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Archive for the ‘Acceptance of Others’ Category

By Mike Edwards

It is only natural to think a Creator would love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. It matters what we think God is like because our understanding determines the depth of our relationship with God and others. Those who believe in God typically suggest we should strive to be perfect like God. An atheist would say the only kind of God worth believing in is a perfect God. Such language assumes we know perfect from imperfect, good from evil.

Those who declare God is mysterious even believe human and godly perfection are the same.

God is claimed to be a mystery sometimes because one’s interpretation of Scriptures makes God appeal evil from a human perspective. Isn’t this because we all have an inborn intuition that God and human perfect love are the same? It’s nonsensical to suggest evil is sometimes good in God’s eyes. Even the Bible assumes we can know what perfect love is, because the Bible tells us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48). We must question our interpretations when God’s love seemingly is not the same as perfect human love.

But, we don’t all agree what perfection is! 

Most agree all should strive to treat others like we want to be treated. We seem to know how we “ought” to treat others. Now, there is disagreement. Should we show tough love to a loved one struggling with addiction or believe their regret of actions and give another chance? Certainty in how we should always act or know what God would do is an illusion. Certainty has led to forcing “supposed” truths onto others. Uncertainty, unless obviously immoral such as sexual abuse, allows different opinions to stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. 

Something isn’t immoral because we think the Bible says so.  

Many believe the Bible or Quran are revelations from God about what God is like. But, scholars and laypeople disagree on meanings of passages since literature requires interpretation. Certainty about God according to one’s interpretation is an illusion. Terrorists and extremists defend their beliefs because of a supposed inspired Book, but interpretations aren’t inspired. The world may be an amazingly different place if God-followers didn’t say “because the Bible says so.” 

Human perfection is our best starting point for knowing what God is truly like.

Common moral sense is not the enemy. Don’t let your interpretation of a Book override the golden rule with others of a different gender, color, or sexuality. Don’t condemn others because of your interpretation, whether you believe a Book is infallible or not. You can hardly ever go wrong treating others like you wish to be treated if in their shoes. Actions of love are always more important than any beliefs. What do you imagine a good God is like? You may be right!

 

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by Jim Gordon

What would you tell someone who asked you what a christian must do to be pleasing to God?

A lot of people would start out by saying we must go to church, we must tithe and we must obey the ten commandments. They would probably say we have to witness to others and give our money to the poor, and probably even some in the USA would say we must vote republican.

Seems like we christians are so hung up on works and doing things in our own effort to be pleasing to God. If we are not going to church we are backsliding. If we do not tithe to the church we are robbing God. We have all these things we are told we should be doing to be pleasing to God.

I think a lot of the christian world today has forgotten that Jesus came to fulfill the old covenant. When he said “it is finished” he was declaring the old covenant had come to fulfillment. By living a perfect life, Jesus showed us God’s true character which is love. He restored the fellowship between us and God. He sent the Spirit to live within us so we could enjoy that fellowship on a daily basis.

I think the real answer to the question of what must we do to be pleasing to God is…..nothing! We do not have to do anything because God provided grace through Christ. We are the righteousness of God and the Spirit of Christ now lives in us. It is not based on what we have done, it is all on what He has done.

We no longer have to try to keep the ten commandments. Those were a guide, or tutor to lead us to Christ. We no longer have to go to church because through Christ, we are the Church. We can assemble together with other believers any day, anywhere. We do not need to look to others for guidance and knowledge because the Spirit lives in us and is our teacher and guide. We do not have to tithe our money because the old covenant has been fulfilled. We can now give our money out of love and to who and where God is leading us to give. We do not have to force every encounter with someone to witness to them because the Holy Spirit is the one who draws all men to God. Since He lives in us we can be open to allow Him to work in us how He pleases.

So many christians today do not realize the freedom we have in Christ. They do not understand grace and the fact that we are no longer under condemnation. We do not have to do things to be pleasing to God. We now live under the guidance of the Spirit and we do things out of love, not out of obligation and trying to keep rules and commands.

So many of us live day to day under condemnation because we feel we have not done enough for God. We feel we do not measure up because we cannot do things like someone else does, or we cannot preach like someone else can. The fact is, God made us all the way we are for a reason. In the body of Christ, we all are equal and all have equally important qualities that God uses. No one is on a higher level than anyone else. We are all brothers and sisters and we are all under the headship of Jesus Christ.

Stop feeling like you are not pleasing to God because of something you do or something you do not do. Christ has provided grace for all of us, and there is nothing we can do to earn it or pay for it.

We can rest in God’s love. We can enjoy daily fellowship with Him because He loves us. We can be assured that we are now in the Kingdom for eternity because of what Christ has done for us. We can stop listening to others who we think are on a higher level than us, or who we think are closer to God because God loves each of His children equally. We are all capable of hearing and learning from the Holy Spirit who is within us. We do not have to wait until Sunday to hear from Him, worship Him, serve Him because we are the Church and every day is the Lord’s day.

