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Archive for the ‘Love of God’ Category

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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by Susan Adams
https://blog.gracepodcast.cafe/surveying-the-carnage/
https://gracepodcast.cafe/about-us/

I’ve been thinking a lot about the carnage that has come out of evangelicalism. More specifically, Reformed theology, Calvinism, the homeschooling movement, the purity culture, and complimentarianism.

Who has suffered the most?  I believe without hesitation, that the children raised in these systems have been and continue to be, its greatest casualties.  We continue to receive emails from parents who have been broken by the system and who have grown children who have walked away from the faith and sometimes into atheism or agnosticism. Some of these children cut their parents off for a season.  Some, permanently. It’s painful, but I think necessary for the child to figure out who they are apart from how they were raised.  Some feel as though they have been brain washed their whole lives.  And maybe so.  Did we present one set of beliefs and hold them hostage to those beliefs, living in fear that they would somehow be corrupted by the world or even worse, another church with different theology?

I’m thinking too of the many who homeschooled like we did.  Many believed they were raising up little warriors for God.  Girls were taught that their value before God hinged on their presenting themselves as virgins to a man.  And if they weren’t virgins on their wedding day, they were damaged goods, considered less than.  They were also taught that their entire identity as women was gauged by their constant submission to a man, regardless of how abusive the relationship might become. They were compelled to follow that man, helping him to achieve all of his hopes and dreams while she stayed home and had babies.  I’m not saying that staying home and having babies is bad, I’m thankful I was able to stay home with my children.  But what if I had a choice to pursue my dreams too?

So not only were they held hostage to our theology, but to our worldview and political agendas as well.  We presented a life and a God that fit neatly in a box. Our children lost their identity, if they had ever known it to begin with.  I see one of the biggest results of being raised like this is anxiety and sometimes depression along with it.  They don’t know who they are.  They don’t know what it’s like to be belong to something, only how to fit in so they can be accepted.

So they leave.  Leave the church and sometimes their families.  And many leave their faith and sometimes stop believing there’s a God.

I came from a broken home.  Deserted by my dad.  Raised by an abusive alcoholic.  I was a shattered human when I met Jesus.  So why was I able to have an adult relationship with my parents and care for them when they died?  What’s the difference?  Why are kids who were raised in homes where divorce didn’t happen, where mom stayed home to cook and clean for them and sometimes homeschooled them, walking away from it all?

So I think for me, even though I was abused as a child, often told I was worthless and would amount to nothing, when I met Jesus  He was presented to me as a Savior, not a judge.  Loving, not critical.  And so I experienced real healing and I understood real forgiveness.  I was not a disappointment to God.  So I had someone to go to after my abuse – Jesus. 

I think the difference is their perception of who God is.  From an early age these kids have had it drilled into their heads that God is a legalistic God who is easily offended, usually angry, disappointed, and vindictive.  And our children are taught to conform.  They are taught to drink the Kool-Aid  and if they don’t they are labeled as the rebellious ones.  The outsiders. The outcasts.  That’s a lot for children to grow up under.  That’s a lot of expectations put on the small shoulders of children.  They aren’t encouraged to find out who they are but instead told to be like those we want them to be like.

And let’s not forget that each child in our families is different,  unique in their temperaments and personalities.  That while some kids seemingly make it through and carry on the traditions, their siblings may have been crushed and broken under the weight of it all.  But when we say our children have walked away I believe you can never leave Jesus.  Nothing separates us from him.  He’s with them.  He’s got them.

When this generation of kids hit rock bottom, who do they run too?  The God they’ve been told about isn’t loving.  He’s disappointed in them. So they leave.  Leave it all.  You may be thinking this isn’t true.  This isn’t what was taught!  Until we’re willing to admit that this was the message caught nothing will change.  At some point we need to examine why this is happening in such large numbers.  I think we need to admit our culpability in this.

