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by Jim Gordon

It is easy to see that people can quickly take a stand on one side or the other of an issue to which they feel strongly.

Many are pro-life and anti-abortion; pro-American and anti-refugee; pro-Christian and anti-Muslim; pro-marriage and anti-LGBTQ, and on and on it goes. Whichever side is taken it can often be very intense.

We all have a right to our opinion and to express our opinion. Yet I do not feel we have the right to express our opinions with judgment, condemnation and hatred.

Many groups of people have suffered judgment and condemnation from those of the Christian belief. It is sad that some who claim to follow the example of Jesus can be so hateful towards people they think are doing life wrong.

My personal belief is that Jesus said to love God and love one another. He never told us to condemn and hate people. Even when we disagree on the topics, we are still to be respectful and loving to everyone.

Love, kindness, respect and accepting people for who they are is the way of Jesus. He never condemned, never hated, never sought revenge. Sure, he often said go and sin no more, yet he never made the person feel terrible and he never followed up making sure that person actually did not sin again.

I feel Jesus said to sin no more because he knew what the effects of sin were on the person. He did not want them to go through the guilt and shame, but wanted them to be free to share his love with others.

Today there are many topics on which people take sides. Many that stir people up to do some very unkind and unloving things. As followers of Jesus we are to go a different route. We are to show his love and acceptance to everyone. We do not need to point out what we feel are sins of others. Not everything is a sin just because some people think it is. God can work in the life of each person to deal with what needs done without us throwing in our two cents. We are only told to love God and love people.

So, go ahead and take a stand on the issues that are important to you. Vote for who you feel will do the best job and give equal rights and fair treatment to all people. Yet do these things with kindness and respect for those who see things differently. Show the love of God to everyone no matter if you agree or not. Love is the way of God and it is to be the way of those who are followers of God.

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by Jim Gordon

After forty-eight years of work, retirement came as something I had looked forward to for many years. Yet once it happened the first thought was who am I now? What is my purpose? What is my identity?

All those years my identity was in what I did for a career. Now that it is over there were issues about who is the real me? Not the part that pertains to a job title but the real me. What makes up Jim Gordon apart from a job? What are my beliefs and what are the things that make me tick?

I have found that I am truly not my job title. There is more to me than a title at work. It is the same for all of us, once the title of our job is gone, it is time to re-familiarize ourselves with the real us, the one that has been there all along but hidden behind the job title.

I started thinking about who I am and what I believe and came up with a few thoughts. Just because I no longer have a job title does not mean I do not have something to offer. I believe we are all created in the image of God and we all have something we can contribute to show love and encourage others.

My first thoughts were more on things I am not: I am not into organized church, denominations or any particular doctrine. I am not into politics. I do not belong to any political party. I do vote, but I vote for who I feel will do the best job no matter what party they belong too. I am not into exclusion, separation or treating others with contempt. I do not want to judge others or try to force my views on anyone.

I have come to realize that we all have so many different views and opinions that I am not going to be able to please everyone. No matter what I believe, what I say, what my opinions are there are going to be people who totally disagree. I have come to accept that and to go on being me without the worry of what others think.  I am not sure why we fight and argue amongst ourselves so much.

I feel the person I am now is to live a quiet life, working with my own hands, loving God and loving others without the worry of what others think. We are each free to believe what we feel is right. I want to live a life pleasing to God, be responsible for hearing from the Spirit and doing what I feel is right for me.

I want to love people, accept others and show them the love of God no matter what. I will stick to the views, interpretations and opinions I feel are right and let others have the same freedom.

I will accept others just as they are and will not judge, condemn or hate anyone for any reason. I believe that God loves all of us just as we are. I will do my best to do the same. I really think if we all took that view on life, we would all get along much better.

I certainly have more time now than when I worked, but that does not mean it is time to sit around and do nothing. There are plenty of opportunities to do good, to show the love of God and to serve a positive purpose in life. No matter what stage of life you are in, God has a purpose for you to show his love and encourage others each day. Seek the guidance of the Spirit from within and be ready for God to bring others across your path to love and encourage.

If you are retired or no longer working for some reason, do not give up and think that things are over. You still have purpose. You still have good you can do. As long as you have love to give, a smile to lend or a voice of encouragement to share, your purpose and potential are just as valuable and important as ever.

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by Jim Gordon

Have you noticed how often people get offended and feel they need to prove their point on so many topics and posts online? It usually does not go well once that starts. Especially when it comes to spiritual and biblical topics.

We fail to realize that not everyone has the same interpretation as another. We also fail to realize the fact that we cannot prove most of what we believe.

We can fight and argue between christian and atheist, one christian denomination and another, among Jewish, Christian, Islam and a host of other religions. We can argue about whether there is or there is not a God, is there a hell or not, what this verse means or what that verse means. We get mad and defensive when someone goes against what we believe and do our best to prove our view is right.