Stop condemning yourself, look to God, love Him and love others. Let Him teach you, guide you, live through you day by day. There is nothing more you need to do than accept Him, love Him and love others. We are now new creatures in Him. We now live in His Kingdom. Forget the the rules and regulations of religion. Love God, love one another and realize you are loved just the way you are.

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By Mike Edwards

Confession. I write about the same topic often by asking some version of the question: What Is God Really Like? Open discussions as to what a perfect Creator is like are important; an imperfect Creator is not worth believing in. People may stop believing or never start believing in God if they accept everything they hear about God!

People when describing God often quote the Bible. Isn’t that where we discover what God is like? It may be if you have a Bible unlike the majority of people born into this world. So, there must be other ways to know God. The problem is scholars who respect Scriptures don’t agree on the meaning of the same passages. Interpretations aren’t infallible. We have every right to question interpretations that suggest a Creator doesn’t love how we were seemingly created to love others.

Who wants to follow a God who is antiscience, antiwoman, antigay, etc.? Many only believe or claim the following because of what they think a Book declares about God:

  • How could a God who teaches forgiveness seventy times seven possibly create Hell to torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. I am convinced even if you believe every word of the Bible is inspired by God, the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. See Here
  • How could a loving God demand only Christians go to heaven so all other Religions can go to Hell? The majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. Also, most rebel or adhere to the religion where born. If born into a Buddhist family, one is likely to become a nominal or devoted Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance?
  • How could a loving God condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can? If you think there is a 1% possibility that science proves that sexual orientation isn’t a choice, then let’s error on the non-judgmental side. Who chooses homosexuality when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility? See Here
  • How could a loving God favor men over women in leadership roles which has encouraged centuries of domestic abuse and other atrocities women face. The Bible can also be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. Women don’t need male leadership in marriage; women need men who have the heart of a servant (Eph. 5:28-29).
  • Why would God insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis which seemingly denies the possibility of evolution? Scientists, who believe in the authority of Scriptures, have provided overwhelming genetic evidence that the human race couldn’t have originated from a single couple but through a population of some thousands of individuals. People don’t need to lose their faith because they believe in evolution. See https://biologos.org/
  • Why would God create or even allow evil? When we say God allows evil, it gives the impression God stands by when God could stop evil. A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Maybe God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom!
  • I have just begun.

What is God really like? Extremists insist on their interpretation of a Book. Anyway, we can’t prove every word of the Bible was inspired by God unless you argue a biblical writer making such a claim is definitive evidence. Writers may have needed to grow in their understanding of God. Listen to your moral inner voice what God is like. You may be right! God surely created us with intuitions how we ought to love others perfectly like God. Challenge God to help you find answers to your questions.

 

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by Jim Gordon

I imagine we all have been in a relationship with a family member or close friend where we had some misunderstandings and miscommunications. These can often cause hurt feelings and arguments. That is bad enough but there are times when we get treated downright unfairly by others.

I know there are people who are just an acquaintance and we really do not know them. When they treat us badly, we can move on with no real concern. Yet the people who are close friends, relatives, siblings and parents can be just as mean at times. For me, I have always believed in treating all people respectfully and kindly, but those who are close are the people we really do not want to allow the unfair and unkind treatment to continue.

I have seen it many times over the years. People you love and respect seem to take you for granted and do things that are unkind, disrespectful and demeaning. When it first begins to happen, our usual response is to ignore it. We think they did not mean it or they were just in a bad mood at the time.

This may be the case. Often times it can be a simple misunderstanding. Yet if it goes on and on and it happens time after time, it will eventually start to be a major problem. Good communication is key at this point. You need to think enough of yourself and the relationship to speak up. This does not have to be done in a mean or hateful way. Just a calm private talk explaining what is going on and how you are feeling can put an end to such treatment.

I have personally seen a few people who were treated disrespectfully and taken for granted time after time, month after month, year after year. So much that eventually they gave up on the person and the relationship was damaged. When we continue to accept being treated badly, we are not only damaging the relationship but we are destroying our spirit. As we continue to accept such treatment we begin to think less and less of ourselves.

Very often the way people treat others is done out of ignorance. They may not even realize how they come across. Again, good communication and standing up for yourself can straighten things out. The main thing is do not allow yourself to accept this kind of treatment. Think of yourself more highly than to take whatever bad treatment people dish out.

When people are treated with such disrespect and taken for granted the best thing to do is (for you Andy Griffith fans) pull a Barney Fife…. nip it, nip it in the bud.  When we allow others to treat us unkindly year after year after year, it eventually takes a toll on us and we come to a point where the relationship is lost. Stand up now, speak up now. Do not allow this kind of treatment to continue for the sake of maintaining a good relationship with someone you care about.

