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By Mike Edwards

Many Christians assume the Bible teaches we must forgive without any expectations. The Bible can also be used to claim repentance is required. God does not forgive the rebellious (Josh. 24:19); “… if they repent forgive them” (Lk. 17:3). The Bible wasn’t meant to be a rules book to advise what every individual should do in their circumstances. “Turn the other cheek” is not meant for a domestic victim. One is free to forgive without expectations, but you have come to the right blog if a victim and you think certain expectations are important before forgiving a person.

Doesn’t God expect genuine forgiveness before getting into Heaven?

Many defend that the Bible claims you must always forgive no matter the circumstances. But those who defend easy forgiveness would not agree God forgives without acknowledging any wrongdoing. They would suggest you can’t enter Heaven without seeking forgiveness from God. The assumption is God expects and can discern if you are being genuine in repenting. Maybe even God has certain conditions or expectations if seeking forgiveness. Aren’t we supposed to imitate God?

I am suspicious of those that “just want to move on” 

A bully or abuser who doesn’t acknowledge their behaviors and just wants to move on is suspect. I have hurt others to know how I should go about asking for forgiveness. It isn’t about my feelings but the victim’s feelings. I don’t know why some guilty folks focus on their expectations and not their victim’s. The guilty obviously know they have done something wrong if asking for forgiveness. Those refusing to wrestle with expectations communicated by victims don’t acknowledge the seriousness of their actions. The innocent decides next steps and if a future relationship is possible.

Wrongdoing must be recognized 

If one is not held accountable for their wrongdoing, might they just do it again? Quick or easy forgiveness can allow a husband’s abusive behavior to continue. When a sexual abuser doesn’t openly acknowledge their actions, will they continue to abuse others? The guilty need to stop with excuses or blaming others. Those with the same upbringing or circumstances don’t always mistreat others. The guilty must take responsibility and accept steps a victim wants taken next. 

Restitution isn’t always possible 

Bad memories can’t be erased; positive memories robbed by the guilty can’t be restored. This is why certain relationships cannot always continue.  Those that have hurt others are not in a position to insist on a future relationship. When restitution is possible, discussions are necessary unless the guilty aren’t really sorry. 

To forgive or not!

In my mind forgiveness isn’t really a discussion until the guilty acknowledge they need forgiveness. But for some forgiving despite lack of remorse can control bitterness. For others to forgive despite lack of remorse can cause feelings of further victimization and bitterness. We must stop guilting victims, according to the Bible, to forgive their violator no matter what. Those hurt must seek the mind of God what actions in relationship difficulties lead to your best interest in the long run in a world full of disappointments. You may discover God is emphatic!

Should We Forgive Others Without Expectations?

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

It is hard to believe we still need to mention this issue. Women deserve equal treatment and equal rights just like any other human being. It is hard to believe that only a few years ago women could not vote, hold certain jobs or do many day-to-day things that men were doing. Women were to have their place in the family, and they were not to step outside that role.

As we look back over history, we see women have always struggled. They were looked upon as property back in biblical days and had no say in anything. Even today in some middle eastern countries, women are treated as property rather than as human beings.

Speaking of biblical times, it seems to me at least Jesus treated women on an equal basis with men. We often read that he spoke with women, respected and cared for women and had many friends that were women. That was unheard of in those times. We read of many women who supported Jesus and were part of his ministry. Yet today it is still common for women to be rejected for ministry such as being pastors or church leaders.

So often, especially in religious circles, women are treated as second class citizens and as being unequal with men. They are supposed to wear certain kinds of clothes, they are supposed to stay in the home and raise kids or only work certain kinds of jobs. Fortunately, things have been changing, but there is still a long way to go.

It is sad to hear of women being abused by their husbands. This should not be. Husbands are told to love their wife as they love their own body. Husbands and wives, or any marriage partner, should be treated as equals and with love and respect. For those who are abused, I feel it is best they leave the situation and move on. Even though the bible talks about divorce, I do not believe God intends for women to stay in abusive relationships.

I remember growing up and getting my first job, it amazed me when I learned that women received less pay for doing the same job as me. I could not figure out why that was the case.

