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By Mike Edwards

I am not suggesting anything goes when I declare we can’t be certain. No one questions laws against murder. Criminals don’t deny their actions are wrong; they deny they committed such a crime. It is almost universally accepted that it is morally wrong to kill or behead someone because of their beliefs unless you are a terrorist.

Uncertainty doesn’t have to lead to chaos or lawlessness.

Total certainty is an illusion because even if God is Truth, we still have to discern what is Truth. The Bible can’t be the definitive guide what God would do because scholars who respect Scriptures disagree what God according to the Bible thinks about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, the afterlife, etc. Different opinions, expressed without physical or verbal aggression, can stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach.

Where has certainty in God’s name 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 revered theologians such as St. Augustine and John Calvin not firmly opposing the execution of those not agreeing with their theology. Certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same/different gender loving, monogamous, consensual relationships. Women, though gifted, are denied entrance into the priesthood or pastorate in God’s name.

An infallible (certain) Bible is problematic!

It is argued that if we can’t know what the Bible says, we can’t know God. Newsflash – literature always requires interpretation. You are interpreting my meaning as you read this blog. Am I saying God disapproves all certainty or that uncertainty isn’t all bad? A Book possibly being fallible, then infallible, encourages questioning than demonizing views to the contrary. God-followers seem unaware, as I was, how they come off morally superior based on their assumptions about the Bible.

Jesus didn’t judge uncertainty.

Jesus perform many miracles and His disciples/followers still didn’t believe. Jesus didn’t tell disciples to get lost because of doubts. Jesus didn’t caste away Peter when warning him he would deny Jesus three times. I believe Peter now is call the “Rock.” Jesus sought the company of people that didn’t share His certainty. My hunch is that God, like parents, rather be doubted than ignored. If it is a sin to doubt God exists, then Christians sin if they doubt God in troubled times.

Uncertainty can lead to acting more loving.

Being unable to declare the certainty or morality of our opinions forces us to listen and express ideas openly. Starting a conversation with “I may be wrong” more likely leads to new understandings and creative solutions. Try it in relationships! Conversations change when humbleness is part of the tone. Certainty when it comes to political matters such as taxes or health plans has led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. 

MORE POSTS IN SERIES: I DOUBT GOD REALLY ……

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

Why I Doubt God Is An Angry Egomaniac

Why I Doubt God Is A “Hidden Agenda” Proselytizer

Why I Doubt the god of Extremists Or Terrorists

Why I Doubt God Is A Prayer Genie

Why I Doubt God Controls Evil And Suffering

Why I Doubt God Knows The Future And Why It Matters

Why I Doubt God Cares What Your Beliefs Are

 

 

 

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Share The Moment

by Rocky Glenn

I’ve written in the past of my love for professional wrestling. This past Monday I was like a kid in a candy store as my family and I attended our second televised live wrestling event. Despite summertime colds for my wife and son having them feeling less than their best and facing the next day at work and school on little more than five hours sleep if we stayed until the show went off the air, we pushed forward with tickets in hand and made our trek to the arena. I can’t say for certain which of the four of us were more excited upon arrival, but by the time the night ended each of us were walking out thrilled and satisfied with our evening. Multiple times during the show I looked to my right to see the faces lit up of the entire family. It is incredibly gratifying to have those closest to you embrace, enjoy, and develop a love of their own for something which has been such a part of your life. As I sat there with my heart filling with pride watching each of them get lost in their own personal moment and then getting caught up in the show myself, it occurred to me to truly enjoy a moment is to share the moment. From swapping stories with strangers as the ticket lines trickled in to openly expressing appreciation of others’ t-shirts of your favorite wrestler and, most certainly, taking in the show with my family, Monday night was a night filled with shared moments.

Two weeks ago I thought I had concluded all I had to say on enjoying the moment and I was ready to move on to other topics, but it seems the whole idea has really taken root inside of me and I can’t push it out of my head. It’s dawning on me the concept is more than a one-time thing, and so much more than simply a topic to write about. Being present in the moment is a lifestyle and mindset, and to be present in the moment is to share the moment.