So what do we do now? How do we handle what’s happened to our children?  We love them.  We support them.  We give them space when they ask.  We respect their boundaries.  We be there for them when they come back.  We don’t expect this to happen fast. It may takes years but we love.  We pray they can see how kind and sweet Jesus is.  We don’t judge.  We don’t try and fix.  We just be there.  Accepting them as they are.  Just like Jesus did with me back when I first met him.  He continues to accept me just as I am.  No matter where they are, we love, we support and we respect their journey.

I regret ever having raised my children in religion.  I wish I would have looked at each one as the unique person they were created to be and encouraged them to live their lives.  I wish I would have never picked up a Christian parenting book or program where the only goal was to tame and train children to live in a box.  A box created by a religion of morality. 

When I was at my darkest  and I thought I had lost everything, a very wise friend said to me – “Just because its like this now, doesn’t mean this is what it will be like five years from now or even a year from now.” She was right.  So I encourage you to rest in the One who loves your children far more than you ever will or could.

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by Norm Mitchell, Guest Blogger
https://thewildfrontier.wordpress.com/

How is it that humans, who all have the same basic needs, can disagree so fiercely about what is right and what is wrong? It amazes me how different our opinions can be on what exactly constitutes right and wrong. And of course, we all are thoroughly convinced that we are correct.

We each think that we know what is right, yet in the defense of our beliefs, we have a tendency to be awfully vicious to each other. This is not new. Humans have done this from the beginning.

To be sure, there are those few out there who have wholly committed to doing evil—to hurting others for their own profit or pleasure. But probably more evil has been done by the rest of us in the name of good or in the name of God. This concept deserves some serious consideration, but I’ll save that for another time.

On the surface, we are all concerned about what is right, what is fair, and what is just. Yet when we try to nail down exactly which actions are good and which are bad, none of us agree.

Ironically, this is what started humanity down the violent course we are on. The problem is not that some people are good and some are evil. The problem is that in our efforts to define good and evil, we conceive evil.

So in the name of being pro-life, we deprecate those who are pro-abortion. In the name of women’s rights, we vilify those who are anti-abortion. In the name of Christianity, we disparage homosexuals. And in the name of gay rights, we malign those who think that homosexuality is unhealthy. We say that we are pro-tolerance—except toward the intolerant. And we say that it is wrong to oppress others—unless they are oppressors. And we’re anti-hate—except when we hate the haters.

And so the cycle of conflict twists and seethes in a downward spiral that threatens to suck us into an inescapable vortex of our own making.

So here’s the dilemma: two diametrically opposed concepts can’t be true under the same conditions at the same time. Homosexuality, abortion, oppression, social justice—these things can’t be both right and wrong at the same time. So who is right? And does it matter?

I would say that what is right does matter—who is right does not. The endless quarreling is convincing nobody. Those who have firmly held opinions about any given issue will not change their opinion simply because someone passionately disagrees with them. The arguing is unproductive and has become a wedge that is driving us further apart. So where does that leave us? We could continue to use the legal system to coerce others to behave the way we think they should behave and pray that dirty politics is the most devastating result of our conflict. But perhaps there’s a better way.

It seems to me that, when it comes to questions of morality, the better way is to seek the highest Good—that is, to seek God above all else. When we do that, we will be moving in the right direction. Does that guarantee that we will all agree on what is right and what is wrong?

Unfortunately, no, we still will not all agree. But even in our disagreement, if we are truly seeking God, we will begin to treat each other with love. We will never bridge the gap between us until we decide to love each other. We will never understand someone else’s opposing point of view until we see them through the lens of love.

Yet too often, we place conditions on love. (I’ll love you when you see abortion the way I see it. I’ll love you when you see women’s rights the way I see them.) The love must come first. Only when we choose to love others, regardless of their opinions, will we begin to understand them.

Choosing to love others does not mean that we have to compromise our beliefs. We do not have to do or support things that we believe are wrong. But we can still reach out in love to those who do not agree with us. Will everyone behave this way? Unfortunately, no. But those who follow Christ should lead by example in this matter.

Above all, we must love each other. Love will facilitate understanding, which will, in turn, further break down barriers. When we choose to love others regardless of their opposing viewpoints, we will discover that love is the mechanism that God has provided to help us transcend our differences.