In the years I worked as a firefighter, I saw more fairness and equal treatment than I did in my first job or within the church. The position of firefighter received a certain pay and it was the same if the position was filled by a man, a woman, someone who was black or white, gay or straight. And as firefighters we gave the same equal service to all human beings no matter who they were.

I hear complaints about women’s lib, equal rights and feminism from time to time and it makes me mad. Why do so many of us men think women are not as capable as us? I believe women are just as smart, strong, capable and able to do anything they desire. I believe what a person does in life depends on their qualities, training, capabilities and desires and not on whether they are male or female.

I believe all human beings have the same ability to accomplish the desires God put within them. Men and women have differences in that it takes both to create a new life, yet other than that, we are all basically the same and are deserving of equal treatment, equal rights and equal pay.

In Galatians 3:28 it is mentioned that there is neither male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is not to take away the importance of men or women, but to say we are all human beings, equally important and loved by God.

I pray that we come to fully accept and appreciate women as equal human beings. It is time discrimination and unfair treatment of women, or any human being comes to an end. It is time we realize that women, as well as all people, are loved and accepted by God equally.

***

Michael Donahoe was added as a writer as his views fit perfectly with those of Done with Religion. He also writes on Substack at https://myopinionblog.substack.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 Jim Gordon

I grew up in the institutional church and was always of the persuasion that being gay was a sin. I felt that since I was pretty open by saying I hated the sin but loved the sinner, I was doing better than most. Yet, either way I was saying being gay was a sin.

I never treated those who were gay in a bad way. I never treated any of my friends or relatives who were gay any different than I treated anyone else. I saw them as normal everyday people, except for a great sin in their life.

Things changed on this subject, and amazingly it was after leaving the institutional church. I started to see that God loves people, all people. There was no ‘I love you but’ when it came to God. I started to read some on the subject (something I never dreamed of doing before). I read Justin Lee and Matthew Vines. I really thought about a God of love and how could that God condemn people for the way he made them.

I finally began to see those who are LGBTQ for who they really are….people, normal, everyday people. Take away the labels and you have human beings like everyone else. Just because they were born with different sexual views does not make them second class citizens and does not make them deserving of the awful ways they are treated, especially by the christian world. They are doing nothing more than being themselves the way God made them.

Today I have a special sense of wanting to show those who are LGBTQ that all straight people who call themselves christian are not the same. I want to help promote information and acceptance between straight christian people and those who are LGBTQ, whether christian or not. I can no longer say I believe being gay is a sin. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding and misinterpretation by the church and evangelical christians.

I recently read a book by Amber Cantorna called Refocusing My Family. It is such an interesting read, telling of her questions, struggles and hardships in her walk with God and her family. Her traditional christian upbringing and her dad being an employee of Focus on the Family made it extremely hard on her when she came out as gay. What terrible struggles and treatment she received. It is so hard for me to understand how parents can disown their children, yet I know it happens all the time.

I also believe that christians who still believe being gay is wrong are handling it all wrong. Whether you agree or disagree, our instructions from Jesus are to love God, love our neighbor and love one another. We are to love, not judge and condemn. I have read so many articles about the abuse the gay community takes: beatings, exclusion, disowned by their family, suicides…it is terrible. No matter what stand we take on the issue we are not to judge and condemn. As followers of Christ, we are to be known for our love and for treating everyone equally.

I personally am tired of the way the christian church has treated those who are LGBTQ. Whether they agree or disagree they should be treating everyone with love. For me, I have concluded that being gay is not a sin and I fully love and accept all people just as they are. I hope I can show that love and acceptance to others in some way.

I am tired of seeing the abuse, the exclusion and the discrimination against those who are LGBTQ. I pray that I can be a help by showing love and acceptance to those I meet who are LGBTQ and letting them know they are loved just as they are.

Following are a few good books I have read on the subject with links to Amazon:

** Is God a Gay Basher by Jan Liebegott

** God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines

** Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee

** Unashamed: A Coming Out Guide for LGBTQ Christians by Amber Cantorna

** UnClobber: Rethinking Our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality by Colby Martin

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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See the Human Being

by Jim Gordon

I think that as followers of Christ, we should be able to accept and love everyone. No matter what we believe, what our faith or doctrine is, no matter our religion, nationality, sexual preference or color, we should see each other as Jesus sees us.

