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Archive for August, 2022

by Michael Donahoe

We seem to see more and more Christian people taking up political action causes. It seems politics and the church are becoming more involved together, and the separation of church and state is slowly disappearing.

There is nothing wrong with being involved politically. Yet, politics is not the most important piece of the puzzle. Political action usually only ends up in division and the arguing of one party against the other.

Jesus was not into political action. He said his Kingdom was not of this world. Jesus was more into social action.

Jesus talked a lot about: feeding the hungry, taking care of the poor, the widows and the orphans, welcoming the stranger, and visiting those in prison. He talked about loving God and loving one another, even our enemies. Social action can be done apart from political action, and it will bring more meaningful results than any political action.

Of course, social action is not a requirement for salvation. That is by grace. As a result of our love for God and for humanity, social action and doing good works to others is a natural by-product.

Political action is more of a power struggle. It is forcing actions and ways of life on people by rules, laws and legislation. It can easily become divisive, exclusive and discriminatory.

Social action is a way of helping people live a more comfortable life. It provides ways to improve the lives of those who need help. It is a way of showing the love for people that Jesus talked about and expressed.

https://myopinionblog.substack.com/

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By Mike Edwards

I was listening to a recent new popular song that seeks to assure “God answers prayer.” Let’s be honest. More prayers are unanswered than answered. Bold proclamations about God, without being nuanced or explained, can confuse or drive many away from God. Many are rightly disheartened about God when claims about prayers don’t match up with reality.

God can’t answer many prayers

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 arbitrary when able to heal. 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. A caring God surely intervenes by all means when circumstances will allow just as a human parent.

Love can’t be controlling or arbitrary

Your view of God determines your perspective and how you pray. I experienced as a child and learned as a parent controlling love is an oxymoron. Love doesn’t insist on its own way (I Cor 13:5). It isn’t that God has the power to do something and doesn’t. God can’t change people or circumstances without them freely cooperating. Miracles don’t happen because some people are less sinful or beg better at the feet of an arbitrary God. Miracles happen when God’s uncontrolling love aligns with countless seen and unseen factors including human and organic agents.

Even the Bible doesn’t claim God answers all prayers

Jesus requested from God to avoid the Cross. History tells us God didn’t answer. There are of course many interpretations of passages used to defend one’s position.  Mt 7:7 says: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” But first-century readers didn’t assume this was a blank check for requests. The Apostle Paul expected persecution for beliefs (2 Tim. 3:12). I have a hunch Paul didn’t pray to be persecuted.

Isn’t a truly loving God doing all they can before asked?

Do we really think God is waiting to help others until we ask? Prayer must be more than manipulating God to act. God may wait for our invitation for personal help to be more the person we deep down desire to be, but God is tireless in doing all they can for others and desperately seeks our help to change the world. God can’t singlehandedly change a free world without our help. But the truth is it can rain on the righteous and the sun can shine on evil in an uncontrolled world (Mt 5:45).

So, why pray?

Prayer is more than asking for things. We can also talk to God for self-examination, for sharing our concerns so to not feel along in a chaotic world. Seeking God’s influence in our lives can lead to making wiser choices. God is tireless in working through individual lives to change the world. It isn’t that you didn’t beg enough or behave enough. God hears your prayers and walks alongside you in a world challenging to God and you. God hates when prayers can’t be answered. God feels the same pain you are experiencing. God shares the dreams you have for your future.  Conventional thinkers don’t like to suggest God has feelings of vulnerability, but they don’t mind talking about God’s wrath. We may wish God would just intervene but there may be legitimate reasons why God can’t. But God is with you each step of the way and surely encourages reaching out to others for help as well.

What God May Really Be Like!

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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

With all the changes happening in Christianity these days, such as Christian Nationalism, exclusion of those who are LGBTQ, seeing the separation of church and state slowly disappear, and those in the church seemingly becoming more hateful toward those who believe differently, my wife and I question whether we should still call ourselves Christian or not. Basically, it all boils down to what we mean by the word Christian.