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by Jim Gordon

I have been thinking about the way christians, atheists and LGBTQ treat each other. Certainly talking about this can easily upset a lot of people, especially christian people. Obviously this does not apply to everyone but the majority seem to fit.

I write from a christian perspective and I have many christian friends both LGBTQ and straight, along with several atheist friends and LGBTQ who are not christian. I do not want to sound like I am taking sides or condemning anyone.

What bothers me is the way many christian people have so much hatred and animosity toward atheists and those who are LGBTQ. When speaking about many christian people it seems they have feelings toward atheists and LGBTQ that are not very Christ-like. There are times I can hardly believe the words and actions of some christian people toward them.

Christianity is not a religion, it is people who believe in and follow Jesus. As followers of Jesus we want to live like him. Jesus was loving and kind to all people. Many people who call themselves christian are so far from following his example, especially when it comes to atheists and LGBTQ. Rather than being known for our love, some christians seem more like the pharisees of Jesus day. Pharisees were the religious leaders who Jesus would continually reprehend because they thought they were so much better than everyone else. Many christians nowadays see atheist and LGBTQ people as their enemy which is certainly not the case.

The fact is God loves all of us, and as his followers we are to do the same. Just because people do not all believe the same or act the same we all deserve to be loved and accepted as we are. God loved us as we are, even before we came to follow him. A lot of christian people tend to forget this fact.

I also see a lot of demeaning comments from several atheist and LGBTQ writers about christian people from time to time. Sometimes I wonder if it started because of the mean comments from christians, but I do not like to see such things from anyone. If we could just get past the labels people put on one another and see the human being, the person who wants the same things: acceptance, happiness and love, I think we could do much better at getting along even in our differences.

I know we are not all going to agree on things, although as christians we have the power through the spirit to love and accept all people no matter who they are or what they believe. As people of God, we are to be known for our love for one another. Many of us have a hard time loving not only those who think differently but even other christians who have different interpretations of the bible. Showing love is the way of Christ yet we seem so often to choose fighting, arguing and condemning.

We know that many will not change their mind and believe in God as we do. As christians, we want everyone to know and enjoy the love and acceptance of our Father. Yet we need to remember it is the Spirit, not us, who draws people to the Father, and it is through love rather than rule keeping and condemnation. Those who choose not to follow a christian belief still deserve our love and understanding even when we do not agree.

I think many times christian people are afraid to accept others who they feel are not of the faith because they feel it is denying their own faith. They feel accepting others in love is saying we are in agreement on everything, yet they think they should be pointing out what our differences are and leading them to a christian faith. My viewpoint is we should love and accept others as Christ did and leave any convicting or changing to the Holy Spirit. Those decisions will be between God and the individual.

Rather than condemning and avoiding those who are different than us, we should be willing to spend time getting to know, accept and understand them. We can talk and discuss our differences and learn from each other, yet without the expectation that we are going to change anyone.

Jesus told us to love God, love one another, love our neighbor and to love our enemies. He did not say we had to agree with everyone. He did not say we had to change everyone to believe like we do. We can all maintain our personal beliefs and still accept one another as human beings without the judgment and condemnation.

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by Jordan Hathcock

“When our institutions lack movement to propel them forward, the Spirit, I believe, simply moves around them, like a current flowing around a rock in a stream…without that soul work that teaches us to open our deepest selves to God and ground our souls in love, no movement will succeed and no institution will stand.”-Brian McLaren

It looks like we have come to the undeniable crosswords between the institutional church and the movements that have shifted forward. Ever since Jesus started a movement within the Jewish institution in Jerusalem 2,000 plus years ago, this “odd couples” relationship seemed doomed from the start. Both sides of the spectrum will have their reasons why one cannot work attached to the other. Do we have to let go of one to allow the other to flourish?