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By Mike Edwards

We don’t know all the factors as to why some are inclined to believe and desire a relationship with their Creator and others aren’t. Believing in or not believing in God are both rational beliefs. The reasons many leave their faith in God may be why many don’t pursue God initially though desiring a relationship. I will end by suggesting advantages of a relationship with God based on experience.

First, let’s debunk the myth that those who don’t believe in God are simply rebellious.

The first chapter of Romans in the Bible is used to suggest all who don’t believe in God are suppressing what they know to be true. Actually, the writer refers to those who don’t doubt but ignore God and morality to justify their evil ways. Let’s not accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God as being wicked and ignorant of their feelings. If wrong to doubt God exists, Christians sin if doubt God in tough times.

A child sexually abuse by their father may struggle to accept a God betrayed as our Father in Heaven. Does God really judge them? Some are open or desperately want to believe in God but can’t get their head around why a loving God doesn’t intervene more with so much evil in the world. Does God really judge them? Why would a gay person believe in a God who supposedly condemn them for sexuality choices they no more choose than straights.

We are better off without God if the Bible is declared infallible and not questioned.

Christians according to the Bible condemn same-sex relationships, women are denied equal roles as men, and it is said only Christians go to heaven so all other religions can go to Hell. The idea of an infallible Book often leads to inferring interpretations are infallible. Literature, including the Bible, requires interpretation. Every view above is debated among biblical scholars who respect Scriptures. Don’t be dogmatic! God can speak for themselves to individuals. Now, if you think it is right to behead people because they don’t share your personal beliefs about God, you are wrong!

We may be better off without God if God declared a mysterious, moral hypocrite.

Some declare God mysterious when their interpretation of the Bible makes God appear immoral, but how can we have a relationship with a God we can’t understand with the brain God gave us? Is evil good sometimes? The Bible assumes we can understand God when challenging us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48). It is only natural to think that God and human perfect love are the same. Human love suggests a perfect God is not a sexist, homophobe, hellish sadist, hothead, egomaniac. A Creator surely love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others. 

We may be better off without God if declared a prayer genie.

Praying doesn’t make God more caring. God is already doing all they can in a free world. Pretending God can simply heal without accounting for freedom can make one’s suffering worse. Did I not beg enough? Did I not behave enough or have the right attitude? God is tireless in working through individual lives to change the world. It seems God creating freedom necessitates one being able to do as much harm as they can do good. Authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. God, like parents, had a choice – to not create or create knowing suffering was a possibility in the pursuit of intimacy. Divine love limits divine power.

We maybe be better off without God if declared God causes or allows evil.

The problem of evil and suffering is a main reason people indicate they don’t believe in God. If evil is some grand scheme God can control or allows, why does the Bible say God hates evil so much? When we say God allows evil, it gives the impression God stands by when God could stop evil. A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom!

It doesn’t help when God-followers have hidden agendas in relationships.

I confess I use to think God wanted me to change people’s beliefs to avoid hell and go to heaven. Then, I discovered the traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. A loving God surely only wishes we consider the possibility of a loving God who desires to help in our journey of becoming the person deep down we want to become. God simply encourages loving others as yourself since a self-centered life hurts yourself and others. True friends don’t seek to change one’s beliefs but to openly encourage one another in a life that leads to true freedom. 

When are we better off with God?

  • If a Creator exists they may know a thing or two about life and purpose for living
  • Life sometimes sucks and suffering is inevitable in a world where people have the freedom to bring joy or cause pain. A Creator can help navigate through such a world where we often face undeserved suffering. Bottom line – I need a companion
  • I am not the man I want to be. I have desires and thoughts that I know are wrong. I need guidance and encouragement in refusing them and knowing they are not in my best interests

Parents and friends often don’t love us for who we are but what they want us to be. God can often fill a void that humans can’t. Do you want to know God better? Find someone who seems to have an open relationship with their Creator and ask for help. If they want to give a lot of advice and act like they speak for God all the time – run! Challenge God to help you find answers to your questions. Seek a rational view of God rather than some pie in the sky God.

 

 

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by Jordan Hathcock

“We criticize anyone who tries to break away from the rat race, because the idea that there is a way out scares us more than dying in the state we’re in” – Cic Mellace

How is everybody’s work week going? Loving it, or what? Are you feeling like what you do within your work week is really providing the best for you and others around you? I will be perfectly honest: I don’t. And, I am not alone. Majority of Americans-and the rest of the globe- are feeling the same type of attitude when it comes to the work week. Here are some statistics regarding Americans attitude towards their work and as well as the health effects due to these work weeks:

‘In 2013, Forbes magazine reported on the poll, saying “work is more often a source of frustration than fulfillment for nearly 90% of the world’s workers.” The number of global employees described by Gallup as “emotionally disconnected from their workplaces” is only slightly better this year (85%) than four years ago (87%). The rate is slightly better in some countries — like the United States, where only 70 percent of people hate their jobs — and worse in others.”