If being a Christian is being part of a religion that meets in a building on a particular day and follows set doctrines based on what denomination we belong to, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian is being part of a group that is opposed to all other religions and only accepts those who believe like we do, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian has anything to do with excluding those who are LGBTQ, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian has anything to do with treating women unequally, then no, we are not Christians.

If being a Christian has anything to do with discrimination and segregation, then no, we are not Christians.

Actions that do not show the love, acceptance and good works that Jesus showed while on earth are not part of a Christianity we want to be associated with.

In Acts 11:26, the disciples were first called Christians by people in Antioch. They were called Christians because they were acting like Christ. The people there were calling them little Christ’s because of the way they showed the love and power of Christ. Now, if that is what is meant by being a Christian, then we are all in.

There are many ways we can describe ourselves…believers, Christ followers, disciples of Christ, people of faith, Christians. Yet, the name itself does not really matter. What matters is how we live our lives. Is Christ preeminent? Are we living as one with him? Are we allowing the love of Christ to live through us, accepting others, loving others and being little Christ’s to all we meet? If not, being called a Christian means nothing, and may actually be damaging to others.

When people see us, they should see Christ. He lives within us by the Spirit. We really do not need to worry so much about the label we use. We are to be known by our actions that show the love of God and share that love with our fellow man each and every day.

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

Parenting, like marriage, isn’t complicated just hard. Treat your partner like you want to be treated and you will probably have a good marriage. See here. Parent your children like you wish your parents had parent you and your children may visit when adults. There are hundreds of tips in being a good parent, but I will suggest only a few. There are no guarantees in parenting. A parent’s job is to parent well, not control their children. I am going to be brief and focus on a few positive actions that can set children up for success.

First, keep in mind the three main stages of parenting

Ages 0-2: Total Dependence so just love, feed, and try to get them to sleep

  • Ages 2-11: Time to discipline because for some reasons kids tend toward selfishness than unselfishness. They rightly are seeking to be independent and need help. Say yes as often as possible. Know when to say “no” and mean it. If you tell them “no” for the right reason, follow through with actions that show you mean it or they will be confused. Pick your battles carefully – mainly around how they treat others (character).
  • Ages 11 and Up: Mentor as much as possible to prepare them to be on their own. Act more as a coach whenever possible so they can learn from their own decisions. Sometimes, you have to interfere when drugs, etc. are involved, but empower your kids to make their own decisions and to learn from their mistakes.

Secondly, discipline well

Expect your children to treat others like they want to be treated. When they don’t, call them out and follow up with any discipline appropriate. There doesn’t have to be any hitting or yelling. Physical discipline/spanking is not necessary. Most parents don’t spank with control all the time so remove the option; besides, it stifles creativity in teaching. I have raised three children (now in their thirties and none in jail) without spanking and you would be proud to call them your kids.

Thirdly, require siblings to get along

I wanted my children to have a positive relationship with one another. I couldn’t make them like one another, but damn if I couldn’t make them treat each other like Mom and Dad should treat one another even when we didn’t get along. Children cannot and do not work this out on their own as the older/bigger just wins. I don’t sit back when bullying in any relationships is happening. I reserved my biggest responses when the kids yelled, hit, or took advantage of one another.

Fourthly and finally, parents must walk the talk

Parents must walk the talk if they expect children to listen to their advice. How can parents obtain commitment by asking their children to treat others right, but parents don’t treat others or their partner well? If kids are not going to drink when young, this translates into their parents not getting trashed and drinking responsibly. Whether we like it or not, kids are always looking for an excuse to be irresponsible. It is just human nature. Parents must work very hard to not give their children a reason to misbehave because of the example they set. “Do what I say, not what I do” is just plain stupid

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

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 Michael Donahoe

Growing up in church and the Christian world, I always felt I had some fairly important facts figured out about God. I always thought that what I was taught in church was the absolute truth and complete facts because, after all, the pastor was called by God and the pastor should know everything. Where God lived. Where I would go when I die.