Without letting my bias opinion get in the way here, I would like to propose that both the institutional church and the movements that come out of it, can work together to bring about the shalom Christ attended all along. Unfortunately, when I hear some type of sympathy for the *Western* (just to get a little more specific) institutional church, I cringe! The numerous stories and historical proof of the pain and horrible damage the institutional church in the past two thousand plus years has done, it’s hard not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Here are just some reminders of what I am referring to:

– Religious wars

– Slavery

– Colonization

– Witch Trials/Burnings

– Racism

– Inquisitions

– Antisemitism

– LGBTQ+ inequality

– Nationalism

– Consumerism

– Environmental Destruction

This is just some of the systemic issues the institutional church has produced. How this has negatively affected groups, communities and individuals is catastrophic when comparing it to the Spirit of love and wholeness that the movement Jesus produced and represented. It’s more like we are participating in damage control instead of producing new ways to bring about healing and liberation.

What are we to do with this? Can we really see a healthy “marriage” between the institution and the movement? I believe we can. Here are some amazing examples of when the institution and movement worked together to bring about the kin-dom—God’s liberated, the liberation of God at work among people, the good news for those who suffer at the hands of kings–of love:

– Abolishment of Slavery– Although many Enlightenment philosophers opposed slavery, it was Christian activists, attracted by strong religious elements, who initiated and organized an abolitionist movement. [1]

– Civil Right Movement– Spearheaded by a Baptist minister, Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed that “any religion which professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the social and economic conditions that scar the soul, is a spirituality moribund religion.” [2]

– Hospitals and Hospice Movements- The second great sweep of medical history begins at the end of the fourth century, with the founding of the first Christian hospital at Caesarea in Cappadocia, and concludes at the end of the fourteenth century, with medicine well ensconced in the universities and in the public life of the emerging nations of Europe The first hospice was set up by Christian nuns in 1900 Ireland. [3]

These are just a few of the examples when people within the institutional church decide to take a stand and move toward compassion in action to ignite a shift towards peace and love. It has and can work. We are seeing several Christian Denominations (brick and mortar institutions) coming together to welcome and affirm the LGBTQ+ community into the church. We are seeing Christian clergy standing by the Black Lives Matter movement. Look, I know this relationship has a long way to go. But we cannot deny that by working together, we are seeing this partnership make a difference for the better.

In conclusion, let me just point out two verses from the Christian scriptures that Jesus, at first, seems to totally contradict himself:

“Believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Vs.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Not to get to long winded here but let me just point out that both statements from Jesus are true. Yes, it doesn’t matter if you worship (to adore) here or there (building or beach) because the church is not a building or a beach: it’s us! We are living stones building up the New Jerusalem that is coming down to our reality in the here and now.

We have resources that we all need to make this kingdom reality happen. This comes in all types of “institutional/movements” shapes and sizes. It comes in building funds so we can produce possible food shelters for the homeless. It comes sometimes just from those individuals own time and effort when standing with activists for social justice causes.

In the end, we are all human looking to bring about what we believe the True Human started over two millennials’ ago. We will always have the more conservative or liberal approach to the Christ-vision. Let’s trust that we will ALL listen to the call of honesty and authenticity in discovering the fruit of our vision in action…

“The movement we need is not like a wave whose incoming is inevitable and we just need to catch it. It’s more like a ship that can be built from available materials: if we catch the desire for adventure, get organized, and collect and fashion the materials, we can soon set sail.” [4]

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by Jordan Hathcock

“Non-Violence is one of the byproduct of “loving your enemies”

In the history of our American culture, the “Hero” motif has always captured our imaginations in the cinema world.  We love to see the good guys prevail and the bad guys lose.  It is just the dichotomy that we enjoy to see in the movies. Take for example the new film: Avengers: Endgame (amazing movie, I recommend it.) This is the ending to a twenty-two film and over a decade span, which stunning cinematic magic has brought the hero genre to the forefront of pop culture.

Now, I get it. Bringing these cherished comic book characters to life has definitely sparked the familiar essence of good vs. evil–which has been imbedded in us as a species, since the beginning.  Evil must be defeated for the good to survive and thrive. But, is the only way to destroy evil by violence?