Jesus said to love God, love your enemies, love the brethren, love your neighbor….basically, love others. This is a type of love we cannot do on our own. It is only possible by the love of God within us.

We want to love, accept and care for people, yet it is only natural that we will not always agree with one another. We need to look past those areas of disagreement and love each other in Christ. This seems to be the way that others will come to see the love of God, not through condemning and bashing one another. Not in trying to prove we are right and everyone else is wrong. Love does not mean seeing eye-to-eye, it does not mean we agree or even like some of the things people do. It does mean we look past the differences and love each other as Christ loves us.

No matter if we are gay/straight, religious/atheist, American/foreign, whatever label people put on us, the underlying fact is we are all human beings. We all deserve to be treated with respect and be accepted. Each of us should be able to live our life and make our own choices without being judged and condemned by others. We should be able to discuss our differences respectfully, and none of us should try to force our views and choices on others.

How good it would be if we could look past the labels and see each other as people who overall want the same things: to be happy, to be loved, be healthy, get our bills paid and enjoy life. This is not to say we are going to agree with everyone, always associate with everyone and be happy together, that just is not going to happen. There are too many different thoughts, ideas, beliefs, lifestyles and personalities for us to agree on everything and be totally comfortable with everyone. Yet, by the power of the Spirit within us, accepting each other and respecting each other in spite of our differences certainly is a possibility.

Let’s look past the labels and see each other as human beings who have feelings, who want love and friendship. Let’s be people who can get to know one another, learn from one another, share thoughts and ideas with each other. Let’s accept the idea that we all have been created in the image of God.

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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Or Is There a Better Way?

by Jim Gordon

white book page
Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

We who are part of the Christian faith have a lot of terminology we use, but often do not think about the real meaning. Rather than continue to use some of these phrases, we should stop and think about what we really mean.

If you have been around church very long, one such phrase you have probably heard is we want to live a ‘biblical life’ or ‘we are a biblical church’. At first this sounds good and spiritual, but after thinking about it a little, these are a couple of the phrases we may want to reconsider.

What Do We Mean by Biblical Living?

The Bible can be very confusing and sometimes mentions ways of life that do not seem very Christ-like. Biblical living can also seem very different from the life of Jesus. By biblical living, I am talking about reading the Bible with the thought that every written word is literal, inerrant and directly from the hand of God, no questions asked. It also means we read the Bible based on modern times and do not take into effect that customs, words and times have changed over the centuries.

Biblical living often means we follow a pastor who we look to as a middle man or woman between God and us. We take the pastor’s interpretations and views without really thinking for ourselves.

Biblical living has led to slavery, murder, the dark ages, witch hunts, the crusades and various forms of hatred, exclusion and discrimination.

Biblical living can vary according to church doctrine and personal interpretation, which has led to thousands of different denominations. This of course leads to division among the brethren.

Organizations such as the KKK came into being, with its hatred and discrimination against people of color partly due to what was read in the Bible. Some information on the KKK and Christianity was listed at gotquestions.org and you can read about it at this link.

Another issue that can be found in the Bible is the acceptance of slavery. Christianity Today ran an article discussing slavery which can be read at this link.

Living a biblical life can easily lead to discrimination against women. Women were considered property in the middle east and had no individual rights. Even in our world today, at one-point women did not have the rights that men had, and still endure many inequalities to this day.

grayscale photo of group of people performing rally on street
Photo by Giacomo Ferroni on Unsplash

Biblical living required that a woman caught in adultery be stoned.

Biblical living required a woman who was not a virgin on her wedding night to be executed.

Biblical living can lead to the killing of children. We read passages about how children should be killed for doing certain things, such as in Leviticus where it is written that if a child is rebellious, he should be stoned.

Biblical living required people abstain from certain foods and fabrics, it restricted what people could do on certain days and a host of other rules and laws.

There are passages that condone having multiple wives, restrict women from teaching in the institutional church and that discriminate against those who are LGBTQ.

Clearly, biblical living can take effort on our part in trying to interpret and follow each Bible verse literally. Of course, the problem is which interpretation or which doctrine do we determine to be the correct one?

Biblical Living Seems So Hateful

So often the religious world seems to be so hateful toward those who are different. Religion says do not associate or accept those that do not agree or measure up; stay away from those who are sinful and unworthy.