Sometimes sharing the moment takes a different form. Life brings pain, heartaches, and trouble to all of us. You can only truly understand the pain another feels if you have experienced the same pain yourself. I don’t know the pain of losing a spouse or a parent, but I can understand every feeling a young teenager whose parents are getting a divorce is processing. We have not experienced the pain of losing an unborn child, but we know what it’s like to face a sudden loss of income and lose a home. Sharing the moment consists in helping another in their difficult time based on your experience in dealing with your own. We each experience these things differently and in different seasons, but that’s what adds to the beauty and wonder of life. Oftentimes it’s those you least expect who come along to share those moments and walk with you sharing stories of how they walked through the pain, sorrow, and heartache.

To share simply means to experience with another. Whether good or bad, life is something we all experience and is something we all should strive to share.

Rocky

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By Mike Edwards

One would think God-followers wouldn’t be judgmental. After all, we are guided by the principle of loving others as we want to be loved. Jesus certainly didn’t seem judgmental. He hung out with all kinds of people who probably didn’t share His beliefs. Jesus did get His ire up with religious folks because they were misrepresenting God. We must stand up or judge when children are abused, women are violated, etc., but not unload on others when their beliefs aren’t ours.

Some Christians may be judgmental as a defense mechanism.

It isn’t easy for those of us who have forsaken religion but not God to have discussions about our new beliefs with those still a part of the institutional church. Remember, you may be causing one to question or defend beliefs they have held on for a long time. Don’t be too judgmental. Can you remember at one time arguing about what you use to believe passionately? We mustn’t force conversations but have civil discussion with those who desire them.

Some Christians may be judgmental because of Leadership.

Church leaders seem to believe uncertainty is a sign of weakness. Catholics, Methodists, Etc. establish the certainty of creeds that one must believe in. Try challenging the doctrines and see where that gets you! If God was so concerned about beliefs such as the Trinity, Angels, the Bible, the Virgin Mary, wouldn’t there be more agreement. Maybe Christians would be more united and less judgmental if religions only had the Creed of Love. Jesus didn’t follow the business/institutional church manual. Jesus encouraged “Whoever is least among you is the greatest” (Lk. 9:48).

The biggest reason Christians may be judgmental is because convinced following the Bible.

Many Christians condemn same-sex relationships, women are denied equal or authoritative roles as men, and it is said only Christians can go to heaven so all other religions can go to Hell. Good people, though it doesn’t feel natural, often only condemn same-sex relationships out of supposed allegiance to God because of the Bible. But literature, including the Bible, requires interpretation.

Even if the entire Bible is inspired by God, interpretations aren’t inspired. Admitting you could be wrong would encourage different views standing side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. Many spiritual minded people assume they need to convert their friends to supposed certain beliefs (theirs) to be accepted by God. Stop! You may be wrong! Now, if you believe in beheading and killing people because they don’t share your personal beliefs about God, you are wrong! God gave you a brain not a Book to discern evil actions.

Christians may fear uncertainty.  

There is almost universal agreement on most moral matters. Criminals don’t defend their murderous actions; they deny they committed such actions. To violate one’s physical or emotional rights is clearly wrong, but total certainty is an illusion. Christians who proclaim “because the Bible says so,” force supposed truth onto others. As mentioned, the Bible requires interpretation.

Uncertainty, rather than certainty, leads to more loving actions. Starting a conversation with “I may be wrong” can lead to new understandings and creative solutions. Try it in marriage! Conversations change when humbleness is part of the tone. Certainty when it comes to politics has led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. Different opinions expressed without physical or verbal aggression can be resolved by respecting the freedom of others, as God does, while remaining open-minded to new understandings.