As I mentioned in a previous post, the use of violence to prevent violence just doesn’t work. As participants of the way of Christ, the use of violence is antithetical to what Jesus taught and died for. It is really a tough pill for our American way of life to swallow. Human history is soaked in the violent-blood of Cain instead of the enemy-loving blood of Christ. I get it. We all want to survive and not be destroyed and wiped out. But, are we willing to really believe in resurrection? Are we trusting on a death that leads to life?

We “Christians” have taken the violence a little further along in the spiritual evolution of Cain to following the blood of Abel. It’s vengeance instead of just all out violence. Theologian Michael Hardin points out why we do the Eucharist for this very reason:

“How many times have you read in a news report about someone being killed and the family calling for justice? How many times have you read or heard others say that someone who committed a criminal act ‘got what they deserved?’ Retaliation, eye for eye, lex talionis, is the way we humans do justice. This is the voice of Abel crying out from the ground for vengeance. “Cain bombed my city and killed innocent me, O God, now kill him to balance the books of the universe.” We hear this voice in many of the Psalms where the singer, who is persecuted, cries out for revenge.

Yet, when we take the cup to drink the blood of our Victim, Jesus, Son of God, True Human, Lord of the Universe, is it revenge we hear? No, it is the cup of forgiveness. In his blood we find only forgiveness. There is no hint of revenge either now or in the future. All revenge or retaliation by God is forever forsworn. As the writer to Hebrews says, “Jesus’ blood speaks a better word than that of Abel’s.” Jesus blood does not cry out for justice, his blood cries out for mercy”.

Beautiful! Mercy and forgiveness is what this new creation in The Universal Christ is all about! This is what stops evil. When we let go of the violence of Cain and the vengeance of Abel, we step into the flow of love that Christ showed on the cross: Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing. What a profound statement and a whole new way of interacting with our so-called “enemies”. If the cross shows us anything about God, it’s revealing how God reacts to enemy violence: LOVE.

Yes. It’s love that defeats evil. This love is a non-violent resister to the principalities and powers of darkness that come about when we think violence solves the issue. We must come to grasp to the reality of the Spirit that always loves–brings joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is a meaningful trajectory to this way of enemy-forgiving love.

This changes the whole concept of hero. The hero of the story is always the enemy-loving symbol of forgiveness not revenge. We are not here to survive but to thrive. Look, violent marvel hero movies always tickles my fancy (along with the rest of the western world). I am not trying to stop you from going to the movies for God sakes. All I’m pointing out is to truly be the hero who saves the day, it comes by non-violence. Let us be Forgivers that bring new life, not Avengers that end it…

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

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by Jim Gordon

I am certainly no expert on LGBTQ issues but I am one who cares for LGBTQ people. I have seen so much abuse, hatred and discrimination by others, especially by other christian people against LGBTQ. I have seen them treated like second class citizens or worse. I have to say these things should not be.

LGBTQ is a label. We all have some type of label. There is the label of black or white, male or female, gay or straight, American or foreign, christian or atheist. We need to remember that behind the labels are human beings who were created in the image of God.

LoveOneAnotherheart

Why is it we cannot see the human being being the labels? Why do christian people, who are to be known for their love for God and for people seem to be the ones who all to often are the main offenders?

I understand the misunderstandings and the personal views. We are never going to have people agree on everything. But because we have disagreements and differences in opinions there is no cause to show hatred, discrimination and condemnation.

For those who are gay I am sure you do not quite understand how people of the opposite sex can have an attraction and romantic relationship. Just the same, those of us who are straight cannot understand how people of the same sex can have an attraction and romantic relationship. Yet because we are straight or gay and cannot understand the other, there is no reason for the hatred that is shown. There is no reason that each should not be treated fairly and with equal rights. We are all human beings.

As christians, whether gay or straight we are to be known for our love. Even in differences of opinion we are still to treat one another with kindness, love and acceptance. Even when we do not agree with the actions of others we still act in love. Put your prejudices aside, put your personal opinions aside and let the love of God flow through you to be loving and kind to everyone. God loves each of us, he created us and wants the best for each of us.

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