We often read that God told the Israelites to completely wipe out and destroy certain groups of people due to the way they acted or believed.

I personally think God is highly misrepresented in the Bible, especially the Old Testament. I think many times when men wrote that God said this or that, it was more of what they wanted to do rather than God actually telling them to do such horrible acts. They would do what they wanted, then say God told them to do it.

Should We Disregard the Bible

By saying all this, does that mean the Bible is not important? Should we ignore it and stop reading it? Of course not. The Bible is inspired and written by men who experienced God and walked with Jesus. The Holy Spirit can enlighten the words written and can lead us to the Living Word of God who is Jesus. The Bible is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness.

The problem is when we elevate the Bible to being equal to God or make it more important than the Spirit who lives within us. Many people seem to think of the trinity as the Father, Son and Holy Bible.

When we think about all the killing, discrimination and injustices that are done based on people’s interpretation of the Bible, we should begin to question why this is. Could it be that biblical living really is not what we want? I believe there is a better way of living our lives for God, and that is Christ-like living.

What is Christ-like Living?

Christ-like living is following the example of Jesus. We can find out how Jesus lived and treated people as we read the gospels in the Bible. Rather than living by man’s doctrine and interpretations, or by exact adherence to biblical verses, we look to the Holy Spirit who lives within us. The Bible can be very helpful in how we live and how we love God and others when the Spirit reveals the truth to us.

love one another chalk written on concrete floor
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

We know that Christ-like living showed mercy and grace to the woman caught in adultery. We also know that Jesus did not ignore or look down upon women. He associated with them and treated them as equals.

We know that Christ-like living did not murder.

We know that Christ-like living provides freedom.

We know that Christ-like living does not judge, condemn, discriminate nor exclude.

In direct opposition to biblical living, Christ-like living puts all the effort on Christ. Jesus said to take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.

We do not hear very much taught about the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus seems to contradict many of the biblical sayings during this teaching. Jesus often said ‘you have heard that it was said this or that, but I tell you this’. Jesus was saying the he had authority over the written word. Of course, we know from John 1:1 and 1:14 that Jesus is the Word of God. The Bible is a written account about God, but does not have the power and authority of Jesus who is the Word of God.

In his article, Why You Should Run from “Bible Believing Churches”, Adam Ericksen states the following:

The Bible contains human testimony about how God works in the world, but it is not God’s inerrant Word. The Bible points beyond itself to God, and in the New Testament, to the God revealed in Jesus. The Bible even claims that Jesus is the Word of God, not the Bible itself.

Jesus warned people about elevating the Bible above himself. “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

In Conclusion

Jesus came into the world for the purpose of showing us what God is really like. The way Jesus lived seems like such a contradiction to some of the ways of biblical living we see in our world. Jesus showed us that God is love by the way he loved and accepted people. The same people that many in the religious world condemned, would not associate with and found completely unworthy to be loved.

Christ-like living is based on love. Jesus said to love God and love one another. Since we have the Spirit of God living within us, we know we can act from love in how we treat one another.

In Christ, we can be free from biblical living to live a Christ-like life because of the grace of God. We do this by following the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within us.

Christ-like living is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This is certainly a better way to live and follow Jesus compared to some of the biblical ways we have been taught.

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 Jim Gordon

It is hard to believe we need to even ask this question. Women deserve equal treatment and equal rights just like any other human being. It is hard to believe that only a few years ago women could not vote, hold certain jobs or do many day-to-day things that men were doing. Women were to have their place in the family, and they were not to step outside that role.

As we look back over history, we see women have always struggled. They were looked upon as property back in biblical days and had no say in anything. Even today in some middle eastern countries, women are treated as property rather than as human beings.

Speaking of biblical times, it seems to me at least Jesus treated women on an equal basis with men. We often read that he spoke with women, respected and cared for women and had many friends that were women. That was unheard of in those times. We read of many women who supported Jesus and were part of his ministry. Yet today it is still common for women to be rejected for ministry such as being pastors or church leaders.

So often, especially in religious circles, women are treated as second class citizens and as being unequal with men. They are supposed to wear certain kinds of clothes, they are supposed to stay in the home and raise kids or only work certain kinds of jobs. Fortunately, things have been changing but there is still a long way to go.