Yet, as time goes by and I become more open to actually questioning some of what I was told in church, I have come to think of some of these things a little differently.

We are taught that the house of God was the church where we went to worship and learn about God. We were told that God was a man sitting on a throne somewhere out there in what we call heaven. We were told when we die, we would go to heaven to live with God forever.

I think we are missing some important truths in regard to these matters. We as Christians often take what we were told in church and think it is fact. We will fight and defend our views when people disagree, yet we really have no actual proof of some of the things we so quickly defend.

As I read more and think about things, it is clear we are missing some very important topics Jesus talked about. He said the Kingdom of God is within us, he said he was sending another comforter who would teach us and guide us. He said that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we have the mind of Christ. We tend to skip over these statements and continue to look to outward expressions of where God lives and what life after death will be like.

I think we are missing the fact that God is not somewhere out there, sitting on a throne. God does not show up now and then in a building that we call church. God is spirit and God is not a man or woman with a physical body. Although God does have male and female attributes, God is neither. We need to remember the customs and ways of life during the time the bible was being written. Men were in charge and women were usually considered property. The writers would naturally use male terminology for the God they were writing about.

As spirit, God does not live in a specific physical place. We are the closest thing because we are the dwelling place of the Spirit, yet God is everywhere. Physically speaking, we are God’s body, hands and feet on this earth. We know God is with us because God said we would never be left alone or forsaken by God.

Again, we seem to be so sure of the things we know about God and the afterlife, yet we really have no proof. It is all by faith, and many of it is our personal interpretations of bible verses or which pastor we listened to and followed. Rather than take a stand and argue with people about things we really do not know for sure, accept the fact that others have different views and opinions and there is no need to fight and argue over things we really do not know as facts.

There is nothing wrong with saying we do not know, there is nothing wrong with uncertainty. There is nothing wrong with questions and doubts. God is able to handle them all. We take by faith that God has what is best for us planned. We take by faith that there is a spirit world and we will be with God once we leave this earth. Take comfort in those thoughts, but also do not force your beliefs on others. Allow them the freedom to make up their own mind and follow what they believe.

God has given us free will to choose for ourselves who we will serve and what we will believe. Let us remember to do the same for our fellow human beings. The only thing Jesus told us to do was to love God and love one another.

Let me close with a few words by my friend, Chris Kratzer on the matter:

“If we search for God’s heart in the Scriptures, we open up a world of personal opinion, conjecture, and unresolvable debate.

If we search for God’s heart in the annals of Christianity history, we open up a trail of inconsistency, human fallibility, and religious conquest.

If we search for God’s heart in church, we open up a door into unending interpretations, conditional relationships, and spiritual franchising.

Yet, if we search for God within us, we find Her mind, we find our rest, we find ourselves, and we find our purpose.

We cannot know God outside of ourselves until we discover Her within ourselves”.

https://myopinionblog.substack.com/

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By Mike Edwards

It is often said God blessed the United States specifically, suggesting God’s blessings are withheld from other nations by God. It is important how we portray what God is really like. I am not going to do a Bible study on how God blesses others. Several viewpoints could be defended, depending on one’s interpretation of certain passages. It isn’t presumptuous though to imagine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions.

The way God blesses must be loving 

Atheists and believers agree. The only God worth believing in is a perfect, loving God. Can God manipulate others? Obviously not because love doesn’t manipulate. We can talk about perfect Godly love by comparing to perfect, human love. The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). How we lovingly bless others may be how a loving God would bless. Do we bless one child while withholding blessings from another child though both may be deserving or in need?