Thing is, we cannot prove our point. We cannot prove God exists, we cannot prove there is a heaven or a hell, we cannot prove any other aspect of the spiritual existence. This life is a life of faith and belief. As christians, we have faith that God is there and he loves us. We have faith in the guidance of the Spirit within us.

On the other hand, no one can prove there is not a God, there is not a heaven, or there is not a hell. Yet we will fight and argue until we almost hate each other trying to prove our way of thinking.

I think God can take care of himself. We do not have to fight and argue to defend Him. Rather than making ourselves look like mean, hateful people who have to be right we should be showing the love of God to everyone. Show his love to those who agree with us and also to those who are a hundred percent sure in their minds that we are wrong.

To be sure, we cannot have this kind of love and acceptance in our own strength. God says we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and it his love that flows out of us. Through His power, we can love those who live differently, who think differently, we can love our enemies and those who want nothing to do with God.

We can have our own way of thinking, our own beliefs and interpretations, knowing that God created each of us differently. Yet we need to remember we are not totally right on everything, and for sure we are not always going to agree with one another. We can all learn something by listening and communicating with others.

We all have a right to believe what and how we want to believe. People can put their faith in God or not. We can have completely different lifestyles. We can have a completely different interpretation on bible verses or we can completely reject the bible and not believe anything about it, and it is OK. Jesus did not tell us to judge and condemn others for what they believe. He did not say to force our views and beliefs on others. He did say to love one another.

We are not called to make people believe like us, or believe in God at all. We are called to go into the world and live the gospel message that God loves and accepts us. Jesus came to restore fellowship between humanity and the Father. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to love and accept others just as they are.

We can have our individual beliefs and interpretations, and we do not have to agree with everyone. Love and acceptance do not mean agreement. We can love and accept others just because they are loved by God. We were all created in His image. We can have our differences and still accept and care for those God brings into our lives each day.

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by Jordan Hathcock

“A priest once quoted to me the Roman saying that a religion is dead when the priests laugh at each other across the altar. I always laugh at the altar, be it Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist, because real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter.”– Alan Watts

When exploring the comedic landscape, be it stand-up or just laughing with buddies, what we discover is total-unsaturated freedom. I mean, come on! You know you cannot deny when a good joke hits your soul, you become overpowered with joy and bliss. The endorphins hit an all-time high, and you bask in the comfort of hilariousness. When swimming in the Christian tradition, I think “busting-up” is a vital prophetic practice to have if we ever want to see restorative justice and mercy flow through our current social landscape.

How do we experience this through the Christian tradition? Well, unfortunately we don’t see to many preachers at the pulpit preaching “go out and watch some comedy”, but this does not mean that from the broad scope of things, the Christ-trajectory hasn’t journeyed out to this particular new endeavor. Yes, I get it. When we see how uncomfortable someone’s sense of humors can make us feel, its hard not to react in disdained. I find it interesting that a sermon kind of has the same kind of effect on us. Comedian Pete Homes says it best:

“The skill set of pastor and comedian are incredibly similar. You want to affect people. You’re good at reading rooms. You’re persuasive, and you’re likable.”

Now, I am not saying that we are just to be entertained in our seats while watching the “pastor” make us laugh. That is not the point. The point, I think, is we might have to find ourselves in uncomfortable spaces to be able to stretch us to encounter different perspectives. We are seeing some truth spoken to power being projected out of the stand-up scene, which if we listen closely and take some pointers, it might just help us over here in the Christian world.

The prophetic is used not to just expose the injustices, but also to bring about liberation. We must see that when we laugh, it is a way for us to heal towards a better way of living for ourselves and the community we relate to. Likewise, as the medical research shows:

“There is growing evidence that laughter as a physical activity can additionally produce small but quantifiable positive physiological benefits.”

The physiological also plays a huge part in the spiritual. When we step into the realm of expressed humor, we find ourselves in a place of peace. It is peacemaking that brings us into the “reign of God”. There is hope for this Jesus tradition and it is finding our sense of humor! Yes, the current divide and injustices that is currently happening within our current American culture is ramped.

It’s easy to get to serious with ourselves with all the bullshit running amok! Believe me, I am guilty of it! Please understand, we are not to ignore the racism that is happening within the police force across the county, school shootings, the Trump impeachment scandal, etc. The list can go on and on.