It is sad to hear of women being abused by their husbands. This should not be. Husbands are told to love their wife as they love their own body. Husbands and wives, or any marriage partner, should be treated as equals and with love and respect. For those who are abused, I feel it is best they leave the situation and move on. Even though the bible talks about divorce, I do not believe God intends for women to stay in abusive relationships.

I remember growing up and getting my first job. I was amazed when I learned that I got paid a certain amount for my job, but later found out that a woman doing the same job got less pay. I could not figure out why that was the case.

In the years I worked as a firefighter, I saw more fairness and equal treatment than I did in my first job or within the church. The position of firefighter received a certain pay and it was the same if the position was filled by a man, a woman, someone who was black or white, gay or straight. And as firefighters we gave the same equal service to all human beings no matter who they were.

I hear complaints about women’s lib, equal rights and feminism from time to time and it makes me mad. Why do so many of us men think women are not as capable as us? I believe women are just as smart, strong, capable and able to do anything they desire. I believe what a person does in life depends on their qualities, training, capabilities and desires and not on whether they are male or female.

I believe all human beings have the same ability to accomplish the desires God put within them. Men and women have differences in that it takes both to create a new life, yet other than that, we are all basically the same and are deserving of equal treatment, equal rights and equal pay.

In Galatians 3:28 it is mentioned that there is neither male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is not to take away the importance of men or women, but to say we are all human beings, equally important and loved by God.

I pray that we come to fully accept and appreciate women as equal human beings. It is time discrimination and unfair treatment of women, or any human being comes to an end. It is time we realize that women, as well as all people, are loved and accepted by God and we all are to love one another.

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

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It May Be Better to be Known for What They are For

by Jim Gordon

It seems that many Christian people are more known for what they are against rather than the good things of God they are for.

I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I do not want to be known as someone who is always against something. Whatever that may be, against this sin or that sin, this group or that group, against a particular denomination or Bible version, all the different ideas and subjects we can come up with that end up taking away our main focus, our love for Christ.

Be Known for Love

Jesus told us in the New Covenant that His commands were to love God and love others. We do not have to agree with everyone to love them. We obviously all have our convictions of right and wrong, yet we do not have to focus on those convictions or try to prove our reasoning to others. We are told to love others no matter what. We are not responsible for converting people, that is the Spirit’s job. We are told to love them.

When Jesus walked the earth, He did not spend a lot of time with the religious people. He was out with the sick, despised, neglected, and sinners of the day. Those who the religious people would not want to be around.

Obviously, God calls us to follow Him and that is going to be in different ways for each of us. Yet to spend more time arguing, condemning, trying to prove our interpretations of the Bible, pointing out people’s mistakes and shortcomings, does not help promote showing the love of God to others.

The Grace of Christ

When we begin to understand the freedom we have in Christ, and start living through grace that Christ provided, we can be free to love and accept all those we come in contact with each day. We can show them the love of Christ by allowing the Spirit to live through us.

We do not need to worry so much about who is right and who is wrong. Remember, do not always be against something. Be for Jesus. Be for love. Be for following Jesus daily by loving God and loving one another. Let Him be the central focus of your life and allow His love to flow out of you and touch those around you.

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 Jim Gordon

As a follower of Christ, I feel a great importance in treating all people kindly, fairly and with respect. We are told that as his followers we will be known by our love, not only for one another but for all people.

Unfortunately, I do not see a lot of this sentiment in our christian world today. So many of us would rather condemn, argue and stand our ground for our particular doctrine, interpretation or denomination.

When reading about the life of Jesus while on earth, I see a person who loved his Father and loved people. He went about treating all people with love and respect. When people were brought to him doing something questionable, he told them to go and sin no more, but he never condemned or made anyone feel like a person of lower degree. He never said because you have done this or that I want nothing to do with you. He loved them no matter what.

As I mentioned in my last article, my chosen profession was firefighting. As I think about this line of work I see it as more like true Christianity should be.

Firefighterpledge

As firefighters we treat all people the same. It makes no difference whether we are treating male or female, rich or poor, white or black, religious or atheist, gay or straight. We do not differentiate between Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Taoism or Christian. It makes no difference if you are American, European, African, Middle Eastern or Asian. All people are treated the same no matter who they are, what they believe or how they live.