Would you naturally assume if not for your understanding of a Book that:

  • God condemns gays though gays no more choose to be gay than straights choose to be straight
  • God prohibits women serving as pastors or priests though my wife and daughters are a lot smarter and better leaders than a whole lot of men
  • God encourages wives being more submissive to husbands which is conducive to abuse
  • God judges based on religion when the religion the majority adhere to depends where born

Every view above is debated among biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures. Let’s have open discussions without hiding behind an infallible Book like terrorists. Even if an infallible Book does exist, infallible interpretations are a myth. I am convinced questioning the Bible would lead to Christians being less judgmental and more loving.

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by Rocky Glenn

Having come through eight weeks of writing about Enjoying the Moment initiated by my love for music, I began reflecting back to this writing from April 2017.  The essence of David’s words in this most loved Psalm captures the heart of finding joy, pleasure, and satisfaction in the moment because of his trust in his shepherd.

It can be argued that Psalm 23 is perhaps the most well-known, and possibly most cherished, portion of scripture.  I’ve spent the last four weeks reading and rereading those six verses.  I believe what makes this scripture so meaningful to those who read it is the way David captures and paints his relationship with God in terms familiar with a task he knew and lived personally.  David’s picture of God as a shepherd displays the intimate involvement he feels God has in his life just as a musician recognizes his dependence on his conductor.  With that thought in mind, I ventured to craft my own version of this well-loved passage.  So, in humility, I present the following verses:

1. God is my conductor. I will never be without direction.
2. He guides when to rest and leads the dynamics and tempo of my life.
3. He keeps me in tune as He arranges my hymn into a reflection of Him.
4. Though I walk through the valley of sharps and flats, I will fear no key change. Your conductor’s baton will guide me.
5. You’ve written my life’s opus with a majestic symphony. I’m overwhelmed by the composition of Your hands.
6. Melodious harmonies surround me and I will play in Your presence the rest of my life.

Take a moment to pause and think about your life.  What would your 23rd psalm be a reflection of?

Rocky

(This post originally written April 9, 2017.)

 

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by Jordan Hathcock

“That’s the thing about friendship, it’s a lot rarer than love because there’s nothing in it for anybody.”

It’s hard to imagine not experiencing the amazing journey of friendship. We all can become a little oblivious when it comes to the incredible gift of what relationship truly is. Let’s not forget, many individuals don’t even get to experience genuine friendship throughout their lives. As study shows, more and more people are not developing meaningful friendships and thus, not able to create healthy communities that are able to thrive.

From the American Christian context, we can see this type of loneliness is also causing an abandonment of healthy church experiences. People become isolated due to the abundant number of rules and regulations pressed upon congregates. When it becomes more of an exclusive club instead of an inclusive party, things can get desolate pretty fast.

Here are some examples of how church communities create loneliness and isolation:

  • People don’t feel safe enough to connect (LGBTQ people for example)
  • Churches make groups with walls and the walls need to come down
  • People with unseen illnesses cannot always attend church services, which makes it hard to connect with others
  • People who have less feel like they are the only ones
  • Some people are not extroverts. But they still need connection.

These are just few on the many issues that the church at large is producing when it comes to isolation and loneliness. What gives? What can we do to counter this onslaught? Well, many have left these churches and have found freedom and friendship outside the religious walls. Out of these groups, you still have Christ participants and others not so much. I get it. When people have been burned by the religious institution, what we call church, it’s hard to come back to some type of faith.

The nones and dones are finding healthy friendships and that’s awesome. But, some are not. On top of that, some are still wanting that communal community to embrace. I think for those disenfranchised, the Body of Christ (i.e., a loving community) can still play a role in bringing about healthy friendships that in turn create healthy communities. It really boils down to effort and time. Let’s look at this verse from the Christian scriptures:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

A lot of directions we can go with this. Like did Jesus really consider his disciples slaves (more accurate translation of servant)? Or, did he truly make known everything about God to them? But the direction I want to go with this is the whole context of this verse is showing that the thing that lasts is LOVE (no greater than by laying down one’s life for a friend). Yes, love is always the default message throughout Jesus’ teachings: “This is my command, love one another as I have loved you”.