God’s blessings can’t be arbitrary

True love can’t be arbitrary or bias. Some Christian circles teach that before one is born that God elects or blesses some with eternal life after death while excluding others. Such arbitrary love is immoral. God doesn’t arbitrarily bless some with food in their bellies and not others by manipulating behind the scenes. God doesn’t wish anyone would starve. There are many human reasons why one might not have enough food. Humans must partner together to combat starvation. 

God’s blessings can’t be controlling 

We know true love can’t be controlling. Ask any adult about their parents! We hate when we see friends try to control others for their own reasons or gain.  Employees can smell a controlling employer a mile away. The truth is God can’t wave a magic wand – aka blessing some and not others – without accounting for freedom. It isn’t that you didn’t beg enough or have the right attitude. A loving God is surely always doing all they can in a free world for all nations.   

Don’t blessings flow when accepting God’s influence?

God seeks to influence us to do all the good we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as we can. Good things or blessings often happen when following God’s example.  Imagine all the friendships not destroyed by following God’s lead in not coveting, gossiping, being slow to anger, etc.  God’s blessing can flow to any nation, including the United States, when leaders and individuals allow God’s influence in their lives to help others. I suspect nations who believe in freedom as opposed to control by those in power benefit. Such qualities seem to be characteristic of the freedom God has bestowed upon us.

Did God Really Bless The United States Over Other Nations?

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It never was removed

by Michael Donahoe

Prayer in our public schools can be a popular topic among some Christian people. They will blame many problems on the issue of prayer in public schools being removed.

The fact of the matter is that prayer itself was never removed, nor was God removed from our schools. Any person can pray in school. Prayer is talking to God directly and can be done silently and privately. No one can actually take prayer out of school, just as God cannot be removed because God lives within us.

Many people seem to get confused about praying and having a standardized prayer led by school staff. A standardized prayer has been taken out of public schools, as well it should have been.

Another fact is that our public schools are not Christian schools. No set prayer can be established in public schools. There are many different faiths and beliefs within the public school system and no particular religion can be preferred over another.

In this regard, one of the goals of Christian Nationalism is to defund public schools and promote private Christian schools. They can then do what they want apart from government regulation, such as public prayer, teaching Christian principles, segregate the schools and exclude those who are LGBTQ.

The thing is, if standardized prayer is put back in public schools, there will need to be a leader for not only Christian prayer, but Muslim prayer, Hindu prayer and any other religions way of prayer. That is the only fair way of having standardized prayer in our public schools, although it would still be offensive to atheists and those who follow no religion. The best way is to leave any type of standardized prayer out of the public school system.

If prayer by any and all religions actually happened in public schools, I can already hear the complaints from the Christian world calling it unfair and against their rights. It seems that many Christian people think Christianity is the only viable way of life and no one else should have a say.

The United States was basically founded on freedom, and especially freedom of religion. We should remember that everyone has the freedom to follow any religion they choose, or freedom to follow no religion. Yet, we do not have the freedom to force any religion on anyone.

https://myopinionblog.substack.com/

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By Mike Edwards

Uncivil discussions between those who have science differences seems to becoming more the norm. Those with religion or God differences are no better though less hostile. Disagreements often lead to calling one anti-science or heretical. Successful relationships only happen by handling disagreements in a positive manner so solutions can be agreed upon. Dictators or authoritarians seek to control different opinions. Demonizing different views is tearing apart our nation!

An attitude of “certainty” can destroy a Nation! 

Truth is less certain than let on. Truth is a pursuit! Supposed scientific truth is often updated. Supposed biblical truth, because interpretation is required, is not agreed upon by sincere believers in God. My biggest regret when younger was acting certain than open-minded. Good luck having a good marriage if assuming you are right when disagreeing with your partner. Universal immoralities are obvious (murder, sexual abuse), but some truth can be found in opposing views concerning climate concerns, immigration, pandemic responses, etc.

Why do we claim certainty? 

Certainty than uncertainty comforts individuals psychologically. Those in Authority don’t want to be seen as unknowing. Many religious and scientific folks hide behind their interpretation of a Book or data. But contrary biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues and science data is often updated. It doesn’t matter if you believe your opinion is best for all. You may be wrong!

