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Archive for the ‘Love of God’ Category

by Jim Gordon

Continuing on the subject of church and abuse, we know many people have been abused and treated wrong within the system. Some more severe that others, but none of it is good.

I think one of the groups that seem to be affected most by this are those who are LGBTQ. I have seen this group of people treated rudely and like second class citizens in the church where they should find love and acceptance more than anywhere else. God said to love our neighbors, he did not say to love only those we agree with.

Even in the churches that are actually accepting, LGBTQ people are often not allowed to participate fully within the organization or hold certain positions.

GodsDoorsAreOpentoAll

Christian people will deny rights and services to LGBTQ people based on their christian beliefs and that even includes fellow christians who are LGBTQ. Even government office holders can refuse certain services and basically get away with it because they say it goes against their christian morals. As as christian I say these things should not be.

Labels are placed on many people, gay/straight, black/white, male/female, christian/atheist, American/foreign. Yet behind those labels are human beings who were created in the image of God. They are loved and accepted by God and we are told as followers of Christ we are to be known for our love for one another also.

I feel for those who are LGBTQ. It hurts to see people who were created and loved by God be rejected and abused by his followers. I think it is time to look past the labels, look past your personal feelings and accept people just the way they are….created and loved by God.

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by Jordan Hathcock
Guest Blogger

You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.

When it comes to the chaos in life, it’s hard to determine the best course of action. I mean, the “technology driven, non-stop on the go” culture we find ourselves in, who can blame us? It’s almost as if we arrived in a whole new terrain that only functions at warped speed. Where do we find the tools to assist us through the path that will lead us to healthy and liberating results?

Well, research is showing that this new technology-driven on the go lifestyle is having some unhealthy results. As, psychologist Dr. Stephanie Brown keenly points out:

Researchers note that this push for speed is changing the way people think. The need to be efficient and instant leads to a dumbing down of information intake so that people become scanners and “decoders” of information, cruising horizontally across the screen to pick up bytes, rather than delving towards a deeper understanding.

Maybe the biggest cost we’ve encountered already is the harm to human relationships. Instead of enhancing close bonds, technology has facilitated avoidance of direct person-to-person contact, which takes too much time. We maintain the illusion that we’re connected more closely than ever by the number of Facebook “likes” we accumulate. But it’s all fast, now, this instant. Everything is impulse. Our sense of connection exists in the action, not an accumulated, deepening experience.

Yikes! So, our relationships are unhealthily inauthentic and our capacity of obtaining information is declining! What are we to do? This mode of being is becoming more and more prevalent the more we succumb to the status quo. Does there need to be some type of revolt to end the madness?! Well, I think we have to really step back and ask ourselves “what really is important”? I know, to simple right? But I think this mind of contemplation is really key to getting us grounded back to a more healthy social atmosphere.

Look, we all have access to so much information at the tip of our fingers. It’s hard not to be addicted (yes I said it) to this extraordinary power! The thing we need to come to grasp with is that to really “connect”, we have to encounter flesh and blood relationships. This goes from the snip-its of information we obtain on Wikipedia–to our most avid “like” sessions on Facebook. There is nothing like the real McCoy.  True connection comes into full fruition when we stand face to face with either a real book (yes, try it sometimes) or a real person (I know it can be hard for us introverts). Actual contact matters! Lets get spiritual (within the material) here for a minute. When we understand that the true reality–Logos, the Christ–works through a “gathering” of people (Mat 18:20), we come to recognize the need for community.

Here is the paradox of this all.  I truly believe for us to come back to a more interrelated social structure, we first have to step back and center ourselves in the quietness of life.  The ever-present moment is calling us a species back to her folding arms. This reminds me of how surfers ride waves. Let’s see if this analogy works for you as it did for me (haha). As a rider of the waves myself (I just don’t like labels), I am constantly battling the on slot of the never-ending tide push of waves, when out paddling in the salty seas.  It is always seems that to really be present and ready for the ability to finally catch a wave, I first need to understand that this constant ripple of waves can be used as a very enjoyable ride of bliss.