To me this is the way we Christian people should live each day. Treating others with equality, respect, kindness and with the love of God. We will not always agree on things but living this way will have more of an impact on others and will show the love of God in action.

I always wonder how the church world can be so mean, how it can separate itself so much from those who see things differently. How can we, who profess to follow a loving God treat people with such disrespect? Why is it that most of the time, christian people are known more for what they are against rather than for the love they are to show to all people.

I feel it is time that we Christian people take on a firefighter mentality in the way we treat others, showing love and respect to all people. Rather than fight and argue it is time we help lift up, encourage and be respectful to everyone we meet along this journey through life.

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 Jim Gordon

This article focuses more on those of us who are, let’s say a little further along in life. Most people have a dream, something they want to do or want to become. Most often, this is in regard to some type of a job or career.

I certainly had a dream, and it started when I was ten years old. I wanted to be a firefighter. A lot of young kids have that dream, but I never lost interest in pursuing that dream.

I can remember the excitement I felt just thinking about one day doing this job. My heart would pound when I saw a fire truck going down the street with its lights flashing and siren blaring.

Over the next many years, I would dream about being a firefighter. I would read about it, watch TV shows about it, think about it, prepare and study. I constantly visited different fire houses and talked with the guys actually doing the job. Once I was old enough to do something about my dream, for various reasons it just never seemed to work out, at least not when I wanted it to become a reality.

When I was eighteen, there was a height and weight requirement for the job, and I was always underweight (wish I still had that problem). I could not do anything to gain enough weight to qualify for the testing process.

I ended up taking a job that I had never thought about or wanted to do, but since I needed to work, I took it. Not long afterward I got married and in time had a couple children. At that point, I could not afford to make a job change even though the height and weight requirements for the job were dropped. Yet after all this, my dream continued and I could not get the desire and the excitement of the job out of my mind.

Fortunately, when changes were made to the hiring process, the age requirement was dropped also. Finally, even though I was into my forties, I finally made the decision to give it a try. I was extremely fortunate to have a wife who knew how bad I wanted this job and who was willing to do whatever it took to help me and to keep the family finances in decent shape.

So, after all the years of dreaming, preparing, studying, taking tests and physicals and waiting, I finally got the job I had dreamed about for so long. Once actually on the department, I absolutely loved it. I am one of the lucky ones who actually got to live their dream job.

Now the issue was that since I started later in life, when I turned sixty-five years old, I knew it was time to retire. I had fulfilled my dream and loved doing it, but now I was ready for the next chapter in my life.

I certainly have not regretted leaving my dream job at all. I was blessed by God to get to fulfill it and I was blessed to have a wife who supported and encouraged me throughout the process and the job. But now I was ready to enjoy life outside of work.

Of course, this left the question of ‘now what’? After all the years of dreaming, preparing, studying, testing, day-dreaming about a job, then doing the job, it was over. So now what do I do after the dream is over?

At first, it can be quite confusing about what to do and how to handle this change. After having a specific identify for many years, then all of a sudden it is gone, it can take some time to adjust back into normal life. Then once you do, you wonder what can you do after you have fulfilled your dream.

The good thing is that it does not take long to start enjoying a life of no schedules, a life of never missing a family event again, a life of spending quantity and quality time with your spouse. Once you get into the groove of daily life outside of work, there are still plenty of things to do to enjoy life and fulfill a sense of purpose.

There are all types of hobbies, volunteer work, there is plenty of time to spend with kids and grandkids, there are plenty of parttime jobs out there, and for us, there is plenty of time to travel and see some places we have always dreamed about seeing.

So maybe the main dream is over in regard to a career, but there are plenty of other dreams out there just waiting to be fulfilled. The thing we need to remember is do not give up. Do not just sit day after day thinking there is nothing more to do. Focus on some of the other things you always would have liked to do if you just had the time.

I truly believe no matter what our age, God has a purpose for us to fulfill. We can do things that will bring us joy and give us purpose, and can also bring joy and be a help and encouragement to others. It is never to late. After the dream is over you can focus on the next dream to look forward to fulfilling.

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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