An attitude of certainty hinders the democratic process and could prevent the most caring decision for all involved. It is hard to know one’s internal motives, but thwarting diverse opinions is self-serving, allowing one to remain in control. Labeling others who disagree as conspiracists or heretics is revealing. Freedom of expression is essential in the pursuit of truth!

How have we pursued scientific truth during the Pandemic?

The bedrock of science use to be considering hypotheses in an attempt to explain a phenomenon in the natural world. It is an educated guess based on the information we have currently have and could change if we get new information in the future. Drugs are often approved initially, only to be pulled from the shelves later after causing death. Dr. Tony Fauci, Dr. Francis Collins, and Pfizer, who have led the U.S response to the pandemic, have failed to abide by what most agree use to be the course of action in pursuing scientific truths:

Why can’t we agree to openly pursue the most caring decision for all involved? 

Immigration laws can be discussed as to what are the most caring for the greater good. It would be wonderful if all children without loving parents could be adopted into your home. It that best for your family? Regarding climate changes, what is best for those who have energy and for those nations who need life saving energy from more fortunate countries? In responding to the pandemic, we must be able to ask and discuss what are the benefits and risks for individuals and society as a whole regarding Covid shots, lockdowns, masks, etc.

  • We can have open discussions and avoid demanding “supposed truths”
  • We must learn to respond not react over our differences
  • We can seek areas to agree first
  • We can seek to understand before being understood
  • We must stop demonizing by moralizing
  • We must handle differences with physical and verbal civility
  • We must stop claiming we have the corner on what is biblical truth
  • We must stop canceling others’ opinions when it comes to pursuing scientific truths

I left the institutional church, but not God, because others wouldn’t engage in non-dogmatic conversations. I didn’t wish to be divisive to those seeking God. Few will engage in political discussions as a way to understand one another’s point of view. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we must reach solutions by civil and democratic means. If one is close-minded denying your freedom to come to your own conclusions, sometimes we must counteract assertively. We must discuss in the current pandemic the benefits and risks of the Covid shots.  We must be able to debate climate, immigration laws, and what a loving God would truly think about gays, women roles, and other matters that impact millions of lives.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

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

The institution of marriage is such a great comparison to life with God. I think we often miss some good points about marriage that directly relates to life with God. To many times we do not associate marriage with Kingdom meanings.

Actually, marriage is a shadow of spiritual things. In Ephesians 5 it relates marriage to the church when it reads, this mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. The church here is not a building nor an organization. The Church that is mentioned are the people who follows Jesus. It is not a weekly meeting; it is a living organism made up of those of us saved by grace.

One of the things I have been thinking about recently is how we are one with God. It is hard to imagine that God lives within us. Jesus said when he left the earth, he would send us another comforter. Through his Spirit, Jesus came to live within us and is constantly with us.

We always think of God as sitting on a big throne, way off in heaven somewhere and that one of these days we will go and live with God forever.

The thing is, that is not what the written word tells us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, God’s physical dwelling place on earth. God’s Spirit dwells within us and will never leave us nor forsake us.

Now it is not saying we are God, but we are one with God. The best way I have found to make sense of this is to think of marriage. When two individual people, whether straight or gay, fall in love, make a commitment to love each other and live together, the bible says the two shall become one.

Does that mean that the spouse becomes their partner, that they somehow become the same person? No, both people remain individuals, yet they live as one. Same with us and God. We are still the person God created, yet because God loves us and we love God, the Spirit lives within us and we become one with God.

In John 17:21 Jesus is talking with God and says, ‘that they may all be one, even as You are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me’. Seems to me it is truly a marriage made in heaven.

We do not have to wait to a future time when we live with God in some far-away place. We are living as one with God in the Kingdom right now. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are the dwelling place of God, and each of us are equally important parts of the body of Christ.

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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