It is a matter of practice and technique to finally find the perfect set, pass the break, to surf. See, there is a moment in all things of life where within the chaos, we can find a moment of mercy to go with it. In this, we discover a way that deeply matters and shapes us for the better. I can tell you first hand that there is nothing like starting your day off by catching an amazing wave of nature (yeah, I know, so cliché but I can give two shits hehe).

It reminds of this verse in Psalms:

Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.

Deep calls to deep! We have to awake to the things that matter in life. When the constant push of waves come over us, we have to learn to center ourselves back into the Divine Balance of the universe. When all else is spinning out of control, let us be reminded of Love and how it never fails to bring us home. Let us paddle with the waves of chaos and be energized by the ride that brings us to shore with mercy. Where we find people laying on the shores, enjoying the Sun of everlasting warmth, and laughing with others who are experiencing the stillness of life…

A healthy social life is found only when, in the mirror of each soul, the whole community finds its reflection, and when, in the whole community, the virtue of each one is living.

https://welcometothetablesite.wordpress.com/2019/04/19/waves-of-mercy/

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by Jim Gordon

Since doing the article on abuse in the church I have come across several people who have left the church system but not because of abuse. Unfortunately, abuse does happen and it is terrible especially within a place that should be known for its love.

Yet, even more than stories of abuse the one comment that seems to keep being said is that ‘I left because something just did not seem to be right. I felt there had to be more’.

I think this is a common feeling among those of us who have attended church for some time and have seen some things that just do not make sense. Sitting in a service once a week looking at the back of someone’s head does not make a lot of sense when in the bible we are told when we come together each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. Yet that does not happen. We all sit quietly listening to one person participate.

BetheChurch

God said he is building his Church from living stones, or in other words from us. Church is people. It is not a building nor an organization. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and if the Spirit of Christ lives within us, why are we just sitting letting only a few participate?

Many people are coming to the realization that the organization we know as church is flawed and not what God intended. We seem to be putting our focus on the pastor and the organization rather than emphasizing the Spirit of Christ who lives within us. We are to allow him to love others through us as we go about our daily lives. People are getting tired of just sitting along the sidelines when we can walk daily with the Spirit of Christ walking with us.

The Church that God is building is a living organism, many people making up one body under the headship of Christ. The church that many attend is an organization made of brick and mortar, doctrines and denominations and led by human beings. Many good things happen in the church building but the body of Christ is an active, living body where everyone has an equal part to play. Rather than attend a pre-planned service once a week we are to be living daily under the guidance of the Spirit. It is by his power from within that we can show the love of God to everyone we meet.

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by Jim Gordon

Have you been hurt by the church? Have you been abused within the church? I know many have and that is terrible, but there are many more who have not. My wife and I are a couple of the many who were never abused or hurt within the church but we still left. There are many of us who have left the system, not due to abuse or hurt but we have come to see the system as flawed. We have come to find a better way to express our love for God and for our fellow mankind. For us it is walking outside the walls of religion yet following the example of Jesus by loving God and loving people, all without an ulterior motive of getting people to church. Do you have a similar story? If so we would be glad to hear about your steps to leaving the system. Feel free to post your comments below.

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by Jim Gordon

So often when I mention that my wife and I have left the organized church, people assume something happened to hurt us or make us mad or we were abused in some way. Just to be clear on this subject neither one of us have ever been abused or hurt by the church. Neither one of us are mad about some event or some person at church. I know there are people who have had bad experiences which sometimes includes abuse and I think that is terrible. Fortunately for us that is not the case.

Today we seem to hear much about sexual abuse and the catholic church although this can happen in any church system. We hear of people in power within the system taking advantage of their members for various reasons. Fortunately this is not the norm in most churches but is a real and terrible thing that happens way to often.

I actually had some very good times while within the church system. I made many good friends, learned about God and his love for me and had many fun and enjoyable experiences with the people who were part of the church system.