But we must admit, when things to get a little out of hand, the only medicine is to laugh that shit off! Like good old Sarah reminds us in her time of utter disbelief in the insanity: “So, Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” (Gen 18:12) Pleasure? In all this mess? Is it possible? Don’t know (like always) but I do trust in the gift of laughter. From this ancient tradition, its time to let go of the long faces and step into the vibrant space of comedy…

“When I opened my eyes and saw the real world, I began to laugh and I haven’t stopped since.” – Soren Kierkegaard

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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 Jordan Hathcock

“The moral standards by which Israel’s first ancestor were expected to act seem to come not so much by God’s unique command, but by expectations of the surrounding cultures” – Pete Enns

We are all products of our environment. Our cultures play a huge role in how we as a collective, strive to improve and develop ourselves into a reality of wellbeing and enjoyment. The Latin root word cultura: “till the soil, tend, grow” is the same root as Cultivate and Cult. Which I find fascinating when we when look at how cults work in our religious settings. I see it more expansive then that. Culture is the true cult when it comes to how we as a society interact, develop, and grow.

One of the definitions of cult states: “a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious”. I think this is the most used definition when it comes to religious people accusing other religious people for “not doing it right”. Within Christendom, there is an everlasting list of religious groups that are accused of being cults: LDS, Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventist’s are the main targets. Yes, these groups have their problems, but I think as research shows, majority of the churches we see throughout Western Civilization are showing unhealthy practices which is leading to an exodus from the religious institutions. Alas, the great cult list continues.

With that being said, for all those religious/spiritual practitioners out there, what do we do with the other definition of cult: “great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work”. From the Christian perspective, isn’t this what we do with Jesus? Aren’t we in the end, a cult? I mean this is how we got our name in the first place, right? We were following The Way (what followers of Jesus called it) of Jesus and when other groups saw this, the cult name we were given was “Christian”. So, is this word/idea of cult the end-all of good and healthy religious practices?

Don’t think the religious/spiritual are the only group guilty of being cult-like. From Patriots and their civil duty to a person and idea, to the Scientist and her devotion to the work of the scientific method–all humans in one way or another practice cult-like behaviors to bring about “wellbeing and enjoyment” to their social structures. See, culture is always influencing how we as humans view the world. What culture is best? I don’t think that’s the question we should be asking ourselves.

We should realize that culture will always be part of the human experience. All of us will have our cult-like ways in how we move through this life. But the thing that still moves me to still participate in the way of Jesus is the realization that culture doesn’t always produce healthy, peaceful and loving outcomes. Injustices still are running amok throughout the world of cultures. The poor are still poor, the hungry are still hungry and the rich are still getting richer.

The violent cultures of Empire & Religion are still manipulating how all this social process works. These structures only want one thing: controlling power. This model will not bring justice, mercy, peace and love. What do we do as a society to change this culture? Well, tough to say. But I do believe Jesus showed us a way to develop a new process within our cultures: It is the powerless who act out of love in order to change the cult of culture (Mark 10:42). Let us be lovers who seek peacemaking; not haters who seek warmongering…

“Jesus was not killed by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion, which is always a deadly mix. Beware those who claim to know the mind of God and who are prepared to use force, if necessary, to make others conform. Beware those who cannot tell God’s will from their own. Temple police are always a bad sign. When chaplains start wearing guns and hanging out at the sheriff’s office, watch out. Someone is about to have no king but Caesar.”- Barbara Brown Taylor

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by Jim Gordon

When thinking about all that is going on today about gay rights and transgender rights, I have found that most of the time both groups are majorly discriminated against. Often it is christian people who do a lot of the discriminating.

Many christians seem to think it is best to come against these two groups as a way of showing that we are in favor of christian values and we take a stand for God. Personally, as a christian I think this is completely wrong and so against what Jesus taught and showed us in regard to how to treat people. He accepted and spent time with all kinds of people, mostly people who the religious crowd would not even talk to let alone spend time.

Why is it we think taking a stand against someone or something is the way to show true christian love and acceptance? Why is it in a world with so many diverse people and beliefs we feel the need to openly defend our way as if it is the only way?

As a christian I do believe in living for God and showing His love to everyone. That does not mean everything I do and believe is right. That does not mean other people and beliefs are wrong. No matter what we choose to believe or how we choose to live, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and accepted as is.

A good friend of mine is a firefighter and he shared a paragraph from an ethics class he recently attended. It reads: ‘Equal Services for All. Always ensure that the services you and your crew are providing are equal for everyone on the scene. Never discriminate because of race, color, religion, age, sex, or disability. If you become aware of another firefighter discriminating against someone, rectify the situation immediately and report it to your chief. Discrimination should never be tolerated’. To me this sounds more like it came from Jesus telling his followers how to treat others.

I believe that taking a stand for christian values should be positive not negative. It is not showing what we are against, being mean, condemning, unaccepting and discriminating. It is showing what we are for in Christ, being caring, kind, showing love and acceptance to everyone.

We certainly are not all going to agree on everything. We are all going to make our choices on what to believe and how to live based on what we feel is right or best for us. Yet in those differences there is no reason we cannot respect, accept and love each other knowing that God loves each and every one of us.

It is time to set aside our differences, set aside discrimination, set aside prejudices and doctrinal beliefs and show the love of God to everyone we meet.

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