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by Jim Gordon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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by Jim Gordon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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by Jim Gordon

We often talk about being like Jesus, or living a Christ-like life. What does that really entail?

My first thought is being like Jesus does not necessarily mean imitating Jesus. I think that is something that is close but a little different. Imitating, according to the dictionary means to mimic; impersonate; to make a copy of; to have or assume the appearance of. Some of this can be understood to be good, but I feel it takes away from our own identity and the way we were made as individuals.

I do not think being Christ-like means we are going to do everything we read in the gospels just like Jesus. It may mean we do things that are not popular or accepted by everyone, but we do them as the Spirit leads us, not because we are imitating exactly what Jesus did.

Most of us probably will not go to a Jewish synagogue and overturn tables. We may not walk all over the country healing people and raising the dead. We may never face being stoned and we may not have to deal directly with the spiritual or political leaders of our day.

What it might mean is, some of us may leave the church system because it is man-controlled with its doctrines and various interpretations of the bible. This will cause us to walk in the wilderness outside the walls of religion. It may mean being shunned by those still within the system. Yet we still have the Spirit living within us and who will never leave us.

Some of us may disassociate ourselves from politics. In the U.S.A. many people think being christian means being republican. Jesus did not seem to associate himself with any political party of his time. He respected them by saying give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. Yet, Jesus goals and purposes were far beyond anything political.

Some may join an LGBTQ organization to show support, or work with race, gender or nationality relations. It may mean participating with and helping people that others would rather ignore. We want to help provide understanding and acceptance among people no matter what label they wear. Doing so may be misunderstood by others and may cause us to be cut off from friends or family who see things differently.

No matter how the Spirit leads us, I believe being like Jesus will be going about the Father’s business. That is to show love and not judgment and condemnation. It is encouraging, loving, building up and accepting people just as they are. Jesus came to our world to show us that God is not a God of hate, condemnation, murder and exclusiveness. God is love and a god of acceptance, inclusiveness and a god that walks side by side with us through everything we go through in this world.

We are all different. We each have our own personality, interests and special ways of living life. I think being like Jesus will be different as God works in the uniqueness of us. Being like Jesus will be different things to different people, but it will all be done by following the Spirit of Christ from within us. It will be a life of love for God and love for people each and every day.

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by Jordan Hathcock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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by Jim Gordon

I grew up in the institutional church and was always of the persuasion that being gay was a sin. I felt I was pretty open since 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….but with 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 the LGBTQ community for who they really are….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 seem to have a special sense of wanting to show those who are LGBTQ that all christian people are not the same. I want to help promote information and acceptance between christians and those who are LGBTQ (1). I know many who are LGBTQ (a few personally but most online) and who are christians who love God and serve him. 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 do admit I do not understand the attraction of two men or two women. Of course, that is because I am straight. I bet those who are gay or lesbian do not understand me and my attraction to the opposite sex (well, just one person of the opposite sex, my wife).

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 realized she was 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 the christians who do believe being gay is wrong, they are still handling it all wrong. Whether you agree or disagree, our instructions from Jesus are to love God, love our neighbor and love our enemies. 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 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 do not completely understand it but for some reason this topic has taken on a new meaning for me. I am tired of seeing the abuse, the exclusion and the discrimination against those who are LGBTQ. Not sure where this will lead but hopefully, I can be a help by showing love and acceptance to those I meet who are LGBTQ.

(1) https://www.reddit.com/r/LGBTQ_Acceptance/

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

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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in the christian church, we were told a lot about sharing our faith. We were told that if we did not tell others about Jesus they would never know anything about him. It seemed to make a lot of sense at the time.

We were told if we did not share our faith with everyone we met we were not doing our duty as a christian. This has led to a lot of guilt over the years.

To make things worse, we were told if we did not tell them about Jesus and the possibility of going to hell if they did not accept him that their blood would be on our hands.

I truly believe we were taught wrong. There is certainly nothing wrong with sharing your faith, but to do so under pressure and out of guilt is another story. I believe our commitment is to love God and love others. The Holy Spirit will convict and draw people to the God of love. He may even use us at times, but it will be done naturally and as he leads in love. It will not be forced or due to obligation.

I also believe when we live by guilt and pressure to witness to others, this can lead to friendship with ulterior motives (1). We are nice and friendly to others with the hope we will get to talk to them about God. We get so busy trying to force the conversation so we can do our required duty that we forget to just be unconditional friends.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 it says to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody”.

To me this makes more sense, to live daily in a way that wins the respect of others. Anyone can say words, but living a life being friendly, caring and accepting makes much more of a difference. I have personally seen people who were very bold in their words. They could talk to anyone, anywhere about God and tell them they need to turn their life over to God. Yet when they were done talking, they lived a life that is completely different from the words they just spoke. People look at that and do not want anything to do with the god they were just told about.

I personally do not believe we are to be forcing our views on others. We should not feel obligated or forced to share our faith with anyone. We are to live our lives as we know best in a way that is pleasing to God. Then let that love be a natural by-product that others will see and be drawn to God without us saying a word.

When we live our lives out of love for God and love for others, telling others, whether by word or deed will be natural, unforced and without obligation. It will be out of sincere love and usually because others ask about the love they see in us.

  1. Friendship with Ulterior Motives

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by Jim Gordon

Is it me, or do you find that some of the teachings we have grown up with in modern day religion may be wrong? It could be a simple misinterpretation or it could be people purposefully trying to force others into their way of thinking.

Do you ever grow tired of reading all the different views and opinions, interpretations and doctrines? Do you get aggravated when people argue over their beliefs, yet God has told us to love one another?

It can get pretty discouraging seeing all the postings on Facebook and other social media where people argue, and sometimes heatedly, over their views and interpretations. Sometimes they are basic views we have grown up accepting as gospel truth, yet now we question whether they are gospel or man’s wrong interpretation.

No matter how you interpret the scriptures, no matter how much you believe your way of thinking on spiritual matters, someone else will have a completely different view. Even those who are followers of Christ cannot agree on everything. We all have a different view on the bible and spiritual matters.

I wonder why we cannot accept each other no matter what our interpretation. Truthfully, none of us can prove most of what we believe, whether it is faith in God, heaven, hell, satan and a number of other topics. It is all by faith that we believe what we believe. We cannot prove or disprove anything.

I think we should ask the Spirit daily for His guidance into truth. Hold to what you believe, but be open enough to change when God (not some other person) gives a clearer view of the truth. When someone has a different way of looking at things, accept them. You do not have to agree with them. Who knows, they might be right. Friendly discussion of each others views can be helpful.

I do not think any of us can say without a doubt who is completely right or wrong in our interpretations. We should seek God for truth through the Spirit and let everyone have their right to do the same. Quit fighting and arguing over who is right and who is wrong.

We should remember that unity comes only in Christ. It is not through religion, doctrines, denominations or bible versions but through Christ alone. Unity through Christ looks beyond religion, doctrines, denominations, race, sexual orientation and nationality.

God is love and he lives within us. By allowing his love to flow out of us we can look beyond our differences and accept one another even when we disagree.

One thought comes to mind in all this, ‘Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so’. The most basic and simple song we learned long ago seems to be the one thing on which we can all agree.

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