And…

“According to 2004 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 15 million Americans work full time on evening shift, night shift, rotating shifts, or other employer arranged irregular schedules. According to U.S. National Health Interview data from 2010, almost 19% of working adults work 48 hour or more per week and over 7% worked 60 hours or more. Both shift work and long work hours have been associated with health and safety risks.”

Look, I am extremely grateful for what my privilege has brought me and what hard work has done as well (they both play a part). I also understand there are many people who are desperately needing a job but are unable to. It’s an issue and I empathize. The systemic problem of class wars, racism, climate change-all stems from the reality of how we are lacking communing as a community. But here is the thing: Is this current work-climate really a healthy way to live? Doesn’t look to be according to the stats and personal experience. I am currently clocking in a 50+ hour work week and I am feeling the affects emotionally and physically. I know, I know suck it up right? Or like Paul (or a follower of Paul) would say: “For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” Yeah, we get it Paul, but life isn’t always that black and white (you asshole).

We can look at all the factors that play a role in why, in our current economic state of affairs globally, we all are feeling trapped and unsatisfied. Western civilization has over emphasized the competitive spirit into a form of slavery. If we do not work those hours, we probably would lose our jobs and not get paid. Hyper Capitalism is not helping anybody here, people! We are stuck in the consumerism rat race and we need to take steps to break free. Yeah, a little idealistic, sure. But, all ideas stem from some type of truth that needs to be lived out or else the captives remain captives.

What’s the solution? Well, I don’t know for sure–but I do know that just doing small tiny itty-bitty steps do help tremendously in breaking free of this unhealthy rate race. It can be writing blogs (like yours truly), it can be serving others in a way that doesn’t benefit the machine but truly brings life to the one its serving. Be creative! Please don’t think I am selling fame and fortune here. It’s not about that at all. Also, working hard and living into the reality of truly believing in your work is a great thing! I am not trying to go all quasi-socialist on you (though it has its benefits).

In essence, it’s about living out a life of experimentation and creativity not of stagnant habits. Don’t get me wrong, I understand we must put the grub on the platters! All I am trying to point out is if we keep on going at the pace we are going, are bellies might be full, but everything else is going to be lacking in substance. We cannot be diluted by the propaganda of the Empire (Institutional control, aka Babylon). We are not pawns! We are all Kings and Queens (Rev. 1:6) participating with the Christ-King to bring about a life of meaning, not a mundane existence. Let us step into the unknown and really see where this life of meaning can lead us…

“The only walls that exist are those you have placed in your mind. And whatever obstacles you conceive, exist only because you have forgotten what you have already achieved.”― Suzy Kassem

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by Jim Gordon

Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you be at peace with all men.

To be at peace with all people, including believers and non-believers seems almost impossible in our world today. We have so many different thoughts and ideas, different denominations, interpretations and beliefs and all the different religions. It makes you wonder how it is possible to be at peace with everyone?

The dictionary describes peace as freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; harmony in personal relations.

I have been thinking recently about how some christian people act towards those who see things differently. I do not know why we can be so mean at times. We feel we have to prove our point to others and stand our ground when it comes to doctrine and interpretation of the bible. I am not sure why we feel it is our job to be the morality police. Why do we feel the need to force our views, beliefs and interpretations on others?

Rather than base our lives on following doctrine and interpretation, we are to follow the example of Jesus. He said to love God and love one another. There is no way to be at peace with others without loving them. We cannot love others without the Spirit of love living within us.

I think what God is saying about being at peace with all is that we are to live in harmony with others, not allowing any oppressive thoughts or emotions to take control of our feelings toward them. In other words, we live in love. Just because someone does not interpret the bible the same way we do or go to the same church we do or does not go to church at all, we should realize that in regard to other believers, we are all wanting to love God and do what is pleasing to God. We are to accept one another in love and respect the fact that God is working in different ways in people. Just because it is not what we are used to does not mean it is not of God.

In regard to non-believers, we do not need to condemn them or force our beliefs on them. We are to let them see the love of God by the way we treat others. They do not need someone beating them down or twisting their arms to get them to believe like us. We are to love them as they are and let the Spirit do any work that needs to be done in their lives just as the Spirit does in our lives.

If we believers could understand that we are responsible for ourselves in the way we live for God. We are not responsible to live the way others do or the way others think we should. We are to allow our Father to work in our lives the way He wants and follow Him on the path He has for us.

Our responsibility is to love God and love others, accept them for who they are and pray that the Holy Spirit will teach us and guide us in the way we are to go. We are not responsible to force others to see things the way we see things. We are to love one another and accept one another as they are. Only by living in love can we live at peace with all.

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