though no longer within the institutional church, I had been in the system for well over 50 years so I know what I am talking about. I am not out to bash the church but it does aggravate me to see people who are supposed to show the love of God to all people, yet act so unloving and judgmental to people who think differently. Fortunately, not every church or Christian group is like this but certainly it is the norm for a lot of them.

Why is it that so many Christian people are so mean and condemning to gay people? Why is it we see atheist as our mortal enemy? Why do we reject the interpretations and beliefs of other Christians who attend a different denomination, or, God forbid, who do not go to church at all? Jesus, who is our example, was not like that yet many people did not grow up in church and did not read the bible. Due to this they do not know what Jesus was like. They only know that we who claim to follow Jesus act in such a mean, unaccepting and unloving way.

We need to remember that behind every label we put on people there is a human being. No matter who we are, what we believe, no matter what our lifestyle or our feelings about God, we all are deserving of love and acceptance. Just like each of us who are now Christians were loved and accepted by God even before we knew anything about Him, we should be loving and accepting to everyone we meet because we may be the only Jesus they see.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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