To become a people of true friendships, we must come to the realization that love is the only action to bring us into this reality. Duh, right? Yes, love is getting the final word nowadays and that’s good! But, agape love is different then a love that is a two-way street transaction. It is unconditional. People have a hard time grasping that, I know I do. It’s no easy task! It’s fucken hard! The question is: do we want to take it there to a systemic level? Hard to say. But isolated loneliness is a very difficult place to find oneself in and to claw out of.

There are many avenues and connections that need to be accomplished to combat this issue. From Jesus’ perspective, friendship is the place he seems to trust in to find the reality of the call: Earth as it is in Heaven. We cannot see the New Creation come into full reality unless we heed to this call of authentic camaraderie…

“Friendship is unnecessary like Philosophy, like Art it has no survival value rather it is one of those things that give value to survival”- C.S. Lewis

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By Mike Edwards

Loving, human parents don’t require certain beliefs from their children before loving them. Are we better lovers than God? God, like any parent, 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. Who wants to live a self-centered life that only hurts those you love and yourself as well! A loving Creator surely cares more about how we treat others than our beliefs. 

You don’t have to be a Christian to be loved by God.

A loving God wouldn’t ignore the realities of our world by insisting one can only come to God by believing in Jesus. The majority of people born into this world died without any knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. A reason one may think God judges people who have never heard about God or misunderstand God is because a Book supposedly says so.

Jesus simply asked people to follow Him, not confess, say a prayer, and be called Christians. Only terrorists believe you must be of a certain religion or be killed. No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world requiring that one’s eternal destination is based on circumstances out of one’s control. Bad and good religion must be distinguished, but the Bible mustn’t be used to claim all must convert to Christianity to be accepted by God.

Don’t you at least have to believe in God?

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 doesn’t claim his audience doubts but ignores God and morality to justify their wicked ways. Let’s not accuse those who believe in a God as needing a crutch and accuse those who question of being wicked and not knowing their feelings. If it is a sin to doubt God exists, then Christians sin if they doubt God in troubled times.

A child sexually abused by their father maybe can’t accept a God most often betrayed as our Father in Heaven. Does God really judge them? Some may want to believe in God but can’t get their head around why a loving God doesn’t intervene more in so much evil in the world. Does God really judge them? Why would a gay person believe in a God when condemned by God-followers for choices they can no more control than straights can.

Surely you must believe Jesus was the Son of God or resurrected from the grave!

One must admit it is hard to understand how one chromosomally can be God and human. Isn’t it logically impossible to be God and not God? Some may be willing to accept that Jesus was an extraordinary man who epitomized who God was. Why can’t we begin there as a discussion as to what teachings and actions of Jesus seem to represent what a loving God is like?

Jesus’ disciples wavered if Jesus resurrected, and they supposedly witnessed miracles beforehand. It is understandable why we may waver since we rely on historical as opposed to visible evidence. Each must consider the historical evidence for themselves. Jesus seem to confront the most those whose actions were unloving to others, not those struggling to accept certain beliefs.

Even the Bible doesn’t require certain beliefs for eternal life!

Jesus didn’t think of eternal life as something after death but a quality of life that begins here on earth to avoid future regrets. Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life. Jesus simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). No one is going to Heaven if such actions are required according to God’s standards. If entering Heaven depends on certain beliefs or saying the sinner’s prayer, wouldn’t Jesus have responded differently?

Where have written Creeds or Doctrines gotten us?

Catholics, Protestants, and most other religions establish Creeds or Doctrines to differentiate themselves from others. It isn’t always said you are required to accept them to participate but try challenging them and see where that gets you! If beliefs about the Trinity, Angels, the Bible, the Virgin Mary, etc. were clear, why the Hell can’t we agree. I doubt God cares about these matters. Christians would be more united and less judgmental if religions established only the Creed of Love and live it out. This may lead to feeding more the poor than erecting more buildings.

What God cares about!

God only wants us to consider loving others like we want to be loved. Doesn’t this lead to true freedom for ourselves and other. Also, in a broken world we may want to consider matters such as justice and forgiveness, because one day we may be on that side of the fence. God has no sacred beliefs. You don’t have to believe that hell is real or that God condemns gays. Identify any beliefs of God proclaimed by others that make pursing a relationship with God difficult for you. God only hopes we may come to believe in God’s love for us so we might reflect such love back to others.