It is certainly not out of abuse or being hurt that my wife and I decided to leave the system. After nearly sixty years in the organization and after the last fifteen of those years feeling that something is not right with the system, we made the decision to leave and follow Christ outside the walls of religion. To be clear, this was our decision and we certainly do not expect everyone to agree or do the same thing. Many people are part of the organized church who truly love God and want to serve Him. After all, the religious system we know as church is all we know.

We believe the Church is a community of people and not a building nor a service held one day each week with paid professionals leading the service. We believe the Church is each of us who follow Christ and see him as the head. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and each of us are equally functioning members making up his body.

WhatisChurch

We believe forsaking not the assembling of yourselves means we need one another. We live each day having fellowship with those God brings our way no matter where it happens. We never truly found real fellowship when we sat in an organized service for an hour looking at the back of the head of the person in front of us. We believe true fellowship is not just sitting together with other people in a room but it is daily loving, encouraging and praying for one another and meeting the needs of those we are able to help.

The temple in the Old Testament was only a shadow of what was to come in the New Testament. God now lives in us as his temple and he is our leader rather than another human being we call pastor. The only mediator between God and man was Jesus. He repaired the separation between God and man and we now have direct access to the Father without anyone in between. There is no hierarchy in the Church. Each of us are equally important parts of the body and able to teach, encourage, build up and pray for one another. It is truly a priesthood of all believers and not a one person show. Those with specific gifts for helping the Church are not better or more spiritual than the rest. They are brothers and sisters who walk along beside those who need encouragement. They are those who have learned a spiritual lesson and are there to help those who are still learning. They are servants among the body of Christ who are there to help and encourage.

So when I say that we have left the church it is only the building and organization I am talking about. We left not because we were mad, hurt or abused. We left because we believe the religious system most people call church is flawed and far from what God is building. He is building a group of people who will daily follow Him outside the walls of religion and organizations of men, loving God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind, loving their neighbor and accepting all they meet along the way.

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by Cindy Felkel, Guest Blogger

A friend sent me a picture (of a little boy praying in front of pictures of missing children) this past Sunday morning. When I saw the picture, I burst into tears.

See, all week, I’ve been processing information I heard at a seminar put on by the Underground of Ct., where they talked about the realities of domestic minor sex trafficking.

In this seminar, they covered statistics about how much it happens in Connecticut. One of the speakers drove home the point that the men who are paying tons of money to abuse youth in our neighborhoods are mostly middle class white married men with good jobs. They are our neighbors and leaders in our communities. They are hiding in plain sight because no one is suspicious of them.

Another speaker at this seminar was a survivor of sex trafficking. She spoke about the importance of being seen. She said that when she was trafficked, she only thought of herself as a body, an object to be used. It was being seen as a whole person of value that led her out of the abuse.

This beautiful young survivor sells t-shirts which say, “You are seen”.

With each t-shirt, she gives people a postcard which says, “Whether you got this t-shirt to remind yourself you are not alone, or to remind others, both are equally important. Darkness thrives in its ability to hide, but you have the ability to acknowledge that it has been seen and the power to not walk away. As a survivor of domestic minor sex trafficking, I wear this shirt in remembrance of one simple healing truth:

If there is only one thing you could offer someone in need, let it be your willingness to stay.

The glaring message that I walked away from this seminar with was the need to really see the people around me.

praying for missing children facebook

I also left with a nagging sense of the reality of how much the two biggest so- called Christian institutions in our country, the Catholic church and the Southern Baptist convention, have perpetuated systems of covering up abuse*.

The very next day, I read this quote from Brené Brown’s book Dare to LeadPerhaps the most devastating sign of a shame infestation is a cover-up. Cover-ups are perpetrated not only by the original actors, but by a culture of complicity and shame… When the culture of a corporation, nonprofit, university, government, CHURCH, sports program, school or family mandates that it is more important to protect the reputation of that system and those in power than it is to protect the human dignity of individuals or communities, you be certain of the following problems:

Shame is systemic
Complicity is part of the culture
Money and power trump ethics
Accountability is dead
Control and fear are management tools
And there’s a trail of devastation and pain”
pg 135

Sadly, this describes much of what has been happening in American church culture a little too well. I know so many of the stories of people who have been hurt. As sickening and devastating as those stories are, I also know that they represent only the tip of the iceberg.