 

MORE POSTS IN SERIES: I DOUBT GOD REALLY ……

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

Why I Doubt God Is An Angry Egomaniac

Why I Doubt God Is A “Hidden Agenda” Proselytizer

Why I Doubt the god of Extremists Or Terrorists

Why I Doubt God Is A Prayer Genie

Why I Doubt God Controls Evil And Suffering

Why I Doubt God Knows The Future And Why It Matters

 

 

 

 

 

 

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by Rocky Glenn

I am in the process of teaching my son to drive.  The first time we were out of a parking lot and out on the road I believe I held the steering wheel as much as from the passenger seat as he did from the driver’s seat for a short fifteen-minute trip.  Next time we sat down for the same trip, I only reached for the wheel to assist on three occasions.  We’ve now traveled the same path multiple times and I’ve not reached for the wheel since the second trip.  This past weekend I took him on roads he had never driven and no corrections were made other than simple verbal guidance.  He is learning and will likely be a much better driver than I was starting out.

I share this story not so much because of my teenage boy, but more as a reflection of me.  Any parent who has ever taught a teenager to drive knows what a nerve-wracking and frightening experience it can be.  As I thought about what it means to enjoy the moment, I realized it only comes as we learn to let go of the distractions of regret, what’s to come, and expectations just as I have had to learn let go of the steering wheel and let my son drive.  With each trip behind the wheel, I grow more confident of his growing ability to maneuver the vehicle.

Teaching a young driver is a tense experience because you realize very quickly from the passenger seat you are not in control.  We fear things we have no control over.  We fear the shame of the past because we can’t change it so we live in regret lest our darkest secrets be revealed.  We fear the future not knowing what tomorrow holds and having no guarantee of the health and safety of our loved one so we worry and dread what may come.  We judge others and others judge us based on preconceived expectations fearing how scenarios may play out.  None of these things are within our control.

Reinhold Niebuhr captured the heart of releasing control, living in the present and enjoying the moment.  Niebuhr may or may not be a name familiar to you.  Admittedly, despite knowing his words most of my life, I never knew his name until researching his famous prayer first shared in the early 1930s.  Commonly known as The Serenity Prayer, it has been shared in multiple addiction and recovery programs, and has become a source of strength for many.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

To live in a state of serenity is to live in the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.  Living a life of serenity sounds a lot like enjoying the moment.  Unfortunately, unlike Niebuhr’s request, it is rarely something which is simply granted.  Much like learning to trust a new driver, learning to enjoy the moment and live a life of serenity is a gradual process and is generally learned through experiences of life both pleasant and unpleasant.

In the last two posts, we’ve looked in depth at the story of the prodigal son.  The story ends with the prodigal being ushered into a celebration in his honor clothed in the finest robes and shoes.  If it were possible to interview the prodigal after the celebration concluded, I wonder what he would tell us.  I believe Henri Nouwen gives us a glimpse in his book The Return of the Prodigal Son as he places each of us in the role of the prodigal:

“For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of the spiritual life – pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures – and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.

Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not ‘How do I find God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be found by him?’ The question is not ‘How am I to know God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be known by God?’ And finally, the question is not ‘How am I to love God?’ but ‘How am I to let myself be loved by God?'”  God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.

To humanize the story of the prodigal son, you would have to imagine the young prodigal and his older brother still struggled with the mindset of being truly accepted into the father’s love with absolutely no effort on their own.  Flashbacks of his frivolous living no doubt would haunt the younger brother just as his older brother must have certainly struggled with bitterness over the years of service he dedicated to earning favor which was already given.  Both of these are struggles we all face and must learn to let go of to enjoy the moment.

To conclude this series, I will remind myself and all of us of the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:27 – 34 as interpreted by Eugene Peterson in The Message which teach us to how to enjoy the moment:

“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

Rocky

More posts in the Enjoying the Moment series:

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