It is no wonder we have a culture of middle-class white men committing unspeakable abuse against our children and supporting a $10.5 billion industry. When our church culture became about building the individual kingdoms of dynamic leaders, the religious culture of America made shame so much the norm that I doubt there is any life in America right not that has not been negatively impacted by it.

And those perpetrators? That’s totally a result of shame and inadequacy in their own lives. No one abuses others without dehumanizing them and without a need to use others to fill voids in their own lives. It’s a shame cycle that is devastating our country.

As I processed all of these things, I felt like I was almost in a state of shock. The reality of what was happening in our country,

Then, on Sunday, when my friend sent me that picture, I was also listening to a sermon by Andy Stanley where he said, “When what’s best for people is no longer what’s most important to you, you are at odds with God.”

As I sat there crying, ridiculously, it all came together for me.

If we don’t care about the healing of the individuals who have been abused by and because of church culture, and the shame culture so prevalent in America, I completely believe that we are at odds with God.

Our young people don’t need us to get better at sharing our theology or making sermons more attractive. They don’t even need us to pass more government programs or less or whatever politics you fool yourself into believing is going to change things. Nothing can bring people out of the darkness except seeing them.

They need to be seen. They need to be cared for.

That is the job of people who are following Jesus. That is what Jesus taught.

Forgive me for all the times I don’t see.

Blessings,

Cindy (rumandcolaforthesoul.com)

*I’m aware that there is abuse happening in other denominations and religions. I have only witnessed the abuse and heard the stories from these two cultures. I grew up going to Southern Baptist churches and I live in a predominately Catholic area. My adamant belief is based on anecdotal evidence and informal research into what others have written. However, I stand firm in that is obvious when leaders cover up abuse and allow victims to be shamed, the influence of the shame culture they model extends far beyond the incidents we hear about in the news. It impacts every person in that church and all the people the religious elite have labeled less important than their vision.

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by Jim Gordon

The Ten Commandments, tithing, church attendance, do this, avoid that….we Christians like to make things so much more difficult than God intended. We have the mentality that in order to be approved by God we need to obey the law and be busy doing good things for Him.

Galatians 2:16 and 20 make it plain that we are not justified by the works of the law. We are justified by faith in Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life here on earth. He lived up to the Law, the rules and regulations that God required for a person to be perfect. By doing so, when Christ died on the cross he was qualified to be the perfect sacrifice that would fulfill the law, forgive all sins and restore our fellowship with the God. When Jesus said it is finished he meant the old agreement was complete and done.

LoveFulfillstheLaw

We no longer live by the old covenant. We no longer need to mix old covenant law with new covenant grace. It cannot be done.

When Jesus died and rose again he restored our fellowship with God. We can have direct access to him without an intermediary. We were spiritually crucified with Him. We are now raised up as new creatures in Christ and live as the righteousness of God because of the free gift we received through Christ.

We no longer live according to the old covenant nor trying to live by the law. We are now free in Christ and we live each day by faith in Him. We live out of love for God because of the grace that was given to us by Christ. When we continue to try to follow the ten commandments and old testament law we are saying that the death of Jesus was not enough.

Enjoy the freedom we have because of Christ. Do not bind yourself to all the rules and requirements of the law. Live a life being free in Christ. Live out of love for God and enjoy daily fellowship with Him.

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Welcome. My blog is a place where readers will find writings of personal experiences, thoughts, and the peace that the Lord provides throughout my walk. I intend to bring inspiration and insight, as well as providing a very personal and transparent view into my life, in order to help others see their own lives in a different perspective. I strongly believe that we all need a different view at times, in order for our own personal growth to take place.

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